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By: Cameron Klepac, The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion

From its first day, The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion has existed to bring The Arts to you. Cynthia Woods Mitchell, wife of George P. Mitchell, founder of The Woodlands, had a dream of bringing a world-class performing arts facility to town after attending a free ballet performance with her family at Zilker Park in Austin, Texas.

The initial vision was a small outdoor venue that would play classical shows and would bring the residents of The Woodlands closer to the performing arts. However, for The Pavilion to be a successful venue, development professionals encouraged the Mitchells to expand their plans from “500 seats on the side of a hill” to a full-blown amphitheater that would provide revenue generating contemporary shows that could support the performing arts. Plans went from 500 seats to 10,000 and a deal was struck with PACE Concerts (now Live Nation) to bring contemporary shows to The Pavilion and have “rock pay for Bach.” The concerts would help to fund community and school programs to encourage growth of the performing arts.

In April 1990, the dream became a reality when The Pavilion opened with a star-studded gala weekend. The Houston Symphony performed April 27, Frank Sinatra April 28 and Alabama with Clint Black on April 29. The original facility provided 3,000 reserved seats and room for 7,000 guests on the lawn.

In 1995, The Pavilion’s Board of Directors approved its first expansion to enhance capacity and offer more amenities for guests. The expansion encompassed the addition of 1,900 uncovered reserved seats and increased lawn seating by 1,100, resulting in a total capacity of approximately 13,000. The 6th season opened on April 18, 1995, with a sold-out crowd and Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers on the Main Stage.

In the early morning hours of September 13, 2008, Hurricane Ike made landfall as a Category 2 hurricane on the Gulf Coast and forever changed The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion. Hurricane Ike caused catastrophic damage to the facility forcing the cancellation of the remaining event season. In November 2008, The Pavilion Board of Directors approved the most ambitious construction project in venue history – the rebuild of nature’s greatest stage. That December, crews started construction and in an unbelievable 160 days reopened as a whole new chapter for The Pavilion with Dave Matthews Band on the Main Stage. The new facility expanded the roof by almost 2.5 times increasing the number of covered seats to over 6,000.

With several more state-of-the-art additions in the years since, including a dynamic, 21,000-square foot event center and first-class club, The Pavilion has separated itself and has been ranked as one of the top venues in the world to experience a live performance.

While attending events at the venue is a staple if you live in The Woodlands, The Pavilion might be most proud of its outreach initiatives. Through training, performance opportunities and numerous outreach programs, The Pavilion brings the arts to over 50,000 children annually. Additionally, through The Pavilion Partner Scholarship program, over $2.1 million in scholarships have been awarded to area students pursuing a degree in the fine arts. And through various grant projects, over $250,000 is funded to arts educators, local school fine arts programs and other arts initiatives, including a partnership with The Woodlands Children’s Museum.

Cynthia Woods Mitchell always referred to her namesake Pavilion as “A Salute to the Power of a Dream.” The Woodlands community helps support this dream by attending shows, embracing the arts and amplifying The Pavilion’s mission to the community and beyond.


Many thanks to The Woodlands 50th Anniversary Sponsors:

FOUNDING – Howard Hughes

PRODUCER – The Woodlands Township

LEGACY – Woodforest National Bank

HERITAGE – Waste Connections Inc.

GOLD – Entergy Texas, Houston Methodist The Woodlands Hospital

SILVER – SVN/JBeard Real Estate, The John Cooper School