Al Fresco Fun: Outdoor Events in NYC This Summer

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Spring and summer in the city are the best times to hit the streets and enjoy some outdoor entertainment. This year, the draw of the great outdoors is even stronger than before, as families look for ways to have fun while remaining safe. NYC is delivering! There are plenty of awesome concerts, festivals, and other exciting events happening in NYC in the summer months of 2021. Head out to these often free events for kids in NYC and have some fun in the sun!

 

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NY PopsUp at Various Locations Citywide

If we can't have a few large performances, the logical solution is to have many smaller performances! At least, that's the thinking behind the NY PopsUp movement, a festival that's meant to bring some life back into the city streets and joy back into the NYC people. 

Since the idea behind these programs is to draw a very small crowd of people, the lineup isn't advertised in advance — instead, you're meant to just stumble into performances as you go about your daily lives for a fun pick-me-up. You can get a sneak preview at what's happening by following the program on Twitter or Instagram, @nypopsup. 

Price: Free!
Date: Through August 11
Location: Various locations
Online: nypopsup.com

photo: Sachyn Mital/Lincoln Center

Restart Stages at Lincoln Center 

Lincoln Center's massive initiative aimed at at helping kickstart the performing arts sector and contribute to the revival of New York City,  is making 10 outdoor performance and rehearsal spaces and civic venues available to artists and arts organizations across its campus and the five boroughs. The iconic campus has been transformed into "The GREEN", where the public is welcome to gather. (Don't miss the Outdoor Reading Room here, created by the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.)

All programming is free, with tickets to events made available through the TodayTix Lottery, the Official Ticketing Partner of Restart Stages. The TodayTix Lottery will open for entries two weeks before the performance and close three days prior to the performance at 12:59 p.m. EDT. Attendees who secure tickets will be required to follow safety protocols. For more information visit TodayTix.com or download the TodayTix app.

Announced programming includes:

TheJuilliard NOW performance series featuring a new generation of artists in music, dance, and drama
A Pride celebration with new stage works from National Queer Theater’s Criminal Queerness Festival, performances by Taylor Mac, Staceyann Chin, Migguel Anggelo, and Treya Lam
Chamber Music Society’s Summer Evenings Outdoors with evenings of Beethoven and Saint-Saëns, and Brahms
High school seniors from The Maxine Green High School for Imaginative Inquiry making their Lincoln Center debut, reciting from Howard Zinn’s Voices of a People’s History
A special Concerts for Kids in honor of Juneteenth with Coming Together, a celebration of Black culture through music, dance, and poetry
A performance art installation by Andrea Miller. From July 14-31, the installation will transform two Lincoln Center plazas into places of sound, sculpture, and live performance, through art that comes alive — literally. The installation will begin with a look at a diverse cast of New Yorkers through sound and sculptures. In the second half of the art piece, the sound will be transformed into actual live performances at Hearst Plaza. On the installation's last day, there will be a celebration with all the performers live in the plaza.

Additional surprise Pop-Up performances of music, dance, art, and weekend family workshops, children’s recitals, public school graduations, polling for the NYC election, Blood Drive with New York Blood Center, NYC’s Mobile Vaccine Bus, and more to take place on The GREEN and across Campus. 

Price: Free, via lottery through Todaytix.com or app. 
Date: Throughout the summer
Location: Lincoln Center
Online: lincolncenter.org

Shakespeare in the Park

The Public Theater's free Shakespeare in the Park returns to Central Park's Delacorte Theater this summer, staging a single show for the 2021 season. Merry Wives, and adaptation of the Bard's The Merry Wives of Windsor  will run from July 6 to August 28. Set in South Harlem amidst a vibrant and eclectic community of West African immigrants, the show will be a celebration of Black joy, laughter, and vitality. Information on ticketing and policies have yet to be announced. 

Online: publictheater.org

photo: Ryan Muir

Picnic Performances & Outdoor Programming at Bryant Park

Bring your picnic basket and blanket, and enjoy live performances in Bryant Park with a full season of 25 concerts. Concerts will feature music, dance, and theater performances. The season kicks off with a show by the New York Philharmonic orchestra and ends with a 100th-anniversary celebration of The Town Hall. 

Stop by for relaxed performances by the NYC Opera, the Classical Theatre of Harlem, the New York Chinese Cultural Center, Lincoln Center jazz, and many more in this varied lineup. Plus, nearly all the performances will be available to livestream from anywhere.

