Let’s face it: It’s August! It’s about time to wrap up the summer-is-so-awesome-posts and start sharing with you what exactly makes this time of the year so exciting. Of course it’s hanging out in the open, drinking sangria under the star-spangled sky, and sauntering the streets without having to be wrapped into a thick winter jacket. While I’d love to elaborate on the second point but don’t have much to say on the third, it is indeed all about the events I am eager to share with you today!
Open-air-concerts have by now been extensively shared and talked about in this blog. Celebrate Brooklyn in Prospect Park still being among one of my favorites. Read more here to find out about the smaller version of the Manhattan event and high-class performers jamming it out onstage, thus making this fest so perfectly quaint. After bringing a Berlin friend here this summer, I was able to impress him after winning a free picnic blanket from Googleplay and introducing him to a group of ten friends who had all gathered around the lawn. While I haven’t been out there too many times this year, I can only recommend going to the Bandshell. A side note: Leave your professional camera at home, they might not let you in depending on the mood of the security guard!
Then, summer stage in Central Park is of course among one of these summer open-air goodies, as well. Music, performances, dancing – all season long and most are for free! But where you should really try to go, once you are in Central Park, are the Shakespeare plays around the Belvedere Castle. Great actors and actresses convey a cultural vibe on stage. The first play I saw was the Merchant in Venice. My friend and I had managed to sneak in at some point in time and followed every scene from the back row. It was great! It’s what you should get on Broadway, only it’s for free and under the blue sky. Make sure you get your ticket either at 6 o’clock in the morning or snag them online before 1 PM. If you go via the online route, you will be randomly chosen out of a selection of a few hundred. If not, make sure to get up earlier and be in the Park by 5:30 AM. Or pretend to be a German tourist, don’t speak any English and sneak in after the break. Hey, works (almost) every time!
Since you are already on the cultural side of life’s finest options, you could also just check out a recital of the Met Opera! For free! No kidding, the renowned opera house actually practices their good stuff before bringing it at a much higher cost to the crowds. And these so-called practices are now open to the public. Their summer round is almost over, but you can definitely still catch a quick peak at Socrates Sculpture Park in Queens on August 9 (today). For more info, go to their Web Site and check out their agenda. They usually run 6 free performances throughout the summer, so make sure to get the best out of it!
More music can be taken in at Madison Square Park. I happened to be there yesterday after work. Didn’t even know of their weekly performances going on until I saw the stage and the list hung next to it. Supposedly yesterday was the last day of their summer series but you can enjoy it all over again next year. The season started out with James Maddock and ended it with chimes from Bettye LaVette. It’s really a pity I didn’t know about this earlier, I could have just stayed late at work and gone directly from there in the past six weeks. I do know for a fact that they build up a huge screen during the US Open and make it viewable to the public. Also a nice event to watch, I find!
After so much music and culture, it’s good to just take a relaxing break and enjoy a movie. If you are up for it, go to Bryant Park around 42nd Street and make sure you bring a picnic blanket and five other friends. This is no joke but I saw a group of 12 people build up their very own Whole Foods picnic in the middle of the park while watching the Robin Hood feature film presented last Monday. If it doesn’t happen in New York, I don’t know where it does. And if you want to stay Brooklyn-bound, you can do the exact same thing every Thursday in Dumbo (yup, Dumb-o, we talked about it). In both locations the movies start when the sun sets, which is usually between 8:30 and 9 PM, depending on the month. They will continue on showing popular films until August 20 & 30, so you can still snag a few good ones before it comes to an end.
For further entertainment, please stay exactly where you are. Dumbo also offers free Zumba classes every Sunday afternoon during the months of July and August. Alma from the YMCA teaches it here. Remember my hard-sought fitness and the inevitable post on it? Well, this was also due to Alma and her kick-ass Zumba courses. She is a fun instructor and really likes to challenge the eager hobby dancers. Just be sure you make it there on time, because the class runs from 4 to 5 PM.
Oh and yes, every Monday they do have a reading! Readings are great – you get to know a book and the author in one session. All of this at no cost but taking some time out of your day and listening to the tender words of an aspiring
young author. Find yourself at the steps on Pier 1 from 7 to 8 PM to get the most out of Books Beneath the Bridge.
There are so many more things worth mentioning. Union Square kicks off the summer season with a very special program. It features newcomer bands, offers morning yoga, and much more. Check out their Summer in the Square Series to get a full overview. I am afraid their options are almost exhausted, though, since they already start bringing out the really great acts in June.
And you’d think New Yorkers would eventually get bored with the tremendous amount of free fun, but it isn’t so. It’s rather the opposite: We just don’t know what to choose and where to be at what time of the day.
Because aside from all of the open-air events, we have the cultural highlights that are still going on at the side. Such as Restaurant Week. Which has by now fully extended its time frame. Lunch and dinner specials for three weeks straight, who couldn’t take advantage of this great offer? And then of course the all-time classics such as Governor’s Island Jazz Age Festival, which is running its 7th season this year!
You see, from all of these true jewels to choose it becomes mighty hard which one to pick. But I surely hope you will find your way to at least one of these!