Living in New York City is a dream for many people, and if you’re lucky enough to be one of the Big Apple’s 8.3 million residents, you get to enjoy one of the world’s best hubs for the performing arts. NYC is not just the true home of Broadway theater, it’s also a great place to experience music for free! Read on to learn about several places where you can catch free concerts in NYC.
Parties in the Park
Our first pick is the SummerStage program at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park, put on by the City Parks Foundation. These events showcase a variety of music acts, and performers from past years have included Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie, and Patti Smith. The Indigo Girls also played a SummerStage set in August of 2003, during the largest blackout NYC had seen in 40 years. SummerStage shows are spreading to other parks, so check out the City Parks Foundation calendar to catch SummerStage Brooklyn, SummerStage Bronx, and other festivals by this great taxpayer-funded program!
For those who prefer their rock in rock opera form, you’ll enjoy the July and August parties known as Broadway in Bryant Park. Whether you love the classic off-Broadway musicals or stick to the more modern Broadway flavors, there’s something for you in each week’s sampling of on- and off-Broadway hits. If true opera is more your flavor, don’t miss the Metropolitan Opera Summer Recital Series, which features performances each summer in all five boroughs.
The Met Opera aren’t the only group bringing high-class shows to your area; we also love the New York Philharmonic series, Concerts in the Parks, which visits parks and other venues all over the city annually. If you just can’t get enough orchestral music, the Naumburg Orchestral Concerts occur regularly in Central Park; check out their calendar for the details.
New York Festivals
Other free concerts in NYC include the Martin Luther King Jr. series, hosted at Wingate Field (on Brooklyn Avenue) by Borough President Marty Markowitz. Genres featured usually focus on soul, R&B, and hip-hop, but this annual series is expanding into a broader variety of acts every year. Another free festival for these kinds of acts is the Celebrate Brooklyn! concert series in Prospect Park.
If you’re always looking for variety and multicultural influence, check out the Out of Doors Festival at the world-famous Lincoln Center, which lasts three weeks and features music, dance, and spoken word performances from all over the world. Also, check out the Stars of Tomorrow series at the Hudson River Park, showcasing performances by students from area high schools and colleges.
Options for free contemporary music shows really are limitless; with the eclectic contemporary Red Hook Festival, (known for its kayak rides and other family activities), and also the open-air indie rock fests that occur every summer as part of the Seaport Music Festival, there’s something for a fan of any contemporary genre!
Celebrate Music and the Arts
Possibly the most exciting opportunity to catch free concerts in NYC is the worldwide annual event each June, Make Music (and its corresponding Make Music Winter celebration). This party is unlike any other concert, in that everyone is a participant – the Make Music project is a day when performers of all kinds take to the streets to celebrate their art and showcase their work. Learn more about Make Music New York at the organization’s web site, and join your community in the celebration of creativity!
High costs of living and the fast-paced urban lifestyle can be balanced out by taking the time to enjoy music. Don’t miss your chance to enjoy free concerts in NYC every summer (and some all year round), and get out there and make some music of your own as well! Brush up before you hit the streets for Make Music New York, by signing up for some music lessons with a local teacher.