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August 2015 events calendar for New York City

Plan your month with our events calendar featuring the Electric Zoo festival and the Jazz Age Lawn Party

Photograph: Luciana Golcman
Jazz Age Lawn Party 2013 at Governors Island

The dog days of summer have officially arrived, but instead of staying indoors, use our events calendar to experience the best things to do in August. See tons of exemplary live jazz at the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival, check out an outdoor film screening, or simply enjoy the season by hanging out at one of the best beaches.

RECOMMENDED: Full events calendar for 2015

Featured events in August 2015

Electric Zoo Festival

The three-day Labor Day weekend festival has become an unmissable attraction on the electronic-dance-music circuit, attracting EDM fans from around the world. The lineup will be heavy on the superstar-DJ action—but there will be plenty of less bombastic sounds for those looking for something more underground from the fest. And yes, plenty of eye-grabbing outfits, too.

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By: Vivienne van Vliet

Jazz Age Lawn Party

Jazz Age Lawn Party is an essential annual summer stop for revelers looking to dance in the open air. Governors Island is the perfect venue to leave the 21st century behind for the delights of the Prohibition-era (including “speakeasy” booze). Dress the part with festive, period-appropriate attire, and come ready to dance at the Jazz Age Lawn Party.

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The US Open tennis tournament

For two weeks, Flushing Meadows–Corona Park will be the tennis capital of the world for the US Open 2015. While Wimbeldon has its white, New Yorkers bring the party to the National Tennis Center with a celebrity-studded crowd, international food vendors and live musicians performing on the grounds—not to mention tennis's top pros. 

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By: Tazi Phillips

Afropunk Festival 2015

Afropunk Festival is an annual event that takes place in August at Brooklyn's Commodore Barry Park (City Park). Over the course of a weekend, the outdoor summer music festival—which celebrates multicultural arts—hosts a wide array of well-known musical artists, as well as “BITES & BEATS” food trucks, live artworks and the SpinThrift Market. Additionally, Afropunk strives to raise multicultural awareness in New York City with its Activism Row initiative.

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By: Vivienne van Vliet

The New York International Fringe Festival

As Broadway and Off Broadway take breathers before the fall rush, August means just one thing for many lovers of New York theater: The New York International Fringe Festival. More than 75,000 people swarm annually through this sprawling hive of theater and dance, making FringeNYC (as it’s sometimes known) of the city’s largest events.

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Shakespeare in the Park in NYC

Shakespeare in the Park opens another season of the Bard's greats performed in open air at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. Created by the late Joseph Papp and presented by the Public, Shakespeare in the Park has endured not just because it's a night of free theater in New York's backyard, but because it's a night of great performances by some of the most talented actors of our day, including Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Al Pacino, Oliver Platt, Blythe Danner, Philip Seymour Hoffman, George C. Scott and Denzel Washington.

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By: Adam Feldman

Free events in August 2015

Lincoln Center Out of Doors: Garth Fagan Dance

Even by Lincoln Center Out of Doors standards, this is a marquee event. Three powerful institutions gather for this blockbuster evening organized in honor of the late, great Geoffrey Holder: Afro-Caribbean-inflected, postmodern choreographer Garth Fagan and his troupe; dance icon (and Holder's widow) Carmen de Lavallade performing new work The Creation; and the Harlem's Ebony Ecumenical Ensemble, which raises its collective voice in praise.

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01 Aug 2015

Party Like It's 1999

The Bell House honors the ’90s with a dance party, so get ready for rock, pop, R&B and hip-hop from the decade of Vanilla Ice, Jesus Jones and Sugar Ray. This special edition marks 20 years since it was 1995—the year of Babe, the heartwarming tale about a pig that wants to be a sheep dog. Honor the blockbuster by dancing to the songs of the summer of '95. "That'll do pig, that'll do."

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01 Aug 2015

Taylor Mac: The 20th Century Abridged

One of the most exciting theater artists of our time, the freakishly sublime Taylor Mac wears his specialness on his face: Elaborate makeup creations give him the air of a Fabergé clown, at once beautiful and ridiculous, and full of hidden tricks. Tonight, he presents selections from his ambitious series that explores a century of music.

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01 Aug 2015

Caribou

Known by the nom de plume Caribou, esoteric electronica collagist Dan Snaith has an undeniable talent for spinning expansive, thoughtful records out of a sprawling range of electronic, hip-hop and pop elements, as on his latest Merge release, Our Love.

