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NYC Cultural Calendar: Top 10 Summer Events in New York City
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NYC Cultural Calendar: Top 10 Summer Events in New York City

Picture of Helen Brady
Updated: 9 February 2017
From rooftop movies to the reopening of the Statue of Liberty—braving the soaring urban heat of New York’s concrete jungle offers you untold cultural delights in 2013. Literary celebrations, art exhibitions, food fairs and theatre performances all contribute to cement New York’s reputation as the cultural capital of the USA.

Lincoln Center Festival:

This year’s international, multidisciplinary arts festival is focused upon cross-cultural and cross-genre collaborations. Central to the Lincoln Center Festival has been an effort to look outside the Western European canon by presenting works from other parts of the world. The result is an eclectic mix of artists and productions representing over fifty countries. Highlights of the 2013 festival include Monkey: A Journey to the West, an unconventional opera co-conceived by Chinese director Chen Shi-Zheng and Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett of British band Gorillaz, John Malkovich orchestrating a French-language production of Dangerous Liaisons which he has brought over from Paris; and Charlie Chaplin’s daughter and granddaughter—Victoria Thierrée Chaplin and Aurélia Thierrée, offering language-free acrobatics. Locations, times and prices vary. 6th – 28th July, 2013.

Restaurant Week NYC

More like Restaurant Three-and-a-Half Weeks, this biannual event happens once in summer and once in winter. One of the largest dining celebrations in the United States, some three hundred restaurants now participate in the citywide event that started in 1992 as a way to entice visitors to new restaurants. Participating eateries offer a three-course prix-fixe menu at the same bargain price across the city—usually around $25 for lunch and $38 for dinner. Restrictions do apply, such as a limited menu and only certain days of the week. It is an incredibly popular event too, so make sure to book in advance. It’s the perfect way to experience the usually expensive restaurants of exceptional chefs and their restaurants. Previous participating restaurants include Bann, Le Cirque, Artisanal, ViceVersa and David Burke Townhouse. July 22nd – August 16th, 2013.

Shakespeare in the Park

Shakespeare in the Park is The Public Theater’s annual season of free plays at the Delacorte Theatre in New York City’s Central Park. The Public has created theatre for one of the largest and most diverse audiences in New York City for nearly sixty years. Continuing the work of its founder Joseph Papp, The Public Theatre is dedicated to developing American theatre that is both relevant and accessible to all people and advocating the theatre as an essential cultural force through productions of new plays, musicals and Shakespeare. Over five million people have visited the Delacorte Theatre for free performances, making it one of New York City’s most beloved summer traditions. This year’s performances include The Comedy of Errors (May 28th – June 30th, 2013) and Love’s Labour’s Lost, A New Musical (July 23rd – August 18th, 2013).

The 3rd Annual New York City Poetry Festival

2013’s 3rd Annual New York City Poetry Festival will be held on Governors Island’s Colonel Row on July 27th and 28th from 11am to 5pm. The Poetry Society of New York will invite New Yorkers to come together to celebrate NYC’s eclectic and vibrant poetry community. The event will include over 50 poetry organisations and 200 poets on the three stages, and poetry-inspired installation art can be seen throughout. A Vendor’s Village will be available where local booksellers, artists and craft makers can sell their wares. The purpose of this two day festival very much lies in the mission of The Poetry Society of New York. The aim is to liberate poets from their usual places of work and foster an open and accessible community amongst the cultural scene of the city. It will give poets and poetry lovers from all five boroughs the chance to hear, appreciate and interact with the poets themselves. If the poetry on offer doesn’t intrigue you, then there is also a beer garden sponsored by Brooklyn Brewery, and delicious food options provided by the Kimchi Taco Truck.

New York Philharmonic: Concerts in the Parks

Returning for its 48th season, the New York Philharmonic’s free parks concerts have become an iconic New York summer experience since they began in 1965, transforming the parks throughout the city and offering an opportunity to hear the best classical music under the stars of the New York night sky. Presented by sponsors Didi and Oscar Schafer, the five concerts will take place in Prospect Park, Brooklyn (July 10), Cunningham Park, Queens (July 11), the Great Lawn in Central Park, Manhattan (July 13 and 15) and Van Cortlandt Park, the Bronx (July 16). Since the event’s inception, more than 14 million listeners have enjoyed the summer performances. The nation’s oldest orchestra made news in 2009 when it hired one of the youngest musical directors in its history, New Yorker Alan Gilbert who will direct the 2013 event. A truly magical New York experience, the Philharmonic is a complete delight and a genuine example of sophisticated, local and free entertainment.

