Summer in New York City is one of my favorite things in the world. No other city has so many fun and interesting events going on.
Despite the heat and humidity, truly nothing beats NYC in the summertime. With all the free concerts, events, and fun activities that take place in Manhattan and the outer boroughs, there’s never a shortage of things to do in New York City.
The next time you’re visiting New York, make it during the summer months and try to catch some of my top, and completely free, NYC summer activities:
Shakespeare in the Park
The Delacorte Theatre in Central Park is the perfect setting for the annual Shakespeare in the Park productions. Typically, the June production is a Shakespeare play and the August production (they take a break in July) is a more contemporary musical or play, such as this past summer’s retelling of Stephen Sondheim’s “Into the Woods.”
Wildly popular, immensely fun, and often featuring a star-studded cast, Shakespeare in the Park is often the hardest ticket to get your hands on in the summertime. The fact that tickets are given away for free makes it all the more elusive. Your best bet for scoring tickets is to join the die-hard fans in line at the Delacorte Theatre. You’re in for a long wait (tickets are handed out at the box office at 1pm and people begin lining up as early as 6am) but if you come prepared with a blanket and a tasty picnic spread, you can turn it into a nice day in Central Park too!
Celebrate Brooklyn! was originally started over 30 years ago to showcase the greenery and public space that the borough had to offer. Brooklyn has certainly blossomed into a destination in is own right in part by the efforts of Celebrate Brooklyn! These events are as big and popular as the Manhattan events, with just as many famous performers on their roster. The great thing about Celebrate Brooklyn! is that the events are held in gorgeous parks and venues like the Prospect Park Bandshell that I normally wouldn’t visit. Brooklyn deserves to be celebrated and this sure is a fun way to do it!
Improv Everywhere’s mp3 Experiment
The prankster group, Improv Everywhere, holds an annual mp3 experiment that’s a wildly confusing and highly amusing spectacle. While the event itself is free to participate in, it does require some planning. Participants must download the mp3 track from the Improve Everywhere website in advance (don’t listen to the track or else you’ll ruin your own fun), synchronize their clocks to match that of the groups, and collect random items for use during the experiment. Participants then arrive to the site of the experiment with their props and dressed as instructed. When the clock counts down, everyone presses play at the same time. To find out what happens at one of these mp3 experiments, you’ll just have to join one yourself – or hope that you stumble upon one out in New York City!
City Parks Foundation is a fantastic organization that puts on hundreds of interesting NYC events throughout the city and its five boroughs. The best of those events is the SummerStage Concert series in Central Park. Although a few are benefit concerts, a majority of performances are free and often showcase amazing musicians. Past SummerStage artists include Davide Bowie, The Flaming Lips, M83, Neko Case, Thievery Corporation, The xx, Florence and the Machine, and many others. You can’t really do much better than an afternoon in Central Park with a lineup like that!
Bryant Park Summer Film Series
There’s nothing like watching a film under the stars and the Bryant Park Summer Film Series is one of the best settings for outdoor films in the summer. The Bryant Park Summer Film Series plays an eclectic blend of movies from classics to modern comedies every Monday night under the beautiful setting of towering buildings, green trees, and the occasional twinkling star overhead. There’s no better way to start off a week! The Bryant Park lawn opens promptly at 5pm and tends to fill up almost instantly so try to get there early in order to snag a good spot. It’s also quite hilarious when the horn sounds and blankets go flying as people try to lay claim to their piece of valuable real estate. That alone is worth watching, but you know, stay for the movie, too.
Of course, this list barely scratches the surface. There are so many more events taking place during the summer in New York City that it would take me forever to blog about it. This list is a good start and I encourage everyone to attend at least one of these events next summer.
These events have given me many an amazing summer in NYC and I can guarantee that it will help make your summer in New York unforgettable too.