The Best of NYC’s Upcoming Art, Design, and Music Events (Summer edition)

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From concerts and outdoor movies to improv marathons and unicycle races, there’s plenty to do this summer in New York City. Here are the best music, art, design, and cultural events taking place over the next few months:

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Make Music New York
June 21
various locations

Now in its ninth year, Make Music New York takes place simultaneously with similar festivities in more than 700 cities around the world – a global celebration of music making. From 10 in the morning to 10 at night, musicians of all ages, creeds, and musical persuasions – from hip hop to opera, Latin jazz to punk rock – perform on streets, sidewalks, stoops, plazas,  cemeteries, parks and gardens. The schedule will be posted to the MMNY website later this month.

New York City Electroacoustic Music Festival
June 21 – 28
Abrons Art Center
Lower East Side, Manhattan

The New York City Electroacoustic Music Festival is dedicated to showcasing the best electroacoustic music and video art from all over the world.  The festival includes works involving live electronics, works combining musical instruments or voices with recorded or live electronics, video and multimedia works, and audio and video installations. The registration cost of $150 includes a printed program book and admission to all 27 concerts, and individual concerts are $15 at the door. The concert schedule is available on the NYCEMF website.

FarnBorough Country Music Festival
June 26 – 28
Randall’s Island

NYC’s first-ever country music festival will take place on Randall’s Island this June. Headliners include Dierks Bentley, Luke Bryan, and Brad Paisley. The “Next from Nashville” stage will spotlight undiscovered talent and food and drink will be sold by NYC vendors. 3-day general admission passes are available for $225 on Ticketmaster.

MoMA PS1 Warm Up
Saturdays, June 27 – September 5
MoMA PS1 Courtyard
Long Island City, Queens

A New York summer staple now in its 18th year, MoMA PS1’s highly anticipated Warm Up outdoor music series continues its tradition of introducing audiences to the best in experimental live music, sound, and DJs—both local and international—across a range of genres. Warm Up supports both established and emerging artists by creating a platform that allows for experimentation and providing a space for collaboration, new material, and side projects. The lineup is listed on the MoMA PS1 website, and tickets are $18 in advance or $20 day-of.

Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival
July 6th – 11th
various locations

Established in 2005, The Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival is New York City’s largest Hip-Hop cultural event that showcases Hip-Hop’s legacy as an agent of artistic progression, community building and social change. In addition to musical performances, the Festival offers a number of activities for its audience, including panel discussions, exhibitions, parties, an award show and a family-friendly block party. Tickets for performances and panel discussions can be purchased on the festival website, and many events will be free and open to the public.

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Free Outdoor Movies
June – September
various locations

Each summer, there are countless movie screenings in NYC’s parks, rooftops, and other venues. Thrillist has compiled a master list here, and will update the list as more information becomes available. Screenings typically start around 8:30pm, and you’ll want to bring a blanket and snacks. This year’s selection includes blockbusters like The Lego Movie and Frozen, as well as cult favorites such as The Labyrinth and Back to the Future.

New York Asian Film Festival
June 28 – July 8 at Film Society of Lincoln Center
July 9 -11 at SVA Theater

The New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF), North America’s leading festival of popular Asian Cinema, is back for its 14th edition. The festival will host a slew of North American film premieres, as well as spotlight the works of Korean female directors and honor the memory of Japanese legends Ken Takakura and Bunta Sugawara with a joint tribute. Tickets will go on sale on June 9 for Film Society Members and June 11 for general public, both at the box office and online. Keep up with festival news on Facebook at or on Twitter at @subwaycinema.

Central Park Conservancy Film Festival
August 25 – 29, 6:30pm
between Sheep Meadow and the 72nd Street Cross Drive
Central Park, Manhattan

The Central Park Conservancy will screen classic films throughout August, to be accompanied by DJ performances beforehand. Films will screen rain or shine, and the lineup includes The Blues Brothers, Airplane!, and Fame. Bring a picnic and a blanket, and celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Central Park Conservancy.

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Art, Design, and Culture
NYC Pride Week
June 23 – 28
various locations

Heritage of Pride hosts New York City’s Pride events in commemoration of the Stonewall Riots of 1969, the beginning of the modern Gay Rights movement. Starting with a Family Night on June 23 and culminating in the world-famous march on July 28, NYC Pride is a celebration of the LGBT community that everyone is welcome to join. A full list of events is available on the NYC Pride Week website.

