Open-Air Entertainment

Options for outdoor music this summer. 

Summer is so jam-packed, by the time it hits its stride, you’re going to need some R&R—that’s recreation and relaxation, for you civilian types. The recreation part is easy: Bozeman is surrounded by mountain ranges and river systems—go to one. But what about relaxation? How are you ever going to unwind, libation in hand while tapping your feet to a groovy beat? With a little outdoor entertainment, that’s how.

In Town
Bozeman has plenty of good music, despite not having a venue attractive enough for big national acts. After we’re done playing in the mountains, there’s always somewhere to hear good tunes. Check out Lunch on the Lawn at the Emerson every Wednesday; bring a brown bag and stretch out for an hour, before returning to the grind—up Stone Creek, that is. As always, Music on Main rocks downtown every Thursday. Best part is, the show doesn’t start until 7pm, giving you plenty of time to sneak in a run before indulging at one of the many food vendors along Main Street. 

Another option is the southside farmers’ market, Tuesdays at Bogert Park. While everyone else is jockeying for position in line at the tri-tip sandwich stand, cozy up in front of the stage and mellow out. Most weeks, the act is folksy and laid-back, which is how farmers’ markets should be.

For a larger, more festival-like atmosphere, put Sweet Pea and SLAM on the calendar. This year marks 40 years for Sweet Pea and it only gets better; it’s happening August 4-6. SLAM takes place on the same weekend, but features exclusively local artists and musicians, so pick your passion.

The area surrounding Bozeman has just as much to offer. If you find yourself in Livingston after a day on the Yellowstone, check out the Western Sustainability Exchange’s market and live music, Wednesdays all summer. As with most things in Livingston, things are a little more small-town. That means no shouldering your way to the front to hear the tunes. 

If you miss the old days of Music on Main, when things were quieter and more relaxed, head to Big Sky for Music in the Mountains, every Thursday night all summer long. Spread out a blanket, kick off your sandals, and enjoy the music reverberating off the surrounding mountains. The bands come from all over the country and span all styles, including refined—the Big Sky Classical Music Festival takes place Aug. 11-13.

Of course, there’s also the Montana Folk Fest, which happens every year in Butte. Dates for this summer are July 7-9, and the festival is free, thanks to contributions to a GoFundMe campaign. If you’re interested in the lineup or supporting the cause, visit

You go on adventure road-trips every summer, so why not plan one with an entertainment element? It shouldn’t be hard, as there are options aplenty. First up is the highlight of the summer-entertainment calendar: the Red Ants Pants Music Festival in White Sulphur Springs. Acts from around the country come to perform at this open-air festival that features on-site camping under central Montana’s open skies. Dates are July 27-30, and tickets go fast, so hop to it.

Two more that we’re excited about are Philipsburg’s Summer Concert on August 19, and Targhee Fest, July 14-16. Both locations have endless recreation options, so you’ll have no trouble putting together an itinerary. The Summer Concert in Philipsburg is family-friendly and low-key, while Targhee Fest is, well, Targhee Fest. Expect crowds, high-priced tickets, and logistical nightmares, but also great music, awesome scenery, and great mountain biking. Philipsburg offers excellent riding at nearby Discovery Ski Area, too, so if biking is on the agenda, you won’t miss out by keeping it in-state.