NC amphitheaters take center stage

 In June 2019

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Top photo courtesy of Genesis Photography Group

By Vanessa Infanzon

Outdoor events are a hallmark of summer across the state with amphitheaters attracting people who want to hear regional and national musicians, attend festivals, and watch family-friendly movies. We picked five diverse examples that offer lawn seating and a variety of programs to thrill concertgoers seeking an open-air experience.

Courtesy of Hobart Jones, Surry Arts Council


CAPACITY: 2,000 | OPENED: 2005

Locals and visitors to Andy Griffith’s hometown, also known as Mayberry, are drawn to the large venue that has a summer series featuring more than 50 shows including country, beach, ’80s and bluegrass music. Mount Airy-based Thirsty Souls Community Brewing offers beer and wine, and the Dairy Center sells sandwiches, soft drinks and snacks. Tickets cost $15 per show, while a Surry Arts Council Annual Pass is $120.
The council raised $450,000 to build the nonprofit amphitheater, which is owned by the city of Mount Airy. The design includes an air-conditioned dressing room with showers and mirrors, which has proven popular with entertainers.
Jacksonville Commons Amphitheatre
Courtesy of City of Jacksonville


CAPACITY: 400 | OPENED: 2018 (soft opening)

The Onslow County seat is home to Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and its new Jacksonville Commons Amphitheater. Guests at the city-owned property enjoy a terraced venue with a view of a pond and fountain. The first official season includes Tuesday nights in June and July with the Onslow Winds community band, a first and third Friday-night movie series, and cultural art presentations throughout the season.
Joseph M. Bryan Jr.
Courtesy of North Carolina Museum of Art


CAPACITY: 3,000 | OPENED: 1997

Named after the late Greensboro insurance executive who bequeathed one of the state’s biggest foundations, the theater is adjacent to the state-owned N.C. Museum of Art. This summer’s concert lineup includes acclaimed artists such as Bruce Hornsby, Lyle Lovett and Chaka Khan. The venue is used about seven months out of the year and is funded by state government and the museum’s private foundation. Ticket prices range from $25-$65, while the museum offers free admission. Record attendance occurred in 2018 when 23,500 tickets were sold.
Symphony Park at SouthPark
Courtesy of Symphony Park at SouthPark


CAPACITY: 6,000 | OPENED: 2002

Symphony Park at SouthPark is owned by Simon Property Group, owner of the adjacent mall. It’s best known for its summer “Summer Pops” series that attracts thousands of Charlotteans to hear the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra. This year’s concert lineup includes music from the Star Wars movie series and favorite Broadway musicals such as Phantom of the Opera, The Sound of Music and Wicked. Tickets range from $12 to $20 (children are free). The amphitheater is also used for festivals and fundraising events such as Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation’s Take Steps walk, Spina Bifida Association’s Walk-N-Roll and Great Grapes Wine & Food Festival.
The Villafge Green Commons
Courtesy of Jackson County Tourism Development Authority



In 1992, three local property owners — architect Al Balestiere and Coca-Cola heirs Elizabeth Lupton Davenport and John Lupton — purchased two acres in the heart of the exclusive mountain town slated for commercial development. They placed the land in a private conservancy with nonprofit The Village Green. William Pulley donated a portion of 11 additional acres, and the balance was purchased to form a park and two open-air venues with platforms.
The Village Green Commons hosts more than 100 events May through September including a nature series on the last Tuesday of each month, a weekly farmers market on Wednesdays and a concert series on Friday nights. The Cashiers Valley Leaf Festival and the biennial Cashiers Plein Air Festival showcase the work of more than 100 artists from the Southeast and Northeast.
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