Be Entertained in the Napa Valley All Summer Long!
Napa has certainly evolved over the past several decades, with wineries fast multiplying, now numbering several hundred and taking the experiential aspect of living in wine country to a trailblazing high.
The natural pairing of wine with food, then led to the local culinary explosion, attracting and producing some of the world’s finest chefs who opened restaurants and worked with wineries, establishing an additional world-class and tasty element to local wine country living.
The final piece of the trifecta, the entertainment scene, began slowly many years ago, took off steadily in the early 2000s and then rapidly evolved over the past ten years. It was not long ago, that those of us in Napa County had to drive to nearby counties, or San Francisco, to be entertained. Now, on nearly any given day, especially during the more traveled and warmer summer months, locals can enjoy live music, arts and culture at venues up and down the valley.
Calistoga, St. Helena, Yountville and Napa offer multiple opportunities for free live music in the park throughout the pleasant weather season. In Calistoga’s Pioneer Park, Concerts in the Park take place on Thursday nights, while St. Helena’s Annual Summer Concert Series happens simultaneously on Thursday evenings in Lyman Park.
Yountville presents a Sunday night series of free music in the park (Yountville’s Veterans Memorial Park) well into the end of September, as well as free family-friendly outdoor movies in Yountville Park the last Friday of each month also through the end of September.
In Napa, the free Friday night Napa City Nights events are a favorite of locals and visitors alike, with a weekly line-up of three bands or performers. All venues offer either food trucks or food-to-go nearby, and attendees are welcome to bring picnics and beverages to enjoy al fresco.
The granddaddy of modern outdoor entertainment in the Napa Valley has to be the Margrit Mondavi Summer Concert Series at Robert Mondavi Winery in Oakville. Now celebrating its 50th year, nationally and internationally-known artists first began coming to the Napa Valley in 1969, attracting crowds to the expansive winery lawn. The series continues this summer with hot acts of today including Rodrigo y Gabriela and Matt Nathanson.
Another long-standing local summertime music tradition is the Napa Valley Chamber Music Festival, produced by Music in the Vineyards. This year marks the 25th anniversary, with the 2019 festival set for late July through early August. The mission remains steadfast, to enrich lives through the power of music in Napa Valley settings, preserving the intimacy and fellowship of the chamber music and providing and supporting music education to the young.
It was nearly twenty years ago that new venues such as Copia (now the Culinary Institute of American at Copia) with its interior theater and outdoor amphitheater, and renovated local historic theaters such as the Napa Valley Opera House (now home to Blue Note Napa and the JaM Cellars Ballroom) and Uptown Theatre in downtown Napa, as well as Lincoln Theater (which became Lincoln Theater Napa Valley and is now the Napa Valley Performing Arts Center) in Yountville were either built or underwent extensive, multi-million dollar renovations.
Since that time, some of the biggest names in entertainment (from music, to theatre, to comedy, to dance) have regularly been presented in the Napa Valley. The abundance of venues has also resulted in the establishment of arts-related fundraisers and festivals including Festival Napa Valley (originally Festival del Sole) and the V Foundation cancer research fundraising event. This summer at Lincoln Theater a Rocket Man tribute to Elton John, Star Wars and Song to the Moon – Apollo 11 Landing symphonic concerts (both part of Festival Napa Valley), musician Todd Rundgren, as well as several youth theatrical and dance performances are scheduled.
In the coming months at Uptown Theatre, the acts range from metal rockers Y&T to Lyle Lovett & His Large Band to Boz Skaggs, comedian Ron White and iconic musician David Crosby. A few blocks away at the more intimate Blue Note, Acoustic Alchemy, Royal Jelly Jive, Roy Ayers, The Bacon Brothers (yes, Kevin Bacon!) and The Squirrel Nut Zippers will fill the club. There are also regular locals nights on the calendar.
At CIA Copia located next to the Oxbow Public Market in downtown Napa, events related to food and lifestyle are set for nearly every day, as well as exhibits that relate to culinary matters. Live music, much of it lively jazz, is also available two to three nights per week (usually on Friday and Saturday) in the Grove, Copia’s outdoor dining space.
Many other downtown Napa spots feature live music including Ca’ Momi (Osteria Live, usually on weekend nights), the Sky & Vine Rooftop Bar (at the Archer Hotel, also on weekends) and the Andaz Artists at the Andaz Hotel which features a live music program of talented musicians from the Bay Area either in the Mercantile Social or Lobby Lounge on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
One of the most vibrant days in downtown Napa every year is the Napa Porchfest, which blends the historic neighborhoods of Napa with musicians from the area. This free event, set this year for Sunday, July 28, showcases bands and musicians on beautiful porches (and in some cases in the yard) of many period homes. Attendees can simply roam from porch to porch to experience our community and enjoy the tunes!
In north Napa, the Lucky Penny Community Arts Center produces and presents shows throughout the year. This summer a command performance of local playwright, actor, producer and radio personality Barry Martin’s original play “The Tasting Room” will reappear in August, followed by “9 to 5 The Musical” in September.
Upvalley at Charles Krug Winery, both a Sunset Cinema Series and a Comedy Series are scheduled through September, as well as many outdoor events and tastings on the lawn.
Finally, if music or comedy is not your thing, or if you have had your fill... head on out to the ballpark for some super fun, family entertainment and hopefully some home runs! The Napa Silverados Professional Baseball Team has a full schedule of home baseball games at the Miner Family Field near Napa Valley College.
Sip, eat, listen, taste, participate and explore the vast entertainment in the Napa Valley!