Arts calendars usually have more blank spaces throughout the summer. Musicians play festivals in far-flung places (or take much-needed vacations), museums focus on family-friendly camps and programs to entertain kiddos, and most performing arts organizations gear up for their season debuts in the fall. But this summer, one of the most highly anticipated art events of the year kicks off mid-July. Also, a local museum hops on the biggest concert tour of the year; the best teenage pianists on the planet compete note-for-note; and pop-up concerts and dance festivals remind us that great performances can be staged anywhere.
Here are the 11 can't-miss arts events of summer 2023 in Dallas-Fort Worth. (Find even more arts events, including touring musicals and gallery offerings, in the calendar on our site).
Note: Several DFW museums currently are showing big exhibitions that will remain open into the summer. Find out more about a few of them here.
Meow Wolf: The Real Unreal
Opening July 14 at Grapevine Mills
The buzziest art event of the summer is Meow Wolf, an immersive experience that's been a sensation since it opened in Santa Fe. The first Texas edition (or "portal," as they call it), dubbed "The Real Unreal," promises to take guests on a journey through a Technicolor wonderland that blends more than 30 rooms' worth of storytelling, technology, and immersive art - much of it created by local artists. (Read more about what to expect in this story.) In addition to the exhibition, The Real Unreal will also include a cafe featuring 15 food purveyors, retail store, and venue for live events. Meow Wolf will be open at 10 am daily beginning July 14. (Hours may vary.) Tickets are now available for pre-purchase starting at $50 for general admission ($45 for children). Pre-booking a time slot for entry is required.
"Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour Collection"
June 3-September 24 at Arlington Museum of Art
Fresh off her sold-out three-night "Eras Tour" stand at AT&T Stadium this spring, the nearby Arlington Museum of Art dedicates an entire summer exhibition to Taylor Swift. In collaboration with the HELP Center for LGBT Health & Wellness, "Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour Collection" will feature items from Swift’s private collection. Visitors will be able to experience her journey as an artist and view outfits, photographs, and concert videos from the “eras” of her life and career. Highlights of the collection are eight iconic costumes from four of Swift’s albums. Tickets run $5-$20.
In conjunction with this exhibition, the museum also will present "Girl in a Country Song: Women of Country Music," featuring intimate portraits of such female country music legends as Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Faith Hill, Tanya Tucker, LeAnn Rimes, and others. They'll also open "Hometown Harmonies," which includes personal memorabilia from three women whose musical careers began on the stages of Arlington: Mickey Guyton, Kirstin Maldonado, and Maren Morris.
Cliburn International Junior Piano Competition
June 8-17 at SMU's Caruth Auditorium and the Meyerson Symphony Center
The Cliburn will present the third Cliburn International Junior Piano Competition and Festival, featuring 24 of the best 13- to 17-year-old pianists on the planet. Through four rounds of competition, including a final round with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the elite young artists will showcase their virtuosity and musicality. Preliminary, Quarterfinal, and Semifinal Round performances (solo recitals) will take place at Caruth Auditorium. The Final Round concert moves to the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, where three finalists will play a full concerto with the DSO, conducted by Valentina Peleggi. Admission is free-$25 for preliminary rounds; $38-$98 for final round. The entire event will be webcast here.
Outdoor symphonic concerts (ongoing)
Summer symphonic concerts lighten up a bit, with more pop-style fare in fun outdoor settings. The Dallas Symphony Orchestra presents a series of Parks Concerts, which are family-friendly, free, and staged at parks across the city. Remaining performances are June 1 at Exall Park; June 6 at Campbell Green Park; June 8 at Kidd Springs Park; and June 13 at Paul Quinn College. The DSO's popular Concert Truck is also zipping around town, presenting free pop-up concerts in more than 30 locations through June 11. The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra's annual Concerts in the Garden series at Fort Worth Botanic Garden runs on weekends through June 11, and each performance ends with a new sparkly extra, a drone show.
