The Boardwalk’s free summer music and movies return in a new format — is that good or bad?

A band performs on the Colonnade Stage at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
The Colonnade Stage, near the Pirate Ship ride, will host the return of free live music to the Boardwalk, now on Thursday nights.

Live music post-pandemic will feature local acts at the smaller Colonnade Stage on Thursday nights. Free movies on the beach will now be on Fridays, including “The Lost Boys,” which will be screened Halloween weekend.

For the first time in three years, there will be free live outdoor summer entertainment at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. But it’s not exactly a return to the familiar, pre-pandemic normal.

On Tuesday, the Beach Boardwalk announced its plans for summer entertainment, and it’s different than it has been in the past in several key ways.

The popular Movies At the Beach series moves from Wednesdays to Fridays. The even more popular live music series moves from Fridays to Thursdays. And though the movie nights will look and feel much as they have in the past, the music series is a different thing altogether.

Gone are the big-name oldies acts that have performed live on the beach going back decades. Same goes for the giant stage erected on Main Beach every Friday afternoon of summers past. In its place is a new “Evenings on the Colonnade” program with free concerts on the Colonnade stage on the Boardwalk, featuring Santa Cruz and Bay Area dance bands.

Boardwalk spokesperson Kris Reyes said that the pandemic prevented the Boardwalk from the planning involved to present a traditional summer series. “We have to book bands nine, sometimes 10 months in advance, and given where we were a year ago, or even 10 months ago, we just didn’t know what the COVID restrictions and regulations were going to be in 2022.”

For at least the summer of 2022, the Boardwalk will pivot to the Evenings on the Colonnade series on the much smaller Colonnade stage on the Boardwalk near Neptune’s Kingdom and the Pirate Ship attraction.

The Colonnade series kicks off 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 16, with the quintessential Santa Cruz beach band Extra Large. Like the old music series, all shows are free and seating is on a first-come-first-serve basis (though there will be room for dancing). Other bands featured in the series include Coffee Zombie Collective, the Joint Chiefs, Pacific Roots, and others.

The “Movies on the Beach” series kicks off the following evening, June 17, with the beloved 1980s family adventure “The Goonies.” Other films in the series include “50 First Dates,” “Little Shop of Horrors,” “Ironman,” “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and more. Movie start times each Friday will be 9 p.m. All screenings are free and seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.

For the first time in recent memory, because of licensing issues, “The Lost Boys,” the 1987 cult classic shot largely at the Boardwalk and in Santa Cruz, will not be screened during the summer. It will be featured, however, on the beach Saturday, Oct. 29 — just in time for Halloween.

A full schedule of all music acts and movies can be foundhere.

Latest Stories