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47 wonderful things to do in New York this August

By Tolly Wright
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Cool Things to Do

Aug 1, 8, 15
Summer Streets Manhattan
For three Saturdays in August there will be dancing in the streets—quite literally—when the city closes 7 miles of asphalt from Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park for pedestrian, car-free, fun.

Aug 8–9
Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival Flushing Meadows–Corona Park

In honor of an ancient Chinese legend, more than 170 teams from all across the globe pick up their oars to compete in a race of colorful teak vessels in Queens. Root for your favorite boat while munching on traditional treats or watch dragon dances and martial arts demonstrations.  

Aug 15
Coney Island Sand Sculpting Contest Coney Island
Grab your pail and shovel for a full day of spectacular castles, cities, animals and mermaids all created out of sand by both amateurs and experienced sand architects alike.  

Aug 21–23
Afropunk Festival Commodore Barry Park 
Art, delicious food, and—of course—phenomenal live music from a wide array of cultures merge for this annual fest in Brooklyn. 

Aug 31–Sep 13
U.S. Open Flushing Meadows-Corona Park
All of the biggest stars in tennis—and the sport's celebrity fans—descend on Queens for two weeks of fierce competition with a heaping side serving of food vendors, live concerts and other events all happening off court. 

Awesome Things to See

Through Aug 23
Cymbeline Delacorte Theater, Central Park 
Shakespeare in the Park’s second (and final) offering this summer is the Bard’s baffling tragicomedy, starring the delectable Lily Rabe and Hamish Linklater.

Opens Aug 6
Hamilton Richard Rodgers Theatre
The most anticipated new musical in years—Lin-Manuel Miranda's hip-hop tale of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton—opens on Broadway.

Opens Aug 11
John Signature Theatre Company
Pulitzer Prize winner Annie Baker (The Flick) sets her latest play at a bed-and-breakfast in Pennsylvania, where a young couple is having relationship trouble.

Aug 14
The Man From U.N.C.L.E Opens in theaters 
Have fond memories of the '60s spy TV show? Have any memories of it? No matter: Guy Ritchie's big-screen adaptation looks prime to deliver plenty of Bondian chase scenes, witty banter and chances to watch rising star Alicia Vikander strut her stuff.

Mistress America
Opens in theaters
It's only been a few months since While We're Young, but Noah Baumbach is already back with a new movie, and it might just be his best one yet. A manic screwball comedy, Mistress America follows the misadventures of a Barnard freshman (Lola Kirke) who gets mixed up with her zany step-sister-to-be (cowriter Greta Gerwig).

Tom at the Farm Opens in theaters 
French-Canadian wunderkind Xavier Dolan (Mommy) is only recently making waves in the States, which might explain why this terse and atmospheric 2013 thriller—in which the director plays a grieving young man who travels to meet the family of his closeted late—is just getting released now.

Aug 14–31
New York International Fringe Festival Various locations
The 19th edition of this sprawling annual downtown festival includes work by nearly 200 frantically repping companies in 18 different venues.

Aug 25
On the Town Lyric Theatre 
Prima ballerina Misty Copeland—who just made headlines as American Ballet Theatre’s first African-American principal dancer—joins the cast of this jazzy, high-jumping revival through September 6.

Aug 26
Queen of Earth Opens in theaters
Writer-director Alex Ross Perry re-teams with Listen Up Philip star Elisabeth Moss for a single-location psychodrama about a girl who's really struggling to get over a difficult breakup. A trip up to her friend's lakeside cabin could be just the thing she needs…or maybe not. 

Aug 28
Z for Zachariah Opens in theaters
A Sundance hit that's much more intimate than its post-apocalyptic story might suggest, this star-studded morality play tells the story of the last girl on Earth (Margot Robbie), and the drama that unfolds when two very eligible bachelors (Chiwetel Ejiofor and Chris Pine) show up at her door.

Tasty Places to Eat

Aug 6–9
Giglio Di Sant' Antonio in Harlem Annual Feast East Harlem
Toast to Saint Antonio and indulge in bites both Italian (fresh-from-the-fryer zeppole) and otherwise (steak, shish kebabs).


