Lincoln Center’s summer arts festival to feature free events and garden-like outdoor spaces

April 17, 2023

Hearst Plaza design by Clint Ramos. Rendering by Evan Alexander

A three-month-long arts festival will return to Lincoln Center this summer, with its iconic campus transformed into a botanical-inspired oasis. After a successful debut season last year, the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts announced on Monday the second annual “Summer for the City” festival, which will feature hundreds of free events and thousands of artists across 16 acres of outdoor space from June to August. And for the first time in its history, Lincoln Center’s outdoor spaces will be reimagined by a single designer: Creative director and designer Clint Ramos.

The Underground at Jaffe Drive by Clint Ramos. Rendering by Evan Alexander

“Summer for the City” will honor New York City’s diverse communities with new works and “reimagined classics,” including a week-long celebration of Korean culture during Korean Arts Week, the NYC premiere of Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower, and Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra concerts. The festival concludes with a week-long celebration of the 50th anniversary of hip hop with performances by Big Daddy Kane, Rakim, J. PERIOD, a trap choir, and more.

“This summer builds on a city reimagining itself–finding hope in community and planting seeds for the future,” Shanta Thake, Ehrenkranz Chief Artistic Officer of LCPA, said in a statement. “For three months, we welcome all New Yorkers to come dance, love, and celebrate together with long-standing traditions of social dance and classical music, and new traditions, like our wedding for hundreds of couples, and a ‘second line’ processional to honor lives lost.”

Thake continued: “Together with visionary artist Clint Ramos, we are opening all of our spaces wide with playful designs, and, of course, the return of the 10-foot disco ball. Whether it’s having a lunch break at any of our outdoor dining options, taking selfies with the installation of 200 flamingos, or staying late for a silent disco, we invite New Yorkers to come together, see themselves, and find their home away from home.”

The Garden by Clint Ramos. Renderings by Evan Alexander

The iconic Dance Floor at Josie Robertson Plaza with its 10-foot disco ball and the speakeasy-inspired space Underground at Jaffe Drive which debuted last year will be joined by additional spaces designed by Ramos.

The Garden, reminiscent of a greenhouse, is located near Damrosch Park and provides a space for quiet contemplation and meditation, with lush greenery and plantings designed in collaboration with Donyale Werle Design.

The space includes colorful lights and designs with outdoor games, dining options, and a performance space that wraps around a display of 200 flamingos in the Paul Milstein Reflecting Pool.

The campus is seamlessly connected with lush flowers and botanicals installed on walkways and building facades, serving as the “connective tissue” of the festival’s design.

“They say that when there’s an apocalypse, nature takes over. It’s aesthetically disruptive, and it’s beautiful,” Ramos said.

“That is the inspiration behind this design—after such a time of upheaval, we are finding our way back and making way for new growth, bursting with possibility. Through greenery, mirrors, colored lights, and abstracted botanicals we evoke the idea of nature reflecting on itself, transforming the entire campus into a vibrant oasis.”

Summer for the City 2022. Photo credit: Lawrence Sumulong

The festival’s second season builds upon the success of last year’s “Summer for the City,” which saw more than 300,000 visitors to the Lincoln Center campus, more than three-quarters of whom had never before purchased a ticket to a performance at the art center before.

The event also builds on the “Restart Stages” initiative, which created an outdoor performing arts center that allowed in-person art performances to continue during the pandemic.

“Nothing captures the spirit of New York better than our arts, and this summer, thanks to Lincoln Center, thousands of New Yorkers will have access to hundreds of free cultural events,” Mayor Eric Adams said.

“‘Summer for the City’ will include performances by critically acclaimed music artists and curators and be a celebration of our city’s creativity, diversity, and, most importantly, our resilience. New York City isn’t coming back—New York City is back. And we can’t wait to see everyone enjoying the arts the city has to offer.”

Most of the “Summer for the City” events will be free on a first-come, first-served basis, with select indoor performances available for choose-what-you-pay prices.

The festival kicks off on June 14 and runs through August 12. Get the full lineup of events here.


Renderings by Evan Alexander

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