Dynamite things to do
Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks at various locations; July 4; 8pm; free
For this mother of all pyrotechnic displays, Macy's will explode more than 40,000 fireworks choreographed to a 25-minute patriotic score over the East River. Stake out a nice spot near the Brooklyn Bridge, and bring your own picnic basket with beverages to toast our country's birthday.
Star Trek: The Starfleet Academy Experience on the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum; July 9–Oct 31; 10am; $25, $18 child, $23 college students and seniors
Live long and prosper during the Intrepid’s celebration of the 50th anniversary of Star Trek. The museum is going all out, with it’s 12,000-square-feet exhibition that lets folks join the Starfleet Academy in the 26th century (dreams do come true). After orientation, cadets will discover nine training zones that specialize in language—now’s the time to put your Klingon knowledge to the test—medicine, engineering, navigation and more. In addition to becoming an all-star commander, there will be interactive activities including leap motion, table projections, mapping and holograms.
Freddy's Bar Doggy Fashion Show Freddy's Bar; July 16; 6pm; free
All the most fashion forward Fidos will be strutting their stuff on the red carpet when Brooklyn's Fifth Avenue closes down for this third annual event. Dog owners are encouraged to bring their furry friends dressed in elaborate costumes, decked out in bedazzled collars or just as they are. In addition to the cat—ahem, dog—walk there will be beer specials and jokes by the event's emcees Mike Drucker and Jess Dweck (comedy writers for The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon).
The 6th Annual New York Poetry Festival Governors Island Colonels Row; July 30, 31; 11am; free
Frolic through your weekend with a full two-days of verse readings, featuring local poets from reading series such as the Poetry Brothel. Snag a patch of grass on Governors Island and enjoy the artistry in the summer sun. See the website for a full schedule.
Five Boro Pizza Challenge Meet at Washington Square Park; July 30; 11am; $25
Consider yourself a diehard pizza lover? Two best friends created a brand-spankin’-new challenge that will test how far you’re willing to go for the best New York pizza. It’s called the Five Boro Pizza Challenge, and as you might have guessed, it involves eating a delicious slice in all five boroughs: Manhattan, The Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island. Interested?
Can't-miss LGBT events
Lesbo-a-GoGo The Stonewall Inn; July 1, 8, 15, 22, 29; 10pm; free
Gay ladies pack the upstairs dance floor at Stonewall for this Friday night party featuring cheap drinks with visiting guests rotating on the decks.
Troupe429 Mayfair New York Times Square; July 2, 10pm; free
Head to the Mayfair's underground every first Saturday of the month for a relaxed night of crowd-pleasing jams from your favorite divas and queens from the past and present. While Britney, Christina, Left Eye and Aaliyah play all night, revisit classic N64 games (GoldenEye, anyone?), snag cheap drink specials and whiskey tastings, and even play some sloppy beer pong.
Balls Deep with Tammy Spenks Phoenix; July 6, 13, 20, 27; 8pm; free
The ever-so-fabulous Tammy Spenks leads various rounds of bingo and karaoke—yes, you will have your diva moment—while dishing out cash prizes along the way.
Homotown Henrietta Hudson; July 7, 14, 21, 28; 4pm; free
Head to Henrietta Hudson every Thursday for a seemingly endless happy hour (till midnight, seriously) and chill jams from veteran DJ Tikka Masala, who keeps you grinning all night with Motown, soul and beloved hip-hop classics.
Q-Train Sycamore; July 7; 8pm; free
Ditmas Park's ever-growing queer populace is invited to mix and mingle at this monthly shindig. Play dirty bingo with host Ariel Speedwagon and dance to jams by everyone from Tina Turner to Fergie as DJ GoGo Gadget and drag boss Ariel Italic take over the dancefloor.
Hilarious comedy shows
Ted Greenberg's The Complete Performer Soho Playhouse; July 2; $20
Emmy-winning former Late Show writer Ted Greenberg performs an hour of boisterous interactive stand-up that ends with one audience member being whisked home in a taxi by Greenberg, who is a licensed NYC cabdriver.
Fly, You Fools! Peoples Imrpov Theater; July 5, 11, 12, 23, 30; 8pm; $20
The irreverent goons behind Hold On To Your Butts and the director of the Harry Potter parody show Puffs present this "shot-for-shot" reenactment of the gloriously dramatic The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Expect wigs to fly as this four-person crew plays the roles of a nine-man cohort of misfits, a sentient astral eye and an elfin princess with hilarious dedication.