Aug 14–15
Tap+Cork: Brooklyn Beer & Wine Fest Restoration Plaza
The two-day affair gets you samples of nearly 50 craft beers and artisanal wines.


Aug 16–17
Jazz Age Lawn Party Governor’s Island
Make like Gatsby with Prohibition-era drinks and sparkling wine at this al fresco Roaring '20s bash.

Aug 21–23
Bites & Beats Food Truck and Restaurant Rally Commodore Barry Park
Taking place during the Afropunk Festival, this fest-within-a-fest will offer global eats from more than 25 food trucks and pop-up restaurants, including Gorilla Cheese NYC, Hill Country Barbecue and Nuchas.

Aug 22
Blues BBQ Festival Hudson River Park
The 16th annual fest marries blues and roots tunes with the best-of-NYC ‘cue—past participants include Mighty Quinn’s and Dinosaur BBQ.

Astonishing Dance Performances

July 13–Aug 8
Noche Flamenca: Antigona West-Park Presbyterian Church
Sophocles's seminal tragedy, Antigone, in which a woman must choose between her country and her soul, gets even more dramatic when Noche Flamenca fills the tale with dance. The incomparable flamenco star Soledad Barrio plays the Greek heroine with maximum skirt swishing, floor-stamping fire.

Aug 1
Lincoln Center Out of Doors: Garth Fagan Dance Damrosch Park (at Lincoln Center)
This might just be the dance pick of the summer, let alone just August. Carmen de Lavallade, one of the first African-American ballerinas to dance with the Metropolitan Opera, pays tribute to her late husband Geoffrey Holder in an evening that includes the non-pareil Garth Fagan Dance troupe and Harlem’s Ebony Ecumenical Ensemble.

Aug 4–Aug 16
The Joyce Theater: Ballet Fest The Joyce Theater
Ballet busts out of its swan feathers when the Joyce welcomes a lineup of contemporary ballet innovators like Joshua Beamish, Emery LeCrone and BalletX for an adventurous festival of dancer-choreographers who are moving the form forward. Every two days another company arrives; try to see the complete set.

Aug 6
Celebrate Brooklyn: LeeSaar The Company Prospect Park Bandshell
Most outdoor dance offerings tend towards the gently pastoral, but Lee Sher and Saar Harari counterprogram nature with their smoky, mildly terrifying Grass and Jackals, in which dancers prowl in oily black unitards. Also on the bill is a duet by the great Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin, known for his pulse-pounding works—Brooklyn can apparently still be a little dangerous.

Aug 15–21
Battery Dance Festival Robert F. Wagner, Jr. Park
This generous, free, globally inclusive outdoor smorgasbord includes the Erasing Borders Festival of Indian Dance on August 15th, and, on subsequent evenings, international guests like the Polish Dance Theatre alongside an array of New York favorites. The one uncredited performer is Lady Liberty: Look for her striking a very long pose in the background of every piece.

Fantastic Shows to See

Through Aug 14
"What Nerve! Alternative Figures in American Art" Matthew Marks Gallery
Idiosyncratic visions of the human form, cloaked in exuberantly grotesque mash-ups of Surrealism and Pop Art, take center stage in this roundup of artists associated with various regional groups, including Chicago's Hairy Who and the Bay Area's Funk movement, among others.

Through Aug 16
"Memory Burn" bitforms
Can recording our every move create a gateway to immortality? That's the question posed by this group show, in which artists ponder the life-extending possibilities of future digital technologies with all of their be-careful-what-you-wish-for consequences. 

Through Sept 20
"Sarah Charlesworth: Doubleworld" New Museum of Contemporary Art
A photographer and pioneer of the "Pictures" aesthetic, Charlesworth used newspapers, magazines and other sources as her palette, isolating image fragments against lush monochromatic backgrounds to deconstruct how we are manipulated by mass media. Charlesworth used the power of seduction to critique the way images seduce us, as this survey of her uniquely compelling art attests.

Through Oct 4
"Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends" Metropolitan Museum of Art
Monet, Rodin, Robert Louis Stevenson and Henry James were among the figures captured by John Singer Sargent over the course of a career defined by his mastery of the portrait form. Those subjects are revisited here, along with likenesses of other artists, poets and writers who traveled in the same circles as the acclaimed American painter.

