101 things to do in the summer in New York City 2012

Our picks for the best events and things to do in the summer in NYC. Make a checklist, keep track on our Facebook app... just get outside and get started.

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  • Photograph: Sean Ellingson

    61. Take over car-free city streets at Summer Streets

  • Photograph: courtesy flickr.com/ Ian Meyer

    62. Meet people playing kickball

  • Photograph: David Andrako

    63. Laugh outside

    Pictured: Pretty Good Friends at the Williamsburg Waterfront, 2011

  • Photograph: courtesy the filmmakers

    64. Discover the work of the Quay Brothers

    Pictured: The Quay Brothers on the set of The Street of Crocodiles, 1986.

  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

    65. Celebrate the blue note

    Pictured: Yasiin Bey (the new moniker of Mos Def), who performs at the Apollo Theater on June 14

  • Photograph: Miranda Arden

    66. See Shakespeare in the park with New York Classical Theatre's roving Twelfth Night

  • Photograph (left): Allison Michael Orenstein

    67. Sample queer culture at the Hot Festival

    Pictured: Molly Pope and Cole Escola, who star in The Material World

  • 68. Watch the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival

     

     

  • Photograph: courtesy Public Art Fund

    69. See the Public Art Fund’s new exhibits

    Pictured: Paul McCarthy, "Daddies Ketchup"

  • 70. Supplement your diet of summer blockbusters at a film festival

    Pictured: Animation Block Party

Photograph: Sean Ellingson

61. Take over car-free city streets at Summer Streets

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Reclaim the city at Summer Streets

Take over car-free city streets

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Walkers, joggers, skaters and bikers won’t have to share the asphalt with speeding cabs or exhaust-spewing semis during the city’s fourth annual Summer Streets program. Police will shut down all vehicular traffic along this year’s route, linking the Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park (with selected cross streets in between) for three Saturday mornings. • nyc.gov/summerstreets

  1. Locations TBA
  2. Date TBA
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Meet people playing kickball

  • Free

This social hipster pastime is a great way to find new friends or even a new crush. Registration for the McCarren Park interloper Singles Social Sports summer Thursday-night league (s3nyc.com; $105 for eight games) is currently open. But for our money, the Sunday-afternoon Brooklyn Kickball League is the original and the best. While the season has started, you can still find a game without committing to a weekly team (giving you a better chance of playing the field). Simply post a message on the “Join” section of the Brooklyn Kickball League’s site (brooklynkickball.com) to add your name to the roster of 350 roving players. If you’re contacted to participate in a match, the fee will be at the discretion of the team.

  1. Bayard St to Nassau Ave, (between Leonard and North 12 Sts)
More info
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Pretty Good Friends at the Williamsburg Waterfront, 2011

Laugh outside

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Summer in NYC boasts outdoor concerts, bars, restaurants, theater and films—why should comedians have to ply their trade in darkened rooms? Thankfully, a few trailblazing free shows and series are remedying this ill. John Hodgman hosts a wealth of Daily Show regulars at Comedy Central: Indecision in the Park (Central Park Summerstage; June 20 at 8pm); Eugene Mirman prays for better weather this year for his Pretty Good Friends special (July 19 at 7pm) at Williamsburg Park; and peripatetic stand-up series Laughter in the Park (June 16–July 9) makes eight appearances at green spaces across Manhattan.

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Discover the work of the Quay Brothers

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

MoMA turns a curatorial eye on the Philadelphia-born identical twins in “Quay Brothers: On Deciphering the Pharmacist’s Prescription for Lip-Reading Puppets,”whose experiments with Eastern European puppetry have been captured in stop-motion-animation films, Tony Award–nominated set design and plenty of 1990s music videos. This holistic look at the Brothers Quay’s artistic output includes their drawings, puppets, dioramas and screening of works, such as their acclaimed Street of Crocodiles (1986), which Terry Gilliam called one of the ten best animated films of all time.

  1. 11 W 53rd St, (between Fifth and Sixth Aves)
More info
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Mos Def at the Gorillaz show at MSG, October 8

Celebrate the blue note

  • Critics choice

The impressively ambitious Blue Note Jazz Festival began last year in honor of the iconic club’s 30th anniversary, and returns with 68 shows in 20 days. We’re jazzed to see Yasiin Bey (the new moniker of Mos Def) at the Apollo Theater (June 14), Little Richard at B.B. King’s (June 14) and the festival’s SummerStage takeover (June 17) with a soulful lineup featuring Groove Theory, Soulive and a collaboration between the Roots’ MC Black Thought and beat-boxer Rahzel.  Visit bluenotejazzfestival.com for more information.

