8 Absolutely, Totally Free Things to Do This Summer
Between Dear Evan Hansen tickets, admission to the Whitney and catching your favorite authors at 92Y, keeping up with the city’s happenings can cost a small fortune. Fortunately, summer is easily the best time to get cultured on the cheap. Here are seven ways to indulge your highbrow taste without spending a dime.
River to River Festival
For 12 straight days, this annual summer fest brings over 100 performances to venues like Governors Island and Pier A Harbor House. The always-eclectic lineup includes things like contemporary dance, a multimedia opera and large-scale art exhibitions, with a focus on diverse voices (and unexpected locations).
Make Music New York
On June 21 (the longest day of the year), the city turns into one giant, free music festival, with more than 1,000 (!) events taking over rooftops, gardens and other public spaces. Keep an eye out for a traveling Ella Fitzgerald sing-along in Harlem, free guitar lessons in Union Square and even opportunities to record a “track” with professional producers at a mobile recording studio.
Live at the Archway
Head to the foot of the Manhattan Bridge every Thursday through September for genre-spanning music (from Afrobeat to Japanese pop), lively dance performances (from flamenco to hip-hop), pop-up galleries featuring local artists and even an interactive circus (it involves Hula-Hoops).
New York Philharmonic Concerts in the Parks
There’s an outdoor show practically every night in the summer, but the beloved classical series might include some of our favorites. Tonight, pack a picnic and head to Prospect Park, then bliss out to a program that includes songs from An American in Paris and West Side Story.
Lincoln Center Out of Doors
The arts mecca is worth visiting year-round, but its alfresco summer fest is not to be missed. This year’s lineup kicks off with a celebration of the greatest albums by women (a collaboration with NPR Music), with Ronnie Spector, Lizzo, Gaby Moreno and other badass ladies.
Met Opera Summer Recital Series
Turn off the Bieber and treat your ears to something a little more refined: The Met Opera brings some of its most talented singers to all five boroughs throughout June, setting the stage in gorgeous outdoor spaces like Socrates Sculpture Park and Crotona Park.
New York City Poetry Festival
Grab a Moleskine and a beret and join fellow verse-lovers on Governors Island for a weekend of readings with writers like Sapphire, Aja Monet, Patrick Phillips and Deborah Landau, plus word-based art installations and poetic film screenings.
See Free Theater (Besides Shakespeare in the Park)
Look, we all know about Shakespeare in the Park, and while it’s an incredible experience (if you can get tickets), there are plenty of other ways to get your drama fix. Hear songs from Groundhog Day and Waitress at Broadway in Bryant Park, catch the comedy of manners The Rivals with New York Classical Theatre in Central Park or—if only the Bard will do—head to Shakespeare in the Parking Lot.