If you’re searching for great things to do in the summer, these NYC events in July are guaranteed to be a hit. Even after all the 4th of July events simmer down, there are still tons of awesome things to do for the next 26 days. From amazing summer music festivals to cool rooftop parties, you won’t have any trouble staying entertained (or getting a tan).
RECOMMENDED: Full NYC events calendar
Featured events in July 2017
Every summer, the Public Theater produces a beloved New York democratic tradition: Shakespeare in the Park, presented for free at the open-air Delacorte Theater in Central Park. There’s nothing quite like hearing the Bard’s immortal words performed outdoors, with a backdrop of natural splendor and the Belvedere Castle looming in the background like the world’s most impressive set decoration.
Music festivals have become as essential a feature of summer in the city as ice-skating and hot chocolate are to winter in New York: It's part of the reason why you live here. What makes New York's summer music festival scene better than anywhere else's? We'll start with the beautiful weather, then add the fact that you'll be watching your favorite bands play in truly iconic surroundings—say, Central Park, or the leafy Celebrate Brooklyn! bandshell.
Midsummer Night Swing brings together the best of music, free outdoor dance events and things to do outside in New York, but we have a few tips to help you make the most of the festival. Lovely Damrosch Park can get crowded, so be sure to book in advance, get there when the dance floor opens at 6pm, and remember that purses and backpacks must be left at the bagcheck—ladies, you’ll need a dancing frock with pockets.
Free NYC events in July 2017
Jeffrey Emerson, Jill Weiner and Brian Moran host this weekly night of stellar stand-up featuring a diverse range of comedians, including known names like Matteo Lane and Farah Brook and newcomers like Menuhin Hart and Melissa Diaz. The April 3 edition features Megan Walsh, Colin Lewis, Ja-Ron Young and Haley Sacks.
At this massive grub hub, there’s only one rule: Come hungry. The Brooklyn Flea spin-off draws more than 10,000 visitors per day with a slew of 75 to 100 incredible food vendors. Our pro tip? Make sure you peruse the lineup before you go—those mouthwatering scents and the bevy of choices can make you dizzy (and the dense crowds can make you hangry).
This Lower East Side flea, now in it's eighth season, hosts one of the best collections of vendors in Manhattan, with more upstarts joining the fray each week. Standouts from recent years and who have gotten their start at the fair include include Macaron Parlour, Petee’s Pie Company, Melt Bakery, La New Yorkina, Arancini Bros and Cheeky Sandwich.
One and One hosts this local talent showcase every Friday, with Phil Stamato, Daniel Raderstrong and Fume Abe wrangling acts from across town to headline the bill. Past guests have included Myq Kaplan, Shane Torres and Aparna Nancherla. After the show, performers get the weekend started by joining the audience for a lively afterparty. This week features Brooklyn fan-favorites Alingon Mitra, Anna Drezen, Sonia Denis and Nick Vatterott.
Get down at an old-school honky-tonk at Johnny Utah’s every Wednesday night, featuring covers and new music from the charming country performer Ben O’Connor. To make the night more interesting, try your hand at the mechanical bull, or order dangerous drinks like the Dixie Tea and Texas Mule. Plus, sample the bar’s beloved baby back ribs.
Anyone who’s spent time in landlocked parts of the country will tell you that a city without water is like, er, a city without water. The Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance celebrates NYC’s best accessory at Governors Island (and other locations, too!), offering activities that remind us just how good we have it. Get gratis access to a plethora of water-going vessels, including canoes, kayaks and rowboats; or fish, bike or kick back with food and music on dry land. Locations vary; visit cityofwaterday.org for details.
Music events in July 2017
Prolific singer-songwriter (Sandy) Alex G, formerly known simply as Alex G, has built a dedicated following over the past few years through a steady output of washed-out indie odes, gently demented psyche musings and, most recently, twangy roots rock. The Philly native, whose guitar strumming talents also surfaced on Frank Ocean's Blonde and Endless, hits town behind a new full-length on Domino, Rocket. Also on the bill is one of our favorite rising indie-pop songwriters, Japanese Breakfast (otherwise known as Little Big League ex-frontwoman Michelle Zauner).
Presently, this revered English combo only contains one original member—drummer Jim McCarty—but don't let that get you down. The current roster comprises venerable guitarist Johnny A, Ram Jam's Myke Scavone, Detroit axman John Idan and bassist Kenny Aaronson, who has toured with Bob Dylan, Billy Idol and Joan Jett. Sure, the band's most famous guitar alumni (Clapton, Page, Beck) are missing, but this group of veteran performers is plenty qualified to deliver the band's trailblazing psych-blues sound.
Aidan Moffat and Malcolm Middleton reunited last year for a string of shows in the U.K. in celebration of the 20th anniversary of their emergence as Arab Strap. This year finds the gents crossing the pond to play Pitchfork's annual music fest in Chicago and, luckily, they're stopping off in NYC on the way. Don't miss this rare chance to hear the beloved outfit's highly engrossing electronica-dappled indie rock live.
Seattle's Cave Singers are led by a man called Pete Quirk, a fitting surname for someone whose edged voice protrudes from his band's instrumentation like an ostrich's head. The band brings its grooving, stomp-and-clap folk stylings to Mercury Lounge for an early show. Local indie-rock quintet LAPêCHE opens with warm, woozy indie rock.
