Rock the Ruins: Pandemic-inspired concert series grows into summer tradition at Holliday Park


What started as an effort to present live music during the COVID-19 pandemic has grown into a summer tradition that aims to bring the community together at Holliday Park in Indianapolis.

The Rock the Ruins concert series will kick off its fourth season May 24, with 13 shows featuring a variety of sounds and styles scheduled through Sept. 20. The stage and viewing area are nestled between trees and the Ruins, which features a trio of sculptures made of Indiana limestone relocated from a New York City building facing demolition in the 1950s.

The partners at Forty5, which owns and operates several local performance venues, launched Rock the Ruins after COVID-19 restrictions halted most live events just months after they purchased The Vogue Theatre in Broad Ripple. They knew that nearby Holliday Park had hosted outdoor concerts in the past and could provide a unique setting to bring people together while still providing enough space for social distancing. It also allowed staff to keep working through the pandemic.

“That first year had spray-painted boxes, and you didn’t leave your box in the COVID days,” Forty5 CEO Jenny Boyts said. “It’s continued to evolve, and this year is a really full calendar and full lineup. This wasn’t just a flash-in-the-pan idea, but there were people and citywide institutions who believed that parks are an asset.”

Forty5 works with Indy Parks & Recreation and the Holliday Park Foundation to coordinate Rock the Ruins.   

Adam Barnes, executive director of the Holliday Park Foundation, said the nonprofit had previously organized a small summer concert series at the park in the past and felt it was ripe for expansion. The partnerships finally allowed that to occur, he said, leading to one of the most “laid back” concert experiences in town.

“It’s just a very relaxed atmosphere. It’s very family friendly,” Barnes said. “There’s some incredible venues around town, but I’ve never seen one that has as many families here. So, it’s friends, families, neighbors just enjoying being outside. Then the music starts and everybody comes together around that, but it really is a unique atmosphere.”

Rock the Ruins aims to present a variety of musical genres throughout the season from artists with diverse voices.

“We’re trying to get better across gender lines and across sexuality lines and race and putting those kinds of artists on stage,” Boyts said.

Rock the Ruins has space for up to 2,500 attendees, and guests are invited to bring their own chairs or reserve them onsite. For the first time this year a space called “the pit” will be designated for those who would rather stand or move around during the performance, Boyts said. Food trucks will be available at all shows to provide refreshments.

The limited parking spaces at Holliday Park must be reserved and purchased in advance, but free offsite parking is available at The Orchard School or Congregation B’Nai Torah. Shuttle buses will transport guests from the offsite lots to the park.

Ticket prices vary by concert, and various upgrades are available. Learn more and purchase tickets at

Rock the Ruins Wide Shot 2 Credit Doug Fellegy
Rock the Ruins returns to Holliday Park in Indianapolis May 24. (Photo Doug Fellegy / Rock the Ruins)

Rock the Ruins 2024 lineup

  • May 23 – The Decemberists
  • June 8 – Greensky Bluegrass
  • June 9 – Orville Peck
  • June 22 – Amos Lee
  • June 30 – Band of Horses
  • July 11 – Elle King
  • Aug. 8 – Andrew Bird with Amadou & Mariam
  • Aug. 15 – Switchfoot/Blue October/Matt Nathanson – Help From My Friends Tour
  • Aug. 16 – The Struts
  • Aug. 17 – The Mavericks
  • Aug. 18 – Charley Crockett
  • Sept. 20 – Manchester Orchestra