Central Park Summer Concerts and Events

From cutting edge to classical, Central Park hosts many summer shows

Central Park Fireworks - New York
••• Michael Lee / Getty Images

Central Park hosts a wide variety of concerts and events throughout the summer. For visitors to New York City, attending a concert or special event in Central Park can offer the opportunity to experience the city as locals do, since attending these events is very popular among New Yorkers young and old. Here are some of the special concerts and events that take place in Central Park each summer:

  • Shakespeare in the Park
    • You'll have to wait in line to score free tickets to see Shakespeare in the Park performed in Central Park's Delacorte Theatre or else get lucky with their online lottery. It's also possible to be a Summer Sponsor and get advance tickets to see the performance without spending hours on line waiting or risking disappointment with the lottery.
  • Metropolitan Opera in the Park
    • Experience the world-class Metropolitan Opera during one of two free performances on the Great Lawn in Central Park. Make an evening of it with a picnic dinner and people watching, just as many NYers do!
  • New York Philharmonic in the Park
    • The New York Philharmonic performs two free concerts on Central Park's Great Lawn in July.These performances are often followed by fireworks and, like the Met Opera in the Park, often proceeded by picnic dinners and socializing on the Great Lawn.
  • Central Park Summerstage
    • Probably Central Park's most famous summer offering, Central Park SummerStage features a variety of (mostly free) concerts and performances throughout the summer. There are also many ticketed events who's proceeds help pay for the other free concerts. Often featuring well-known headliners, these performances usually sell out in advance, so book your tickets early to avoid disappointment. For popular shows you'll want to arrive early to ensure admission into the SummerStage area -- once it reaches capacity, you'll have to make do with listening from outside the venue.
  • Naumburg Orchestral Concerts
    • The oldest free outdoor concert series in the United States, the Naumburg features symphonic and semi-classical music on select summer evenings in Central Park's Naumburg Bandshell.
  • Harlem Meer Performance Festival
    • This popular Sunday concert series features the best in local emerging and established Latin, Jazz, World, and Gospel artists in Central Park.These concerts take place lakeside in the northern portion of Central Park.
  • New York Classical Theater in Central Park
    • Check out these free performances of classic plays in Central Park without the hassle of tickets or waiting in line. Since 2000, these professional actors have been staging productions of both popular classics, and lesser known plays for audiences in both indoor and outdoor spaces. For outdoor shows, the location plays a role in each production and attending a show involves moving around with the actors, so it's not your typical sedentary theater experience! Wear comfortable shoes and bring either a stool or be prepared to sit on the ground -- shows typically cover about 3 city blocks during the 2 hour production time.