Following on from our NYC: Hot Summer Cool Spots guide, we have a look at the season's best outdoor events and activities. After all if you've travelled to the Apple, you might want to actually see and do stuff. And while it may not be a traditional tourist time of year, there's a lot going on...
Shakespeare in the Park with performances six-days-a-week until the 1st of August is probably the big outdoor draw of the summer. You'll have to be quick on the draw too; tickets are free and available from 1PM on the day of performance, so queues are inevitable. If the current weather keeps up it’ll be well worth it though; Central Park's Delacorte Theater is a dream of a setting and this season has especially cracking casts performing A Winter's Tale and The Merchant of Venice, with Al Pacino playing Shylock in the latter.
If you miss out on Shakespeare, can't face the queues or just fancy something a little more contemporary, the park’s other free summer spectacle takes place every Saturday and Sunday afternoon until October. The Central Park Dance Skaters Association's Roller Disco is an NY perennial, part party; part dazzling display, with live DJ, fancy footwork and tricks galore from the city's finest on four wheels.
If you're more in the mood for jumping up and rocking out, Summer Stage is also underway with 33 free big name gigs, plus theatre and dance from all over the world. There are satellite events across the five boroughs' parks too.
There are few (if any) better ways to enjoy a film than outside, under the stars. If those stars happen to be over Manhattan, where so many movies are made, the experience becomes all the more special. Even better when the surroundings are 30+ feet up and come with spectacular East River views as they do at the Elevated Acre. This fantastic space at Water Street becomes an outdoor cinema as part of the all-encompassing (and completely FREE) extravaganza, the River To River festival. Fittingly, all the movies on the programme are NY/Broadway-based.
Check out the River to River site for a full guide to a mind-blowing mix of culture and entertainment taking place downtown throughout the season.
Another place to lay your blanket and munch your popcorn is beautiful Bryant Park, whose lawn borders the New York Public Library and has appeared in a fair few films itself. The park plays host to the annual HBO Summer Film Festival whose programme consists of gritty American classics, this year including Rosemary's Baby, Bonnie & Clyde and 12 Angry Men. Lawn opens at 5pm, so get there early!
For something a little more mainstream, River Flicks offers a line-up of blockbusters old and new every Wednesday (for grown-ups) and Friday (for kids/families) until late August. The venues are the tree-lined Piers 54 and 46 of Hudson River Park whose night time views all along and across the river and over to New Jersey are lovely enough to keep your attention if for some reason the films don't.
A Day at the Fair
Throughout the summer months, the streets are practically alive with festivals and fairs, so you may just find yourself caught up in any number of specialist celebrations just wandering around town. This being cosmopolitan NY, there's something for every community and taste going on at some point. There are plenty of events still to come this season, reaching right the way through to October. Our pick if you're there at the right time would be the Festival of the Americas (July 31st) a 30 year-old institution featuring around 500 stalls of arts, crafts, antiques and most importantly delicious international street food. Click here for a complete street fair schedule.
Visiting New York City or been there recently? Got any top tips or know of something fun and/or free that we missed? Comments always welcome below.
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About the author: andrewAndrew Bowman
Andrew is an occasional contributor to the Virgin Atlantic blog. He lived in the Japanese countryside for two years until he could no longer resist the pull of London's galleries, pubs and clubs. He likes to pretend he can speak Japanese and also sometimes writes about music.