Free Activities In the City!

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?

SUMMERSTAGE
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 www.summerstage.org for specific dates and times of various shows.

NEW YORK PHILHARMONIC, OR THE “BIG FIVE.”
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 http://nyphil.org/attend/summer for a full schedule.

TODAY SHOW SUMMER CONCERT SERIES
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 http://today.msnbc.msn.com and click on “Concert Series.

BRYANT PARK’S SUMMER FILM FESTIVAL
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
www.bryantpark.org and click on “Summer Film Festival.”

BROOKLYN FLEA MARKET
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 www.brooklynflea.com.

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