A free NYC-wide music festival celebrates the first day of summer

The five-borough festival is a celebration of live music and summer.

Written by
Natalie Melendez
A man playing a trombone in front of a Ferris Wheel
Photograph: Darren Morales & dMo

The streets of NYC never stop singing. On any given day you’re sure to find a pianist holding a concert in the park or a sax player livening up your rush-hour subway commute. Music is woven into the DNA of the city, and during the summertime, there’s nothing better than basking in the sweet sounds the city has to offer.  

This year, celebrate the first day of summer the way NYC knows best: living and breathing music. Make Music New York, a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing free music performances throughout the city, is holding its 17th annual citywide music festival on Wednesday, June 21, in commemoration of Make Music Day. 

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Make Music Day is a worldwide event that embraces and uplifts the musician in everyone, regardless of skill or age. The event first began in France in 1982 but has since then expanded to the rest of the world, where it is now celebrated across 120 countries with a day full of free music-making and appreciation. 

In NYC, performances begin as early as 10am and span throughout all five boroughs. Join the beatbox collective, The Beatbox House, outside of the JBL Soho store from noon-4pm to make some beats inside a small mobile recording studio. If you’re in Hamilton Heights, maybe you’ll want to stop by the Johnny Hartman Plaza to listen to a stunning jazz performance by the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, The Fat Afro Latin Jazz Cats, and others—they’ll be there from noon-8pm.

Elsewhere throughout the city, you can enjoy performances by soul singers, a cappella groups, rock musicians, and more; the city is your singing oyster. You can head over to the Make Music New York website for a full list of performances and locations. 

There’s no shortage of ways to celebrate the first day of summer, but joining in on the Make Music Day festivities is a pretty great way to do just that.

PS: If you’re feeling like getting your groove on a little bit earlier, Make Music New York will be hosting three events leading up to the big day: The 10th Annual Porch Stomp (an American and folk music extravaganza) will take place on Saturday, June 17, at Governors Island from 11am-6pm. The Southeast Queens Gospelfest will be taking place that same day from 3pm-8pm. And on Sunday, June 18, the annual DIY punk festival, Punk Island, will be happening at the American Veterans Memorial Pier in Shore Road Park from noon-6pm.

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