There's more than one kind of New York City music festival. The first events that come to mind might be the big-tent fests like Governors Ball, but just as important are staple series like CityParks SummerStage and BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn!, which keep crowds coming out to our beloved green spaces all season long. Overwhelmed by all the choices? Check out our hand-picked this guide to the very best summer music festivals hitting town this year.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to summer concerts in NYC
Best summer music festivals in NYC
June – October 2020
For New York music fans, CityParks SummerStage is the gold standard for outdoor summer concerts, with everything from classic New York hip-hop artists in outer borough NYC parks to big-name indie-rock bands on the Central Park recently remodeled mainstage. So far announced, get stoked for acts like Sharon Van Etten and Real Estate.
June 5–June 7 2020
The annual Randalls Island event is the one of the best big local fests, hosting top talent from an array of genres over three days.
On the bill is early aughts indie rockers Vampire Weekend, Fleetwood Mac singer-songwriter Stevie Nicks and pop-rapper Missy Elliott, who will be making her first major NYC performance in over a decade. In addition to those acts, you can catch sets from Tame Impala, Flume, Solange, Miley Cyrus, RÜFÜS DU SOL, Ellie Goulding, H.E.R., Portugal. The Man, Foals, Summer Walker, Jon Bellion, Khruangbin, Of Monsters and Men, Milky Chance, Gryffin, BANKS, Alessia Cara, Girl Talk, Pinegrove, Arizona, Snail Mail, Nancy Whang (LCD Soundsystem), Princess Nokia, Poolside, Frankie Cosmos and more.
June 6 2020
The radio station’s annual blowout doubles as hip-hop’s spectacle-filled State of the Union. This year’s lineup has yet to be announced, but last year featured requisite chart-toppers like Cardi B and Migos, and an undercard full of young talent—City Girls and Blueface, for example—who have blown up on Instagram and TikTok.
Unlike CityParks SummerStage, which spreads out across the five boroughs, all BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! shows take place at the beautiful bandshell in Prospect Park, a scenic amphitheater surrounded by trees. Catching one of these gigs is guaranteed to be a highlight of your summer, whether you're seeing a buzzy indie-rock band, a classic soul or funk group, or one of the best hip-hop artists around. So far for 2020, Indie rock acts like Angel Olsen with Mount Eerie, and Bikini Kill have been announced.
June 19–27 2020
The nine-day Chelsea Music Festival welcomes its 11th season. In addition to classical, jazz, and contemporary music, expect food from renowned culinary artists, walking tours, family events and more over the course of this event's ten days.
MoMA PS1’s Warm Up can be crowded and distractingly scene-y, but it’s also the best place in the city to get turned on to boundary-pushing (but danceable) beats.
2020 dates TBD
Lincoln Center programs its annual series with accessibility in mind—last year’s offerings include Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy and a screening of Coco preceded by a set from Mexican-American band La Santa Cecilia—but just reading the words Lincoln Center on your (free) ticket is enough to turn anyone into a highbrow culture maven. Stay tuned for 2020 info.
Aug 22 2020–Aug 23 2020
Afropunk has always boasted the edgiest and most eclectic lineups of any festival in the city, last years acts ranged from Death Grips’ noise-rap to Jill Scott’s honeyed neo-soul. We can't wait to see what to expect this year. Also, Afropunk is pretty fashion-forward, it’s a place where boho “festival-style” clichés fear to tread and a mosh pit can double as a preview of next year’s biggest fashion trends.
Sep 4, 2020 –Sep 6, 2020
The megarave celebrates 10 years of helping set off an EDM tsunami that not only reshaped the sound of American pop music but also pushed concert theatrics to a whole new level. Check back soon on who will be dropping beats amid their mind-blowing array of LED screens and lasers.