Mimir Chamber Music Festival
July 5-14at TCU and Kimbell Art Museum
While the big chamber music presenters prep for their fall seasons, summer chamber music cravings are fulfilled by this renowned festival, now in its 26th year. Acclaimed professional musicians are joined by emerging artists for a series of concerts that span more than a week. Among the big names joining the roster this year are Japanese pianist Rieko Aizawa, two-time Grammy nominated violinist Jesse Mills, and the rare billing of both Canadian pianist Lucille Chung and her husband, DFW fan-favorite pianist Alessio Bax. More information is here, and tickets will go on sale in June.
Titas/Unbound presents Ballet BC
June 9 at Winspear Opera House
Bold, innovative and uniquely great, Ballet British Columbia is an internationally acclaimed Canadian contemporary dance company. It is rare to find a company where just everything works; vision, dancers, repertory, say press materials. The program includes Crystal Pite’s The Statement, as well as Garden by Medhi Walerski and Bedroom Folk by Sharon Eyal & Gai Behar. Tickets are $12-$135.
Ballet Concerto: Summer Dance Concert
June 22-25 at The Shops at Clearfork
Now, remarkably, in its 41st year, the annual summer showcase isn't slowing down. Three ballets are planned for each night of performances. Spanish dance king Luis Montero will return to restage his Andalusian Suite, which was world premiered at Ballet Concerto’s 1997 Summer Dance Concert. The programs will also Irish Suite with choreography by Dennis Spaight (restaged by Associate Artistic Director Webster Dean) and Dream On with choreography by Elise Lavallee. Performances begin at 8:30 pm and are free to attend on the lawn, or $75 and up for reserved table seating. Make a night of it by pre-ordering food from nearby Rise or B&B Butchers and pick it up at the event tent on the lawn. More information here.
Modern Dance Festival at The Modern
July 22-23, 29-30 at The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
Presented by Contemporary Dance/Fort Worth in collaboration with the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, the 17th edition of the festival will celebrate the exhibition Robert Motherwell: Pure Painting and CD/FW’s “Thirty-Something” anniversary. A series of live performances of dance and music will be inspired by the exhibition and dedicated to the memory of Jerry Bywaters Cochran, who founded the modern dance program at TCU and was a pioneer for modern dance in North Texas. Performances take place at 2 pm in the Grand Lobby and are free to watch.
Next to Normal
June 1-July 2 at Theatre Three
The Goodman family is just a “normal” family: Dad's an architect, mom packs lunches and makes birthday cakes, and their daughter and son are bright, wise-cracking teens. Under the surface, their family is anything but. Next to Normal is an emotionally charged Tony-Award winning musical that explores a family’s raw and emotional journey with a mother struggling with chronic bipolar disorder as they navigate a world of therapists and medication. Tickets are $37-$40.
Miss Saigon with Lou Diamond Phillips
June 3-11 at Casa Manana
A tragedy of passion and beauty, Miss Saigon is one of the most stunning theatrical spectacles of all time. The musical takes audiences on emotional journey. In the turmoil of the Vietnam War, Chris, an American soldier, and Kim, a Vietnamese girl, fall in love and marry but are distressingly separated when Saigon falls. As years pass, Chris remarries and attempts to move on with his life. Kim, however, gives birth to Chris’ son and waits faithfully for Chris’ return. When circumstances bring Chris back to Vietnam, he learns the truth. (This show is suitable for mature audiences.) Legendary actor Lou Diamond Phillips returns to Texas to star as The Engineer. Tickets start at $59.
Uptown Players presents Chicken & Biscuits
July 28-Aug 13 at Kalita Humphreys Theater
Written by Douglas Lyons, Chicken & Biscuits follows rivaling sisters, Baneatta and Beverly, as they try to bury their father without killing each other. This proves difficult, when Beverly shows up to the chapel with all her “blessings” on display. Baneatta’s husband tries to mediate the family drama while preparing Bernard’s eulogy. Baneatta’s son intentionally brings his neurotic white Jewish boyfriend along, knowing Baneatta disapproves. All while Beverly’s nosy daughter keeps asking questions no one wants to answer. But when a family secret reveals itself at the altar, the two sisters are faced with a truth that could either heal, or break them. The show recently had a run on Broadway and now closes Uptown Players' season. Tickets are $35-$60.