Here in NYC, there’s always something new to see! From rotating art installations to free events around the city, there are so many happenings to match any style and personality. Now that summer is in full swing and early fall is approaching before we know it, there are tons of event series and festivals you should bookmark on your calendar. Let’s dig into our favorite festivals in NYC that are either happening now or coming up in August and September!
SummerStage in Central Park is a New York summer tradition, and it is back this summer after being on a pandemic hiatus the past few years. What started back in June is currently running throughout the dog days of summer, welcoming tons of fantastic artists to NYC. The concert series is organized by City Parks, and offers shows in 12 different parks across the city, with the largest stage being in Central Park. Booked artists range from Afrobeat to hip-hop to indie, and many concerts are even free as well!
Take a look at SummerStage’s full lineup here and plan a visit today.
Grab some food and friends at Smorgasburg, one of the best open air markets in the entire city! Walk through a variety of vendors and try out different snacks and foods while you enjoy the warm summer air. There are 4 Smorgasburg locations in NYC, including Williamsburg and Jersey City (Saturdays 11 am – 6pm), Prospect Park (Sundays 11 am – 6pm), and World Trade Center (Fridays 11 am – 7pm). These food festivals are the perfect way to spend a day and have some delicious bites along the way!
Step into an immersive hard seltzer experience this weekend (August 6) when Seltzerland comes to NYC! This festival will consist of over 100+ hard seltzer brands bringing samples, tasting, activations, merch and so much more to Pier 36. Come hang out with friends, play games, take Instagram flicks, and discover some new brands. Tickets start at $39 and there’s also a VIP option with special perks.
Grab your tickets and learn more here.
4. Afropunk Festival
Celebrating black culture and black creativity is Afropunk Festival, the annual music and arts festival that touches down in Brooklyn every year. Taking place this year on September 10 + 11, there will be musical acts, food, activations and so much more that aim to “celebrate the resilience of the Brooklyn community.” This year’s lineup includes The Roots, Burna Boy, Isaiah Rashad, Lucky Daye, Tierra Whack, and so many more, performing live in Commodore Barry Park! The Afropunk weekend is a true cultural celebration and reset, and is an absolute must-hit this year.
Grab your tickets here!
5. Shakespeare in the Park
One of the best free festivals in NYC this summer and every summer is Shakespeare in the Park, the cultural fix you’ll crave no matter how literary you may be! With some of the biggest names in entertainment, and shows running from June through September, there’s always something new to see here. With over 150 productions that have taken place at the iconic Delacorte Theater in Central Park, you’ll feel the history in the air as soon as the curtain rises.
You can come to see the different shows in August and September!
Where: 81 Central Park West
6. NYC Unicycle Festival
This is certainly one of the most unconventional festivals in NYC – but all the better because of it! The NYC Unicycle Festival lives up to its name by giving you a front-row seat to some of the greatest one-wheeled talents in the world. Taking place in early September, you can view a variety of public shows exhibiting the beauty and thrills of this little-understood sport. World-class performers will be on-site to showcase all the one-wheeled bike can offer, demonstrating it’s so much more than just a stereotypical circus or comedy prop. If watching all the action isn’t enough to convince you, there’s even an area dedicated to learning to ride where – with enough practice – you could learn the ropes of riding yourself!
For anyone who prefers just sitting back and soaking in the action, enjoy sports like unicycle hockey, basketball, and even sumo demonstrations. You’ll feel like you’re at the Olympics of Unicycles!
7. Lincoln Center Summer for the City
If just one festival in NYC isn’t enough for you, why not try an entire summer full? Through August, the Lincoln Center Summer for the City gives you chances to get out, dance, and mingle the hot nights away! With a 10-foot disco ball lighting the way, the free social dance is back this year to liven things up. For anyone who prefers a more peaceful outdoor music experience, the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra will be performing peaceful pieces to soothe your soul. If you’re looking for festivals in NYC for families, they’ve got you covered there too with specialty free events just for kids and their crew. There is even a speakeasy with jazz, comedy, and spoken word performances for anyone wanting a more cozy evening.
Plus there’s even free movies showings, wellness sessions, and 300+ free events in total, so you’re sure to find something that appeals to you!
Where: Lincoln Center Plaza
8. E-Zoo NYC 2022
Making its grand re-debut for the first time in 3 years is Electric Zoo, one of the world’s largest dance and electronic music festivals. E-Zoo is a Labor Day Weekend tradition here in NYC, but has been cancelled the past few years for various reasons, including the pandemic last year. The 2022 lineup includes some of the hottest names in EDM including Diplo, Martin Garrix, DJ Snake, and more. E-Zoo is a truly magical experience thanks to their art installations across the grounds, innovative set designs, and expert light shows during every set of the weekend. Since it’s the first time back on Randall’s Island in 3 years, we suggest grabbing tickets as soon as possible, which you can do here.
Where: Randall’s Island
9. Central Park Film Festival
If outdoor film festivals are more your thing, we suggest you check out the Central Park Film Festival. Taking place in mid-August, you can settle in the park and enjoy four days of free entertainment. Though the lineup has yet to be finalized, this year marks the festival’s 19th showing, so there’s a solid track record of fine films here. Not to mention with National Geographic being a proud sponsor this year, you’re sure to have an educational yet stimulating experience.
Where: between Sheep Meadow and the 72nd Street Cross Drive
10. Little Island’s Summer Season
One festival in NYC that will have you coming back all summer long is Little Island’s 2nd Annual Summer Season, which features plenty of options for entertainment. With over 175 NYC-based artists and 260 performances, events run through September, with a wide variety to choose from. Between Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, Machine de Cirque, the Second Annual Storytelling Festival, and more, there are musical acts and stories galore to be savored.
Entertainment happens Wednesdays through Sundays in both The Glade and The Play Ground. Acts will range from singer-songwriters, comedians, spoken word, drag bingo, cabaret, and more.
Where: Pier 55
11. Summer Streets
If you’re looking for a festival that can’t be summed up as just one type, Summer Streets is the event for you. Made up of fitness, recreation, arts, and cultural activities, Summer Streets is a complete pedestrian takeover in Manhattan between the Brooklyn Bridge and Central Park. Play, run, walk, bike, hang out and just do whatever you please along Park Avenue. There will also be free public art installations, performances, and activities along the route!
Lifestyle and consumer brands, city agencies, community organizations, performers, and artists will be there to greet you and enjoy the experience with you! Plus, with 300,000 people in attendance each year in August, you’re sure to find new friends and great company.
Where: Park Avenue
12. Rolling Loud Music Festival
The biggest hip-hop festival is back in Queens this September, as Rolling Loud rolls through Citi Field for a three day weekend of music, art installations, food, and so much more. This year’s headliners include some of the biggest names in the genre like Nicki Minaj, A$AP Rocky, Future, and many more. This year’s festival will be the third edition taking place in NYC. If you’re a rap fan you still have plenty of time to lock in tickets to the festival, which you can do here.
Where: Citi Field
13. New York Film Festival
Returning on September 30 and running through October 16 is the New York Film Festival, one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world. Organized by Film at Lincoln Center, this year’s 60th anniversary will feature all sorts of films, aiming to celebrate the world’s best filmmakers. So far, Noah Baumbach’s White Noise will lead off the lineup for films, but many more will continue to be announced as the festival gets closer. Tickets don’t go on sale to the public until next month, but be sure to keep these dates in mind if you’re a film buff!
Learn more here.