When was the last time you took your kids to watch a live performance filled with orchestral music? We’ve rounded up some family-friendly shows that are much more than the average sing-along story time or listening to your kiddo’s favorite soundtrack on repeat. These local performances will introduce your kiddos to the symphony experience at a young age, which is a great gift that will last a lifetime.
San Diego Symphony Family Festival Series
The Family Festival Series is a wonderful way for kids to discover the amazing sounds of live musical performance. Designed for kiddos ages 4-12, these fun and interactive Sunday concerts are about 50 minutes long (great for short attention spans), and are performed at the beautiful Jacobs Center. If you want to take kiddos under two, they are welcome to attend and can sit on a parent’s lap for free. Be sure to take part in the pre-concert activities, such as a musical petting zoo. Here are a few upcoming concert you’ll want to put on your calendar.
A Walk Through Balboa Park: Celebrating San Diego’s Landmark
Taking inspiration from Balboa Park during its centennial year, this concert offers music that represents the most iconic elements of the “Jewel of San Diego” from fountains to gardens, from the International Cottages to art museums.
Date: Nov. 1, 2 p.m. (pre-concert activities start at 1 p.m.)
If you want to enhance your symphony experience, plan a family field trip to Balboa Park. Use this fun Activity Guide as a jumping off point for further adventures, and visit these Balboa Park sites and spots that will be featured musically in the concert:
- The Botanical Gardens
- The Veterans Museum and Memorial
- The International Cottages
- The Spreckels Organ Pavilion (free concerts every Sunday at 2 p.m.)
- The Natural History Museum
Holiday Pops – Holiday Cheer to Last All Year!
San Diego’s favorite holiday music tradition returns! Sing along to popular holiday carols and hits including “Jingle Bells,” “Sleigh Ride” and many, many more in this one-hour afternoon version especially for families with young kids. Have your family photo taken with Mr. and Mrs. Clause after the concert.
Date: Dec. 20, 2 p.m. (pre-concert activities take place 1 p.m.)
Sounds Like Science Day — SYMPHOLOGY: The Science of Sound
From drawing a bow across a string to striking a drum with a stick, there are countless ways our musicians make the sounds of the orchestra that come together to form beautiful music. But how does it actually happen? Find out on this fascinating program that entertainingly combines science and the symphony.
Date: Feb. 20, 2 p.m. (pre-concert activities start at 1 p.m.)
750 B St.
San Diego, Ca 92101
If you don’t feel like trekking downtown with a little one in tow, check out Kinder Koncerts! These are neighborhood concerts especially for small kids, from preschool through 2nd grade. The San Diego Symphony performs at churches, libraries and schools in all different areas of the county. Best of all, these shows are free!
Symphony Summer Pops
Got squirming kids who just won’t sit still? Perhaps an outdoor concert would be ideal. Summertime concerts are performed outside at Embarcadero Marina South. You can opt to sit at cabaret tables, on fold-down chairs or sprawled out on the lawn. Kids will love the fireworks at the 4th of July show, and Comic-Con weekend concerts typically feature favorites from popular video game franchises, movies, paired with an exciting multi-media show. Don’t forget to bring a sweater for your kiddos in case they get chilly.
1245 7th Ave.
San Diego, Ca
Classics 4 Kids
Classic 4 Kids highly entertaining concerts feature the high-caliber Classics Philharmonic orchestra, and are geared towards young audiences. Bringing the classics alive, these shows are interactive and include plenty of fun, educational activities. Past performances at Balboa Theatre have included local dance troupes, singers and martial arts to provide a truly immersive experience. Plus, after the show kids get to see and feel the instruments for themselves.
You’ll want to save the date for the November show, “Back to the Future: Orchestra Blast-Off.” Little concert-goers will rocket into outer space with music inspired by space exploration and astronomy, with a STEAM focus linking scientific and musical concepts for high-impact learning and fun that’s simply out of this world. Featuring a guest appearance by space expert and author, Francis French, this is in partnership with the San Diego Air & Space Museum.
Date: Nov. 19 and 20, 9:30 and 11:30 a.m.
La Jolla Symphony & Chorus
This performance ensemble is made up of a diverse group of professional musicians and singers, UCSD students, as well as members of the community. They perform both traditional and contemporary repertoire, and provide plenty of opportunities for kids to come and enjoy their music. Be sure to check out Family Friendly Fridays at the Mandeville Auditorium at UCSD! These are free, open dress rehearsals the Friday before most concert weekends. The awesome thing about this is the fact that there are frequent breaks – and if your kiddo is making a fuss, you are free to come and go as you please. They also perform free Young People’s Concerts, tailored for school aged kids and their families.
Have you ever taken your kids to the symphony? How did they like it?
— Marissa Mullen