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06 Aug 2015

Tune-Yards + Shabazz Palaces

Merrill Garbus airs offbeat party-starters from her recent, third LP, Nikki Nack. We anticipate a sweaty Prospect Park dance party to ensue once the irrepressible art-pop diva kicks into her effervescent, hair-raising tunes like "Water Fountain." Spacey Seattle psych-rap visionaries Shabazz Palaces warm up the crowd.

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08 Aug 2015

Battery Dance Festival

This free celebration (formerly the Downtown Dance Festival) welcomes dance from India, Colombia, Norway, Poland and, of course, New York. The splashy final event on Aug 21 goes indoors to Pace University, but all other performances take place in front of the sparkling New York Harbor.

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Sat Aug 15 - Fri Aug 21

Harlem Week

Harlem's historic community’s rich artistic heritage in on full display during this "week" (actually more like a month). It opens with showcases for Harlem’s gospel, fashion, restaurant and culture scenes at the all-day picnic Great Day in Harlem at the General Grant National Memorial. The festivities continue with free concerts, a 5K run, and an expo and a fair of small businesses in the area.

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Sun Jul 26 - Sat Aug 22

“Zoe Leonard: Analogue"

This ambitious project made up of both color and black-and-white photos was created over a ten year period, and takes its cues from Eugène Atget’s iconic documentation of ancient Parisian neighborhoods disappearing under the onslaught of modernization. In similar fashion, Leonard used a vintage Rolleiflex camera to capture vanishing mom-and-pop enterprises. Starting out in her East Village neighborhood, Leonard expanded her search to include storefronts in Eastern Europe, Africa, Cuba and Mexico, with an eye towards the colorful hand-made signage distinguishing each place. A subset of shots picture businesses selling Kodak film, with the brand’s distinctive yellow-and-red logo emblazoned on awnings, door frames and window displays.

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Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Midtown West Until Sunday August 30 2015

Music events in August 2015

Full Moon Fest 2015

Full Moon, the annual dance-friendly beach bash named for and modeled after the monthly all-night parties on the Thai island of Ko Pha Ngan, visits new space Brooklyn Mirage with not only a kickass main stage bill—Yelle, Tensnake, RÜFÜS DU SOL, MOTHXR, The Kite String Tangle—but also a special Crew Love Stage—Wolf + Lamb, Soul Clap, PillowTalk, No Regular Play, Slow Hands and more.

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01 Aug 2015

Dr. John + Amy Helm

Veteran R&B piano man and Big Easy icon Dr. John plays with a boogaloo stride and spiritual growl that’ll put any bag of bones in motion. Expect to hear from his recent Louis Armstrong tribute, Ske-Dat-De-Dat: The Spirit of Satch, at this groovy outdoor matinee.

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01 Aug 2015

Steely Dan

Despite the insistence of Seth Rogen's character in Knocked Up that "Steely Dan gargles [his] balls," and though the band hasn't released a new album in more than a decade, the Dan's stock has continued to rise in recent years. Hell, Donald Fagen, Walter Becker & Co. even turned up at Coachella earlier this year. The inimitable jazz-pop sophisticates with the most sly, most depraved lyrics in pop show off their airtight grooves during their annual Beacon run, preceded by a PNC Bank Arts Center gig with like-minded vet Elvis Costello in support.

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Beacon Theatre, Upper West Side Tuesday October 6 2015 - Friday October 16 2015

Johnny O'Neal

Johnny O'Neal, a deadly old-school jazz pianist who doubles as an earthy blues shouter, is back in the New York groove these days after two decades off the scene. Here, he shows off his Motor City–honed soul sophistication at the helm of a trio.

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Tue Jul 28 - Sun Aug 2

J. Cole + Big Sean + YG + Jeremih

In 2010, J. Cole was part of XXL's "Freshman Class." Five years later it would appear the North Carolina native has graduated to a very successful career. The rapper's got three Billboard 200 No. 1s to his name, the latest of which—2014 Forest Hills Drive—debuted in the top slot.

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03 Aug 2015

Hot Chip + Georgia

London’s Hot Chip is often compared to NYC’s LCD Soundsystem (with whom the group has collaborated), on account of its ability to imbue delicious disco beats with genuine heart and humor. Unlike James Murphy’s now-defunct crew, however, Hot Chip is in its prime—expect a fun dance-pop set at the show.

