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All the great (and free!) performances coming to Bryant Park this summer

Written by
Jennifer Picht

Why see a concert, play or dance performance inside a stuffy, theater when you can witness masterful art out in the open-air at one of the best NYC parks?

Apart from all the incredible games, classes and things to do at Bryant Park this summer, midtown’s most activity-filled green space wants to entice visitors even more by featuring a solid lineup of free entertainment, including talent from New York City Opera and Martha Graham Dance Company as well as Shakespeare plays, music from over 100 accordionists and more.

The Bryant Park corporation recently shared the exciting events on deck for the upcoming months below, so mark your calendar and consider all your post-work outings planned! 

Shakespeare Presented by The Drilling Company

Shakespeare Villains
Friday, April 21; 6:30pm; Fountain Terrace
Celebrate Shakespeare's 453rd birthday with the beasts and scoundrels that the world loves to hate or emulate. From Iago and Lady Macbeth to Shylock and Richard III, actors portray some of the greatest monsters, busybodies, political outcasts, and social misfits ever written.

The Merry Wives of Windsor
May 19­–June 3 (Fridays and Saturdays); 7pm; Upper Terrace
Shakespeare's first sitcom, featuring the classic misadventures of Falstaff and two neighborhood wives, set in an Upper West Side Co-op.

Twelfth Night
July 28–30 (Fridays and Saturdays); 7pm; Sunday at 3pm; Upper Terrace
All is not what it seems in this cross-dressing comedy. Lost travelers Viola and brother Sebastian chaotically search for each other after ending up ashore with hilarious results.

The Tempest
August 25–September 9, Fridays and Saturdays; 7pm; Upper Terrace
Love and revenge on Prospero's magical island in the Bard's last play. Songs from Natalie Smith and Andrew Gombas lead the comical journey through dazzling spells and devious plots. 

New York City Opera

Monday, May 22; 6­–7:30pm; Upper Terrace: Los Elementos (Antonio Literes) excerpts (in Spanish)
The distinctive rhythms of the Spanish Baroque animate Earth, Air, Fire, and Water in this captivating allegorical drama.

Tuesday, June 13; 4­­–5:15pm; Upper Terrace: La Cenerentola (Gioachino Rossini) excerpts (family event); 6-7pm: La Cenerentola excerpts
The timeless, beloved tale of Cinderella all wrapped up with some of Rossini's finest vocal writing.

Tuesday, August 22; 6–7pm; Upper Terrace: La Fanciulla del West (Giacomo Puccini)
Preview of this hard-drinking, poker-playing, bona fide Western with an Italian operatic soundtrack.

Friday, September 15; 6–7:30pm; Upper Terrace: Viva Verdi
An evening of excerpts from some of Giuseppe Verdi's most famous operas, culminating with Rigoletto.

Contemporary Dance 

Friday, June 16; 6pm
Ballet: David Fernandez's Some Dance Company, Gabrielle Lamb's Pigeonwing Dance, Da' Von Doane & Artists of the Shift, Cherylyn Lavagnino Dance

Friday, June 23; 6pm
Modern: Martha Graham Dance Company, Bryn Cohn + Artists, Kinetic Architecture Dance Theatre, LaGuardia Dance Ensemble

Friday, June 30; 6pm
Ballet: CONTINUUM Contemporary/Ballet, Island Moving Company, Thomas/Ortiz Dance

Friday, July 7; 6pm
Modern: Limon Dance Company, The Moving Architects, Black Boys Dance Too

Friday, July 14; 6pm
Modern: Kate Weare Company, Now Dance, Joe Monteleone, Earl Mosley's Institute of the Arts Dance

Emerging Music Festival

Emerging Music Festival returns for its third year with thousands of music lovers packing the Bryant Park lawn for New York's best new music, including indie rock, soul, R&B, singer-songwriter, and more. In weeks leading up to the event, media partner Paste Magazine brings many of the bands into their studios for live video sessions.

Friday, August 18, 6­–10pm: 79.5, Luke Elliot, Mail the Horse. More TBA.

Saturday, August 19, 4–10pm: Space Captain, Cassandra Jenkins. More TBA.

Accordions Around the World

Accordions Around the World is a four-week series that brings over 100 accordionists—as well as bandoneon, bayan, concertina, and harmonium-players of different musical genres—to perform at Bryant Park. The series, which highlights 24 musicians each Wednesday, offers audiences the chance to experience the range of this often-overlooked instrument. The series culminates on a Friday with the Accordion Festival, which showcases five bands, each featuring an accordion, playing music from a range of different cultures.

Accordion Picnics: June 28–July 19, Wednesdays, 6-8pm around the lawn

Accordion Festival: July 21, Friday, 5–10pm on Bryant Park Stage


The lineup—including some of the biggest names in classical music and jazz—will be announced soon. Among the great performers at last year's IN/TER\SECT were Chris Potter Underground Orchestra, Andy Akiho & The Foundry, Argus Quartet, Dan Tepfer Trio, and Ethan Iverson.

Friday, August 4, 6­–10pm

Saturday, August 5, 2–9pm

Programming lineup courtesy Bryant Park Corporation. 

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