The Edmonton Symphony Orchestra is spending the weekend outside and conductor Robert Bernhardt could not be happier.

“We’re out of the room, we’re out of the box and we’re into the park and into some fun,”  says Bernhardt, who is conducting the event for the 14th time.

This year’s festival features the shows  Brahms & Dvorak, Hollywood hits Toe-Tappers and Celtic Spectacular featuring Eileen Ivers. The renowned fiddle player is looking forward to at Heritage Amphitheatre.

“It makes people looser in the audience,” says Ivers, who has played with the ESO but never at Symphony Under the Sky.

Having a loose atmosphere is the goal of the festival according to Bernhardt. He says there’s something special about listening to great orchestra music, accompanied by the sounds of the great outdoors.

“We play our music and sometimes we’ll have the geese fly over and there’s a squirrel on stage but we love it,” says Bernhardt.

The annual Labour Day long weekend event begins Thursday night with the Celtic Spectacular.

Performances continue through Monday, Sept. 2.