Punderdome 3000 Littlefield; July 5; 8pm; $8, at the door $10
Jo Firestone and her Rodney Dangerfield impersonator father, Fred, host this beloved competition, in which the first 18 individuals or duos to sign up at the door attempt to pun-up each other's spontaneously produced word-play. Winners are determined by a "human clap-o-meter" and go home with a kitchen appliance.
Bowery Comedy at the Bowery Electric; July 9; 6pm; free
Before a late night of sets gets rolling, head to the Bowery for a stacked Happy Hour featuring prolific stand-ups like Josh Gondelman and Naomi Ekperigin.
Late Night with Lani The PIT Loft; July 12; 10:30pm; $5
Hostess with the most-est Lani Harms is taking on the late-night scene with a "talk show" chock-full of sketch, improv, insane characters and pretty much whatever else she wants. The show winds up with an improv set based on an interview with a special guest comedian. Mike Kelton, Casey Jost, Keisha Zollar and other improv darlings have showed up in the past.
Major movie and theater premieres
The BFG; Opens July 1
Is Steven Spielberg even capable of making a terrible movie these days? Perhaps it’s possible, but we like the big-canvas panache of this dark children’s fantasy from novelist Roald Dahl (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), starring Oscar winner Mark Rylance as a giant.
The Legend of Tarzan; Opens July 1
A long as there are movies, we’ll have Tarzan ones—the first came as early as 1918 and there have been close to 200 others since. But did any of them have True Blood’s Alexander Skarsgård as the King of the Jungle and Margot Robbie as his faithful Jane? Exactly.
Ghostbusters; Opens July 15
Who knows why everyone hates the trailer so much? We’ve been expecting goony supernatural yuks all along, not Bridesmaids 2. Leading the female crew are Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones (and don’t forget the cameo by Sigourney Weaver).
Star Trek Beyond; Opens July 22
Sure, it’s beyond, and with costar Simon Pegg leading the big team of screenwriters, we expect more humor than usual. (Don’t forget: Pegg is also the co-writer of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, fancier credits than most Hollywood scribes can claim). Kirk, Spock, Bones—these characters will always be a comfortable pair of shoes to slip into.
Jason Bourne; Opens July 29
Remember when they made a Bourne movie starring Jeremy Renner called The Bourne Legacy? Of course you don’t. Thankfully, that phase is over. Matt Damon returns to his signature role, as does jazzy director Paul Greengrass, a genius of action editing.
Awesome live music and concerts
Justin Bieber, Prudential Center; July 9; $50.50–$126
As of late, love-to-hate, hate-to-love popstar Justin Bieber has veered from his early days as a teeny bopper idol into gritty R&B with Purpose, an album which features production from Diplo and Skrillrex. It's a surprising sonic shift, and a far more successful transformation than his recent tried-and-failed visual rebranding via new dreadlocks.
Brooklyn Hip-hop Festival; Brooklyn Bridge Park; July 16; $45–$180.90
Queens legend Nas heads the bill on 12th edition of this summertime staple, which brands itself as "unapologetically and undeniably hip-hop." Also make sure to catch Brooklyn MCs Fabolous and Talib Kweli, and up-and-comer Rapsody.
Panorama Fest; Randall's Island; July 22-24; $99 single day pass , $319 3-day pass
Now that GovBall's over, it's time for Randall's Island to play host to the city's other biggest music fest. We're curious to see how the new event fares in its first edition. Considering this year's star-studded lineup features Arcade Fire, Kendrick Lamar, and a LCD Soundsystem reunion in the headlining slots, we expect good things.
Guns N Roses; MetLife Stadium; July 23; $50.50–$285
You might have to sit through a healthy dose of Chinese Democracy at this much-discussed Guns n Roses reunion, but rest assured, the classic lineup will make it to all its legendary glam-metal hits as well. Slash, Axl, and Duff McKagan playing "Welcome to the Jungle?" Try not to pump your fist.
Radiohead; Madison Square Garden; July 26, 27; $80
Radiohead's borderline frighteningly-obsessive fan base has plenty to look forward to at this year's Moon Shaped Pool tour. In addition to starry-eyed new material—like the unsettling drift of "Daydreaming"—there's also old material disguised as new material—the raw, acoustic live gem "True Love Waits" in its glistening new album form. The most exciting news, however, might be about a song straight-up ancient: the crew just played their quasi-disowned 1992 megahit "Creep" for the first time in-concert in 7 years.