  1. Various locations
  2. June 10–30
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New York Classical Theatre, Twelfth Night

See Shakespeare in the park

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Before this descends into a farce because of a case of mistaken identity we’ll speak plainly: We’re not talking about the production at the Delacorte Theater, but New York Classical Theatre’s (newyorkclassical.org) roving summer play. Unless your brain is as dry as the remainder biscuit after voyage, you will have guessed this year’s production is Twelfth Night, but there’s a twist: The company’s taking early-20th-century New York as its setting. The run begins in Central Park (Meet at W 103rd St and Central Park West; Thu–Sun at 7pm, May 31–June 24) before moving to Battery Park City (Meet at Castle Clinton; Tue–Sun at 7pm; June 26–July 22).

  1. Various locations
  2. Thu–Sun at 7pm; May 31 – Jul 22.
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Sample queer culture at the Hot Festival

  • Price band: 2/4

The 21st-annual celebration of LGBTQ performance cooks up a monthlong explosion of comedy, theater, music, burlesque, storytelling and more. We’re stoked for the second installment of polymath Dan Fishback’s Ian Fleishman Trilogy. The Material World (Sat 7pm, July 6-28) imagines a 1920s household that counts a family of socialist Jews, Madonna and Britney Spears as its inhabitants. Naturally, it’s a pop musical, and stars downtown darlings Cole Escola and Molly Pope. • hotfestival.org

  1. 161A Chrystie St, (between Delancey and Rivington Sts)
More info
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If you've already seen Toy Story 3 a few times, it might be time to try some new cartoons: At the Animation Block Party, you can catch approximately 90 animated shorts by independent filmmakers from across the globe.

Supplement your diet of summer blockbusters at a film festival

  • Critics choice

You’ve seen The Avengers, and yes, it was awesome. Now try something a little less mainstream. The popular Australian short-film event Tropfest (tropfest.com/ny) comes to New York for the first time this year; on June 23, watch the finalists—all under seven minutes and featuring this year’s signature item, bagel, in some way—at a free screening hosted by Hugh Jackman in Bryant Park. The New York Indian Film Festival (iaac.us/NYIFF2012; May 23–27) features a red-carpet gala, parties and industry panel discussions alongside docs, features and shorts from the subcontinent. Online videos take the spotlight during the Vimeo Festival + Awards (vimeo.com/awards; June 7–9), when the public and judges such as James Franco vote for best original content in 13 categories like music video, fashion and advertising. Or try the whimsical offerings at the ninth annual Animation Block Party (animationblock.com; July 27–29). Student, professional and independent animated shorts will be on view for three evenings, complete with an open-bar after-party at Bar Matchless (July 27 at 11:30pm; free) on opening night. For something totally offbeat (and in case Bike Month in May passed you by), check out the Bicycle Film Festival (bicyclefilmfestival.com; June 27–July 1) which, aside from screenings, is throwing a street party and BMX jam at Anthology Film Archives (June 30 noon–6pm).

  1. Various locations


Users say

17 comments
shore excursions in Tallinn
shore excursions in Tallinn

russia is so close,you can even see it from alaska. so does anybody from there(siberia?) ever just cross over?

Justin bieber
Justin bieber

This is so great I love summer and all my fans

Ravyjutty
Ravyjutty

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Brad
Brad

Thanks for the summertime things to do list!! Remember everyone, this summer, you could also adopt a cat in need of a forever home. http://manhattancats.com

Ann
Ann

Appreciate the listing of activities, regardless of my beliefs about his opinions, I found the Glenn Beck comment "bring your rotten tomatos in case Glenn Beck comes" to be distasteful. Do we not respect opinions that differ from our own, or at very least, respect one another enough to not threaten them from being allowed in a public area with their family?

shine
shine

I enjoy this article a lot, however, the 20th is missed. Could you please add? Thanks.

Jonathan Shannon, deputy editor, Time Out New York
Jonathan Shannon, deputy editor, Time Out New York

Hi everyone, thanks for your comments. Hope you're enjoying the list. @Jane: The app just launched, there's a link at the top of the first page. Apologies for the delay, hope you like it! @Allie: There isn't a way to download the list as a calendar, but I like your thinking. We'll see what's possible for fall. @Steve: The series is called Rooftop Films, we've added that rather important detail. @Marco: You are very welcome.

Jane
Jane

i can't seem to find the app. did it actually launch?

The RIDE
The RIDE

#102: Jump on the Fazzino RIDE for a tour of New York like you have never seen it before!

Allie
Allie

Is there an easy way to download this whole list into Calendar? That would be incredible.

Steve
Steve

What is the name of the film series mentioned in number 30?

marco
marco

Thanks New York!!