Free Summer Concerts in NYC


by staff, 05/06/2012

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The best things in life are free, especially when it comes to NYC's summer concerts. This May through August, you can hear live music of all kinds across the City without spending a dime. Whether it's punk on Governors Island, indie rock on the Williamsburg waterfront, a classy night outdoors with the Metropolitan Opera or diverse lineups including everything from jazz to world music at SummerStage and Celebrate Brooklyn!, New York City's gratis alfresco performances are sure to please music lovers of all tastes. Read on below for a breakdown of some of our favorite shows, as well as a full list of summer concert series and festivals. Enjoy, and rock on!

Don't mind paying for your live music? Click the graphic below for a full list of NYC concerts, both free and ticketed.

NYC Concert Calendar

May 26–August 18
Summer Thunder at Union Pool
The Williamsburg venue's annual free summer concert series features (no surprise here) hip acts like Turing Machine, Lone Wolf and Rocksteady Yeti. For more info, visit .

August 3–26
Bronx Salsa Fest 
"New York's 'Salsa Borough'" presents a month of programming including the "Hip Hop Generation Next Block Party," music performances at Orchard Beach and The Morrison Avenue Festival—a community celebration packed with food and music. For more info and a full calendar of events, visit

August 16
Gladys Knight and the Commodores at Coney Island 
The soulful Gladys Knight took her talents in another direction this year, joining the cast of Dancing With the Stars. While the singer's fancy footwork didn't yield victory on the show, her vocal talents remain unimpeachable. Stop by the Coney Island waterfront to see her live, joined by funk and soul masters the Commodores—best known for their funky '70s hit “Brick House.” For more info, visit

August 18 
The Kills at Hudson River Park, Pier 63 
It's free to see rock duo Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince perform selections from their four studio albums, but you need tickets. For more information, visit

August 18
Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings at Williamsburg Park 
Despite her amazing pipes, Sharon Jones spent decades on the fringes of the music industry until a special group of Brooklyn musicians began to tease out her seemingly bottomless pool of talent and charisma. The band eventually became the Dap-Kings, and the label, Daptone Records, became an analogue-worshipping funk phenomenon. For more info, visit the Williamsburg Park Facebook page

August 25–26
Afro-Punk Festival at Commodore Barry Park
Head out to Commodore Barry Park and hear the likes of Erykah Badu, Gym Class Heroes, Spank Rock, Reggie Watts, Janelle Monae and Das Racist. This year's Afro-Punk Festival has been a long time coming—the 2011 edition was wiped out by Hurricane Irene. For more info, visit

August 29
Turbonegro at House of Vans 
Norwegian punk-rockers Turbonegro formed in 1989. If you’re brave enough to see what “deathpunk” (what the band calls its signature style) is all about, head to House of Vans for this free show. For more info, visit

September 7
Bob Mould at Williamsburg Park 
The influential Hüsker Dü rocker plays a free show during which he'll perform the now 20-year-old Sugar record Copper Blue in its entirety. Yep, you're getting old. For more info, visit

Full list of summer concert series:
4Knots Music Festival
BAM Rhythm and Blues Festival
Bargemusic Presents: "Music In Motion"
Celebrate Brooklyn!
Charlie Parker Jazz Festival
Jazzmobile Summer Concerts
Lincoln Center Out of Doors
Madison Square Music: Madison Square Kids
Madison Square Music: Oval Lawn Series
Make Music New York
Martin Luther King, Jr. Concert Series (2012 lineup to be announced)
The Metropolitan Opera Summer HD Festival
Metropolitan Opera's Summer Recital Series
New York Philharmonic Concerts in the Parks
Summer on the Oval
Naumburg Orchestral Concerts
River to River Festival
Seaside Summer Concert Series (2012 lineup to be announced)
Shakespeare in the Park
St. Luke's Chamber Ensemble's Subway Series
Summergarden at MoMA
Summer in the Square
Summer on the Plaza Concerts
Today Show Summer Concert Series
Vans House Parties
Washington Square Music Festival
Williamsburg Park (website also lists ticketed concerts; check individual shows for details)

related venues/(5)

  1. 1
    Central Park
    Between Fifth Ave. and Central Park West
    Manhattan – Central Park
    NY 10024
  2. 2
    Prospect Park
    95 Prospect Park West
    Multiple Locations
    NY 11215
  3. 3
    Governors Island
    New York Harbor
    Manhattan – Financial District
    NY 10004
  1. 4
    Brooklyn Bridge Park
    334 Furman St.
    Brooklyn – DUMBO
    NY 11201
  2. 5
    Stuyvesant Town Oval
    Enter at First Ave and 16th St.
    New York – East Village

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