August in New York, Free and Affordable Summer Outdoor Concert Series and Events

Beat the summer heat this August in NYC with indoor events like The Met’s newest exhibition, Gilded Age Drawings—a collection of rarely seen late 19th-century works on paper that were acquired shortly after the museum’s inception—or the Studio Museum in Harlem’s Photo Studio. If you’re ready to brave the dog days of summer, head outside for free concerts in City parks, the Mets vs. Yankees Subway Series or the always fabulous US Open Tennis Championships. For details on these happenings and many more, read on.

Central Park Conservancy Film Festival
August 21 — 26
The free Central Park Conservancy Film Festival screens classics just north of the Sheep Meadow (enter the park at West 72nd Street) and in Harlem’s Marcus Garvey Park. Bring a blanket and a picnic basket, and come early to snag a good spot (gates open at 6:30pm; movies start at 8pm). About an hour before each movie screens, there’s a live DJ performance. This year’s film selections include Annie, Saturday Night Fever, The Godfather and Spider-Man 3.

Piano in Bryant Park
August 1 — September 29
This free summer concert series brings the sounds of live jazz, ragtime and stride piano to Bryant Park. Stop by the bright green piano at the base of the William Cullen Bryant Statue to hear tunes from talented musicians, weekdays from 12:30 to 2:30pm. Select performances throughout the series will also feature sing-alongs and tap dancers. Pianists include Jon Weber, host of NPR’s Piano Jazz, and Grammy-nominated jazz performer Sue Maskaleris. View the complete lineup on the Bryant Park website.

Summer at Lincoln Center
August 1 — 31
Throughout the summer, Lincoln Center presents a number of annually recurring programs, each with a bit of a different theme. First up is the family-friendly Midsummer Night Swing, which allows you to take dance lessons and then try out your moves to live music under the stars. Beginning in July, the Lincoln Center Festival features nearly 50 performances from artists around the world in opera, dance, theater, ballet and multimedia over a two-week period. Out of Doors includes music, dance, spoken-word events, family shows and specially commissioned works—all for free. And, finally, Mostly Mozart showcases works of its famous namesake composer through opera, dance, symphonic and contemporary music performances.

The Met Roof Garden Commission: Adrián Villar Rojas
August 1 — October 29
The Met’s seasonal rooftop installation, The Theater of Disappearance by Argentinian artist Adrián Villar Rojas, comprises 16 sculptures that combine human figures with replicas of objects from the museum’s collection. The sculptures, made with 3-D scanning and other advanced imaging techniques, include a statue of King Haremhab from Egypt’s New Kingdom and Daniel Chester French’s Mourning Victory.  In addition to the black, white and gray tiled floor on which his pieces sit, the artist worked with museum staff to redesign the pergola, landscaping and seating areas as well as the bar’s menu to fully unite the roof garden’s many uses.

Summer Stage
August 1 — September 22
For three decades, SummerStage has been the City’s preeminent outdoor concert series. A number of high-profile benefit shows fund a slate of more than 100 free events, including readings by famous authors, kid-friendly shows, theatrical and dance productions—and, of course, live music performances by popular artists from around the world. The festival has expanded from its original digs—Rumsey Playfield in Central Park—to locations in all five boroughs. This season’s performers include Digable Planets, Ginuwine, Slick Rick, the Jimmy Heath Big Band, BalletX and Yo La Tengo.

Celebrate Brooklyn!
August 1 — 12
A favorite among Brooklyn’s summertime concert series, Celebrate Brooklyn! is set at the Prospect Park Bandshell; tons of seating and tree-shaded areas make the venue a lovely spot for a picnic, a plastic cup of wine and a free show. This year’s benefit concerts include the Shins, Conor Oberst and Fleet Foxes. Other highlights are Béla Fleck & the Flecktones, the Soul Rebels featuring Talib Kweli and a live performance of the score to the movie Creed by Wordless Music Orchestra.

Visionaries: Creating a Modern Guggenheim
August 1 — September 6
In honor of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation’s 80th anniversary, the rotunda will be filled with more than 170 pieces drawn from the foundation’s permanent collections in New York City and Venice. Included are works from Cézanne, Chagall, Kandinsky, Klee, Picasso and Pollock. Visionaries will also celebrate the patrons whose activities and interests aligned with Solomon R. Guggenheim and helped him form the museum now bearing his name.

Metropolitan Opera Summer HD Festival
August 25 — September 4
Opera’s biggest stars get their close-ups on the big screen during the Met’s annual HD Festival. Held outdoors in Lincoln Center Plaza, the free festival brings back several productions from the Met’s Live in HD simulcast series. There are thousands of seats in the plaza—but they do fill up, so grab a good one well before the 8pm start time.

US Open Tennis Championships
August 28 — September 10
The US Open, by far the nation’s biggest tennis tournament, returns to the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center August 28 through September 10. The Grand Slam event brings together the world’s best players along with great food, kids’ activities and musical performances, and draws fans from around the globe. Tickets are on sale now.

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