Birds chirping, streets filled with people, diner and café tables overflowing onto sidewalks, skateboards rolling, bicycles whizzing past, people cheering street performers. Those are the sights and sounds of New York City in the summer. New York is filled with great activities and events throughout the summer. And most of them are free admission! Below will be my top 5 summer city events.
New York Philharmonic in the Park
Every year, the New York Philharmonic throws a concert series in New York’s parks. Throughout the months of June and July they host a series of free concerts, many of them on Central Park’s Great Lawn. The great thing is it’s completely free. There’s no admission, and there’s no waiting in line. However, spots do fill up, so it’s best to get there early. Grab a blanket and a picnic basket, and wait for the show to start. On certain nights, if not all, after the concert there is a fireworks display. Music and things getting blown up. What better things are there to life?
Central Park Summerstage
Another great musical event is Summerstage, located at Rumsey Playfield. Admission, again is free, but there is limited seating. Very limited. So I suggest waiting in line hours before the show is supposed to start (not a joke, getting in line about noon is a good idea). The music is always great and the bands are very popular. Among last year’s performers were Vampire Weekend and Gavin DeGraw. They also serve food and drink, but it’s pretty pricey. And if you don’t get in? Or don’t care if you can see the band, and you just want to hear them? Don’t worry, if you sit in any of the surrounding lawn areas, you can still hear the performance. It’s that loud. If you do get in, no alcoholic beverages, and you will be searched. For a full list of what not to bring, click the link above.
Metropolitan Opera in the Parks
Another great event in the city’s parks is Opera in prospect park. It’s an annual thing, and though I haven’t been, my friends love it. Who doesn’t love getting to experience something that’s normally extravagantly pricey for free? Performances begin at 8 p.m., and I’ve heard that it’s just as popular as the park’s other free events, so if you want seating close to the bandshell, arrive hours before the show starts. But if you aren’t that particular, you can arrive up to the start of the show. Just like the Philharmonic in the park, grab a blanket, and a picnic basket and you’re all set!
Broadway in Bryant Park
Another goodie, why pay if you can get it for free event, is the Broadway in Bryant Park where you can see performances from Broadway’s popular shows for free. The entire show is during lunchtime, starting at 12:30pm and lasting about an hour.
Summer in the Square
Union Square is hosting its own summer event with a weekly fitness oriented outing, every Thursday starting at 8am. The event is entirely free and involves Yoga and Cardio. And starting at 6PM on Thursdays is Music in the Square. For a full schedule, visit the link above! Union Square is also home to skateboarders, break dancers, and the Greenmarket.
And while this list is focused on the parks, don’t fret there is a lot more going on in the city. There’s this summer’s Restaurant Week (July 12-31), where you can go to pricey places at a huge discount. And there’s no secret password needed! And if you don’t have any specific plans to see anything special, or you don’t want to go all out doing something, there’s always the Metropolitan Museum of Art (the Met). Suggest admission is 20 dollars, but remember it’s just a suggested donation. They have great exhibits up on their roof each summer.
And then there’s the city’s largest outdoor event, Central Park. No matter what you do this summer, you have to visit the park. No matter where you go, you can see a free performance. Be it at the Mall, or by Bethesda Fountain. There are impromptu concerts, street performers, musicians, dancers, and artists performing for tips. And if you’re lucky, you may pass by a movie (or tv show) filming. And if you just want to go for a picnic, Central Park is the place to be.
Whether you live here or just visiting, you’ve come for one reason. It’s the cultural center of the world. One of the best things about the city is its people. Sure we’re not all nice, we’re not all helpful, and some don’t use proper hygiene, but we’re all different, and we’re all part of this huge cultural salad. And we all want to share these great events with you. So put on some flip flops, grab some sunscreen and sunglasses and explore the greatest city around this summer!