Rooftop Films

From its humble beginnings in the late 1990s, The Rooftop Films Summer Series is now in its 17th year of ‘bringing the underground outdoors’, and has become an official NYC summer staple. This year’s event will run every weekend from May 10th until August 17th, including some special events in September. The 2013 Summer Series will include a wide variety of feature-length films and a programme of shorts. Offering outdoor screenings across the city, most will include a filmmaker Q&A after viewing a diverse range of fiction, drama, comedy, documentaries and many more. Great things are expected from the series and Rooftop Films is known internationally as one of the most dynamic film festivals in the world. Of particular note this year is the documentary Our Nixon, a feature length film presenting the forgotten Super 8 home movies of Richard Nixon’s White House aides. This will be screened at the Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City, Queens on July 3rd, 2013. In 2012, the festival screened more than thirty feature films, all new and independent with most being New York, US or World premieres.

The Statue of Liberty Reopens

Lady Liberty has been closed since Hurricane Sandy battered the Northeast of the United States in October 2012. The Neoclassical statue itself remained unharmed when the storm hit, but the devastating damage to the rest of the island left it unsafe for visitors. The Statue of Liberty has now become a synonymous symbol for the resilience that both America and New York retain when confronted with adversity. The symbol for America’s liberty will make its triumphant return on the country’s annual independence day—the 4th of July. A $30million upgrade has resulted in improvements such as shallower steps inside the statue itself, a new air conditioning system and greater wheelchair accessibility.

The River to River Festival

For 30 days, over 150 events of transformative and investigative art are placed in unexpected places across 28 sites in Manhattan; more specifically the areas between the Hudson River and the East River. The River to River objective is to create spaces for people to talk about ‘sustainable art, communities, and environments, showcasing New York City, and in particular Lower Manhattan as creative, green and global, with shows and events that speak to the diverse cultures and tastes of audiences from across the region.’ The month-long festival includes performances with free art, theatre, dance, poetry, music, visual art and much more. Performances will take place on outdoor stages and installations, on the streets and in parks, theatres, warehouses and historical landmarks. The River to River Festival runs from June 15th – July 14th, 2013 and all events are free to the public.

The 8th Annual Jazz Age Lawn Party:

Revered year after year by publications such as The New Yorker and The New York Times, the 8th Annual Jazz Age Lawn Party will bring the 1920s back to life in New York Harbour. At the event on the historic Governors Island, guests can shop for vintage clothing, picnic on the sprawling lawn, have their portrait created and take dancing lessons, amongst other nostalgic activities. Just in case you don’t fancy carrying a picnic to the Lawn Party, the event offers ‘A Taste of the 20s’. A carefully crafted menu curated by NYC-based restaurateur Jimmy Carbone, offering visitors the tastiest and most authentic food offerings from the Jazz Age. Even Jay Gatsby himself would feel at home.

Harlem Book Fair

The 15th Annual Harlem Book Fair will take place on Saturday July 20th, 2013. The Harlem Book Fair is one the largest book fairs of its kind and it is expected to draw more than 50,000 visitors to its West 135th Street location. Over 250 booths will be set up offering books, storytelling, readings and opportunities for meeting the authors. The influence and celebration of Harlem as a cultural hub will be of particular focus at this event. The early 20th century Harlem Renaissance movement fostered an artistic explosion across the neighbourhood. During this period Harlem established its reputation as ‘The Black Capital of the World’. As a complement to the Harlem Book Fair, Harlem Heritage Tours is offering a cultural sightseeing tour, which will journey through 40 different locations in Harlem’s historic streets. Special attention will be paid to literary sights such as the Amsterdam Newspaper Office, Niggerati Manor, the Langston Hughes House and Strivers Row.

By Helen Brady