Free Events in St. Louis

Winter is a trying time in St. Louis. December’s gray, gloomy days turn into frigid, unforgiving nights as our collective Vitamin D deficiency threatens to turn us into a horde of pallid, paunchy zombies. We hole up in our homes, only occasionally risking the elements to trek out for the necessary provisions.

As April approaches, we wake from our slumber and reemerge to renewing spring rains. The vibrant, verdant city we’d all but forgotten comes back into focus, and we begin to reacquaint ourselves with the outside world.

By summer, those strong enough to have endured the Midwestern winter are rewarded with a packed roster of arts and entertainment events — a schedule that can go toe-to-toe with just about any city in the country.


Here are our picks for the ten best free events in St. Louis this summer.

1. Whitaker Music Festival

Now in its 22nd year, the Whitaker Music Festival brings St. Louisans free admission to the gorgeous grounds of the Missouri Botanical Garden along with performances from some of the city’s most popular musical acts, including Tommy Halloran’s Guerrilla Swing, the Erin Bode Group and Magnolia Summer. Beginning in late May and continuing through the end of July, admission to the garden is free every Wednesday from 5 until 9 p.m., and music starts at 7:30 p.m.

2. Shakespeare Festival St. Louis

In addition to the festival’s centerpiece production in Forest Park — this year, the genre-straddling Antony and Cleopatra, running now through June 14 — Shakespeare Festival St. Louis presents a slew of free events all over the city. Among others, Camp Shakespeare provides several full-day workshops for students at Crossroads College Preparatory School, and the monthly Shakespeare Festival Reads is a collaborative reading group hosted by Left Bank Books.

3. Jungle Boogie Friday Night Concert Series

In addition to being one of only a handful of zoos around the nation with free general admission year-round, the Saint Louis Zoo also also presents a free, family-friendly summer concert series every Friday from May 22 to August 28. The concerts take place from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Schnuck Family Plaza near the zoo’s center. Along with the musical entertainment, the zoo’s exhibits remain open for an additional two hours during the concerts, so you can visit your favorite animals until 7 p.m.
4. Wednesday Lunch Free Concert Series

In contrast to the wealth of other free events held on evenings and weekends around town, the Wednesday Lunch Free Concert Series presents downtown residents and commuters a bit of midweek, daytime entertainment. Held from 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. at Citygarden throughout June, July and August, the series’ musical offerings will range from the electro-soul of DJ Nune to the old-time fiddle of Root Diggers, and Acoustik Element’s Latin guitar and percussion.

5. Three Stooges Night at the Bottleworks

On the second Monday of every month from 7 to 9 p.m., the Schlafly Bottleworks in Maplewood hosts Three Stooges Night, where you can get together with like-minded folks to watch the slapstickiest of comedies playing on a vintage 16mm projector while enjoying the Bottleworks’ food and drink menus. Though the event itself is free, donations to benefit the National Children’s Cancer Society are accepted.


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