It’s summer in New York, and July happens to be one of the most event-filled months in NYC. 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 in 2017
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.
Music events in July 2017
In addition to collaborating with the Bad Plus and his James Farm bandmates, saxophone star Redman found time to issue the sumptuous, string-bathed Walking Shadows in 2013. The record is proof that he’s making the strongest music of his career, but that fact is even more evident on the bandstand. He turns up here with an agile combo: pianist Aaron Goldberg, bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Greg Hutchinson.
It's a starstudded night: Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Sting and Gabriel, who have each spent more than 30 years in the music trenches, trade songs and sets as they tour together for the first time since the ’80s, when the two teamed up for Amnesty International. With their massive discographies, there's no telling what to expect, but we're hoping Gabriel lends Sting his lightbulb suit while he rides around the stage on a bicycle (yes, both of those things have happened).
Expect Coney Island to be crowded with moms, dads, kids, most of Animal Collective and so on, to see the Beach Boys run through their summer hits—though it's worth pointing out that after touring with Brian Wilson for its 50th anniversary in 2012, the group is back to a Wilson-less lineup. Nonetheless, it's a respectable showing of core fellas, led by founding member Mike Love and longtime player Bruce Johnston.
Legendary horror filmmaker John Carpenter stopped making movies years ago, but he’s kept on producing the deliriously freaky synthesizer compositions that gave Halloween and The Thing their inescapable atmosphere of anxiety and dread. See the master himself front a full band—and watch people freak out when it launches into an Escape from New York soundtrack cut.
Pint-size pop idol Justin Bieber hits NYC in support of his latest one, Purpose, which sees him veering into tropical house and hazy R&B territory via production from MdL and Skrillex. But that's not his only change of course: Biebs has also reportedly vowed to clean up his act and tone down the bad-boy antics. Could his days of monkey smuggling be behind him? Go ahead Justin, make Beliebers out of us.
While most indie-rock fests branched into other genres years ago, The Village Voice’s 4Knots remains keenly focused on all things underground and guitar-based. This waterfront installment features indie legends Guided by Voices, Detroit garage punks Protomartyr and folk-punk duo Girlpool.
North Jersey indie-rock legends the Feelies drew on the Velvet Underground long before the influence became de rigueur, creating wired, bookish rock at a time when the Vampire Weekend kids were but twinkles in their parents’ eyes. Expect to hear old favorites mixed in with tunes from the band’s 2011 comeback LP, Here Before. Blissed-out indie-gone-psych faves Beach Fossils open.
Once-mighty glam-metal act Guns N' Roses attempts a return to its former glory with a much-discussed reunion (discussed, except by the band members, who haven't said anything official about it). If recent shows are to be believed, frontman Axl Rose and classic lineup guitar-slinger Slash and bassist Duff McKagan are sharing a stage for the first time in two decades. There may be some Chinese Democracy songs to sit through, but when Axl lets loose on classics such as "Welcome to the Jungle," try not to pump your fist.
The new A Moon Shaped Pool is possibly the most difficult album the enigmatic prog group’s released in its career, but fans will surely swoon so hard over cuts like “Burn the Witch” (not to mention old favorites from Kid A and OK Computer), they’ll give tweens at a Justin Bieber concert a run for their money—especially considering the crew just played their quasi-disowned megahit "Creep" for the first time live in 7 years.
Mitski Miyawaki's 2014 release, Bury Me at Makeout Creek, forwent her previous orchestral avant-pop explorations in favor of dreamily yearning indie rock—a successful transformation that highlighted her talents for complex, emotive melody and pointed lyricism. Her new collection of heartrending songs, Puberty 2, continues her skyward journey as one of the indiesphere's most exciting young voices.
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.
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.”