Stop doing it wrong. Insider’s guide to Summer Pops concerts.


Want to prolong your weekend while winding it down at the same time? The Charlotte Symphony’s Summer Pops series, led by the adorably personable and insanely talented Albert-George Schram, lets you do just that.

Even better, it’s a BYOB, no-dress-code way to hear the skillful, anxiety-reducing sounds of the Symphony at Symphony Park before your case of the Mondays comes calling.

An insider’s guide: What to pack for Summer Pops

(1) A good picnic basket.

Somehow this non-registry wedding gift made it through three moves based on the remote intention that one day my husband and I would be spontaneous and nature-y enough to use it.

Two and a half years later, we decided Summer Pops was the perfect—urban—place to christen it.

(2) Food.

Audience members brought everything from Harris Teeter subs, to charcuterie and olives, to Bojangle’s take-out. And enough dips and spreads to warrant a spike in Duke’s Mayonnaise profits.

I went with pasta salad, strawberries and a leftover box of peanut M&Ms from our weekend road trip. There were a few options for purchase, including Maki Taco and vendors serving soft pretzels, Italian Ice and desserts.

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(3) Citronella candle/bug spray.

Upon seeing vases of flowers and candles, I felt like I should have brought something from my living room to fit in. Then I became rational and concluded a citronella candle or a bottle of bug spray would do just fine.

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(4) A bottle opener.

The classy, Symphony-appreciating version of bumming a cigarette at a concert. My husband wasn’t the only one who forgot to bring one.

(5) Tarp.

Doors open at 5p.m. Since it started raining at about 5:30p.m., the early birds got more than a worm. They got soaked towels and blankets. Lesson: use a tarp to save your spot.

Saving your spot by waiting (and eating and drinking) in person is also an option. Competitive games of chess encouraged.


(6) Chairs.

The courtesy policy asks that chairs be no higher than nine inches off the ground. Overall, people tended to comply. If you go, please do the same.

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(7) Wine sticks.

It’s as if wine sticks were designed for the sole purpose of Summer Pops. Need two hands to adequately dip that chip? No problem.

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Good. You’re ready. Here’s the run of show:

5 p.m. Gates open

7 p.m. Prelude performance

8:15 p.m. Charlotte Symphony

And here’s what’s next:

Sunday, June 14: Tchaikovsky Spectacular

Sunday, June 21: A Night at the Movies

Sunday, June 28: Hot Spanish Nights

Friday, July 3: Celebrate America!

For more information: click here.

Photos by Jennifer Hutson.

Jennifer HutsonJennifer Hutson is a native Charlottean with a passion for good food and unique libations, to be enjoyed on a porch, or, when lucky, consumed while traveling. Follow her at



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