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04 Aug 2015

Billy Joel

Now an official Madison Square Garden franchise like the Knicks and Rangers, Billy Joel has been tacking on date after date in what's threatening to become an endless run at the venue. However, a monthly showing on one of NYC's biggest stages apparently doesn't satisfy the bar-rocker's arena aspirations. Hang out with the Piano Man at the Nassau Coliseum on the stadium venue's last night before its temporary shutdown (and come back in 2016 to see its return as a newly renovated sports supercenter).

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04 Aug 2015

Father John Misty + Angel Olsen + Summer Moon

The crackling aura surrounding Father John Misty extends beyond his past life as a Fleet Foxes member to the music he’s now releasing as a solo artist. His 2012 Sub Pop debut, Fear Fun, features soaring, soulful folk-rock lysergically spiked with energy and intelligence. His new follow-up, I Love You, Honeybear, is an arch, sometimes brutal look at modern love that should provide plenty of fodder for Misty’s scenery-chewing live show. Read our recent cover story with Father John Misty.

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05 Aug 2015

One Direction

The boys in One Direction might have started out as a Simon Cowell–groomed pop product, but in the years since their 2010 X Factor debut they've more than proved their worth as one of the world's biggest acts. Their latest LP, Four, is a bona fide smash full of stadium-rock swells and huge sing-along hooks that have more in common with the Who or Fleetwood Mac than NKOTB. Sure, there will be bus loads of screaming tweens angling for a selfie with Harry or Zayn (sorry, Louis). There'll also be plenty of grown-ass adults lured by the group's unaffected, unpretentious pop-rock, unashamedly belting out megahits like "What Makes You Beautiful."

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05 Aug 2015

Caribou

Known by the nom de plume Caribou, esoteric electronica collagist Dan Snaith has an undeniable talent for spinning expansive, thoughtful records out of a sprawling range of electronic, hip-hop and pop elements, as on his latest Merge release, Our Love.

Read more
06 Aug 2015
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Arts events in August 2015

Walter Dundervill: Arena

Walter Dundervill's work treads the border between moving sculpture and dance proper: In this ritualistic installation, his company assembles an environment from a wilderness of fabric, as the audience wanders in and out.

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Thu Jul 30 - Sat Aug 1

Lincoln Center Out of Doors: Garth Fagan Dance

Even by Lincoln Center Out of Doors standards, this is a marquee event. Three powerful institutions gather for this blockbuster evening organized in honor of the late, great Geoffrey Holder: Afro-Caribbean-inflected, postmodern choreographer Garth Fagan and his troupe; dance icon (and Holder's widow) Carmen de Lavallade performing new work The Creation; and the Harlem's Ebony Ecumenical Ensemble, which raises its collective voice in praise.

Read more
01 Aug 2015

Philippe Parreno, H {N)Y P N(Y} OSIS

French artist Philippe Parreno, one of the leading lights of the neo-conceptualist Relational Aesthetic movement of the late ’90s and early oughts, is known for ephemeral installations that incorporate elements of previous installations in a kind of nesting doll progression meant to focus attention on the idea of the exhibition itself, rather than the individual works of art. The latter, however, include the artist’s signature: A light up theater marquee meant to suggest the idea of the exhibit as a performance instead of a static display.

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Until Sun Aug 2

Celebrate Brooklyn: LeeSaar the Company

Brooklyn usually does a good job of celebrating itself, but this free outdoor performance series always takes the bar for exulatation a little higher. This time, the extraordinary modern company formed by Lee Sher and Saar Harari performs the seven-person work Grass and Jackals, as well as a duet by Ohad Naharin, performed by guests from the famous Batsheva Dance Company.

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06 Aug 2015

“Deborah Remington 1963–1983”

As curated by Jay Gorney, this revival of semi-forgotten painter Deborah Remington reveals an artist whose work is as hard to pigeonhole now as it was in the 1960s and ’70s, when she enjoyed a brief flurry of success. Her art is a Gordian know of contradictions: Pop, yet abstract; dark, yet incandescent; flat, yet tonally gradated; machinelike, yet organic. Favoring a crepuscular palette of black, white and gray, along with a color or two, the works read as otherworldly cybernetic nocturnes. In a series of smallish compositions titled “Soot Series,” odd bat-winged forms—each marked with a distinctive carlike grill—hover against murky backdrops, like Cadillacs morphed into UFOs. The automotive theme continues in other images resembling cutaway views of Cubistic engine blocks. Ultimately, however, these compelling paintings defy description. They’re proof of how an eccentric vision can triumph over time.—Howard Halle

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Until Fri Aug 7

Ice Factory Festival 2015

In the helter-skelter of summer theater festivals, the cool curatorial heads of the Ice Factory always provide a welcome breeze. This year’s lineup of plays and multimedia performance includes work by the Assembly, Glass Bandits and Morgan Gould & Friends. For details about individual shows, visit the Ice Factory's site.

