New York City is a magical place in the summer. From street fairs to Shakespeare performances, there is always something new and exciting going on outdoors. As hard as it may be to decide what to see, it’s easy to know where to go: for the best outdoor New York attractions, pay a visit to Central Park! There you’ll find one of the most popular outdoor summer attractions in New York City – the SummerStage festival.
Held each year in Central Park since 1986, SummerStage is an arts and culture festival for locals and visitors alike. The festival was originally designed in the spirit of Central Park’s mission to serve as a free public resource to enrich the lives of New Yorkers and continues today as a great summer activity for New Yorkers of all ages. Festival events are held all summer long, beginning the second week in June. While some performances are designed for mature audiences, there are also a number of kid-specific offerings in addition a wide selection of performances appropriate for all ages.
The SummerStage festival events are hosted primarily in Rumsey Playfield (off E. 72nd Street & 5th Ave) in Central Park, although smaller performances are held in parks throughout the city. Consult the official performance schedule for details. There are also a number of other outdoor New York City attractions being held in Central Park throughout the summer, so be sure to check out additional dates. All in all, there will be more then 100 free performances across 17 parks in all five boroughs during the course of the festival, in addition to other special events that do require ticket purchase.
The kickoff event on Tuesday, June 11th is the City Parks Foundation Gala, a benefit to support the free arts, sports, and education programs offered year round across the city. Although tickets for this event are sold out, there are still plenty of tickets available for other special performances
Some tips for enjoying NYC SummerStage
- Seating opens as early as an hour and a half before the performance is scheduled to start, so it’s a good idea to arrive early to stake out a spot.
- Bring a blanket or some chairs to sit on, as there is little to no permanent seating available (varies with each park).
- Feel free to bring food and drinks, but avoid glass bottles and coolers. You can also buy food on-site in Central Park for a reasonable amount of money, although options will be your standard park fare.
- You’ll still be able to hear the music from outside the SummerStage area, so if you want to avoid crowds (or aren’t able to arrive early) you can still sit outside on the grass and enjoy the performance.
If you’re spending time in New York City this summer, be sure to check out some of the SummerStage performances and other outdoor New York attractions. A discount New York attractions pass will help you keep your vacation under budget and make the planning easier.