By Steve Holt
As our third (!) Covid summer approaches, the urge to relax and have fun is intense. It’s been so long since we’ve enjoyed some of our summertime favorites, we may have forgotten about them!
We offer here a highly selective listing of summer fun and culture. We couldn’t possibly include all of the events our neighborhood (and neighboring neighborhoods) have to offer, but these should get you started.
A note of caution: Yes, Covid cases are spiking. The vast majority of performances we list are outside, a definite plus. But please consult the websites (linked below) for the latest Covid protocols regarding masks and vaccinations, as the pandemic remains (frustratingly) fluid.
It may be the ultimate UWS summer treat: Shakespeare in Central Park. This year the Public Theater is mounting Richard III (June 17-July 17) and As You Like It (August 10-September 11). Waiting on line in the park is a storied UWS tradition, but there are other ways to get tickets (check here).
Summerstage is another venerable Central Park institution. This year’s highlights include Herbie Hancock, George Clinton, Belle and Sebastian, Barenaked Ladies, and Burning Spear. Some of the events are free; some are benefits supporting park performances across the five boroughs.
The classical big guns, the New York Philharmonic (June 15th) and Metropolitan Opera (June 20th) will draw huge crowds. On a smaller scale, the Naumberg Orchestral Concerts claim to be the oldest series of its kind in the country. Head for the Naumberg bandshell, just south of Bethesda Terrace. Seating is free; first come, first served.
Other Central Park events this summer include a special celebration of the LGBTQ+ community’s influence on the city’s great green space.
(Central Park is just one of several locales for Festival of New York, definitely worth checking out).
The Irish Arts Center presents its free Dance and Music Festival in Riverside Park on June 11th. The Center is also offering free café concerts and traditional Irish music sessions (June 1-24) at their spanking new home, 726 11th Avenue at 51st St.
Riverside Park also hosts Summer on the Hudson, a cornucopia of events from Yoga to Shakespeare to nature tours.
Further south along the Hudson, the Hudson River Park is presenting its first full schedule of summer events since 2012.
All right, it’s downtown, but the annual River to River Festival (June 12-26) is worth braving terra incognita below 59th Street for everything from puppetry to music.
As long as we’re traveling, don’t forget the Tribeca Festival, June 8-19. (And if you don’t like leaving the UWS, its venues now include the Beacon Theatre and United Palace.) Tickets for the highest profile events can be scarce, but it’s well worth scouring the lineup for some lesser-known gems.
And finally, Celebrate Brooklyn returns to Prospect Park, with its usual spectacular array of performances. If you say Fuhgeddaboutit, you’re missing something special!