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.

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Central Park in New York: SummerStage

Central Park in New York: SummerStage Photograph: John Klemm


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 Pre-Raphaelite Legacy: British Art and Design"

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

This exhibit examines a fascinating moment in 19th-century British art, when a group of young painters, reacting to the onslaught of the Industrial Revolution, turned to medieval and early Renaissance art as the spur for their own work, taking solace in a romanticized past.

  1. The Metropolitan Museum of Art 1000 Fifth Ave, at 82nd St, 10028
  2. Wed Oct 1 - Sun Oct 26
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"Under the Same Sun: Art from Latin America Today"

  • Rated as: 2/5
  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

The entire notion of lumping together art from more than 20 countries on two continents under the Latin American rubric is problematic to begin with, and in this exhibition of new acquisitions for the Guggenheim’s collection, it mostly serves as a marketing tool. This selection of works by some 40 artists, organized into six nebulous “themes” by Mexican curator Pablo León de la Barra, never really coheres; worse, it provides little artistic excitement or surprise. Too many of the works employ an art-school lingua franca: A simpleminded, toothless conceptual language that gestures vaguely at larger issues. Wall labels spelling out the meanings of, say, Adriano Costa’s gold-painted towels, or Carlos Amorales’s hanging mobile of cymbals that visitors can bang, certainly don’t help. Interestingly, two installations by older, longtime New Yorkers prove the most affecting works here. Juan Downey’s The Circle of Fires (1979), a two-channel video installation arranged in a circle of inward-facing monitors, features footage of the Yanomami Indians in the Venezuelan Amazon shot by the subjects themselves, creating a mesmerizingly lyrical portrait. In Luis Camnitzer’s minimalist light show, Art History Lesson No. 6 (2000), haphazardly placed, empty slide projectors cast illuminated quadrilaterals onto Plexiglas sheets attached to the walls. A glossy presentation of nothing, it embodies a pedagogy of absence, suggesting a piquant, if unintentional, comment on the show.—Joseph R. Wolin

  1. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum 1071 Fifth Ave, at 89th St, 10128
  2. Wed Oct 1
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Amie Siegel, Provenance

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

In the early 1950s, a newly independent India commissioned Le Corbusier to design a city, Chandigarh, as a regional administrative center in the northern part of the country. The institutional buildings he created with other modernist architects were outfitted with functional furniture (designed by his cousin, Pierre Jeanneret), that has become collectible in Europe and the United States. Provenance, Amie Siegel’s slow-paced, engrossing HD video, traces this narrative of objects in reverse. Using long takes, ambient sound and no voiceover, she starts with shots of midcentury chairs, tables, stools, desks and sofas ensconced in tony New York apartments and offices, and on a luxury yacht. The images unfold in time through auction houses, photographers’ and restorers’ studios, warehouses and shipping containers, then back to Chandigarh itself, where the furniture lies broken and discarded or stacked in abandoned rooms in aging Brutalist edifices. Siegel’s work, as we might expect, has more in mind than an anecdote in the history of taste; the artist’s reticent recounting of the saga of Jeanneret’s unlovely furnishings reveals itself over time as a contemplation of the trickle-up mechanics of globalism. Lot 248, a second, shorter video, documents the 2013 auction of a copy of Provenance at Christie’s in London. Bidding occurs fitfully; the hammer falls at a respectable 42,000 pounds. Siegel neatly inserts her own work as a conceptual double into the same circuits that govern the

  1. The Metropolitan Museum of Art 1000 Fifth Ave, at 82nd St, 10028
  2. Wed Oct 1 - Sun Jan 4
More info

"Kandinsky Before Abstraction, 1901–1911"

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Besides being one of the first artists to push Modern painting into the realm of pure abstraction, Vasily Kandinsky (1866–1944) is also the signature artist of the Guggenheim collection, which contains more than 150 of his works. Taking advantage of its trove, the Gugg pulls out its holding of Kandinsky's paintings and woodcuts, spanning the decade before the artist's abstract breakthrough, when he worked in a representational style typical of the Blue Rider group.

  1. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum 1071 Fifth Ave, at 89th St, 10128
  2. Wed Oct 1 - Wed Dec 31
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"Thomas Hart Benton's America Today Mural Rediscovered"

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Benton is generally known for being the crusty anti-Modernist teacher of Jackson Pollock, so it's somewhat ironic that his epic ten-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.

  1. The Metropolitan Museum of Art 1000 Fifth Ave, at 82nd St, 10028
  2. Wed Oct 1 - Sun Apr 19
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"The Roof Garden Commission: Dan Graham with Günther Vogt"

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Graham, a pioneer of video and conceptual art, has spent the past 25 years or so creating elegant pavilions of glass and steel (and sometimes mirrors) in rural and urban outdoor settings. Similar to the architectural follies that grace formal gardens—albeit with a phenomenological bent—these structures are meant to explore the relationship between the individual and the public space. Here, in an echo of sprawling Central Park below, Graham collaborates with Swiss landscape artist Günther Vogt to site the latest such project within its own greensward on the Met's roof.

