Summer in the city means flip-flops and short-shorts and sitting outside for brunch. It means sunshine and air conditioning and blockbuster movies. And it means festivals galore. From Memorial Day through Labor Day, you can attend literary festivals, film festivals, food festivals, and music festivals, all without leaving the five boroughs. Below are some festivals we won’t be missing this year. See you there and there and there. By Jessica Allen.
The programming at SummerStage is as diverse as the city in which it takes place. As one of New York’s largest performing arts festivals, SummerStage seeks to “enrich the lives of New Yorkers” by hosting concerts, plays, literary readings, movie screenings, dance, stand-up, and tons of other performances, in an array of genres, in parks across the city. We’re particularly jazzed about The Daily Show with Trevor Noah event, the Metropolitan Opera Summer Recital Series, and Ryan Adams and The Shining, but, hey, that’s just us. Best of all? Many are free! Now through September, see schedule for details and ticket info.
As you might expect from the name, Celebrate Brooklyn! celebrates Brooklyn—and has done so for 38 straight years. That’s some party, all right! Among the musicians, singers, choreographers, and performers scheduled to take the stage at the Prospect Park Bandshell are the Violent Femmes, Tame Impala, Digable Planets, Camille A. Brown, The Lumineers, and Beirut. Some performances are free (including a screening of Run Lola Run with a live improvised score), while others require tickets. June 8 through August 13, see schedule for details and ticket info.
Warm Up seeks to introduce “audiences to the best in experimental music, sound, and DJs—both local and international—across a range of genres,” with a focus on collaboration, experimentation, and innovation. And, by doing so, this annual series transforms the courtyard of MoMA PS 1 into an epicenter of coolness. This year, the concerts will take place in and around an installation by Mexico City-based architecture firm Escobedo Solíz Studi. Get there early, and take a spin around the galleries too. Saturdays, June 11 through August 27, see schedule for details, tickets required.
We’re not going to lie to you: the HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival is one of the hottest tickets in town—and you don’t even need a ticket to attend. What you do need is patience and stamina. Lots and lots of stamina. Good running shoes probably wouldn’t hurt, either. As soon as the park opens for the evening’s screening (usually around 5 pm), people hurdle, hustle, and hurry to grab lawn space. Then they sit back for a classic movie screened under the stars. Mondays, June 20 through August 22, see schedule for details, free.
When the weather gets warm, Lincoln Center moves to its plaza, hosting new and established singers, dancers, writers, and musicians on its grounds. This year, Lincoln Center “Out of Doors” kicks off in a big way — with Patti Smith — then welcomes Darlene Love, the Dance Theatre of Harlem, and M. Ward, among others. Speaking of Lincoln Center, this year marks the 50th of the beloved Mostly Mozart Festival (held in July and August), including the world premiere of the public domain, which involves 1,000 volunteer vocalists. July 20 through August 7, see schedule for details and ticket info.
The complete lineup for Panorama, a three-day festival of art, music, and technology taking over Randall’s Island in July. Produced by the folks behind Coachella, and showcasing that festival’s specially made 50,000-watt dance floor known as Despacio, Panorama includes Kendrick Lamar, LCD Soundsystem (newly reunited), Arcade Fire, FKA twigs, and Sufjan Stevens. There’s literally something for everyone! July 22 through July 24, see schedule for details, tickets required.
Harlem Week, a celebration of the eponymous neighborhood, began as a single day in 1974 — it’s since grown to more than 100 events throughout the month of August. This year, you can attend fashion shows (for kids and adults), a health fair and exercise demos, career and education fairs, dance and theater performances, a basketball expo featuring NBA players, the International Gospel Showcase and other concerts, the Upper Manhattan Auto Show and movie screenings. July 31 through August 27, see schedule for details.
Celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2016, the New York International Fringe Festival takes over tiny theaters all around the city in August, just when the summer starts to feel its doggiest. The Fringe spotlights emerging playwrights and performers. You can see solo shows, kiddie shows, clown shows, operas, burlesque, magic shows, improv, dramas and comedies. Many stars and shows got their start at this popular festival, including Mindy Kaling, whose satirical play about Ben Affleck and Matt Damon was a breakout hit in 2002. August 12 through August 28, see schedule for details, tickets required.
Electric Zoo lets you say so long to summer in a big, big way. This electronic music festival takes over Randall’s Island every Labor Day weekend and features some of the world’s best electronic dance music performers, including The Chainsmokers, Tiësto, Hardwell, Datsik, Big Gigantic, and Julia Govor. You can get your groove on rain or shine. September 2 through September 4, see schedule for details, tickets required, must be 18 or older.