Central Park in New York: Concerts and events

Fill your calendar with outdoor activities in Central Park in New York, including SummerStage concerts and Shakespeare in the Park performances.

Photograph: John Klemm
Central Park in New York: SummerStage

Come summertime, Central Park is abuzz with a staggering amount of summer events: SummerStage concerts, the free Central Park Conservancy Film Festival, comedy shows, rooftop poetry readings, Shakespeare in the Park, classical concerts, the New York Phil…. We could go on, but instead we've organized every event by date in the list below. So whether you're looking for something to do today, this weekend or next month, you can easily find what you want.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Central Park in New York  

The Lion King

Critics' pick

Director-designer Julie Taymor takes a reactionary Disney cartoon about the natural right of kings—in which the circle of life is putted against a queeny villain and his jive-talking ghetto pals—and transforms it into a gorgeous celebration of color and movement. The movie’s Elton John–Tim Rice score is expanded with African rhythm and music, and through elegant puppetry, Taymor populates the stage with an amazing menagerie of beasts; her audacious staging expands a simple cub into the pride of Broadway, not merely a fable of heredity but a celebration of heritage.—Adam Feldman

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Minskoff Theatre, Midtown West Until Thursday December 31 2015

9/11 Memorial Guided Walking Tour

This walking tour in the Financial District of Manhattan covers historic buildings including Federal Hall and the New York Stock Exchange, as well as September 11 memorials such as the Steel Beam Cross. Two versions are offered (90-minutes or two-and-a-half-hours), with both finishing at Ground Zero. The latter option includes timed admission to the 9/11 Memorial. See website for specific times. RECOMMENDED: See all September 11 memorial events

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The 9/11 Memorial and Museum, Financial District Until Thursday December 31 2015

Sam Falls, "Light Over Time"

Critics' pick

A process-oriented Los Angeles artist who works in a variety of media, Sam Falls has transformed Downtown Brooklyn’s MetroTech Commons into a playground for his interactive art. Exploring the passage of time through light and color, Falls displays several sculptural works that are activated by the viewer and will physically alter over time. His Untitled (Thermochromic bench), for example, changes color due to heat generated by sitters or the intensity of sunlight. A maze has been painted with multicolored layers of powder-coated aluminum; one side has protective UV coating while the other doesn’t, so that the piece will partially fade from exposure. But as it does, another layer of paint will eventually emerge and regenerate the original color. A set of teeter-totters feature geometric forms that collect rainwater, thus changing the distribution of weight. A giant wind chime is too big for an ordinary breeze to move it, so visitors do the job instead by pushing the chimes around. A more solitary experience is provided by a pair of white, aluminum shelters with tiny entrances and stained-glass skylights. The ambience within each of these “light rooms,” as the artist calls them, will change with the weather. Playful and thought-provoking, these laboratories of fun seek to engage the curious child inside all of us.—Paul Laster

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Public Art Fund at MetroTech Center Commons, Downtown Until Friday May 29 2015 Free

"Riding the Waves"

Not sure how you made it another year with your old iPhone? Stop on by Staten Island’s Museum of Maritime Navigation and Communication to see the choicest devices in a collection of 500 transmitter radios, receivers and radar, dating back to 1939.

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Conference House Park, Staten Island Until Thursday January 29 2015 Free

2nd Whimsical Winter Wonder...Exhibition

Critics' pick

Enjoy this park exhibit featuring 14 artists' interpretations of winter through paintings, sculptures, photography and other creative mediums.

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Poe Park, Fordham Until Saturday January 31 2015 Free

Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park Rink

Critics' pick

Bryant Park’s 17,000-square-foot outdoor rink is free and open late. Don’t get too excited—the admission may be gratis, but you’ll have to shell out $19 to rent skates (or BYO). Still, it’s a veritable winter wonderland: After your time on the ice, warm up at spacious rinkside restaurant Celsius. If you want to practice your lutzes and axels with ample spinning room, try visiting during off-peak hours. Through Mar 1. RECOMMENDED: More rinks for ice skating in NYC

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Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park, Midtown West Until Sunday March 1 2015 Free

"Matters of Pattern"

Repeating motifs, paradigms, archetypes and the like unite the works in this classy show, which features a stellar cast of artists that includes Louise Bourgeois, Mike Kelley, Cindy Sherman and Christopher Wool.

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Skarstedt Gallery, Chelsea Until Saturday February 21 2015 Free

Radio City Stage Door Tour

Critics' pick

This hour-long tour of the Art Deco theater includes a look at the Roxy Suite—created for vaudeville producer Samuel Lionel "Roxy" Rothafel when the stage opened in 1931—a meet-and-greet with a Rockette and a glimpse at the VIP-signed guest book. Attendees can even pose in a digitally re-created version of the vaunted Rockette kick line. Tours leave every half hour.