In addition to this concert series, the park is bringing back its usual outdoor activity offerings like ping-ping, birding tours, the art cart, chess, the reading room, and more. Plus, stop by on Saturdays and Sundays June 26 through August 22 (except on July 4th for children's programming like music, magic and puppet shows, science experiments, and arts and crafts. This event will be held 12-2:30 p.m.

Price: Free!
Date: June 20-Sept. 20
Location: Bryant Park
Online: bryantpark.org

photo: DUMBO BID

Daily Dose of DUMBO

DUMBO is ready to rock this summer, with some kind of programming happening every single day! Activities will center around the famous DUMBO archway and its pop-up bar, DUMBO Station, where you can grab a beer and a bite and play giant Jenga or corn hole, or try some Drink and Draw. But there are tons of activities for kids, too.

The Adams Street Branch of  the Brooklyn Public Library, will offer activities specifically for kids on Thursdays at 5 p.m., from June 10 to August 26, including a Junteenth celebration (June 10), high-energy dance classes (June 17, July 15, August 19), stories and crafts, paper-making activities, and more to be announced. Following the activities for kids, a DJ will spin in the Archway until 8pm, starting with Dumbo’s own DJ Kai Song. 

Fridays from June 11 to August 27 will bring live music under arch from 5-7 p.m., and a new Six Foot Platform Experimental Residency Program will take place on Saturdays through August 29 on Washington Street, Dumbo’s most iconic block, from 12pm to 9pm. Presented in partnership with the Brooklyn Arts Council, this project will feature eleven Brooklyn-based artists in full day residencies on Saturdays throughout the summer.

Additional events include The Mobile Drag Performance Unit (June 12, June 19), Carnegie Hall's Citywide concert series (Hazmat Modine at 6pm on June 21 and Slavic Soul Party at 7pm on June 26), Brasil Summerfest (dates TBD). 

And yes, The Brooklyn Flea continues its takeover of the Dumbo Archway from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every Sunday through October. 

Price: Free!
Date: June 7 - Aug. 29
Location: 155 Water St. 
DUMBO Archway
DUMBO
Online: dumbo.is

photo: Summerstage

SummerStage in Central Park and Marcus Garvey Park

The sounds of summer are back as SummerStage returns to fill Central Park and Harlem's Marcus Garvey Park with music. 

Many genres will be represented, featuring performances with an NYC twist in hip-hop, Latin, indie rock, contemporary dance, and more. The annual Charlie Parker Jazz Festival is also returning in August for a special focus on jazz. 

All performances will be held in accordance with current city restrictions and regulations. Attendees will require a free ticket, proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test, and/or a health screening questionnaire. Can't make it out, after all? Many performances will be streamed online on SummerStageAnywhere.org.

Check back on the website for tickets and more information!

Price: Free!
Date: All summer
Location: Rumsey Playfield in Central Park and Marcus Garvey Park/Richard Rodgers Amphitheater
Online: cityparksfoundation.org

photo: Summer on the Hudson

Summer on the Hudson

This riverside celebration of art and culture is back. The summer 2021 schedule is still taking shape, but kid-friendly events locked in include The Locomotive Lawn Live read-alongs, which present musical reading experiences in front of a big locomotive to kids ages 5 and under; astronomy workshops, and presentations from the Billion Oyster project on restoring New York harbor. A full list of all the programming and their dates can be seen here.

Every program in this lineup is free to the public and works on a first-come, first-served basis. Events may be canceled in case of heavy rain so check the program listings on the NYC parks website two hours before the event is scheduled.

Price: Free!
Date: All summer
Location: From 59th street to 153rd along the Hudson River
Online: riversideparknyc.org 

photo: iStock

Outdoor Concerts by the Brooklyn Symphony Orchestra

The Brooklyn Symphony Orchestra has announced its season of outdoor concerts. Held once a month, the program features a whimsical mix of well-known tunes by classical composers like Mozart and Vivaldi and more modern selections like music from "Star Wars," Adele, and Disney. 

Each concert features a one-hour program, which will be played twice. No tickets are required — just show up!

Attendees will be distanced, and children over 2 are required to wear a mask. 