  1. The Metropolitan Museum of Art 1000 Fifth Ave, at 82nd St, 10028
  2. Wed Oct 1 - Mon Nov 3
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Central Park Skate Circle

  • Free

The Central Park Dance Skater Association’s weekend get-togethers have been a fixture on the park's calendar for decades. Bring your own quads—or rent from the nearby Skate Truck (skatetrucknyc.com)—and bust a move to throwback R&B, house, dance and Top 40 music spun by a rotating roster of local DJs. For those who don’t skate, there’s space to groove on foot without colliding with those on wheels, or just watch the old hands do their thing.

  1. Central Park Skate Circle midpark, enter at Central Park West and W 72nd St or Fifth Ave and E 72nd St
  2. Sat Oct 4 - Sun Oct 12
More info

Modern Sky Festival with Atomic Bomb! The Music of William Onyeabor + Liars + The Blood Brothers + Cat Power + Stars + The Both

  • Critics choice

Beijing's Modern Sky Festival hosts its first U.S. edition at Central Park's Rumsey Playfield, presenting an eclectic lineup of indie-rock bands while showcasing a handful of intriguing Chinese groups. Headliners for the first night include reunited noise punks the Blood Brothers, art-rock faves Liars and a tribute to Nigerian funk musician William Onyeabor starring saxophonist Pharoah Sanders, Sinkane and others. Night two features indie crooner Cat Power, Canadian pop band Stars and songwriter supergroup the Both, comprised of Aimee Mann and Ted Leo.

  1. Central Park, Rumsey Playfield Enter park at Fifth Ave , at 69th St
  2. Sat Oct 4 - Sun Oct 5
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"ZERO: Countdown to Tomorrow, 1950s–60s"

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

This historical survey, the first of its type in the U.S., takes the measure of the postwar Zero group, which included artists from Europe, Japan, and North and South America. It was arguably the first truly global art movement, and though each participant had an individual agenda, they all pushed forms originally developed in prewar abstraction into radically new directions, often going beyond painting and sculpture to explore installation, performance and other nontraditional methods. In the bargain, their efforts anticipated Minimalism and Conceptual Art.

  1. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum 1071 Fifth Ave, at 89th St, 10128
  2. Fri Oct 10 - Wed Dec 31
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"Cubism"

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

hese 80 paintings, collages, drawings, and sculpture from the Leonard A. Lauder Collection—all promised gifts to the Met—represents the first time they have been shown in public, offering opportunity to revisit the seminal early-20th Century movement through the taste of one patron. The contributing artists comprise a mighty quartet of Braque, Gris, Léger and Picasso.   

  1. The Metropolitan Museum of Art 1000 Fifth Ave, at 82nd St, 10028
  2. Tue Oct 21 - Wed Dec 31
More info

"Death Becomes Her, A Century of Mourning Attire"

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Widow's weeds from the Victorian and Edwardian period are given the Costume Institute survey treatment, which charts the evolution of funeral fashion from The Napoleonic Wars to World War I.

  1. The Metropolitan Museum of Art 1000 Fifth Ave, at 82nd St, 10028
  2. Tue Oct 21 - Wed Dec 31
More info

"V. S. Gaitonde: Painting as Process, Painting as Life"

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Over the past 20 years, contemporary artists from India have become significant players in the global art market, so it's only natural that Western institutions would begin to explore the context from which they emerged. Enter this Guggenheim retrospective of painter Vasudeo Santu Gaitonde (1924–2001). Gaitonde started as a figurative painter, channeling Indian tradition through modernist templates brought to the subcontinent by the British. By the mid-1960s, his style had evolved into abstraction. After a 1964 Rockefeller fellowship in New York, where he was exposed to the work of Mark Rothko, he began to create vertically formated, all-over compositions ranging from burnt orange to deep green. These sometimes included glyph-like motifs, suspended between past and present to evoke ancient tablets or batik fabrics illuminated by the light from India's skies, seas and jungles.

  1. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum 1071 Fifth Ave, at 89th St, 10128
  2. Fri Oct 24 - Wed Dec 31
More info

Halloween Parade and Pumpkin Sail

  • Free

Drop off your finest jack-o'-lantern (5 to 10 lbs) at the Charles A. Dana Discovery Center, and at dusk, watch it set sail in Harlem Meer with dozens of other carved, illuminated pumpkins. This event also includes a kiddie-friendly costume parade, ghost stories and live tunes.

  1. Central Park, Charles A. Dana Discovery Center enter at E 110th St and Fifth Ave
  2. Sun Oct 26
More info

The Three Bears Holiday Bash

  • Price band: 1/4

This seasonal offering of song, dance and, of course, puppetry comes from the talented folks at the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre. Tots will see a mix of Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Christmas themes incorporated into the company's take on "Goldilocks and the Three Bears." The plot snowballs after Baby Bear invites St. Nick to star in Mama and Papa Bear's festive spectacular. All ages.

  1. Central Park Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre west side, at 79th St
  2. Wed Nov 12 - Tue Dec 30
More info


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