… Symphony on the Prairie, that is. Summer in Indy means lots of outdoor concerts, and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra has been part of that for a long time. Every weekend during the warmer months, Conner Prairie hosts either the orchestra itself or different tribute bands for two-hour concerts. Over the years as the event has gotten more popular, the price has gone up considerably — currently in 2017, tickets run $29-$35 each and the premium parking is an additional $28/vehicle. On the upside, you do have the option of bringing in your own food and drinks, and the experience is more about picnicking outdoors with friends and family than it really is about really getting into the music.
If you choose not to bring your own snacks, there are a number of vendors on-site to order foods like hot dogs, hamburgers, fries, ice cream, elephant ears, kettle corn, beer, and wine. Concession prices aren’t all that expensive — a hot dog, fries and ice cream cone altogether costs less than $8.
Some of the more notable Symphony on the Prairie performances include:
The Star-Spangled Symphony
This one happens every year over the July 4th holiday and is ALWAYS a packed crowd! Get there as early as humanly possible if you want to get a seat from which you can see the performance stage. This is also one that you will want to splurge on premium parking for, if you don’t want to spend an extra hour waiting to get out of the parking lot after the show.
If you do only go to one Symphony on the Prairie performance, make it this one. It’s entertaining, they recognize those who have and are currently serving in the military, and there are fireworks afterward. It’s one I go to every year, even though I know what’s going to happen, just because it’s always a good time.
John Williams Strikes Back
This one, while not as popular as the Star-Spangled Symphony, does attract a decent crowd, and that crowd always includes a ton of Star Wars fans. If you’ve been waiting for a chance to wear your Star Wars themed costume to something, this is it! This performance is packed with a lot of other notable theme music to older movies that are exciting to recognize. This is one that’s fun to attend, but it’s not as necessary to see the stage to enjoy.
Music of the Beatles
This is a fun one in which crowds are typically not too large. The Beatles tribute band does an excellent job of impersonating the actual group and it’s cool to see them talk to each other and interact with the audience in character.
This is a performance by a Michael Jackson tribute band, and the group choice has gotten better and better over the years. The most recent performance featured a tribute band that had backup dancers, which, while I didn’t exactly miss having dancers in the previous years, added a lot to the wow-factor of the performance. There were at least three times in which the Michael Jackson impersonator and the backup dancers performed extensive dance-only numbers that were pretty impressive. And, if you aren’t there early enough to get a good view of the stage, you can hang out on the dance floor once the concert starts.
If you’re interested in going to at least a few Symphony on the Prairie performances each season, make sure to check out prices for a 10-Ticket Value Pack at the beginning of the concert season. I’ve used part of a friend’s value pack purchase the past couple years and have been able to save $9-$15 per ticket on the normal ticket price!