The official start to summer is finally here—at last! Celebrate the start of the city’s hottest season, as well as the longest night of the year, by participating in one or all of our picks for the best eating, drinking, and merrymaking events this weekend. Best of all? Every single event is free! By Jessica Allen.
Make Music New York is an all-day music festival that takes place annually throughout the city on the longest day of the year. More than 1300 concerts, in such genres as Americana, folk, Latin, opera, R&B, and reggae, will be held on sidewalks, in parks, and on streets. If you’re lucky, you might catch the Privia Piano Bar, in which a pianist will play live music from the back of a pick-up as folks on the sidewalk sing Billy Joel’s most famous ditties. Saturday, June 21, see schedule for times and locations, free.
Originally, Juneteenth commemorated the day in 1865 on which all 250,000 slaves in Texas were freed. In time, the holiday spread throughout the south and beyond. Today, the North Bronx Juneteenth Festival not only honors the past, but it also showcases the spirit, culture, and history of the neighborhood, with carnival rides and music. Vendors will be on hand as well, selling food, arts, and crafts from Latin America, Africa, and the Caribbean. Saturday, June 21, 10 am to 7 pm, free.
Since 2004, Adventures NYC has promoted the great outdoors in the Big Apple. Help ring in its 10th anniversary with two days of fun and free activities in Central Park (on Saturday) and Marine Park (on Sunday). You can rock climb, kayak, stand-up paddleboard, take a fitness class, get a free bike helmet, canoe, wander around the Salt Marsh Nature Trail, and shoot hoops, courtesy of the New York Knicks Groove Truck. Saturday, June 21, 11 am to 4 pm, and Sunday, June 22, 12 to 4 pm, free.
Not for the faint of heart, or the very young, Coney Island’s annual Mermaid Parade has helped usher in the start of summer for the past 32 years. Join King Neptune (Dante de Blasio) and Queen Mermaid (Chiara de Blasio) as they preside over the largest art parade in the United States, full of marching bands, vintage cars, crazy floats, and half-naked sea nymphs. More than 1500 people participate in the parade each year; many, many more come out to watch. Saturday, June 21, parade begins at 1 pm, free.
Welcome the summer solstice at Socrates Sculpture Park, for the tenth year in a row. The park honors the solstice with art workshops, face painting, a special experimental sound installation by Norte Maar, and a unique solstice ritual by Urban Shaman Mama Donna. Pack the kids, pack a picnic, and get there early to snag a grassy spot with the best views of Manhattan across the East River. Saturday, June 21, event begins at 5 pm, free.