Austin Symphony's Fourth of July Concert

No music or fireworks on the water; ASO goes F1 for the 4th

Oh, say can you see? Not at Lady Bird Lake you can't.
Oh, say can you see? Not at Lady Bird Lake you can't.

If you're parked on the shores of Lady Bird Lake eagerly anticipating the Austin Symphony's annual serving up of Sousa and the fireworks that ensue, well, citizen, you have a looooong wait – like about a year. Thanks to the current refurbishment of Auditorium Shores, ASO isn't playing at its usual site this year. It's decamped to a spot farther south.

Way south.

Would you believe the Circuit of The Americas? Yes, when ASO found itself shut out of the Shores and was, you might say, thumbing it on the side of the road, it was the home of the Formula 1 races that gave the orchestra a ride. So the 38th edition of the Independence Day spectacle will be held at the Austin360 Amphitheater, southeast of the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.

Aside from the venue change and absence of a river, the drill for the local tradition this July 4 is pretty much the same as in years past. At 8:30pm, the symphony performs a program heavy on the patriotic favorites: the National Anthem, a medley of music for the Armed Forces, Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture, and, of course, beaucoup Sousa: "Stars and Stripes Forever," "The Thunderer," and "The King Cotton March." (Maestro Peter Bay has also slipped into the program a sly wink to this year's concert location: Randy Newman's score for the big race in the Pixar film Cars.) At approximately 9:30pm, the fireworks begin. And as usual, the entire event will be simulcast on Majic 95.5FM.

ASO officials have said that they're expecting only about a quarter of the 100,000 concertgoers that typically crowd around Lady Bird Lake for the event, but the Circuit hosts are sweetening the pot with a batch of kid-friendly elements – an inflatable water slide, face-painting, a magician, a stilt walker, balloon twisters, go-kart racing – in hopes of drawing a few more families that might not otherwise travel the extra miles to the track. Those activities last from 4-8pm. Parking lots open at 3pm, with lots F and L being free of charge and the lots closer to the amphitheater costing $10 per vehicle.

Also be forewarned that the list of items that are prohibited at the concert is extensive: alcohol and other mind-altering substances; glass and metal containers; animals; fireworks and explosives; large bags; large umbrellas; tents; chairs that aren't collapsible; video equipment for recording; bikes, scooters, and basically any kind of wheeled conveyance that isn't a car; Frisbees, balls, horns, and anything else that might be deemed a safety hazard or annoyance; and weapons, including – sorry to trample on your rights on Independence Day, NRA – guns.

So what can you bring? Picnic baskets and coolers, blankets, small umbrellas, collapsible chairs, strollers for the wee ones, binoculars, and personal camera equipment.

Happy Fourth, y'all!

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Austin Symphony Orchestra, Fourth of July concert, Peter Bay, Circuit of the Americas

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