Pasadena has long held a stellar reputation for live outdoor music, but this year the summer scene is definitely stepping things up a notch. With the huge new Arroyo Seco Weekend fest making its debut outside the Rose Bowl, four of the planet’s biggest acts playing inside the hallowed stadium, the Pasadena POPS paying tribute to Broadway and MUSE/IQUE honoring the legends of Motown, this season has something to please the ears of just about anyone.

Last year marked the spectacular debut of the Arroyo Seco Weekend Festival, a two-day concert headlined by the late great Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers and Mumford & Sons. This year’s follow-up lineup is even richer, as Neil Young and his band Promise of the Real toplines a show featuring Jack White and The Pretenders on June 23, and The Kings of Leon and Robert Plant and the Sensational Shapeshifters are joined by Alanis Morrissette and Third Eye Blind on June 24. Visit arroyosecofestival.com.

Of course, dozens of other bands with their own strong followings round out the lineups, while beloved actor Jeff Goldblum once again leads his delightfully eccentric Mildred Snitzer Orchestra in a set on opening day.  Add in dozens of Southern California’s most popular restaurants dishing out their best cuisine and this becomes one weekend to remember.

The most epic concerts around have been playing at the Rose Bowl over the last several years, and this summer is no exception as Taylor Swift takes the stadium by storm May 18-19 with Camille Cabello and Charlie XCX. They’re followed by Ed Sheeran on Aug. 18 and the massive Jay Z-Beyonce team-up On the Run II tour Sept. 22-23. Visit ticketmaster.com.

Of course, the Pasadena summer season also features music of a more standard sort as well, and the Pasadena Symphony and POPS will put on an impressive Summer Concert Series once again at the LA County Arboretum in Arcadia. This year’s lineup includes “That’s Entertainment: Gershwin to Sondheim” (June 23), “Summer of Love: Michael Feinstein Sings the Hits of the ‘60s” (July 21), “Classical Mystery Tour: Tribute to the Beatles” (Aug. 4), “Bernstein’s New York” (Aug. 18), and “Broadway at the Movies” (Sept. 8).

Before that series starts, the POPS will perform its annual free “Music Under the Stars” concert in front of Pasadena City Hall on July 7, celebrating the Great American Songbook with the JPL Chorus and the Donald Brinegar Singers, plus soloists Maximo Marcuso, Christina Saffran and Lisa Vroman.

Another area orchestra that puts a big spin on the classical genre is MUSE/IQUE, which under the guidance of founder and maestra Rachael Worby blends orchestral sounds with other top American styles. This year’s series is “States/United” and features three nights centered around the theme of music from across America with “Limitless/Lenny” (June 30), “Movement/ALOUD!” (July 28), “U.S./Routes” (Aug. 25).

That series marks a big move from MUSE/IQUE as the orchestra shifts locations from Caltech’s Great Lawn to the Huntington Gardens in San Marino. Before those illustrious shows, MUSE/IQUE also stages another in its innovative “Uncorked” series of shows performed in unusual Pasadena settings on May 6 with “Free/Skate” at the Pasadena Ice Skating Center. Visit muse-ique.org.

Not to be outdone, huge area favorite Glendale Cruise Night celebrates its 25th anniversary with a stunning triple bill of cover artist magic on July 21 on the city’s legendary Brand Boulevard. Jumpin’ Jack Flash plays the best of the Rolling Stones, while Magic of Motown and Who’s Next The Who Experience round out the bill before a spectacular display of fireworks.


The Rose Bowl is located at 1001 Rose Bowl Drive, Pasadena. For Arroyo Seco Weekend tickets, visit arroyosecoweekend.com. For all other concerts, call (800) 745-3000 or visit ticketmaster.com.  

Pasadena POPS performs its summer series at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, located at 301 N. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia. Its “Music Under the Stars” show will be at 8 p.m. July 7 at Pasadena City Hall, 100 Garfield Ave., Pasadena. Call (626) 793-7172 or visit pasadenasymphony-pops.org.

MUSE/IQUE performs at the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens, 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino. Call (626) 539-7085 or visit Muse-ique.com.

The 25th Annual Glendale Cruise Night takes place from 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. Saturday, July 21, on Brand Boulevard, between Broadway and Milford Street, in Glendale. Visit glendalecruisenight.com.