Posts Tagged ‘SummerStage’

Free Summer Concerts in NYC for College Savings

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

Summer in NYC teems with fun, heat, and excitement, and there is nothing that encompasses all three of these qualities like a summer concert.  With thousands of concerts to choose from, and festivals such as Governors Ball and Electric Zoo, summer fun can leave your wallet aching and dry.  Luckily, for students lacking a handsome, continuous income, New York is chockfull of free concerts during these hot months.

A popular venue for free music fests lies downtown in South Street Seaport. Nestled comfortably east of the Financial District’s towering buildings, the Seaport Music Festival has brought a collection of talented artists (including Animal Collective, Abe Vigoda, The XX, and Asobi Seksu) to its famous Pier 17 for ten years. This year, artists such as Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Ex-Cults have been announced, with still more to come.  A great facet of this particular music festival is the spacing between the acts.  Instead of all these bands playing clogged together over a day or a few days, some bands begin playing on the first Friday in June, with the other acts playing on the subsequent three Fridays.  That’s already enough concerts to hold you over until July.
But if your insatiable desire for free concerts continues, South Street Seaport will be holding an all day festival after the Seaport Music Festival culminates. Sharing the beautiful seaside venue, the 4Knots Music Festival is guaranteed to melt your face off.  Fast, punkie, and unrelenting, the 4Knots festival features a group of musicians whose genres range from punk to psych rock.  Artists Kurt Vile, Parquet Courts, The Babies, and The Men shine in this year’s lineup, so get ready for a fast-dancing, sweaty, and fun time.

The most popular summer venue in NYC, however, is undoubtedly the Central Park Summer Stage.  In the next few months, the Summer Stage will host about twenty shows, more than half of which are free. The stage will see bands like Twin Shadow, The Airborne Toxic Event, and Django Django.  Music from all genres will play, so if certain acts don’t strike your fancy, don’t fret, because there will be plenty more to catch.

If you want to hang in a borough other than Manhattan, there are free concerts for you as well.  The Northside Festival has acts playing across venues around Williamsburg and Greenpoint in Brooklyn. With an integration of film and music, and boasting over 300 bands set to play from June 13th to 16th, the Northside Festival is an art-lover’s dream.  Unfortunately, the festival works like NYC’s fall CMJ festival, with an array of free events but some premiere showings that cost money.  But if you pick and choose carefully, you can attend the festival without dropping a dollar, like if you go to see The Walkman or Solange (Beyonce’s sister) for free with an RSVP at McCarren Park.

There are too many opportunities for inexpensive fun, so be sure not to miss out. Make a plan, gather up some friends, and head out this summer to enjoy warm weather, good company, and great music!




Alejandro Font, Student at NYU.

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Free Activities In the City!

Friday, July 2nd, 2010

written by Adam Davis

It might be tempting to stay in the office or the apartment during the hottest months, but New York City offers plenty of free summer activities that don’t involve huddling by the air conditioner.  And what better time is there to relax, meet new people, and enjoy some arts and culture?

The best part of summer is Summerstage, a performing arts festival that includes dancers, singers, and even poets and novelists.  This year Summerstage is expanding to include performances in parks throughout New York City, thus making these can’t-miss shows available to people in all five boroughs.  During its 25 years, Summerstage has hosted over 1,700 notable artists and writers, including David Bowie, M.I.A., Toni Morrison, and Joni Mitchell.  This summer’s lineup consists of 91 free shows, including artists such as Dan Deacon, White Rabbits, and Public Enemy, along with a four-night concert featuring the alternative rock band Pavement.  See for specific dates and times of various shows.

If you appreciate classical music, you have to check out the New York Philharmonic, or the “Big Five.”  They are the oldest orchestra in America by almost four decades and had their record-setting 14,000th concert in 2004.  During the summer, the “Big Five” perform for free at parks in all the boroughs, but most often at the Great Lawn in Central Park.  All shows begin at 8 p.m. and are followed by fireworks.  Check out for a full schedule.

On the other hand, if Sting, Christina Aguilera, Maroon 5 and Lady Gaga are more your taste, the Today Show summer concert series offers a chance to see them for free, if you are willing to get up early enough.  The concerts are hosted at Rockefeller Center at 7 a.m. on Friday mornings, but you have to get there up to two hours earlier (depending on the popularity of the performer) to ensure you get in.  For more info, go to and click on “Concert Series.

For those who look forward to summer blockbusters, Bryant Park’s Summer Film Festival shows movies—albeit classic ones—every Monday night. The lawn opens at 5 p.m. for blankets and picnicking and the films begin at dusk, usually between 8 and 9 p.m., but make sure to get there early in order to secure a good spot and enjoy some classic animated shorts. Some films scheduled to appear on the 20-foot screen this summer are Goldfinger, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and Rosemary’s Baby.  To get a complete list of films and dates, visit and click on “Summer Film Festival.”

Another interesting thing to check out is the Brooklyn Flea Market, which moves outside during the summer. The flea market has recently expanded from its original venue in Fort Greene to include a second location at the Brooklyn Bridge Park.  The Brooklyn Bridge Flea Market features over 100 vendors, with antiques, jewelry, and local artwork galore. If you get hungry while browsing, feel free to sample some of the unique local foods like McClure’s Pickles, Early Bird Granola, or fresh lobster rolls from Red Hook Lobster Pound. The Brooklyn Bridge Flea starts June 14th and takes place every Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.  To see the latest finds, check

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Let’s Dance: SummerStage

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

I don’t often splurge for cabs, but after a long afternoon of traveling back to the city from a short trip home to New Hampshire, I decided to switch up the subway for a cab back to my apartment. This is mostly because it was downpouring and I was trying to catch a dance class (no such luck – too late!), but the reason doesn’t really matter.

Long story short, the cab was zooming through Central Park back to the East Side and I saw groups of people heading towards a stage with large signs reading SummerStage.

Now, I have seen signs and seen the stage set up in years past, but I have never taken the time to figure out what SummerStage was all about – I just figured it would be expensive or impossible to get into. Since I was too late to go to my class, however, I had some time to look into the details about what this stage is all about.

SummerStage is put on by the City Parks Foundation, and it presents a variety of free and benefit concerts. On the list for their Mainstage in Central Park this summer is a wide variety of acts – musicians such as Public Enemy, The Specials, and other famous bands, as well as dance groups such as Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and other performers such as poets, comedians, and actors. I’m really looking forward to trying to see St. Vincent on August 1 and Complexions Contemporary Ballet on August 10, but hopefully I can get into the action earlier than August – there are plenty of shows to choose from!

This event happens every year, and most shows are free – but for the shows that require payment, order ahead. It’s the first day of June, and some shows are already listed as sold out! The free shows just require getting there early enough to find a spot – I’ll try to go to a show soon and see just how early the crowds normally get there. Keep in mind, too, that there are shows happening not just on the Central Park Mainstage, but also throughout the rest of the city and its boroughs. Check out the website for the full listings, and I’ll keep you posted on what I see and find out about this SummerStage deal. But so far, it looks like an amazing program – keeping the arts alive and accessible to NYC residents is a great goal, and utilizing the beautiful parks of Manhattan and its boroughs is a unique way to see the performances. I, for one, can’t wait!

-Meghan Q.

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