Marvelous theater performances
Motown the Musical Nederlander Theatre; previews start July 12; $57$142, premium $197
Megaproducer Berry Gordy tells the story of how he discovered Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson and many others. Take your parents to this one.
Small Mouth Sounds Pershing Square Signature Center; opens July 13; $75–$99
A diverse group of people retreat to an upstate community where they take an oath of silence. Cue the hilarious body language and other nonverbal communication.
Men on Boats Playwrights Horizons; previews start July 20; $50
In this freewheeling historical riff, playwright Jaclyn Backhaus uses an all-female and gender nonconforming cast to tell the manly story of an 1869 river expedition.
The Merchant of Venice Rose Theater; July 20–24; $45-$115
The great Jonathan Pryce (High Sparrow on Game of Thrones) takes on the thorny role of Jewish moneylender Shylock in this English production of Shakespeare’s dark comedy.
Cats Neil Simon Theatre; opens July 31; $59–$149
It was supposed to be "now and forever," but closed in 2000. Now Andrew Lloyd Webber’s furry, dance-filled musical returns for a 21st-century audience.
Delicious food and drink opportunities
Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest Nathan’s Famous; July 4; free
The annual frank-a-thon is back for its centennial celebration, in which tuber-eating legends race the clock and scarf down on as many Nathan’s hot dogs and buns they physically can in ten minutes.
Brooklyn Lobster Fest The Hall at MP; July 7–30; $15 general admission, $35 for lobster plate
Have a crustacean-filled July with this lobster-lovers festival in Williamsburg, which paired shellfish-based dishes with live sets of yacht rock and jazz funk throughout the month.
Pinknic Governor’s Island; July 9, 10; $55-$65
Everyone’s favorite #basic blush bottles will be the focus of this summer's PINKNIC, a picnic and music festival put on by the founders of La Nuit en Rosé at Governors Island.
Celebrate Flatiron Chefs Madison Square Park; July 12; $200-$350
The Flatiron District’s top toques, including April Bloomfield (the John Dory Oyster Bar), Enrique Olvera (Cosme) and Tom Colicchio (Craftbat), join forces for this park-set tasting hosted by the Madison Park Conservancy.
Brooklyn Ice Cream Takedown The Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club; July 17; $20
Ice-cream experts from Ample Hills Creamery and Cool Haus will judge the latest edition of the popular food-smackdown series—and yes, there will be scoops for tasting, too.
Spectacular art shows
John Akomfrah Lisson Gallery; July 1–Aug 12; free
The acclaimed Afro-British filmmaker makes his American debut with multi-channel installations that deal with memory, post-colonialism and the African diaspora in Europe and the United States.
"Bruce Conner: It’s All True” MoMA; July 3–Oct 2; $25, seniors $18, students $14, children under 16 free.
The most important postwar artist you’ve probably never heard of, Bruce Conner (1933–2008) was a pioneer of the West Coast scene, found-object assemblage and found-footage film. Cold War consumerism and paranoia were prime targets for his work. This show is the first complete retrospective of his 50-year career.
“The Keeper” New Museum of Contemporary Art; July 20–Sept 25; $16, seniors $14, students $10, children under 18 free.
The compulsion to collect spans everything from major institutions amassing high-art holdings to individual hoarders burying themselves alive with crap. But what determines what’s worth keeping and what is not? This fascinating show delves into exactly that question.
“Sophia Al-Maria: Black” Whitney Museum of American Art; July 26–Oct 31; $22; seniors, students $18; 18 and under free
A Qatari-American artist, writer and filmmaker Sophia Al-Maria makes her U.S. museum debut with a new series of videos inspired by Gruen transfer, a term in shopping mall design to describe a method of deliberately complicating floor plans so confused consumers buy more.
“Watteau’s Soldiers: Scenes of Military Life in Eighteenth-Century France” The Frick Collection, July 12–Oct 2; $20, seniors $15, students with ID $10, children under 10 not admitted.
Otherworldly is probably the best way to describe the imaginary landscapes of French Rococo painter Antoine Watteau (1684–1721). However, these scenes are unusual for their realistic attention to the lives of common soldiers during War of the Spanish Succession (1701–14). Four of Watteau’s seven surviving military paintings are brought together here along with assorted studies.