If you live in Huntsville or found yourself here on a work visit, there is a pretty good chance you’ve attended a meeting or perhaps a concert at the Von Braun Center. Truth is, there are a million ways to appreciate all this enormous facility has to offer. Maybe Rhythm on Monroe is your favorite place to grab an after-work cocktail or you’re a diehard Huntsville Havoc Hockey fan but, there’s a whole lot more VBC to explore out there! In order to get an overall view of this Huntsville beacon of entertainment and commerce, I reached out to Samantha Nielsen, Marketing & Public Relations Manager at the Von Braun Center, to give us an insider’s view of all the moving parts we see and some of the one’s we don’t. Let’s begin the countdown, shall we?!
What are 5 ways someone can make the most of a trip to and thoroughly experience the VBC?
- Are you a sports aficionado? The VBC is home to three-time playoff champions – The Huntsville Havoc (a Southern Professional Hockey League team)! With their regular season running from October through April, there’s a good chance they’ll be hitting the ice while you’re in town. This is a great event for all ages to enjoy!
- If you’re craving entertainment that’s a bit more cultured, the VBC also hosts Huntsville’s Broadway Theatre League, the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra and the Huntsville Ballet Company, as well as Theatre Huntsville and Fantasy Playhouse Children’s Theater. There are tons of performances scheduled throughout the year!
- Looking to see an A-list comedian, top-billing concert or family show? Just check out the upcoming event listing at vonbrauncenter.com. Between the VBC’s Propst Arena, Mars Music Hall, Mark C. Smith Concert Hall and the Playhouse – there’s always something to attend!
- Do you enjoy perusing art? Arts Huntsville is located inside the VBC and showcases local artist’s works along the corridor between the Box Office and Mars Music Hall. And speaking of Mars, you absolutely must take a selfie in front of the custom space wings at its entrance (created by local artist Don Howard). Looking for another pro-tip? Sneak out back behind the Propst Arena and find the two hidden “Welcome to Huntsville” murals (created by local muralist Brandon Stoll) that are welcoming messages to the many touring artists and athletes performing at the Von Braun Center! Fun fact: One of the murals includes an illustration of Huntsville Baptist Church’s ‘Eggbeater Jesus’ with original tiles included in the imagery.
- Finally, when trying to decide between the many fantastic options in town to eat or sit and enjoy an evening cocktail, consider making reservations at the VBC’s on-site restaurant and rooftop bar – Rhythm on Monroe! Rhythm offers delicious cocktails, craft brews and freshly prepared, locally sourced urban fare. It’s the perfect spot for a pre-show dinner or post-event drinks. Not planning to attend an event at the VBC? No problem! Rhythm on Monroe is open for all guests.
Personally, I’ve eaten everything from arena nachos to fancy banquet food in many visits to the Von Braun Center over my lifetime. Not to put you on the spot but… here’s the spot. What are the top 4 foodie delicacies everyone should try at the VBC, at least once?
- The Lamb Lollipops with smoked blueberry mint jam from Rhythm on Monroe
- The Chocolate Chess Pie with whipped cream from Rhythm on Monroe
- The Loaded Nachos from Bud Light Café in Propst Arena
- Technically not food – but a delicious cocktail available at any of the bars throughout the facility is our signature Long Island Iced Tea
For those who think the only thing that the VBC does is rent space for other people’s events or activities, what are 3 of the homegrown events the VBC has created and contributed to the Huntsville community?
- The VBC proudly partners with locally owned radio station Mix 96.9 (WRSA) to provide the city of Huntsville and its surrounding communities with the Downtown Huntsville Christmas Parade! Occurring on the first Tuesday of December, the route begins in front of the VBC North Hall and winds its way through downtown. This is a major holiday tradition that everyone looks forward to!
- In June, the VBC hosts the annual Family Fun Festival & Expo! This event (in the VBC South Hall) includes games, rides, performances and music. It truly is fun for the entire family! The cost of admission is just a school supply item that is donated Free 2 Teach – a local non-profit that provides free school supplies to teachers within Madison County’s three public school systems.
- Traveling to Huntsville the first weekend in February? Stop by Huntsville’s beer festival, aptly named Von Brewski! Located in the VBC South Hall, this annual beer festival features more than 120 brews from over 60 breweries – local, regional, national and international. Attendees receive a complimentary pretzel necklace and signature sampling glass!
The Von Braun Center first opened in 1975 so it’s been “local” before a lot of the locals who visit it were even born! What are 2 ways the VBC embraces its local roots and acknowledges the community it represents?
- As our namesake indicates, the Von Braun Center celebrates Huntsville’s impact in aerospace and further illustrates the community’s cheeky nickname – The Rocket City. In 2020, we continued that trend with the naming of our newest venue addition, Mars Music Hall. And for those A-list celebs stopping by the Propst Arena, we’ve showcased artwork backstage by local photographer Dennis Keim highlighting the S. Space and Rocket Center.
- Local breweries are featured at all bars throughout the entire facility!
What is the number 1 thing Huntsville residents and visitors alike can do to support the Von Braun Center now and for years to come?
- Buy tickets and attend events! Like everything else, events (traveling shows specifically) are based on supply and demand. So, if the Huntsville market isn’t showing up and selling out events at the VBC, artists will stop adding us to their tours.
Longtime local, first time VBC interviewer here. I don’t know about you guys, but I couldn’t wait to go see that “Eggbeater Jesus” mural, grab a slice of Chocolate Chess Pie and peruse the Arts Huntsville installation! Did you know there were all these entertainment options happening in-between Reba concerts and Craft Shows (which aren’t so bad themselves)? The Von Braun Center once again proving our local resources are vast, innovative, and worth exploring beneath the surface of what we think we know about them.
Sixth-generation native Huntsvillian and lover of all things Rocket City, living in constant fear of personal geekery deficits and overall lack of geographical nerd-appropriateness, but valiantly fighting to stay abreast of the latest and perceived coolest assets in North Alabama in order to be allowed to stay at the smart people party. I sometimes travel to cool places, see fancy things and write words about them at Tour Dates Travel.