The sheer number of events in New York City in summer is massive, so we're we're here to help sort through the season's biggest highlights. Start your summer off with Manus x Machina at the Met, an exhibition that explores how technology influences fashion. Next, revisit any of Lincoln Center's four annual festivals and other summertime favorites like Shakespeare in the Park, SummerStage, the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party and the Museum Mile Festival. It wouldn't be summer in NYC without the Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks or the Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest. The season winds down with Harlem Week, Summer Streets and the US Open Tennis Championships. Read on for details of these and other amazing things to see and do in the warm-weather months.
For three decades SummerStage has been the City's preeminent outdoor concert series. A number of high-profile benefit shows fund a slate of more than 100 free performances, including readings by famous authors, kid-friendly events, parties with bands from around the world, and theatrical and dance productions. The festival has expanded from its original digs—Rumsey Playfield in Central Park—to locations in all five boroughs. Last season's performers included Jukebox the Ghost, George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic, Walk the Moon and Father John Misty. Stay tuned for details on this year’s lineup.
Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology
May 5–August 14
The Met Costume Institute's spring 2016 exhibition focuses on how technology influences fashion, specifically when it comes to haute couture and handmade designs. While machine manufacturing used to separate haute couture from ready-to-wear, the division between the two modes has become less clear. Works by Chanel, John Galliano for Dior and Yves Saint Laurent will be on display.
The Roof Garden Commission: Cornelia Parker
May 17–October 30
British artist Cornelia Parker has been selected as the fourth artist to present her installation at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden. Parker is known for her large-scale, thought-provoking and sometimes dark works, which will be backdropped by the roof garden's spectacular views of Central Park and the Midtown Manhattan skyline this summer.
Shakespeare in the Park
May 24–August 14
Shakespeare in the Park is a consummate New York City institution, one that has drawn more than 5 million people since it was first staged in the park’s Delacorte Theater in 1962. This year the production will include an all-female interpretation of The Taming of the Shrew, starring Cush Jumbo and Tony winner Janet McTeer, from May 24 to June 26. The park will also host performances of the Bard's Troilus and Cressida, July 19–August 14. Tony winner Daniel Sullivan, who helmed productions for the last two years (of Cymbeline and King Lear), returns to direct.
A favorite among Brooklyn’s summertime concert series, Celebrate Brooklyn! is set at the beautiful Prospect Park Bandshell, where tons of seating and tree-shaded areas make for a lovely spot for a picnic, a plastic cup of wine and a free show. Last year’s performers included Chaka Khan, Damien Rice, Interpol and Willie Nelson. Stay tuned for information on this year’s lineup.
Summer at Lincoln Center
Throughout the summer, Lincoln Center presents a number of annually recurring programs, each with a bit of a different theme. Out of Doors includes music, dance, spoken-word events, family shows and specially commissioned works—all for free. Midsummer Night Swing (also a family-friendly affair) allows you to take dance lessons and then try out your moves to live music under the stars. And Mostly Mozart celebrates its 50th season with works of its famous namesake composer through opera, dance, symphonic, and contemporary music performances.
Big Apple Barbecue Block Party
Pit masters from NYC, Alabama, Texas, Tennessee, North Carolina and other locations near and far descend on Madison Square Park for the annual lip-smacking food festival. In addition to some seriously tender vittles, folks can enjoy live blues, rock and country music and catch seminars on the art and science behind the brisket and ribs. The event usually takes place over a weekend in the first half of the month.
Kanye West, the Strokes, the Killers, Haim, Beck and Robyn—plus Big Boi and Phantogram's new collaboration Big Grams—are just a small sampling of the more than 65 acts set to overrun Randall's Island Park for one of the biggest music events of the summer. Stay hydrated and remember to reapply sunscreen, because you're in for three solid days of outdoor rock and pop.
National Puerto Rican Day Parade
The parade up Fifth Avenue celebrates Puerto Rican community and culture, which connects the millions of Puerto Ricans living in the New York City metropolitan area and across the United States with their compatriots in the Caribbean. “Lively” doesn't even begin to describe this event, which attracts tens of thousands of marchers and millions of spectators every year and includes energetic musical performances, floats and a host of Puerto Rican celebrities.
