5 things you may not know about the symphony at McGuire Nuclear Station

By land or lake, the Charlotte Symphony serenades concertgoers for 20 years

What’s better than a night out under the stars? A night out enjoying the sounds of the Charlotte Symphony at McGuire Nuclear Station, of course. It’s not often you hear that thousands of people are planning to attend a concert at a nuclear plant, but it’s been happening here for decades.  

Whether you still need to mark your calendar for this free performance on June 17, or if you’ve been attending for years, here are five things you may like to know about this event. 

Hosting the symphony began in 2001. 

How do you commemorate 20 years of clean energy generation? Invite the community to celebrate with you! When McGuire Nuclear Station unit 1 reached this milestone, an employee suggested hosting the Charlotte Symphony on the lawn of the EnergyExplorium, McGuire Nuclear Station’s energy education center, for all to come and enjoy. This year, 2022, marks the 20th occasion of this beloved community tradition.  

(The event was canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.) 

Since then, the concert has become something residents look forward to, and the numbers continue to grow each year. 

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The Charlotte Symphony performance in 2003 was "Summer Pops."


It is the largest community event in the nuclear industry.  

McGuire’s annual concert is a strong representation of how nuclear site employees can engage with their community members. Connecting with neighbors and establishing positive relationships is central to ensuring successful and sustained operations for decades to come. Events such as this attract visitors, like the 12,300 who attended the event in 2018, who might not have other opportunities to visit a nuclear site. More importantly, it provides community members with an up close and personal view of the safety and security prioritized by the nuclear industry.  

McGuire Nuclear Station hosts community events throughout the year, the largest of which is the symphony.

The series/theme changes every year.  

This year it's Swing into Summer featuring big-band era jazzy favorites from George Gershwin, Duke Ellington and many more. Here’s a peak at themes from previous years: 

  • Symphonic Passion – orchestral favorites including selections from Star Wars 

  • Summertime Serenade – selections from West Side Story and My Fair Lady 

  • Summer Spirit – classics, as well as popular movie scores from Harry Potter, Superman, Batman and The Wizard of Oz 

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The Charlotte Symphony serves the community through music that connects and inspires.

Visitors can listen to the symphony on personal boats or on the lawn of the EnergyExplorium. 

Throughout the evening, over a hundred boats may anchor at the EnergyExplorium’s cove at the southern tip of Lake Norman to enjoy the music. Many visitors make this event an annual family or group outing, packing picnic dinners and staging elaborate settings to make it a truly festive and elegant evening.  

While the symphony starts playing around 8:15 p.m. each year, concertgoers frequently arrive 3 hours early just to claim a spot on the coveted EnergyExplorium lawn. 

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Guests are always encouraged to bring picnic dinners to top off the evening of socializing and fantastic music.

It literally takes a village to plan this event. 

Nearly 80 employee volunteers help make the symphony a great event for visitors each year. Volunteers from all over Duke Energy – from maintenance to site support staff to security officers and more – do their part to make this a safe and enjoyable event for all. As many as 20 volunteers serve as golf cart drivers and assistants, as well as greeters to ensure every attendee receives special attention. 

Planning for the symphony takes about two months, and the massive symphony stage and sound set-up takes about three days to be built from scratch right on the lawn of the EnergyExplorium. 

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Employee volunteers from 2014 welcoming concertgoers.

We’re excited to celebrate the 20th performance of the Charlotte Symphony at McGuire Nuclear Station this year! Are you joining us? 

Learn more about this event.

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