Price: Free!
Date: June 20, July 18, Aug. 15, and Sep. 19, 2-4 p.m.
Location: Outside of the Brooklyn Museum, 200 Eastern Pkwy
Online: brooklynsymphonyorchestra.org

GatherNYC Outdoor Concert Series

If you enjoy your music with a healthy dose of history, this concert series is the obvious choice. GatherNYC presents outdoor performances held on the lawn of the Morris-Jumel Mansion, the oldest house in Manhattan that's still standing today.

The full performance list is still to be announced, but the first concert will give you a taste of what's to come: It features Laufey, the cellist and singer/songwriter who was named the "Best New Artist" by the Icelandic Music Awards.

Reservations and masks (for everyone 2 and older) are required for this event, and attendees will be required to fill out a health screening to gain admittance.

Price: Free!
Date: Sundays May 23-June 20, 4:30 p.m.
Location: Outside the Morris-Jumel Mansion, 65 Jumel Terrace
Online: gathernyc.org

Outdoor Movie Screenings and Drive-ins City-wide

You don't need to go to the movie theaters to make it a movie night. Head outdoors, instead, and enjoy movie screenings around the city. 

Drive-ins have made a comeback this year thanks to their convenience and safety, so enjoy a movie from the comfort of your car (or an outdoor picnic) at drive-in locations like Rooftop Films in Queens and Skyline Drive-in in Brooklyn.

You can also catch screenings in NYC parks and more this summer, like Summer on the Hudson's Pier I Picture Show and Snug Harbor's Taking It to the Streets free Friday movie series.

You can also check to see if any local parks are showing movies outdoors at the NYC Parks website.

(Looking for drive-ins outside of but near NYC? Check out our list here!)

photo: Micro Kickboard

Open Boulevards at Various Locations Citywide

From open streets to entire open boulevards, the city's outdoor spaces are leveling up again. The amped up open streets project will transform entire blocks of the city into communal spaces featuring outdoor dining, seating spaces, performances and events, markets, and — at their core — space for pedestrians to slow down. Open boulevards are coming to 33 neighborhoods around the city for all New Yorkers (and visitors) to enjoy.

Price: Free!
Location: Various locations
Online: nyc.gov

photo: Fort Tryon Park Trust

Scandinavian Music Festival at Fort Tryon Park

Bring a blanket and enjoy a picnic to the sounds of Scandinavian music. Cone enjoy three outdoor concerts, performed by the New York Scandia Symphony as well as various guest artists. The festival will feature both new and classic music from Scandinavian countries, and will provide a great opportunity for visitors to learn a bit about the culture and music of Scandinavia. As the concert progresses, performers will address the audience and share a bit of information about the music, cultures, and traditions of their countries.

Price: Free!
Date: May 30, June 6, and June 13, 2-3:30 p.m.
Location: Billings Lawn in Fort Tryon Park
Online: nycgovparks.org

photo: TWA Hotel

Roll-A-Rama at the TWA Hotel

Strap on your skates and hit the floor rolling at the TWA Hotel's outdoor roller-skating rink. Skate on the tarmac around the hotel's famous 1958 Lockheed Constellation airplane, affectionately named "Connie," to retro and disco tunes. 

Each skating session includes skates (which are disinfected after each use) and a 50-minute spin on the skate floor. Socks are required, so be sure to bring your own (though if you do forget, there are socks for sale at the TWA Store and the cabin), and helmets are encouraged and available in limited numbers. Masks are required.

Please note since you can't buy tickets in advance, entry will be provided on a first-come, first-serve basis, and capacity is limited. 

Price: $20 per adult and $16 per child under 12 (price includes skate rentals) for a 50 minute session, credit card only
Date: Fridays 4-8 p.m., Saturdays & Sundays 12-8 p.m.
Location: The TWA Hotel, One Idlewild Drive at the JFK Airport
Online: twahotel.com

Little Island at Pier 55

NYC's newest island is complete and open to the public as of May 21! This man-made floating island will serve as a way to get away from the crowds right in the middle of the city. The island features several levels to explore, with lush meadows and green spaces, performance areas, calm spots perfect for rest and relaxation, and more. Little Island has its own roster Artists-in-Residence, which includes tap dancer and choreographer Ayodele Casel, playwright and director Tina Landau, actor, singer and music director Michael McElroy and musicians and storytellers the PigPen Theatre Co. The groups will help curate events, festivals and ongoing programs, while selecting acts for the the Perform in the Park program. 

Price: Free!
Date: May 21
Location: Pier 55, Hudson River Park West 13th Street
Online: littleisland.org

—Yuliya Geikhman

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