Picnic Pops on the Hilltop


by Bri Kilroy

We’re familiar with Cannonsburg Ski Area when it’s covered in snow, but summer is here and the grand hill has shed its icy blanket to sport its concert venue style, setting the stage for the Grand Rapids Symphony’s D&W Fresh Market Picnic Pops.

“Michiganders seize the day when summer comes along,” Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk, public relations manager for the GR Symphony, said. “Picnic Pops creates an outdoor experience for everyone.”

That was the GR Symphony’s intention when the first Picnic Pops launched in 1995 and a break from the city’s bustle is more valuable than ever in this day and age. Attendees are encouraged to arrive a couple hours prior to showtime and enjoy pre-concert outdoor kids activities like face painting, arts and crafts and an instrument petting zoo along along with grilled concessions.

Free parking for concert goers is available in the front lot and on an open grass area to the side. A short walk past the front gates and over little foot bridges leads audience members to their seating on the towering Cannonsburg hill that faces the stage where unforgettable performances take place.

This year’s series lineup parallels the greatness of past Picnic Pops performances. Maintaining their manner of playing music that audience members recognize and love, the GR Symphony opens Picnic Pops with a concert of classical favorites, including Ride of the Valkyries by Richard Wagner and 1812 Overture by Piotr Ilitch Tchaikovsky (July 14 and 15). Both performances are followed by a fireworks finale, which is sure to be incredible when viewed from the ski hill.

The energy is maximized further in the series lineup when guest rock groups join the GR Symphony to play the music of rock idols, Queen and the Beach Boys. The group, Jeans N’ Classics, consists of musicians who combine their talent for rock with their understanding of orchestra and expertise in configuration to bring audiences the show, We Will Rock You: The Music of Queen (July 21 and 22).

The ski hill gets beached out when the California band Papa Doo Run Run performs The Music of the Beach Boys (July 28 and 29), focusing on songs that feature strong doses of orchestra from the GR Symphony. If you never got the chance to see the Beach Boys live, this is the concert that fills the void. Tickets and series packages are available at PicnicPops.org.

This summer, seize the day and top off the night with one of the most anticipated concert events in the community, picnic-style. Cater to your personal tastes by packing a picnic dinner or upgrade date night with a fine wine and cheese platter. Come with friends, invite coworkers, tell acquaintances and bring the whole family. I assure you, there’s enough room for everyone.

Rock on through August with Picnic Pops special events, Music of David Bowie (August 2) and Boyz II Men Live in Concert (August 4).

  • What: D&W Fresh Market Picnic Pops featuring the GR Symphony
  • Where: Cannonsburg Ski Hill (6800 Cannonsburg Road NE, Belmont)
  • When: July 14-August 4
  • Tickets: Starting at $18 for adult single lawn tickets. For all ticket prices, visit PicnicPops.org


Bri Kilroy is a Grand Valley and AmeriCorps alumna who learned to type through vigorous Mavis Beacon trainings. She also passes as an artist, illustrator and author of this bio.


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