Summertime in NYC is full of free music, dance and art throughout the five boroughs. Don’t miss out on the biggest–and most fun– cultural events of the season. Here are some of the best. By Sherry Mazzocchi.
The World Science Festival
From May 30th to June 3, some of the most brilliant minds in the arts and sciences gather in the city to talk about the most cutting edge topics in cosmology, neurology, biology—as well as art, dance and music. The highlight of the festival is the Ultimate Science Street Fair in Washington Square Park. On June 3rd, the park will be packed with free interactive exhibits, experiments and games–including a telepathy lab, the science of free-throws, a fragrance lab and lots more.
Celebrate Brooklyn Festival
The Celebrate Brooklyn Festival features artists as diverse at the borough itself. Starting on June 5th with the reggae legend Jimmy Cliff, the festival explodes with free concerts, dance, films and theater performances. See jazz pianist Geri Allen, dance to the Balkan Beat Box, experience the Arab street pop of Souad Massi, the Icelandic sounds of Sigur Ros or hang with Lyle Lovett. Get their early on June 28th for Ballet Hispanico.
More: NJ Summer Concert Guide
SummerStage, in force from June 5 though Aug. 30th, now takes place all over the city. SummerStage offers 41 events–most of them free — in Central Park alone. On June 20th, comics from The Daily Show will hold “Indecision in the Park” hosted by John Hodgman. Later in the summer, catch the Klezmatics, the Limon Dance Company, the Guthrie Family Reunion and Hezekiah Walker. Don’t miss Buckwheat Zydeco, either.
Big Apple Barbecue Block Party
On June 9th and 10, barbeque pit masters from all over the country come to NYC for a gathering of amazing food. Check out Mike Mills’ baby back ribs, Scott Roberts’ beef brisket and Garry Roark’s Pulled Pork. Vegan? Show some Northern Hospitality to the North Carolina band Southern Culture on the Skids.
Musuem Mile Festival
On June 12, from 6 to 9 pm, pedestrians take over Fifth Ave. and some Manhattan’s greatest institutions open their doors for free. Explore 10 museums, including the Museum for African Art, El Museo Del Barrio, the Jewish Museum and the Met. Check out the magicians, jugglers and a scavenger hunt. Create your own street art, venture into the Imagination Playhouse and rock out to the sounds of Quarteto Rodriguez Cuban Jewish Allstars.
The Coney Island Mermaid Parade
Coney Island kicks of the summer season with the Mermaid Day Parade on Saturday, June 23rd. The 30th Anniversary celebration of the sea and its real and mythical creatures is a rare and wonderful showcase of artistic self-expression.
International African Arts Festival
From June 30 through July 4th, this festival includes not only music, poetry, dance and a dizzying array of traditional foods, but also a marketplace of one-of-a kind African jewelry, clothing and art. Opening day features a glorious parade down starting at Fulton and Vanderbilt Ave. Stay for the tribute to Miriam Makeba at P.S. 287.
The City of Water Day
Sometimes we forget that New York City is really an archipelago. The City of Water Day gives New Yorkers access to the water with free boat tours, educational activities, waterfront biking and a spectacular flotilla of hundreds of kayakers, canoers and sailors.
Lincoln Center Out of Doors
From July 25th through Aug. 12, the plaza at Lincoln Center is filled with free events for the entire family. On July 26, the Gypsy Roma Urban Balkan Beats make their U.S. debut. August first, catch the Yemen Blues. Come back on Aug. 4th for Accordion Wrestling. The festival ends on a high note with an all-star gathering featuring the music of Gil Scott-Heron.
Held during three Saturdays in August, Summer Streets allows New Yorkers to play, walk and bike in the streets without the interference from those large moving heavy metal objects normally found there. From 7 am to 1 pm, the streets are blocked off and bikers and pedestrians also have low-traffic connections to the Hudson River Greeenway, Harlem, Brooklyn and Governor’s Island.