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Where to see open-air concerts and movies

Even following a mild Western New York winter like this last one, locals yearn for the days when colder temps are replaced with temperate breezes. It’s an annual flipping of the switch, and it’s one that keeps most residents outside — for as much as they can schedule.

Two of those outdoor activities, formerly reserved for indoors: movies and live music. Luckily, the region’s flush with venues that accommodate. Here are some to add to your must-visit list this summer.

Transit Drive-In

According to an interactive map published last year in online magazine Braid, there are only 336 drive-ins left in America. Luckily for Western New Yorkers, one of them is operating in Lockport, and it’s still thriving. Operated by three generations of the Cohen family (with Rick now at the helm) since 1957, the five-screen drive-in opened for the season in late March and features a summer’s worth of first-run films along with its annually anticipated “Retro Movie Tuesdays.” The latter offers double features of film classics for $9, with classics like “Jaws” and “Die Hard” teaming for a return to the big screen — and under starlight. (6655 S Transit Rd., Lockport;


There are plenty of reasons to pencil in a trip to Artpark this summer. Its host, Lewiston, provides quaint cafes, restaurants and taverns for visitors who are eager to explore; and its panoramas of the Niagara Gorge — especially approaching dusk — are nothing short of breathtaking. But it’s the venue’s annual summer music lineup that gets fans to brave the winding trek into Niagara County. In both its amphitheater and on the open-air stage, the locale has boasted incendiary performances by the likes of Bob Dylan, the Flaming Lips and My Morning Jacket. This season, they’ve already booked 103.3 The Edge’s Edgefest series (featuring 311), Tears for Fears, and Blondie & Garbage’s “The Rage and the Rapture” tour. And there’s more to come, which will provide even more incentive for concertgoers. (450 South 4th St., Lewiston;

Movies in the Meadow

When landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted first created Buffalo’s park system, he believed the purpose of green space was to “refresh and delight the eye and through the eye, mind and spirit.” So it makes sense that the nearby Parkside Community Association would run its annual “Movies in the Meadow” series through August within Olmsted’s Delaware Park. Surrounded by beautiful green space adjacent to the Parkside Lodge, movie fans can rest under the stars and enjoy family-friendly films such as past features “The Fantastic Mr. Fox” and the original “Ghostbusters” on a large, inflatable screen. It’s one more way for Buffalonians to delight their eyes, mind and spirit, all within the confines of Olmsted’s creation. (84 Parkside Ave., Buffalo;

Live at Larkin

A testament to the new face of Buffalo, Larkin Square is ebullient, imaginative and dedicated to promoting the things that make this city the most spectacular version of itself. So with this focus, the expanse’s Wednesday night music showcase provides the finest in local music. Featuring a minimum of two 716-bred acts between June and September, Live at Larkin is promoting the original work of our city’s own, all while accommodating music fans with locally sourced brews and eats via Flying Bison and litany of food trucks. (745 Seneca St, Buffalo;

M&T Bank’s Plaza Event Series

The previous four suggestions accommodate individuals with flexible evening schedules. But what if your only free moments are during your lunch break? Good news. Downtown workers occupying claustrophobic cubicles can bust out midday and check M&T’s noontime performances on the steps of its fountain-laden Main Street plaza. With an eclectic mix of jazz, blues, Beatles impersonators and everything in between, the free summer concert series runs annually from June through August for one hour, five days a week. So for those monumentally busy workaholics who’d like some live music to go with their pizza slice, hot dog or burrito from the sometimes-nearby Lloyd Taco Truck, exhale. The series performances will fit your schedule. (One M&T Plaza, Buffalo;

And if you’ve somehow missed it:

Thursday Night Concert Series at Canalside

Waterfront vistas. Locally brewed beer. Nationally renowned recording acts. And thousands of fellow Buffalonians, all there to enjoy what’s become the Queen City’s much anticipated summertime tradition. If you haven’t found your way to Canalside for a Thursday night show, let this be the year you finally make it happen. (44 Prime St., Buffalo;

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