Copa America Soccer
June 12, 17 and 26
The 100th anniversary of the Copa America tournament features 10 teams from CONMEBOL (the South American soccer federation) and six from CONCACAF (North America, Central America and the Caribbean). MetLife Stadium will host three games: a group-stage match between Haiti and Ecuador (June 12); a quarterfinal that could, if form holds, pit Brazil against the United States (June 17); and the championship game (June 26). International stars like Neymar and Lionel Messi plan to suit up. For more details and information on tickets, check out our Copa America overview.
Museum Mile Festival
The annual Museum Mile Festival offers free admission to some of the world's finest art collections during extended evening hours. The 23-block stretch of Fifth Avenue is home to eight participating institutions—El Museo del Barrio, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Cooper Hewitt, the Jewish Museum, the National Academy Museum, Neue Galerie and the Museum of the City of New York. In addition to all the art to see inside, there are plenty of outdoor festivities: face painting, chalk drawing, live music and other block-party-type events. The festival kicks off at 6pm at The Met, rain or shine.
Antonio Lopez: Future Funk Fashion
June 14–November 26
El Museo del Barrio presents the first solo exhibition of Bronx-raised artist Antonio Lopez, whose fashion illustrations dominated editorials in the 1970s and '80s. The exhibition will feature Lopez’s drawings, prototypes, photographs and archival objects. His work focuses on sexuality in fashion, blending themes of race, gender and the body.
New York Philharmonic Concerts in the Parks
This series has a long history of bringing free classical music concerts to all five boroughs. Last year’s schedule included two gigs on the Great Lawn in Central Park and shows at Prospect Park in Brooklyn, Cunningham Park in Queens and Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. An indoor concert in Staten Island's Music Hall at Snug Harbor rounded out the celebration. Stay tuned for details on this year’s performances.
New York City is home to one of the world's most vibrant gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities. The City embraces its diversity as a source of strength, and that's never more evident than during Pride Week, when neighborhoods throughout the five boroughs mark the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots of 1969 and celebrate the victories of the gay rights movement that followed in its wake. The week's activities include a family movie night, a rally on the Hudson River waterfront and a rooftop rave, all leading up to the massive march down Fifth Avenue on June 26, which gets rolling at noon.
Night at the Museums
Under the umbrella of the River to River Festival, a number of downtown museums and historic sites will offer free admission and special programming on June 21, from 4pm to 8pm. The participating organizations have yet to be announced, but last year's event included the 9/11 Memorial Museum, Federal Hall National Memorial, Fraunces Tavern Museum, Museum of American Finance, Museum of Jewish Heritage–A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, National Museum of the American Indian–New York, Skyscraper Museum, South Street Seaport Museum, 9/11 Tribute Center, NYC Municipal Archives Visitor Center and Wall Street Walks.
Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks
It wouldn't be the Fourth of July in New York City without the annual Macy's fireworks show, which made its debut in 1976 to commemorate the nation's bicentennial. The display will take place over the East River, with fireworks set off from the Brooklyn Bridge and from barges in the water below. The best viewing spots will be from Brooklyn Bridge Park and the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, and along the east side of Lower Manhattan. If you plan on heading to where the action is, arrive by 5pm to snag a good spot (the light show starts around 9:15pm).
Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest
With a combination of steely grit, limber lips and highly expandable stomachs, competitors in the annual Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest devour wieners galore to the delight of throngs of screaming fans. A select group of skilled eaters convene at high noon, eating Nathan's dogs (and buns) for 10 minutes straight, stopping for nothing—not ketchup, not mustard, not even a french fry. Competitive eating champ Joey Chestnut held the top spot for eight consecutive years but lost to upstart Matt Stonie in the 2015 battle. The stakes will be high this year as Chestnut seeks to reclaim his title. Plus, 2016 is the 100th anniversary of Nathan's and, purportedly, of the competition itself (historians, take note—records for the event extend no further back than the early 1970s).
Bastille Day on 60th Street
Experience France without leaving the City at this family-friendly street fair commemorating the beginning of the French Revolution. Sample authentic cuisine, stroll among market stalls, enjoy arts and crafts, watch live performances and dance to French-style music.
Who Shot Sports: A Photographic History, 1843 to the Present
July 15–January 8, 2017
Anyone who's been to a sporting event or watched one on television has seen the hundreds of photographers who show up to capture that perfect picture at the perfect time. Sports photographs are some of the most intriguing around, capturing singular moments in competitive history so they will live on forever. The Brooklyn Museum presents this exhibition of more than 200 photographs chosen by photographic historian Gail Buckland that were selected for their “aesthetic, cultural and historical significance.” They cover all kinds of sports from all around the world.
