All the free outdoor concerts happening in NYC this summer
Photo of Bryant Park’s Picnic Performances by Ryan Muir
New York City once again will be full of exciting opportunities to see live music for free. From old standbys like SummerStage in Central Park and BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! fest in Prospect Park to the newly announced Summer for the City festival at Lincoln Center, music lovers can enjoy a wide variety of performances spanning all genres, in all five boroughs, all for free.
Image courtesy of Hyesu Lee
Capital One City Parks Foundation SummerStage
Starting on June 11, SummerStage is returning to NYC with a plethora of free and benefit shows. Held in 12 neighborhood parks throughout the city, this year’s festival includes nearly 90 shows showcasing new and renowned artists, as well as genres synonymous with NYC, like salsa, jazz, hip-hop, indie rock, soul, pop, dance, and more. The parks participating in the festival include Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem, Herbert Von King Park, and The Coney Island Amphitheater in Brooklyn, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens, Crotona Park in the Bronx, Corporal Thompson Park on Staten Island, and SummerStage’s flagship venue at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park.
Bryant Park Picnic Performances
This year’s season of Bryant Park Picnic Performances includes 26 live, in-person performances of music, dance, and theater events. The season kicks off on May 27 with a performance of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville produced by the New York City Opera. Other performers include Carnegie Hall Citywide, the Asian American Arts Alliance, the Classical Theatre of Harlem, and more. The event ends on September 17 with the American Symphony Orchestra’s 60th-anniversary concert. All performances are free and don’t require tickets, and picnic blankets will be provided for attendees to borrow. A full lineup can be found here.
New York Philharmonic Concerts in the Parks
Ever since it first began in 1965, New York Philharmonic Concerts in the Park have provided a space for New Yorkers to come and enjoy live classical music on summer nights. The festival returns this year after a two-year pandemic hiatus. The concerts start on June 14 at Van Cortland Park in the Bronx, followed by a separate performance each night in Central Park, Cunningham Park, Prospect Park, and indoors at St. George Theatre on Staten Island. There will be firework celebrations after the performances in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx. Each performance commences at 8 p.m. except for the Staten Island show, which begins at 4 p.m.
Naumburg Orchestral Concerts
The oldest continuously running free outdoor classical music concert is returning to Central Park. Since 1905, Naumburg Orchestral Concerts have offered free concerts to New Yorkers in an effort to share classical music with those who may be unfamiliar with it. Held at Central Park’s Naumburg Bandshell, this season of performances kicks off on June 14 and runs until August 2, filled with a wide variety of classical performances from ensembles, orchestras, and solo instrumentalists. A list of the full lineup can be found here.
Summer on the Hudson: Amplified Sundays
Located at Pier 1 on Riverside Park South, Summer on the Hudson: Amplified Sundays highlights danceable music with breathtaking views of the sunset over the Hudson River. The shows begin on July 3 with a performance by Afro-Caribbean Soul artist Afro Dominicano followed by The Big Takeover, which will showcase their reggae, rocksteady, and ska influences the following week. On July 17, Danny Jonokuchi & The Revisionists will share their take on New York City swing. On July 14, Saharan desert rock and West African blues artist Molly Tigre will perform. Finally, on July 31 psychedelic Afro-soul revival group Gentleman Brawlers will close out the summer event.
34th Street Midtown Music
Consisting of a series of pop-up performances spread throughout the 34th Street District, 34th Street’s Midtown Music aims to share the joy of live music with New Yorkers as they pass through Midtown. The event begins on May 5 and runs through May 13.
Backyard at Hudson Yards
Hudson Yards is hosting a variety of exciting events this summer. Programmed by The Bowery Presents, a series of free, live, outdoor concerts will commence every Wednesday at 6 p.m. for 10 weeks spanning from June 1 to August 3 located at Public Square & Gardens. A lineup will be announced in the coming weeks. Besides live music, guests can watch sports and movies on a 30-foot big screen, eat from a variety of local food trucks, and participate in fitness classes.
TSQ Live in Times Square
Hosted by the Times Square Alliance, TSQ Live is a celebration of New York City’s arts community that invites New Yorkers to come and see free outdoor art performances. Events include live music, DJ sets, public art installations, dance workshops, comedy hours, and much more. TSQ Live begins in May at a new stage at 46th Street and Broadway. Every Thursday from May 5 to June 16, Jazz at Lincoln Center will be sharing their love of jazz music on Broadway. Jazz performances go as follows:
- Thursday, May 5: Alphonso Horne’s Gotham Kings
- Thursday, May 12: Clotter Prime Time Band
- Thursday, May 19: Summer Camargo Quintet
- Thursday, May 26: New Jazz Underground
- Thursday, June 2: Jeremy Bosch Sextet
- Thursday, June 9: Immigrantet featuring Juan Diego Villalobos, Nicola Caminiti, Hamish Smith, and Timothy Angulo
- Thursday, June 16: Josanne Francis
Rendering courtesy of Ali Kashfi
Lincoln Center’s Summer for the City
This summer, Lincoln Center is hosting a three-month-long festival to bring New Yorkers together through art. Called Summer for the City, the festival includes 300 events and over 1,000 artists. It will run from May to August and will be hosted across 10 different outdoor stages on Lincoln Center’s campus. Included in Summer for the City is the city’s largest outdoor dance floor which will be used for special events, film screenings, and a pop-up bar and performance space. The event is split into three separate themes: rejoice, reclaim, and remember. Each phase of the festival includes performances and activities that highlight the meaning of the themes. You can learn more about Summer for the City here.
BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn!
For over 40 years, BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! has been providing New Yorkers with a summer-long outdoor performing arts experience. The festival highlights a wide variety of performers, ranging anywhere from international superstars to local legends. Held at Prospect Park’s Lena Horne Bandshell, a majority of performances are free, in addition to some benefit concerts. The festival kicks off on June 8 with performances by multi-instrumentalist and producer Kamasi Washington, Ravyn Lenae, and DJ Reborn. RSVPs are not required but encouraged and entry is first-come, first-served for the free shows. A full list of the festival’s lineup can be found here.
Hudson River Park
This year’s season of programming and events at Hudson River Park is one of the busiest yet. The lineup includes over 260 events from May to November, thanks to funding from Hudson River Park Friends. Beginning June 3 and reoccurring every Friday, Sunset on the Hudson will be hosted at Pier 45, providing a space for live music across all genres from known and emerging artists.
At 7 p.m. on June 8 and 22, July 6 and 20, and August 3, 17, and 31 at Pier 84, guests can come to relax and listen to jazz music. Additionally, HRP’s three major festivals, the Blues BBQ Festival, Hudson River Dance Festival, and SUBMERGE Marine Science Festival, will all be returning this year. The Blues BBQ Festival will feature live music, showcasing a variety of Blues artists.
Image courtesy of Julienne Schaer
Live at the Archway
Come enjoy free live music underneath the Manhattan Bridge Archway in Dumbo this summer. Every Thursday night starting at 6 p.m., rain or shine, Live at the Archway will be hosting free concerts and programming, including a headlining act and an artist’s solo show in a pop-up gallery. Old-time music band Spirit Family Reunion will be headlining the opening night on June 9, with the presentation of an art exhibit by lucky risograph. A full schedule of this season’s concerts can be found here.