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By Laura Goodwin

A Summer of Music in Northwest ArkansasMP

Welcome the magic of fireflies and a summer season of music-filled evenings in Northwest Arkansas! Family nights with the kids or date nights with your honey are made sweeter by the many concerts and friendly gatherings offered throughout the region. 

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First Friday is presented by Downtown Bentonville Inc. on the first Friday of each month, welcoming community to the heart of downtown for free and low-cost family-friendly activities. This year’s First Friday season is “Fueled by ZOA Energy Drinks.” The event on June 2, sponsored by Jolly Rancher, is themed “Art Fest.” First Fridays run from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Learn more at


Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art will join in the First Friday fun by hosting outdoor community celebrations on the first Friday of each month. Enjoy food, live music and artmaking on the museum’s South Lawn and Art Trail near James Turrell’s Skyspace. Activities are free and just a short walk or bike ride from the downtown Bentonville square. Notickets required, just drop by June 2 any time from 5 to 8 p.m. Music offerings feature Ozark Footsong and Drew Hutson Rogers.

Also, outdoors in Crystal Bridges’ beautiful North Forest, the family-friendly Summer Forest Concert series features national and local artists surrounded by art and nature. Grab your lawn chair or blanket, kick back with friends, and enjoy live music under the trees all summer long. A food truck and cash bar will be available throughout the night, as well as kid-friendly art-making activities. Though tickets for ages 18 and under are free, an adult ticket is required for entry. Reserve these tickets online or with Crystal Bridges guest services at (479) 657-2335. Visit for more information.


Join Opera in the Ozarks on July 14 at the Bentonville Public Library for a 45-minute adaptation of Rossini’s opera, Cinderella. A free ticket is required for each person attending. There will be two performances of this classic tale, at 10:30 a.m. and at 2 p.m. Also at the library, national-touring musician Laura Doherty performs breezy folk-pop tunes from her five Parent’s Choice award-winning albums on July 21 at 10:30 a.m. All performances will be presented in the Walmart Community Room and a free ticket is required for each person attending. All ages welcome. Check out for more details. Photos courtesy of Bentonville Public Library and Opera in the Ozarks


First Thursday returns to the historic downtown square in Fayetteville with a series of festivals each month through October. First Thursday transforms the square into an outdoor arts and music celebration from 5:30 to 9 p.m. on the first Thursday of each month. The free, family-friendly events this summer include a diverse lineup of live music, artist demonstrations and installations, food trucks, group bike rides and an arts market featuring more than 40 independent artists who create items in a variety of media. Visit for more information.


Fayetteville Public Library’s biggest event of the year, the Summer Reading Kickoff, will take place on June 3 at 9:30 a.m. The event, held in the library’s event center and the J.B. and Johnelle Hunt Family Gathering Glade, includes bounce houses, face painting, food and more. Young children will enjoy the singalong with Mr. Troy from 9:30 to 11 a.m. in the Art and Movement Room. The following day, the 2023 Mountain Street Stage concert series kicks off in the event center with local blues band Buddy Shute & the Motivators. Weekly concerts also continue, performed by a variety of artists throughout the summer on Sundays at 2 p.m. Library patrons can view livestream concerts on the library’s livestream page. 




The library’s music-themed Super Saturdays follow on June 17 from 10 to 11 a.m. in the event room with an interactive musical performance by Will Parker and on July 15 from 10 to 11 a.m. with a presentation of Cinderella by Opera in the Ozarks. Also, toddlers and preschoolers with their families are invited to join Miss Holly in the Walmart Storytime Room on June 30 at 10 a.m. for a feel-good singalong that will leave everybody dancing! Visit for more information on any of these events. Photo courtesy of Fayetteville Public Library

Mark your family calendar for Tuesday evenings this summer to visit Fayetteville’s gem, the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks. Enjoy its twelve themed gardens and the region’s only native butterfly house. Terrific Tuesday Nights are free June through August. The garden will be open from 5 to 8:30 p.m. for the community to gather and enjoy an evening outdoors in the Ozarks. The first event, on June 6, will be “Out in the Garden,” a kickoff event for NWA Pride Month. The next Tuesday, June 13, guests will enjoy performances by Opera in the Ozarks. Keep an eye on and social media for information on all upcoming Terrific Tuesday Nights activities. Photo courtesy of Botanical Garden of the Ozarks


In the heart of one of Fayetteville’s most appreciated parks, hundreds of folks gather each summer for the annual Gulley Park Summer Concert Series, now in its 27th year. Family-friendly, live outdoor music is the centerpiece that brings all walks of life together. Spectators are encouraged to bring their leashed furry friends as well. 


The 2023 Gulley Park Summer Concert Series includes six concerts in all, taking place weekly from June 8 through July 13. Concerts, scheduled on Thursday evenings from 7 to 9 p.m., are performed at the Gulley Park gazebo located in the park at 1850 E. Township Road. More information and a lineup of concerts can be found at Photo courtesy of Fayetteville Parks, Natural Resources, and Cultural Affairs


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Join the fun at Murphy Park on June 10 from 10 a.m. to noon when Springdale Public Library kicks off its Summer Reading Program with live music from the band Mariachi Amistad. This ensemble has been playing in the Northwest Arkansas and the Tri-State areas for more than 23 years. It features violins, trumpets and a string section with many vocalists singing in both Spanish and English. Plus, kids can enjoy a bounce obstacle course, spray tattoos, free Kona Ice, free hotdogs and chips from Arvest Bank, and a whole lot of fun and dancing. And don’t forget to sign up for summer reading — you’ll get a free gift to get you started. For more information, visit Photo courtesy of Springdale Public Library

Downtown Springdale is always transforming. Around every corner a park expands, a business grows or a vintage space comes back to life. This summer, enjoy a new season of live music at Turnbow Park on the last Thursday of each month through September. Concerts are free and start at 6:30 p.m. Don’t miss the June 29 offering, headliner Ensemble Ibérica, presented by House of Songs with Duo Divinas opening. July brings the soul-drenched vocals and show-stopping bass guitar of Shaun Munday opening for Carver Commodore, presented by City Sessions. Fayetteville Jazz Collective, presented by Northwest Arkansas Jazz Society, performs on Aug. 31. Live at Turnbow Concert series is presented by the Tyson Family Foundation. Learn more about summer events in downtown Springdale at Photo courtesy of Downtown Springdale





In downtown Rogers, Railyard Live concerts are held throughout the summer on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at the Butterfield Stage outdoor pavilion. It’s where friends gather, families play and all are welcome. Food, beer and wine from the venue’s in-house concessionaire, Lo Intervention by Onyx, are available for purchase. Free general admission tickets are required for open air seating on the lawn. Paid table seating is available under the canopy. To see the lineup, reserve free general admission or purchase table seating, visit

Also, don’t miss Rogers Public Library’s Summer Reading Kickoff featuring Will Parker’s Music for Kids at 3 p.m. on June 3. He plays guitar and harmonica and sings original songs for children of all ages. Come ready to dance and sing along. While there, register for the program and pick up your reading logs, play some games and do some crafts. Activities are available from 2 to 4 p.m. Learn more at Photo courtesy of Rogers Public Library


Opera in the Ozarks. Photo by David Bell

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