Del Close Marathon
June 26 – 28
various locations

The 17th annual Del Close Marathon weekend will feature 575 improv shows at nine different stages across the city. Groups from all over the world will perform including teams from NY, Chicago, LA, Boston, DC, Austin, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Alaska, North Carolina, Florida, Iowa City, Phoenix, Portland, San Francisco, London, Iceland, Poland, Canada, Australia, Amsterdam, Bogota and more. You can buy a weekend wristband pass for $35 – check out the Del Close Marathon website for more information on ticketing.

Rugged Maniac 5k Obstacle Race
June 27 – 28
Aviator Sports and Events Center
Floyd Bennett Field, Brooklyn

The 5th annual Rugged Maniac features a 3-mile course where you’ll climb towers of shipping containers, rocket down a massive water slide, crawl through underground tunnels, leap over fire and experience other obstacles. Before and after you run you’ll get to party with thousands of other maniacs at a day-long festival where you can ride mechanical bulls, pretend to be a kid in adult bounce houses, and enjoy lots of new games and activities! Registration is $99 for racers or $10 for spectators.

Independence Day at Prospect Park
July 4
12 – 5pm

Join the Prospect Park Alliance on Independence Day for family-friendly activities at the Prospect Park Audubon Center, Lefferts Historic House and the Carousel.  Celebrate with a first ride of the year on the Park’s 1912 carousel, learn how the bald eagle became America’s symbol of independence, and visit the Lefferts Historic House.

Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks
July 4

For this mother of all pyrotechnic displays, Macy’s will explode more than 40,000 fireworks choreographed to a 25-minute patriotic score. Fireworks light up the skyline, with musical accompaniment by the New York Pops orchestra and special guest stars, as millions watch in person and on television. Time Out has a list of the best viewing spots in New York City here.

Books Beneath the Bridge
July 6 – August 10
Pier 1 – Granite Prospect
Brooklyn Bridge Park, Brooklyn

A perfect summer night’s story starts with Books Beneath the Bridge. Nearly 5,000 people have attended the series since 2012 and gathered around Martin Amis, Patti Smith, Colson Whitehead, and Paul Auster to hear them read their words first-hand. Throughout July and August, six Monday nights will feature authors, representing six of Brooklyn’s best independent bookstores. Each evening will include readings, discussions, signings, and much more, as inspired by each author and our program sponsors. Make sure to get there early, as the seating tends to fill up.

The New York City Poetry Festival
July 25 – 26, 11am – 6pm
Governor’s Island

Fostering an open, approachable, diverse, innovative, sharp, and culturally prominent literary community lies at the core of The Poetry Society of New York’s mission. By opening doors to diverse and unique artistic interactions, the New York City Poetry Festival electrifies arts and literature, brings poetry to new light in the public eye, and ultimately, allows New York City to be the center of the poetry world. The complete schedule is available on the festival website, and attendance is free for everyone.

Summer Streets
August 2, 9, and 16, 7am – 1pm
Brooklyn Bridge – Central Park

On three consecutive Saturdays in August, nearly seven miles of NYC’s streets are opened for people to play, run, walk and bike. Summer Streets provides space for healthy recreation and encourages New Yorkers to use more sustainable forms of transportation. The event is part bike tour, part walking tour, part block party.  All activities at Summer Streets are free of charge, and designed for people of all ages and ability levels to share the streets respectfully. For a map and list of activities, check the Summer Streets website.

XPLORE New York City – Urban Adventure Race
August 29, 12pm
Downtown Manhattan

XPLORE is a team-based adventure race through the city for athletes and fun-seekers of all ability levels. Teams can travel on foot or use public transit as they race to various locations around the city, solve clues, and interact with locals to complete wild challenges along the way. Registration is $25/person for teams or $50/person for solo racers. Sign up on Eventbrite up until the day of the race.

NYC Unicycle Festival
September 3 – 6
various locations

The New York City Unicycle Festival brings together recreational riders, world-class performers, mountain and off-road unicycle enthusiasts, mono-wheel vehicle inventors, and thousands of people who have not ridden in umpteen years, along with circus enthusiasts, extreme sports viewers, and anyone seeking an unusual sight. Festivities include a loop around Central Park, a ride to Coney Island, and races on Governor’s Island. For more information, see the NYC Unicycle Festival website.

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