5 Essential NYC Summer Festivals

Summer Stage concert
City Parks Foundation

NYC is a year-round cultural haven, and summertime is no exception. From concerts in the park to Shakespeare under the stars, classical orchestral fests to avant-garde theater, these 5 essential NYC summer festivals ensure that your cultural calendar needn't skip a beat in the summer heat.

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City Parks Foundation

The SummerStage lineup for 2016 has been announced, proposing the most exciting roster of free-of-charge summer cultural events in the city. Run by the nonprofit City Parks Foundation since 1986, the SummerStage performing arts festival proposes an eclectic program of more than 100 alfresco concerts, dance performances, theater productions, comedy, and more, spanning various genres and cultures (with a special emphasis on jazz this year), and representing both established and emerging artists. The events are scheduled to unfold at 16 parks across NYC's five boroughs, with the biggest blockbuster happenings planned at Central Park's Rumsey Playfield. SummerStage 2016 kicked off May 16 and wraps up on September 23. See SummerStage in Manhattan: 2016 Lineup for more.

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Shakespeare in the Park

The Public Theater's Shakespeare in the Park / Joan Marcus

This beloved summer tradition has brought the Bard to Manhattan's Central Park for more than 50 years. Presented by The Public Theater, the free Shakespeare in the Park productions are predictably one of summer's hottest tickets, proposing a transporting journey from under the stars of Central Park to time-honored Shakespearean worlds. See The Ultimate Guide to NYC's Shakespeare in the Park for everything you need to know about making the most of the 2016 season of Shakespeare in the Park.

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Summer on the Hudson in Riverside Park

Concert on the pier
Elliot Clearlight

Running from May through September, the 2016 edition of the annual Summer on the Hudson festival in Riverside Park brings a summer-long season of 100-plus alfresco arts and cultural events to Manhattan's Hudson River-lined park, stretching from 59th Street to 153rd Street. Expect happenings highlighting music and dance, and, come July and August, a series of movie screenings under the stars. Plus, plenty of family events, fitness activities, kayaking, and more. Festival organizers are bringing back some old favorites, too, including family-friendly music and art festival Mamapalooza, kite-flying event FlyNYC, and the country fair-esque West Side County Fair.

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Lincoln Center's Mostly Mozart Festival

Richard Termine

For those who just can't wait until fall for Manhattan's vibrant cultural calendar to swing back into action, Lincoln Center delivers a quick fix with its annual summertime Mostly Mozart festival, a NYC institution, now in its 50th year. Duck out of the heat one summer night during this month-long musical explosion (July 22 through August 27, 2016), and be transported by the genius of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, as performed by the Festival Orchestra, under the leadership of music director Louis Langrée. The festival, which spans some 50 performances and events—including concerts and late-night recitals—across multiple venues, lives up to the "Mostly" in its name, highlighting works of classical (and select contemporary) musicians apart from Mozart, too (like Beethoven and Bach).

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New York International Fringe Festival

FringeNYC - The New York International Fringe Festival

The New York International Fringe Festival (FringeNYC), now in its 20th year, marks the nation's largest multi-arts festival, which will bring some 1,100 performances—representing more than 200 emerging theater and dance companies from around the globe—to Manhattan this August. Crammed into 16 days, festival-goers can choose between a staggering 200 unique scheduled shows during FringeNYC 2016, including musicals, dance performances, operas, dramas, comedy, burlesque, and plenty more.

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