Through Aug 24
"Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?" Richard Taittinger Gallery
Curated by art historian Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi, this look at contemporary art by artists who either call Africa home, or who work as part of the African diaspora is a welcome remedy to relative lack of exposure in New York for African art. The lineup includes 12 names who aren't well know outside of their respective communities. Look or Beatrice Wanjiku's Expressionistic figurative paintings and Chika Modum's sculptural installations made of hair, to name two.

Concerts to go Crazy at

Aug 5
Father John Misty + Angel Olsen + Summer Moon Central Park SummerStage Mainstage, Central Park
The mountain man stylings of former Fleet Foxes member Father John Misty combined with Angel Olsen's sparse songwriting and haunting vibrato make for an ascendant folk-inspired night.

Aug 8
Tune-Yards + Shabazz Palaces Celebrate Brooklyn! (at the Prospect Park Bandshell)
What could be better than grooving to the Haitian-inspired rhythms of Tune-Yards' unique brand of indie pop? Hearing it for free at Celebrate Brooklyn!

Aug 12
Willie Nelson & Family + Old Crow Medicine Show Prospect Park Bandshell
The years on the road may have ripened that Southern 10-gallon-hat growl, but after some 10,000-plus shows, the country legend hasn't lost a step. 

Aug 21–Aug 23
Charlie Parker Jazz Festival Marcus Garvey Park and Tompkins Square Park
This festival tribute to the saxophone superstar boasts a star lineup with the likes of Joe Lovano's postbop shredding and Rudresh Mahanthappa's multicultural Indian-Western fusion.

Aug 26
Caribou East River Park
With a knack for amalgamating club, hip-hop and synth-pop elements into a unique electronic medley, musical multi-talent Dan Snaith a.k.a. Caribou is sure to get you moving on the dance floor.

Comedy Shows To Check Out

Aug 3, 10
Doug Loves Movies Live Podcast Gramercy Theatre
The always stoned and driven stand-up brings together top local comedians to quiz each other on movie trivia for his podcast.

Aug 6
Serious Matters Union Hall
With a lineup featuring Myq Kaplan, Nick Vatterott, Michelle Wolf and more, this data-driven comedy show is a must see and hey, you might learn a thing or two as well.

Aug 24–30
Brooklyn Comedy Festival Various locations
Now in it's third year, the festival is bigger than ever and showcases all of the best NY acts on the best independently produced shows and most of them are free.

Aug 27
J.B. Smoove Carolines on Broadway
The high-octane Curb Your Enthusiasm and Top Five star takes over one of New York's top clubs for an unfiltered weekend of smart and silly quips.

Aug 28
Ted Alexandro Gotham Comedy Club
The passionate, yet mild-mannered comic is brilliantly funny, even when he's not saying anything.

Wonderful LGBT Events

Aug 1
Taylor Mac: The 20th Century Abridged Celebrate Brooklyn! (at the Prospect Park Bandshell)
Ambitious and compelling performance artist Taylor Mac presents selections from his ongoing project covering a century of popular music.

Aug 16­–19
Jane Lynch: See Jane Sing! Joe's Pub at the Public Theater
Prepare to have your pants charmed off: The comedy genius swings into Joe's Pub for an intimate cabaret.

Aug 20
Our Lady J: Gospel for the Godless Joe's Pub at the Public Theater
After a break from music while she worked as a writer on Transparent, the wonderfully strange Our Lady J is back behind her piano for some "post-religious gospel"

Aug 21
Drag Queens of Comedy Irving Plaza
Bianca Del Rio, Willam, Alaska Thunderfuck and many more hilarious drag superstars come together for a night of quirky, bitchy, shady music and comedy. 

Aug 22
Mykki Blanco Jacob Riis Park Beach
The adventurous cross-dressing, genre-defying musician throws a party on the beach.

Ace Places to Shop

Aug 1
Kiki de Montparnasses 260 Sample Sale
Fancy lingerie from this luxury brand will cost you, but now you can nab sexy under-things for way less than a Benjamin.

Aug 27
Indie Beauty Expo Altman Building
If you're a makeup junkie who loves to discover new products, experience all thing beauty from ace independent brands such as Hynt Beauty, Osmia, Grande Lash and more.

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