Movies in the park: Outdoor screenings in New York City

Discover where to catch movies in the park this summer with our handy calendar of free outdoor screenings in NYC.

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  • Movies in the park: HBO–Bryant Park Summer Film Festival

  • Movies in the park: HBO–Bryant Park Summer Film Festival

  • Photograph: Sean T. Smith

    Movies in the park: SummerScreen

  • Photograph: Sean T. Smith

    Movies in the park: SummerScreen

  • Photograph: Etienne Frossard

    Movies in the park: Syfy Movies with a View

  • Photograph: Irwin Seow

    Movies in the park: Syfy Movies with a View

  • Photograph: Irwin Seow

    Movies in the park: Rooftop Films

Movies in the park: HBO–Bryant Park Summer Film Festival


Break out your blankets, vino and snacks: Outdoor movie screenings are back. We’ve rounded up the top spots for enjoying movies in the park this summer—be they along the water, on a rooftop or in midtown. And best of all, every one of these showings is free.

RECOMMENDED: Get outdoors in NYC

Summer movie screenings by month


Summer movie series

11th Annual Central Park Film Festival

  • Free

This series camps out in a spot just north of Sheep Meadow for five nights straight, and this year organizers have put the programming in the public’s hands. Each evening covers a different genre: Classics on August 22 (Dr. Strangelove, On the Waterfront, Funny Lady or West Side Story), horror on August 25 (Psycho, The Shining, Frankenstein or Christine), adventure on August 26 (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Goldfinger, The Matrix or The Fifth Element). Vote at centralparknyc.org/filmfestival through June 23. • 212-310-6600. Screenings at 8pm, gates open at 6:30pm.

  1. Midpark at 69th St, enter at Fifth Ave and 72nd St
More info

HBO–Bryant Park Summer Film Festival

  • Critics choice
  • Free

It’s easy to understand why New Yorkers can get a little crazy staking out a decent spot at this summer staple, now in its 21st season. The programming skews toward the tried-and-true, with black-and-white classics—Billy Wilder’s A Foreign Affair (July 29) and George Cukor’s The Women (Aug 12)—and post–Golden Age nuggets like E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (Aug 19). (Admit it, you choke up during the ending too.) The surprisingly stellar sound doesn’t hurt, but perhaps the biggest draw is the novelty of watching a movie in a serene bubble, cut off from the hustle and bustle of midtown. • 212-512-5700, bryantpark.org. Mondays; screenings at dusk,
lawn opens at 5pm.

  1. Sixth Ave between 40th and 42nd St
More info

RiverFlicks for Grown-Ups

Take in a movie along the Hudson River during this series (a version for kiddies goes down on Fridays at Pier 46). This year focuses on hits from 2012, including sweet-and-sour rom-com Silver Linings Playbook (July 10), time-travel head trip Looper (July 17), quirky young-love dramedy Moonrise Kingdom (July 31) and blockbuster The Hunger Games (Aug 21). Bonus: Park staff will dish out free popcorn at each showing. • hudsonriverpark.org. Wednesdays; screenings at 8:30pm.

  1. W 23rd St, (at Eleventh Ave)
More info

Rooftop Films

  • Critics choice
  • Free

This perennial series hosts more than 200 screenings in cool outdoor locations—rooftops, yes, but also parks and beaches—and distinguishes itself from other alfresco fests by focusing largely on new, under-the-radar offerings. And while most of Rooftop Films’ showings are ticketed, you can catch a good number of gratis screenings for recent flicks like doc Our Nixon in Socrates Sculpture Park (July 3) and SXSW Film Festival pick Short Term 12 atop the Old American Can Factory (July 20). Please note that R.S.V.P. is required for all freebies. Locations, times and prices vary; visit rooftopfilms.com for details. Through Aug 17.

SummerScreen

  • Free

Get revved up for a grab bag of ’90s nostalgia picks (so Williamsburg, right?), including Can’t Hardly Wait (July 10), The Craft (July 24) and Speed (Aug 7); ’80s comedy classics Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (July 17) and The Goonies (July 31); and a to-be-determined fan favorite (Aug 14). Cast your vote for High Fidelity, The NeverEnding Story, The Big Lebowski or another flick at facebook.com/summerscreen through August 7. Each evening also features live music and food trucks such as Coolhaus and Pizza Moto. • summerscreen .org. Wednesdays; screenings at dusk, music at 6pm, gates open at 5pm.

  1. McCarren Park, enter at northwest corner of Bedford Ave and North 12th St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn
More info

Syfy Movies with a View at Brooklyn Bridge Park

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Now this is a backdrop. The (dare we say) cinematic views of lower Manhattan make this fest stand out, and the diverse lineup isn’t anything to scoff at, either. This year kicks off with John Hughes’s glorious ’80s teen comedy Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (July 11) and includes Hitchcock masterpiece Vertigo (Aug 22) and underdog drama Rocky (Aug 15). Arrive early to claim a spot and catch a prescreening DJ set. • 718-802-0603, brooklynbridgepark.org. Thursdays; screenings at dusk, music at 6pm. 

  1. Brooklyn Bridge Park, Pier 1 Harbor View Lawn, Doughty St at Furman St, Brooklyn Heights
  2. Thu July 11 - Thu Aug 29
More info


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