Ian McCulloch's Echo & the Bunnymen, the influential British gloom-pop troupe behind hits such as “The Killing Moon” and “Lips Like Sugar,” and Milwaukee folk-punk trio Violent Femmes hit town on their co-headlining tour. Expect a show laden with hits and peppered with selections from the bands' most recent offerings (Echo & the Bunnymen's Meteorites and Violent Femmes' We Can Do Anything). The Femmes are cooking up a new album, so chances are they'll try out some fresh material here, but doubtless the high point will be the collective mania unleashed by the opening lick of "Blister in the Sun."
Jim James & Co. roll into town to dish out a hearty helping of Southern-fried rock. The beloved Kentucky outfit never fails to hit that sweet spot where jammy looseness meets eclectic indie rock, so count on a freewheeling performance and some seriously crowd-pleasing covers. Opening is blues phenom Gary Clark Jr., who's supported the Stones and Clapton and even performed at the freakin' White House. Needless to say, you'll not want to miss his set.
Alt-rock icon PJ Harvey’s latest release, The Hope Six Demolition Project, is another singular statement. The record balances weighty tone and musical simplicity, as when Harvey builds tracks like “The Ministry of Defence” and “The Words That Maketh Murder” around ominously bellowing horns and eerie chanting. As ever, it’s unclear just what makes Harvey tick creatively, The Hope Six Demolition Project being just the latest example of her penchant for dark, compelling songwriting rooted in odd moods. Her output is always arresting, and this SummerStage benefit performance is well worth the price tag.
Singer, songwriter, bandleader and label chief Conor Oberst (of Bright Eyes, Monsters of Folk and sundry others) hits Prospect Park behind his latest full-length, Salutations. The album finds him revisiting his preceding effort, 2016's solitary Ruminations, this time with a full band in tow. As usual, Oberst isn’t pushing any limits with his quavery-voiced indie folk, but his plainspoken-troubadour style will sound just right in this open-air gig.
Between 1988 and 1996, seminal shoegaze outfit Ride released four albums, all now classics of the genre, and then broke up during Britpop's ascendency (which the band foreshadowed with a pop sensibility many of its peers lacked). The band reunited for a tour in 2015, and this year it's coming stateside again with more good news: A new release is in the works. Ride's first album in nearly two decades, Weather Diaries, is due out June 16 and if the initial singles, "Charm Assault" and "Home is a Feeling," are any indication, the foursome hasn't missed a beat.
In any discussion of rock acts that have improved with age, English heavy-metal institution Iron Maiden has to come in somewhere near the top: Even if Bruce Dickinson can't hit every screeching high note of his prime (cut him some slack, the guy just overcame tongue cancer), he deploys his resources for maximum impact, something that could be said equally for his restless bandmates. The band's international tour behind its latest, The Book of Souls, comes to a close with two shows in Brooklyn.
Arts events in July 2017
View over 100 works made by creators outside of the artistic community, including inventive self-taught sculptors in New York City and illustrators who found their passion in prisons and psychiatric hospitals. Explore the inner lives of unknown artists through works made in private and often discovered after the artists' passing, with pieces like Steve Ashby's Rocking Bed Cunnilingus Whirligig and Henry Darger's watercolor At Sunbeam Creak/At Wickey Lansinia.
As one of the giants of 20th-century photography, Irving Penn (1917–2009) was known for his fashion photography, portraits and still lifes. His stunning large format, black-and-white images of models and celebrities helped to define the look of midcentury America. This retrospective mounted on the occasion of Penn’s 100th birthday features some 200 examples of his work, which remains as indelible now as when he first began to create it more than 60 years ago.
An international roster of woman artists who worked under a male-dominated midcentury milieu get a turn in the spotlight. Joan Mitchell, Lee Bontecou and Louise Bourgeois are some of the figures celebrated here.
Among Eastern Bloc countries during the Cold War, Hungary was the most permissive in allowing cutting-edge art but only up to a point. The testing of those limits is recalled in this show of 30 artists from that place and time.
The Brooklyn Museum’s look at Georgia O’Keeffe, the artist famed for painting desert landscapes and barely disguised vaginas (which, she vociferously denied doing), takes a different tack by examining the artist’s carefully constructed image as a throughly modern, independent woman and style icon. The show presents components that played a part in crafting her persona, including artworks, photographs and examples of her wardrobe.
Associated with the Pictures Generation, Lawler was also one of the authors of Institutional Critique, a Conceptualist genre that made museums and other constituents of the art establishment the subject of a deconstructive inquiry. In Lawler’s case, that entailed photos of other artist’s works hanging in museums, storage rooms and the home of collectors. Elegant and cooly composed, Lawler’s images demystified the art object by showing how it lives as a commodity and piece of decor. MoMA surveys her career, which spans nearly 40 years.
Remarkably, Rama, a self-taught Italian artist, lived to the ripe old age of 103, and the energy that sustained her for so long is evident in the aggressively erotic drawings drawings that were her métier. Much of her long career was spent in obscurity, though in the last decade of her life she received major recognition in the form of museum shows and the award of a Golden Lion for lifetime achievement at the 2003 Venice Biennale. This is her first major survey in the United States.
Simone Leigh, A particularly elaborate imba yokubikira, or kitchen house, stands locked up while its owners live in diaspora
A little corner of Zimbabwe has landed in Marcus Garvey Park in the form of three imbas, or kitchen huts native to the region. As welcoming as they appear, these huts, created in collaboration with architect Maxwell Mutanda, are actually closed forms that can’t be entered. According to the artist, they’re meant to celebrate the “expansiveness of the African diaspora,” while also evoking the “experience of living outside the place considered home.”