11 best spots for outdoor concerts in NYC this summer

Posted On Thu, July 22, 2021 By

Posted On Thu, July 22, 2021 By In Events, Features

Photo of the Rooftop at Pier 17 by Ryan Muir on behalf of The Howard Hughes Corporation

After a year without live music, it’s finally time to move and groove again. As part of the recovery of New York City’s arts and culture scene, outdoor concerts are back. From rooftops and islands to city parks across the five boroughs, there are lots of places hosting outdoor shows this summer. Take in the sounds of summer, whether it be DJ sets on the steps of the Brooklyn Public Library, jazz and classical tunes under the Manhattan Bridge, or silent discos at Lincoln Center’s Josie Robertson Plaza.

Summer Concert Series at the Rooftop at Pier 17
Outdoor concerts return this month to the Rooftop at Pier 17, an open-air venue in the Seaport District. The rooftop, which also transforms into an ice rink in the winter, boasts stunning views of the Brooklyn Bridge and Lower Manhattan skyline. The concert series gets started on July 30 with a show from Rise Against and continues with performances scheduled through October. The 2021 lineup includes Jason Mraz, Kesha, Dr. Dog, Machine Fun Kelly, Lord Huron, Simple Plan with New Found Glory, and many more. Tickets to the shows can be purchased here. And don’t worry, Pier 17’s popular outdoor dining experience “The Greens” is not going anywhere. On non-concert days, you can still book an individual mini lawn decked out with lounge chairs and umbrellas and munch on seasonal snacks and cocktails.

Capital One City Parks Foundation SummerStage
Following an all-virtual series last year due to the pandemic, Capital One City Parks Foundation SummerStage is hosting in-person, live events this summer. Hosted in locations across the city, the outdoor music festival includes free shows from both established stars and up-and-comers who play “distinctly New York” music genres, like hip-hop, Latin, jazz, dance, and more. For the free events, tickets are no longer required and the shows will be open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis. SummerStage in Central Park will host a number of paid benefit performances, including shows from Machine Gun Kelly, Lake Street Dive, Dawes, and Indigo Girls with Ani DiFranco. Tickets for these shows must be purchased in advance. Shows take place at the Coney Island Amphitheater, Rumsey Playfield in Central Park, Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem, and Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens.

Photo courtesy of Gregg Richards/Brooklyn Public Library.

Brooklyn Public Library’s Outdoor Concert Series
The Brooklyn Public Library is hosting weekly free outdoor concerts and performances at its Central branch near the northern entrance of Prospect Park. Held on the outdoor plaza overlooking Grand Army Plaza, the series includes concerts and DJ sets, featuring a wide variety of genres and performers. The shows are part of the library’s broader arts and cultural programming this summer, which also includes free movies and short films projected onto the facade of the Central Library. The library’s outdoor film series Cinema Ephemera takes place on Mondays at dusk and includes work by artists like Neil Goldberg and Holger Thoss, recordings of past performances hosted by BPL, and archival footage of Prospect Park, Grand Army Plaza, and Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

BRIC’s Celebrate Brooklyn!
All summer long, free outdoor shows and performances will take place at the Prospect Park Bandshell, as part of Bric’s Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival. The festival, which got its start over 40 years ago, will kick off on Saturday, July 30 and run through Saturday, September 18. Following last year’s virtual event, the 2021 lineup is impressive, with musicians like Ari Lennox, Skip Marley, Trombone Shorty, Buffy Sainte Marie, Tiga Jean-Baptiste, in addition to some benefit concerts, like ones by The Roots and Glass Animals. The free performances require an online RSVP. Find out more here.

Photo by Ryan Muir

Picnic Performances
At Bryant Park, you can enjoy a picnic and a show. The Picnic Performances series, which kicked off on June 9, includes 25 live and in-person music, dance, and theater events. All of the events are free and open to the public at a limited capacity, with select performances available to stream online. Seating is separated into two areas, with one section requiring proof of full vaccination or a recent negative coronavirus test and another that has socially distanced chairs set up. Upcoming events include performances by musicians from Carnegie Hall, Greenwich House Music School, Lincoln Center, the New York City Opera, The Limón Dance Company, and more.

