Whether you like classical music, jazz, folk or rock, New York City in summertime is a dream location for music lovers on a budget. The five boroughs each offer free music concerts in city parks and other outdoor locations.
There's nothing quite like the sound of free music. Here are a few concerts to fill your summer days and nights.
Summer Evening Concerts Under the Stars
This summer festival has been going strong for 40 years. Enjoy free, outdoor entertainment by legendary jazz, folk, gospel, blues and rock musicians along with performances by international dance companies. Lincoln Center Out of Doors is one of the nicest places to be on a sultry, summer night in the city.
Summergarden: Jazz and new music concerts by The Juilliard School and Jazz at Lincoln Center are offered free on Sunday evenings in MoMA's delightful Sculpture Garden. (July 11-Aug. 1, 2010; enter through the garden on 54th St.)
MoMA Nights: The museum remains open until 8:45pm on Thursday evenings in the summertime. Concerts by Brazilian and French music groups take place in the Sculpture Garden at 5:30pm and 7pm. (July & August 2010; concerts are free with museum admission, $20)
SummerStage (Central Park, Rumsey Playfield, tel. 212/360-2777; www.summerstage.org) June 1-Aug. 29, 2010
To celebrate the 25th-anniversary season, SummerStage will expand beyond its Central Park location to include cutting-edge music, dance, film and theater performances in all five boroughs. All events are free, except for Benefit Concerts.
New York Philharmonic: Concerts in the Parks (www.nyphil.org) July 13-16, 2010
The illustrious New York Philharmonic has been giving concerts since 1842, and each summer, the orchestra lights up New York City parks with beautiful classical music and fireworks. Bring a blanket, picnic and your friends. Devotees start arriving at dawn to sit close to the stage, but the music sounds lovely from wherever you're seated on the Great Lawn.
Set in the Prospect Park Bandshell, Celebrate Brooklyn! features a wide variety of music, dance, film, and theater by legendary performers and new talent. All events are free, except for Benefit Concerts.
That Guitar Man -- David Ippolito (www.thatguitarman.com) June-August 2010
David Ippolito is one of those well-kept, New York secrets you need to discover. For almost 20 years, he's been bringing old-fashioned fun to "The Hill" in Central Park on Saturday afternoons in the summer. From noon till sunset, Ippolito mixes in some of his own compositions with songs that we all know and love. Now, he also has a Friday-night gig in Hudson River Park on Pier 45 (Sunset on the Hudson, www.hudsonriverpark.org; June 11-Aug. 20, 2010, 7pm-9pm)
Free Neighborhood Concerts
Madison Square Music: Oval Lawn Series (Madison Square Park, Madison Ave./Fifth Ave. between 23rd & 26th Sts.; www.madisonsquarepark.org) June 16-Aug. 4, 2010
On Wednesday evenings throughout the summer, grab a blanket and some snacks and head over to this neighborhood park for a delightful lineup of free outdoor concerts -- soul, folk, rock, country and world-music.
The sound of free chamber music and jazz fills the air on Tuesday evenings in July in the newly-renovated Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village.
Music on Main Street (Woodbridge, NJ; tel. 732/602-6015; www.woodbridgeartsnj.com) June 2-Aug. 11, 2010
Take a short train ride to New Jersey for a marvelous series of free, outdoor concerts on Wednesday nights. The music includes rock, roots, salsa, reggae, and Irish bands selected by music impresario Bill Brandenberg.
How to Get the Best Seats and Other TipsMost outdoor concerts take place rain or shine. Some offer rain dates or indoor venues; others cancel. Check each venue's website before heading out. Also, because these events are free, they fill up quickly. Arrive early to get good seating.
Some venues (Lincoln Center, MoMA, Washington Square Park) provide chairs while others have space for blankets. Most encourage picnics but none allow you to bring in alcohol (although you can purchase it at several of the venues). Since some places let you take lawn chairs and coolers while others don't, it's always best to check the venue's website.
For additional free summer concert suggestions in New York City, check out www.nycgo.com.
Talk with fellow Frommer's travelers on our New York Forum.