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Radio City Music Hall, Midtown West Until Tuesday June 30 2015

The Metropolitan Museum of Art Store sale

Critics' pick

Design lovers shouldn't skip out on this sale, where you can shop 50 percent off select items at the Met’s store. Highlights include Herakles knot link bracelets, halved from $150 to $75, Art Color Magic wall clocks (were $95, now $47) and decorative Adolf Dehn Spring in Central Park tea towels, nicked from $40 to $20.

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The Metropolitan Museum of Art Store, Upper East Side Until Saturday January 31 2015

"The Butterfly Conservatory: Tropical Butterflies Alive in Winter"

Critics' pick

Temperatures climb to a balmy 80 degrees in the 1,200-square-foot vivarium, returning for its 16th year. The 500 specimens flying around include monarchs, zebra longwings and iridescent blue morpho butterflies.

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American Museum of Natural History, Upper West Side Until Monday May 25 2015

"Holiday Express: Toys and Trains from the Jerni Collection"

Critics' pick

Peruse vintage European trains at this premiere museum exhibition of the Jerni toy collection. A display of mini choo-choos, bridges, carousels and Ferris wheels, as well as the first-ever model of an elevated train station, creates a diorama populated by figurines in colorful 19th-century garb.

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New-York Historical Society, Upper West Side Until Sunday February 22 2015

"Thomas Hart Benton's America Today Mural Rediscovered"

Critics' pick

Benton is generally known for being the crusty anti-Modernist teacher of Jackson Pollock, so it's somewhat ironic that his epic 10-panel mural, America Today, was commissioned in 1930 by New York’s New School for Social Research for the boardroom of its International Style building on West 12th Street. Even more ironic is the work's depiction of life during the country's explosively modern Jazz Age, though the painting was created at the onset of the Great Depression. Nevertheless, it is a classic of the mural form, and one of Benton's masterpieces. For years, the work was installed in the lobby of the old Equitable Building on Seventh Avenue; it was just recently donated to the Met by the AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company. It makes its debut here in its new, and presumably permanent, home.

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The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Upper East Side Until Sunday April 19 2015

Chinese American: Exclusion/Inclusion

Critics' pick

This exhibit investigates the elaborate backstory of trade and immigration between China and the United States starting from the late 18th century to present. "Exclusion/Inclusion" delves into Chinese-American history from all over the country and will include less-publicized narratives like the Exclusion Act of 1882, which blocked many Chinese people from entering the U.S. for many years.

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The New-York Historical Society , Upper West Side Until Sunday April 19 2015

Jeff Chien-Hsing Liao's New York: "Assembled Realities"

Artist Jeff Chien-Hsing Liao came to the States at age 19 from Taiwan to study photography, but few could imagine the wildly vivid panoramic images he’d grown to be known for. “Assembled Realities” showcases Liao’s work over the past decade, during which he’s focused on capturing the unique spirit of New York City, including spots like Coney Island, the old Shea Stadium and the Bronx’s Grand Concourse.

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Museum of the City of New York, East Harlem Until Sunday February 15 2015

"What Would Mrs. Webb Do?"

Craft patron Aileen Osborn Webb founded the first museum ever to showcase craft art by living artists, and now almost 60 years later, we're still enjoying the fruits of her labor. Come celebrate Mrs.Webb's legacy and explore her major influence on the curation of the MAD over the years. In the first part of the exhibit, you'll see signature collections like "Objects: USA," which ran internationally after opening in 1969. The second half includes selections from some of the first notable supporters of Webb, like longtime MAD advocate Nanette L. Laitman.

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Museum of Arts & Design, Midtown West Until Sunday February 8 2015

"Thomas Struth: Photographs"

Critics' pick

These 25 photos by Struth, dating from 1978 to the present, are exemplary of the German artist's panoramic, empirical treatment of subjects, which range here from deserted New York streets to a robotically assisted surgery in progress.

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The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Upper East Side Until Monday February 16 2015

"HUBBLE@25"

The Intrepid celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope with a temporary exhibit highlighting the extreme scientific advancements required to launch the elaborate project. You’ll see original artifacts and some of the first photos taken by the NASA machine. Through Sept 13, 2015.