Governors Ball
Governors Ball returns to New York City this summer for its 10th anniversary for an amazing three-day outdoor music festival. Instead of Randalls Island, the festival will be held at Citi Field in Queens for the first time on September 24, 25, and 26. All stages will be centered in the middle, providing concert-goers with a new 360-degree experience, and the asphalt areas will be decked over with high-grade astroturf. This year’s lineup includes impressive headliners like Billie Eilish, J Balvin, Megan Thee Stallion, Phoebe Bridgers, Burna Boy, A$AP Rocky, and many more. Get the details here.

Photo courtesy of the Dumbo Improvement District

Dumbo’s Music With A View
One of Brooklyn’s most photographed blocks provides the perfect backdrop for live music. On Friday nights throughout the summer, Dumbo’s Washington Street turns into an intimate concert venue, featuring jazz and classical musicians. As part of the neighborhood’s “Live at the Archway” series, enjoy music under the Manhattan Bridge curated by Jan Bell of the Brooklyn Americana Music Festival. Both events take place from 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Madison Square Park’s Music on the Green
As part of a collaboration with Carnegie Hall, Madison Square Park is hosting a free concert series called “Music on the Green.” Inspired by Ghost Forest, the Maya Lin-designed public artwork featuring 49 white cedar trees currently in the park, the free concert series features performances by young musicians from Carnegie’s Ensemble Connect every Wednesday evening in July and August. According to the Madison Square Park Conservancy, the concerts complement the themes of Lin’s installation, which focuses on climate change, with nature-inspired works from Claude Debussy, Olivier Messiaen, Duke Ellington, and others. Overall, 20 performances will take place on the park’s Oval Lawn every Wednesday through August 11, offering performances of a wide range of musical genres, from classical and jazz to folk and Latin music. See a full lineup of events happening at the park this summer here.

Photo of Norm Lewis’ performance by Richard Termine

Restart Stages at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
In May, Lincoln Center’s Josie Robertson Plaza transformed into “The Green,” a public open space for New Yorkers to relax, read, and listen to live performances. The Green serves as the centerpiece of the center’s “Restart Stages” program, which has included a variety of outdoor pop-up shows across 10 performance spaces created on the iconic plaza. From jazz and funk to Broadway tunes and silent discos, there is an outdoor performance for everyone. Free tickets to the events will be made available through the TodayTix Lottery, which will open for entries two weeks before each performance. can see the full schedule of events here.

Courtesy of the 34th Street Partnership

34th Street Partnership’s Midtown Music series
A pop-up music series has returned to the sidewalks of Midtown. Hosted by the 34th Street Partnership, the series includes free musical performances by the ragtime, jazz, and blues aficionados of Terry Waldo’s Gotham City Band at various spots around 34th Street. Locations include Herald Square, Greeley Square Park, PENN 1, PENN11, the entrances to Penn Station, and outside the Moynihan Train Hall. Enjoy performances Monday through Friday from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. Find the full schedule of Midtown Music performances here.

Homecoming Week Concerts
A massive outdoor concert will take place in Central Park this August as part of a celebration of the city’s comeback after COVID, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced earlier this year. While little details have been released for the show, which is expected to take place on the iconic Great Lawn and have a capacity of 60,000 people, the mayor did announce some headlining performers. As of mid-July, we know Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon, and Jennifer Hudson will perform at the concert, which the mayor is calling “one of the greatest Central Park concerts in history.”

Four additional concerts would take place during “Homecoming Week,” one in every borough. See the lineups of each event here. The dates and locations of each concert are as follows:

  • Monday, August 16 at Orchard Beach in the Bronx
  • Tuesday, August 17 at Richmond County Bank Ballpark on Staten Island
  • Thursday, August 19 at the Brooklyn Army Terminal in Brooklyn
  • Friday, August 20 at Forest Hills Stadium in Queens
  • Saturday, August 21 at Central Park’s Great Lawn in Manhattan

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