GO! SEE! EXPLORE! : Overton Park Shell

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GoSeeExploreI think most people who’ve been around Memphis for the last few decades won’t stop saying “Levitt Shell” when referring to this iconic location, but last Spring it was officially renamed The Overton Park Shell. The history of this outdoor amphitheater is fascinating and a “MUST EXPERIENCE” if you’re new to the city or just passing through.

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Snuggled between the Memphis Zoo and the Brooks Art Museum, Overton Park Shell is an outdoor concert and music venue that directly contributed to the early music scene here in Memphis and throughout the years. Located in midtown, inside Overton Park, it draws families from all over the city. Built in 1936 and designed by a local architect, it’s one of the only Depression-era bandshells still active today.

“In 1954, The Shell hosted the first-ever public performance of a young Elvis Presley, who opened for headliner Slim Whitman and instantly stole the show in what music historians call the first-ever rock and roll show.” (check out more Shell history here)

an evening at the Shell

Since then, countless legends have taken the stage: Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Booker T. & the MGs, Lisa Marie Presley, and more. Today, The Shell continues to support local artists as they work their way to be nationally recognized!

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While most people know the Overton Park Shell for its FREE concert series, it’s also home to quite a few other Memphis things — from outdoor fitness classes to private ticketed events. The Fall Concert Series runs from September 2 through October 23, with performances almost every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evening. Click here for the full line up.

goat yoga at the Shell

Here are some helpful things to know when planning a visit to The Shell :

  • Bring your own lawn chairs and blankets! Lawn seating is available on a first come, first served basis, subject to availability. The Shell kindly asks that you don’t “save a spot” for friends and family, so be sure to get there early for prime seating (although there’s not a bad view in the entire area)
  • You’ll see some permanent benches around the top of the grassy lawn. These are reserved for patrons who are physically challenged. Please respect their limited seating options and ensure that bench seating is available to those who need it. The Shell is 100% wheelchair and stroller accessible.
  • Bring a wagon or cart to carry your coolers, blankets, etc.
  • Outside food is permitted (except during ticketed events). My family often picks up a CFA nugget tray on our way to a concert.
  • Their “community area” offers food trucks (rotating nightly), the ShellBar, MEMPops, and carbonated beverages/water for sale.
  • You’re allowed to bring in your own alcohol, as long as you’re 21 years old or older. No glass bottles allowed.
  • Support the Shell by shopping at the Shell Shop! Pick up a t-shirt, sticker, water bottle, and more!
  • The Overton Park Shell is pet friendly! But dogs MUST be on a leash and remain in “The Puppy Bar” — the area of grass outside the main lawn seating area, behind the sidewalk.
  • While the actual main lawn is smoke free, there’s a new smoking/vaping area created at the top of the hill.

overton park shell concert

PRO MOM TIPS:

  • Go the bathroom before you arrive. There are public bathrooms available at the bottom of the hill to the left of the Shell (if you’re facing the music) plus ones on either side almost all the way to the top, but often the lines and long and it seems there’s never any TP
  • Bring glow sticks! As the evening light fades, it’s easier to keep an eye on where the kiddos are!
  • DANCE! In front of the stage, there’s a HUGE patio/concrete area that turns into a giant dance floor once the music starts! So get out there and bust a move!
  • There is free street parking throughout Overton Park and around The Shell. BUT be watchful for fire hydrants and tow away zones. They WILL ticket you or have your car towed. On the backside of the grassy hill, near The Brooks Art Museum is some designated parking spots and handicap parking.

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Located in the heart of Midtown, The Overton Park Shell is at 1928 Poplar Avenue, 38104

The easiest way to find The Shell is to enter the park from Poplar Avenue — there’s 2 entrances to pick from — and follow the signs. You could also enter the park from McLean like you’re heading to the zoo and wind your way through until you dump out at the foot of The Shell. You cannot access the Shell from the East Parkway side of the park.

Social media is a great way to keep up with what’s happening at The Shell :

Find The Overton Park Shell on Facebook here.

Find The Overton Park Shell on Instagram here.

Do you LOVE The Shell? They’re always looking for volunteers!

 

Overton Park Shell
A few years ago we had the MMC contributor photo taken at The Shell! SO FUN!

 

 

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The unique learning environment at Lausanne Collegiate School includes small class sizes as well as inspiring and supportive faculty. Lausanne is located at 1381 W. Massey Rd, 38120. Learn more about what sets academics at Lausanne apart or call (901) 474-1000 to schedule a tour.

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