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Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, Midtown West Until Sunday September 13 2015

"El Greco in New York"

Critics' pick

Romantics and Modernists alike treasured the old master El Greco (1541–1614) for the skewed perspectives and strangely distorted figures that fill his paintings—that is, when they weren’t blaming those aesthetic quirks on drugs, madness, or astigmatism. For the 400th anniversary of his death, three New York institutions have gathered their substantial holdings of the painter’s works—at 19 paintings, more than anywhere outside of the Prado in Madrid!—in two concise exhibitions. While “El Greco at the Frick Collection” comprises three canvases, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s “El Greco in New York” features contributions from the Hispanic Society of America, as well as its own collection. The larger Met show allows us to trace the artist’s trajectory. Born Domenikos Theotokopoulos in Crete, then a Venetian possession, El Greco painted Byzantine icons before leaving to study in Italy. The early Christ Healing the Blind, ca. 1570, a fairly typical late-Renaissance religious scene, shows the influence of his artistic training in Venice in its impressive if imperfect approximation of the modes of artists such as Veronese. In 1577, El Greco moved permanently to Spain. Subsequent devotional pictures show the artist’s increasing mastery of Renaissance idiom. Christ Carrying the Cross, ca. 1580–85 (watery-eyed, but with a perfect manicure), and The Holy Family, ca. 1585 (the Madonna charming, with an up-do and a gauzy mantilla; the nursing baby Jesus beady-eyed, with an oddly shaped h

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The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Upper East Side Until Sunday February 1 2015

Wang Jianwei, Time Temple

Critics' pick

Installation, painting, film and live theater are all part of this Chinese artist’s exhibition, his first in America and the first of three major works commissioned by the Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Chinese Art Initiative for the Guggenheim. The piece, which will become part of the Gugg’s permanent collection, is the latest example of the artist’s ongoing examination of social order and the individual’s relationship to it. His work also often alludes to China’s modern history.

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Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Upper East Side Until Monday February 16 2015

"El Greco at the Frick Collection"

Critics' pick

Romantics and Modernists alike treasured the old master El Greco (1541–1614) for the skewed perspectives and strangely distorted figures that fill his paintings—that is, when they weren’t blaming those aesthetic quirks on drugs, madness, or astigmatism. For the 400th anniversary of his death, three New York institutions have gathered their substantial holdings of the painter’s works—at 19 paintings, more than anywhere outside of the Prado in Madrid!—in two concise exhibitions. While “El Greco at the Frick Collection” comprises three canvases, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s “El Greco in New York” features contributions from the Hispanic Society of America, as well as its own collection. The larger Met show allows us to trace the artist’s trajectory. Born Domenikos Theotokopoulos in Crete, then a Venetian possession, El Greco painted Byzantine icons before leaving to study in Italy. The early Christ Healing the Blind, ca. 1570, a fairly typical late-Renaissance religious scene, shows the influence of his artistic training in Venice in its impressive if imperfect approximation of the modes of artists such as Veronese. In 1577, El Greco moved permanently to Spain. Subsequent devotional pictures show the artist’s increasing mastery of Renaissance idiom. Christ Carrying the Cross, ca. 1580–85 (watery-eyed, but with a perfect manicure), and The Holy Family, ca. 1585 (the Madonna charming, with an up-do and a gauzy mantilla; the nursing baby Jesus beady-eyed, with an oddly shaped h

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The Frick Collection, Upper East Side Until Sunday February 1 2015

"Madame Cézanne"

Critics' pick

Although Paul Cézanne’s wife was his most frequently painted subject, she’s been given short shrift by art historians, who have tended to focus on the artist’s still lifes, landscapes and figurative studies of bathers. As a remedy, the Met gathers paintings, drawings and watercolors, featuring Hortense Fiquet (the spouse in question), from its collection, as well as from others in Asia, Europe and the United States.

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The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Upper East Side Until Sunday March 15 2015

"Bartholomeus Spranger: Splendor and Eroticism in Imperial Prague"

Critics' pick

As Old Masters go, Spranger (1546–1611) is not terribly well-known, but the force of his work as court painter to popes, cardinals and the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II is undeniable, as is the sexual undercurrent of his nude subjects.

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The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Upper East Side Until Sunday February 1 2015

"Masterpieces from the Scottish National Gallery"

Critics' pick

Botticelli’s The Virgin Adoring the Sleeping Christ Child and John Singer Sargent’s portrait Lady Agnew of Lochnaw are just two of the treasures that have traveled to the Frick from one of the U.K.’s signature institutions.

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The Frick Collection, Upper East Side Until Sunday February 1 2015

"Nature's Fury: The Science of Natural Disasters"

This latest exhibit focuses on how tornadoes, earthquakes and hurricanes have endangered humans, limiting our resources and forcing us to reflect on how we react to our environment.

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American Museum of Natural History, Upper West Side Until Sunday August 9 2015

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