Enjoy extraordinary pipe organ concerts year-round in Balboa Park by the Spreckels Organ Society, a volunteer-driven nonprofit that works to preserve and promote the Spreckels Organ, a musical treasure beloved by all.
The iconic organ pavilion, named after sugar magnate John D. Spreckels, was built for the Panama-California exposition in 1915. A stunning San Diego landmark, the pavilion is flanked by curved Grecian-style colonnades illuminated by 1,400 embedded lights, giving the complex a striking appearance at night.
The Spreckels organ itself is a symphonic concert organ that can create sounds such as brass, reeds, strings, percussion and other orchestral instruments not found on traditional church organs. With an impressive acoustic range, the organ can sometimes be heard far outside Balboa Park.
Concerts are held every Sunday at 2 p.m. (for one hour) and on Monday evenings in summer (7:30 to 9:30 p.m.) All concerts are free and open to the public. Seating is outdoors in the organ pavilion, on metal benches that seat up to 2,500 people. Guests are encouraged to bring blankets, seat cushions, shade hats, or sun umbrellas and music-loving pets are welcome, as well as picnics. Sitting outside in the sunshine listening to an often classical performance by the organ society is one of the finer treats in San Diego. Stroll down the Prado to cap off the day.
Also, don’t miss the holidays at the pavilion, an especially festive affair, kicking off with December Nights, a two-day free event that features caroling, holiday programs and the lighting of the Balboa Park Christmas tree. The organ society stages concerts throughout the month, including a New Year’s Day program. Other special programs during the year include Earth Fair programming in April and silent-movie nights in the summer and fall.
Groups may also hold a presentation or ceremony at the pavilion by contacting the San Diego Park & Recreation Office of Developed Regional Parks at (619) 235-1169
Also, consider becoming an SOS Member at SpreckelsOrgan.org. Spreckels Organ Society members receive the society’s quarterly newsletter, the StopTab, as well as exclusive offers and special invitations while helping to preserve this historic landmark and fund exciting events.