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Thu Jul 23 - Sat Aug 8

Noche Flamenca: Antigona

Noche Flamenca presents a flamenco-filled, interdisciplinary adaptation of Sophocles’ Antigone, starring the glorious Soledad Barrio as the tragic heroine.

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Thu Jul 23 - Sat Aug 8

The Joyce Theater: Ballet Festival

The Joyce curates this small but mighty festival of contemporary ballet, which includes Joshua Beamish's MOVE: the company (Aug 4 and 5), the Chamber Dance Project (Aug 6 and 7), the Ashley Bouder Project (August 8 and 9), BalletX (Aug 11 and 12), Emery LeCrone (Aug 13 and 14) and Amy Seiwert's Imagery (August 15 and 16).

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Tue Aug 4 - Sun Aug 16

Battery Dance Festival

This free celebration (formerly the Downtown Dance Festival) welcomes dance from India, Colombia, Norway, Poland and, of course, New York. The splashy final event on Aug 21 goes indoors to Pace University, but all other performances take place in front of the sparkling New York Harbor.

Read more
Sat Aug 15 - Fri Aug 21

Penn & Teller on Broadway

Master illusionists Penn and Teller (whose act turns 40 this week!) do better than pull a rabbit out of a hat: They reach deep into our collective need to believe and extract skepticism. It’s not an easy trick. Humans seem to be hardwired for credulity, gladly surrendering our freedom to hucksters and peddlers of spiritual claptrap. (Penn, not coincidentally, is an outspoken atheist.) We want to believe in miracles, unseen forces that operate on that earthly plane. Penn and Teller insist that there’s no such thing as magic—right before they blow our minds with some brilliant coup.

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Thu Jul 23 - Sun Aug 16

More events in August 2015

Animation Block Party

For the 12th year in a row, this festival sets out to prove that cartoons aren’t just kid stuff. The four days of films are held at Rooftop Films and BAMCinématek and encompass various genres, styles and budgets. The event kicks off July 30 with live music and a free screening of shorts from small independent studios, foreign animators and a few selections from the heavy hitters over at DreamWorksTV and Nickelodeon.

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Thu Jul 30 - Sun Aug 2

Rooftop Films

For more than 15 years this outdoor gathering of indoor types (sorry, sorry, film buffs) has hosted screenings in a variety of creative locales—beaches, parks, plazas, farmland and roofs (duh). This year’s series will be held at seven al fresco spots including the Industry City complex in Sunset Park. There’s something about looking out over the city from up high, soaking in the skyline, that makes the experience much more, dare we say, cinematic. Programming runs the gamut from tried-and-true cult faves to world premieres. See site for specific times and locations.

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Fri Jul 24 - Fri Aug 14

Coney Island Sand Sculpting Contest

This Coney Island competition is open to experienced artists and amateurs alike; would-be Michelangelos can register online at coneyislandfunguide.com or in person on the day. There are individual and group categories for both adults and children, as well as a mixed division for families. Last year’s winning entries included a giant squid catching a fish, an uncanny sculpture of a man sunbathing and a cleverly molded Atlantis. Live bands, dance troupes and a magician will entertain spectators on the boardwalk while the sculptures take shape.

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15 Aug 2015

Jazz Age Lawn Party

Slap on your spats and practice the Charleston because the Jazz Age Lawn party is returning to Governor’s Island. Sip on Prohibition-era cocktails like a classic St-Germain with mineral water and a twist or a glass of bubbly and none of the back-alley hooch of the day. Food vendors will be on hand to keep your Lindy Hop hoppin’.

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Sat Aug 15 - Sun Aug 16

Elastic City Festival

This annual free six-week festival made by and for artists and creative souls includes walks (artist-led collaborative city explorations), talks (interactive discussions with creators) and ways (intensive workshops). See elastic-city.org for specific times and locations, as well as a full list of participating artists.

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Until Tue Aug 18

Harlem Week

Harlem's historic community’s rich artistic heritage in on full display during this "week" (actually more like a month). It opens with showcases for Harlem’s gospel, fashion, restaurant and culture scenes at the all-day picnic Great Day in Harlem at the General Grant National Memorial. The festivities continue with free concerts, a 5K run, and an expo and a fair of small businesses in the area.

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Sun Jul 26 - Sat Aug 22

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