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Summer in New York City

Ten reasons to visit New York in the summer

Hot town, summer in the city. The sweltering heat notwithstanding, ask any New Yorker, and they’ll tell you that the Big Apple really comes into its own between May and September. Follow locals’ leads, and discover 10 of the season’s very best cultural, sporting, and foodie events.


1. Smorgasburg (April-October)

In New York, excellent street food is a year-round proposition. But in the summer, things really heat up, thanks to Smorgasburg. A colossal, open-air food market comprising more than 100 vendors, Smorgasburg runs summertime locations along the Williamsburg waterfront and in Prospect Park. From lobster rolls and ramen burgers to dragon fruit bowls and pork belly baos, taste the best of Brooklyn’s culinary innovation while enjoying a generous helping of sunshine.

2. Shakespeare in the Park (May-August 2018)

Central Park is at the very heart of New Yorkers’ summertime celebrations, and little wonder: the oasis of green isn’t just the perfect place to sunbathe – it’s also quite the cultural hub. Shakespeare in the Park, held at the Delacorte Theater, is arguably its most popular summer offering. Each season includes two of the Bard’s most popular works, and tickets are free. The only downside: many punters start queuing up for them in the wee hours. If you miss your chance, SummerStage — which features open-air performances by A-list acts — is a worthy Central Park alternative.


3. Governors Ball (1-3 June 2018)

Most visitors to New York — and even many locals — have never stepped foot on Randall’s Island. An unobtrusive outcropping of land in the East River, it’s sandwiched right between East Harlem, the South Bronx, and Queens. Randall’s Island is known primarily for its verdant public park…and for being host to Governors Ball, an annual, three-day music festival that features top-notch rock, hip hop, and pop acts.


4. Jazz Age Lawn Party (16-17 June, 25-26 August 2018)

Kick it like it’s 1928 at the Jazz Age Lawn Party, a beautifully retro fete that attracts some of New York’s nattiest dressers. Inspired by the decadence of The Great Gatsby, this open-air party’s era-appropriate costumes are only part of the fun. A live orchestra, Charleston dancing, and Prohibition-era cocktails also add to the charm (as does the idyllic ambiance of Governors Island).


5. Museum Mile Summer Festival (12 June 2018)

Not only is Museum Mile’s Summer Festival billed as the city’s biggest block party, but it’s also the most cultured. After all, the festivities — which stretch along Fifth Avenue from 82nd to 105th streets — encompass some of New York’s most vaunted institutions, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of the City of New York, the Guggenheim, and the Museo Del Barrio. Entrance to participating museums is free, live bands and entertainment keep things exciting on the pavement, and art-in-the-streets activities provide younger visitors with a hands-on cultural education.

6. The Mermaid Parade (16 June 2018)

Coney Island’s Mermaid Parade is one of the city’s most unabashedly quirky events. Billed as the world’s largest art parade, the annual promenade invites participants to don scales, seashells, sparkles, and body paint for an incredible nautical spectacle. Once the festivities are over, choose to linger on Coney Island’s famous boardwalk (and nosh on a Nathan’s Famous hot dog — it’s tradition).


7. Bryant Park Summer Film Festival (Dates TBA)

Within walking distance of Grand Central Station, Times Square, and Rockefeller Center, pretty Bryant Park has always been a popular Manhattan retreat. That’s especially true during the summer months, when the park’s evening film festival makes its big return. Follow locals after work as they picnic on the grass and wait for the sun to set before a range of classic films are screened (past flicks have included everything from East of Eden to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off). It’s free to enter, though scoring a patch of grass with a view means early arrival is advised.

8. Gay Pride (23 – 25 June)

New York is home to one of the country’s most diverse and prominent LGBT communities, and the city’s annual Pride celebrations rank among the largest in the U.S. Join the march as a cheering participant or a spectator, attend a number of other parties and activities, and be sure to wear your rainbow finest while showing your support.

9. Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks (4 July 2018)

Celebrate American Independence Day in bombastic style with a fittingly New York spectacle. The largest Fourth of July fireworks event in the country, the show takes to the East River in the evening, when fireworks are launched into the sky from four different barges. Come early, and you can also enjoy live music performances and other entertainment options.


10. US Open (27 August – 9 September 2018)

In New York, the end of the summer is heralded by the US Open: the fourth and final Grand Slam of the year, it draws tennis fans from near and far. Take in the thrilling action at the National Tennis Center in Flushing, Queens, where the hard-court tournament is played — and see if you can catch your favourite pros in action.


Written by Claire Bullen

Image credits: Smorgasburg © Alexander Thompson - NYC Company, Central Park © Will Steacy, Mermaid Parade © Norman Blake, Pride © Joe Buglewicz, Fourth of July © Phil Kline

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