No matter how hot it is outside, or even if the weather turns rainy, free (and mostly outdoor) entertainment during the summer is a key part of New York City culture. Grab a blanket, a bottle of wine, and some friends and enjoy a picnic as you listen to some of the city’s most glorious theater and music offerings… free of charge. Do note that some of these events require you to arrive significantly early to get a spot. It’s always best to pre-arrange a meeting time with your friends so you can take turns holding your turf.
Free Outdoor Summer Concert Series in NYC: Classical, Jazz, Opera, Broadway and more
From Manhattan to Brooklyn to the Bronx, Staten Island to Queens, and back to Manhattan, the Met’s acclaimed summer concert series is back again as one of the city’s most acclaimed traditions and gatherings. With free performances in all five boroughs there is simply no excuse to miss out. Kicking things off on July 25 at 8pm in Central Park’s SummerStage, the best of up and coming opera talents will be featured.
July 25: Central Park, SummerStage
July 27: Brooklyn Bridge Park, Brooklyn
July 31: Crotona Park, Bronx
August 2: Clove Lakes Park, Staten Island
August 7: Jackie Robinson Park, Manhattan
August 9: Socrates Sculpture Park, Queens
Dates and locations can be found at: http://www.metoperafamily.org/metopera/season/summer-recitals.aspx.
As one of the largest and longest-running summer concert series, Lincoln Center’s Out of Doors is bound to blow it out of the water with 100+ free performances and events. From July 25 through August 12, the plazas of Lincoln Center will be echoing with jazz, blues, circus acts, soul music, tributes, premieres, debuts and more.
July 25: Nile Rodgers
July 28: Family Day, Sponsored by Disney
July 29: ‘OurLand’: Celebrating Irish Culture in America!
August 2: On Sacred Ground: Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring
August 3-4: Kimmo Pohjonen & Helsinki Nelson: Accordion Wrestling
August 11-12: 29th Annual Roots of American Music Festival
Full music listings and more at: http://www.lcoutofdoors.org/. Exact locations vary. Lincoln Center is located between West 62nd and 65th Streets and Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues, Manhattan.
For over 100 years, this classical music series has been around in the name of philanthropist Elkan Naumburg. Located at the Naumburg Bandshell of Central Park, the concert series enables young composers and conductors to spread their talent in a relaxed, free of charge environment. Concerts begin at 7:30pm; bring a chair as seating is limited!
July 24: The Knights
August 7: 25th Anniversary of Astor Piazzolla’s 1987 Central Park Concert
More information at: www.naumburgconcerts.org. Mid-park at 72nd Street just south of the Bethesda Fountain and Terrace, Central Park, Manhattan.
A great money saver for tourists and locals alike, Broadway performances are offered in the park on Thursdays at lunchtime. Countless names and faces from Broadway stardom will show off their talent on the Bryant Park Lawn beginning at 12:30pm in July and August. Perfect for families!
July 19: Wicked, Memphis, Traces, Zarkana, Ghost
July 26: Anything Goes, Voca People, Jesus Christ Superstar, The Fantasticks, Jersey Boys
August 2: Chaplin: The Musical, The Lion King, Mamma Mia!, One Man, Two Guvnors, Silence: The Musical
August 9: Chicago, Mary Poppins, Rebecca, Evita, Rent
August 16: Sister Act, Nice Work If You Can Get It, Avenue Q, Bring It On: The Musical, Rock of Ages, A Christmas Story
Details can be found on: http://www.bryantpark.org/plan-your-visit/broadway.html. 42nd Street between 5th and 6th avenues behind the New York Public Library, Manhattan.
Madison Square Park is the place to be on Wednesday evenings, where jazz, bluegrass, folk, R&B, soul and pop performances can be enjoyed. Presenting nationally touring acts, the Oval Lawn Series will run until August 8. Arrive with an appetite, because chef Zakary Pelaccio will be serving up his seafood specialties from restaurants Fatty Crab, Fatty ‘Cue, and Fatty Snack.
July 18: Jeff “Tain” Watts Quartet 7:00pm
July 25: Regina Carter’s “Reverse Thread” 7:00pm
August 8: Bettye LaVette 7:00pm
More information at: www.madisonsquarepark.org/music. Madison Avenue at 23rd Street, Manhattan.
Live band and orchestra performances will heat up the Kingsborough Community College’s oceanfront campus every Saturday this July. From swing band hits to ragtime orchestra, the area sets up perfect family-night events for all. Bring a blanket and the whole crew to enjoy some fun tunes while the sun sets. Concerts begin at 8pm.
July 21: Summertime Swing: The Danny Repole Swing Band
July 28: Postcards from Gypsyland: The Hot Club of San Francisco
Details: http://www.kbcc.cuny.edu/osk/pages/calendar.aspx. Leon M. Goldstein Performing Arts Center on the campus of Kingsborough Community College, 2001 Oriental Boulevard, Brooklyn
A great music event hosted by Hudson River Park, Sunset on the Hudson kicks off the summer weekends with live performances by local jazz, classical, soul and blues bands. Located at Pier 45, the family oriented series begins at 7pm every Friday.
July 27, August 17: Chuck Braman Jazz Band
August 10: The Baby Soda Jazz Band
July 20, August 3, August 24: Max Gallico & Sinclair Jennings Jr: Acoustic Soul Duo
Details can be found on: www.hudsonriverpark.org/events/series/sunset-on-the-hudson. Hudson River Park, West Side Highway at Christopher Street, Manhattan
Yet another Hudson River Park provided music specialty, every Tuesday night at Pier 45 will feature new generation talent from students of the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music and the Mannes College New School for Music. Both Classical and Jazz performances offered throughout the summer, beginning at 6:30pm.
July 31, August 14: Jazz
July 24, August 7, August 21: Classical
Information at: www.hudsonriverpark.org/events/series/stars-of-tomorrow. Hudson River Park, West Side Highway at Christopher Street, Manhattan