New York City is arguably the jazz capital of the world, and this festival highlights some of our musical metropolis’ finest contributions to the genre. The 32nd annual Jazz in July fest salutes a number of worthy musical legends, including Nat King Cole, Eubie Blake and Fats Waller. Among other highlights are a Summertime Swing Party kickoff and concerts dedicated to the music of Nat King Cole and George Gershwin.
The organizers of Coachella will launch a three-day East Coast music festival this year, set—where else?—right here in New York City. The lineup for the three-day spectacular features plenty to be excited about: headliners include LCD Soundsystem, Kendrick Lamar and the Arcade Fire, with support from the likes of FKA Twigs, Sia, ASAP Rocky, Run the Jewels, Broken Social Scene and Blood Orange. Festivalgoers can also expect art installations, tech demonstrations and lots of eats. Note for the curious and/or those who like miniatures: Panorama takes its name from the ever-evolving model of the five boroughs located at the Queens Museum.
What began in 1974 as a one-day tribute to Harlem has evolved over four decades into a monthlong celebration of the community's rich economic, political and cultural history. Harlem Week reaches a fever pitch during the bursting-at-the-seams weekend of events held under the banner of “Summer in the City,” including a college fair, children's festival, “Dancing in the Street” party, fashion show, tennis clinic and Motown musical concert. Among the other highlights: a special Harlem Week series of “Amateur Night at the Apollo” concerts (with surprise musical guests added into the mix), a hoops tourney at historic Rucker Park and the annual Percy Sutton 5K run/walk.
For three Saturdays in August, the sounds of honking horns and idling delivery trucks give way to the gentle footfalls of pedestrians and the ring-a-ding-ding of bicycle bells. From 7am to 1pm, a corridor connecting Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park—long stretches of Lafayette Street and Park Avenue, and a few connecting streets—will be closed to motor vehicles and open to the public for biking, strolling, dancing and aimless peregrinating. There are also “rest stops” along the way, offering activities galore—a water slide, parkour, bicycling, tai chi demonstrations and a 165-foot zip line.
Central Park Conservancy Film Festival
The free Central Park Conservancy Film Festival screens classics just north of the Sheep Meadow (enter the park at West 72nd Street). Bring a blanket and a picnic basket, and come early to snag a good spot—gates open at 6:30pm and the movies start at 8pm. The 2016 lineup has yet to be announced, but 2015 featured picks from 1980: Fame, The Blues Brothers, Airplane!, Raging Bull and the family-friendly Superman II. About an hour before each movie screens, there will be a live DJ performance.
Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival
A colorful multicultural tradition, this festival paddles back to Flushing Meadows Corona Park for a weekend-long celebration. The fest gets its name from the roughly 180 dragon-boat teams from around the world that come to race on the Queens park's lake. Back on shore, expect plenty of traditional food and live entertainment, martial arts demonstrations from the monks of the Shaolin Temple, lion dance performances, Chinese crafts and children's activities. Races take place throughout the day.
New York International Fringe Festival
A brief synopsis can't do the New York International Fringe Festival justice. FringeNYC brings together more than 200 theater companies, from just down the street and all around the globe, for some 1,100 performances on 16 stages in 16 days. Musicals, mash-ups, solo shows, comedies, tragedies, parodies, performance art, puppetry—you get the picture.
US Open Tennis Championships
August 29–September 11
It's the final Grand Slam tournament of the year—one that makes or breaks seasons and sometimes careers. The US Open is a celebrated event in American sports, on par with the Masters, the World Series and the Super Bowl. Last year, men's favorite Novak Djokovic beat Roger Federer in an electrifying four sets, while a grand slam slipped away from women's singles star Serena Williams when she lost to Roberta Vinci in the semifinals. Watch the action unfold this year at Flushing Meadows.
West Indian American Day Carnival
Even in New York City, few events overwhelm the senses more than the West Indian American Day Carnival, the annual celebration of the culture of NYC's Caribbean community. More than a million spectators turn out to hear the sounds of reggae and calypso music, taste freshly cooked delicacies and see revelers in elaborate, colorful costumes. It's a great chance to experience firsthand the City's trademark diversity—and, of course, to purchase the foods, crafts, books, clothing, art and jewelry offered by vendors along the route, which runs on Eastern Parkway from Schenectady Avenue to Grand Army Plaza. The parade starts at 11am.