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Photograph: Courtesy Tony Colasurdo

The best summer festivals in NYC

Get ready for some fun in the sun at these awesome summer festivals! NYC offers outdoor raves, street fairs and more.

By Jennifer Picht and Time Out New York contributors

If you want to be cool for the summer, you can’t miss these cool-as-hell summer festivals. NYC is chock-full of alfresco entertainment during the warmer months. Get the most out this year’s set of summer concerts by attending Panorama or Full Moon Festival. Hit the city streets for action-packed street fairs with food trucks, live performers and shopping vendors. And don’t forget the amazing cultural celebrations like the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival. There are tons of festivals going down at some of your favorite NYC parks, too, so keep this tab handy—consider this list your summer bucket list.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to things to do this summer in NYC

Best summer festivals

Photograph: Courtesy Andrew Day

1. Pinknic

Bars Wine bars

From noon to 9pm each day, 12,000 revelers—dressed in nothing but pink and white, duh—will descend onto Governor's Island for this rosé-themed fest. Settle onto rosé-hued designer blankets for stemless glasses of still, sparkling and champagne rosé selections. The afternoons will be soundtracked with live DJ sets and more performances.

2. Full Moon Festival

Things to do Festivals

Howl at the full moon during this two-day beach-side music festival on Governors Island. There will be live music from stellar acts, plus art installations and delicious culinary grub.

Bastille Day in NYC
Photograph: Filip Wolak

3. Bastille Day

Things to do

Ooh la la! Francophiles have their choice of fetes to celebrate Bastille Day. NYC’s annual events include street fairs, outdoor parties, dance events and performances (the cancan!), and more great things to do outside.

Panorama Music Festival 2016
Photograph: Meagan Gindi

4. Panorama Music Festival


Coachella in California is the fest that really kicks the summer music festival season into gear. So it makes sense that its organizers, Goldenvoice, have made NYC Panorama Music Festival its East Coast counterpart. The three-day event, one of the best NYC events in July, competes with, or complements, depending on your perspective, Governors Ball, in the same space that fest inhabits, Randalls Island Park.

NYC Poetry Festival
Photograph: Lawrence Schwartzwald

5. NYC Poetry Festival

Things to do Literary events

For the last seven years, a number of the city’s poetry-reading series and their affiliated collectives have taken over Governors Island for a day, creating a stage for the many voices of NYC, both celebrated and underground. This year, the crew of the Poetry Society of New York does it again, presenting readings from more than 200 poets and 50 organizations.

6. Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival

Things to do Festivals

Travel to beautiful Hong Kong without ever leaving the city thanks to this annual event at Flushing Meadows–Corona Park, now in it’s 26th year. Around 180 teams gather at the lake to race on long boats while paddling to the beat of their boat’s drummer at this culture fest inspired by Chinese tradition. On land, you can join in on the fun with music and dance performances, martial arts demonstrations and food-court vendors selling Asian cuisine like steamed dumplings, pork-belly buns and frozen delights such as Sno Biz shaved ice.



Things to do

Five stages featuring electronic music acts, 3D projections, food trucks, vendors, death-defying aerialists, circus performers and a giant inflatable slide: Yeah, BangOn!NYC goes all out for this annual bash. Get pumped for DJs such as Griz, The Knocks, The Golden Pony, Motum and plenty more. This mind-blowing music and arts festival is not one to be missed, so grab your tickets and keep your eyes peeled for the secret NYC waterfront location announcement.

8. Tap + Cork: Brooklyn Beer & Wine Fest

Things to do Festivals

This Bed-Stuy event just keeps growing, with this year's selection of 45+ craft beers and artisanal wines to sample. Admission includes 15 drink tickets, each of which can purchase a three-ounce pour of one of the many wines and beers on offer. Imbibe while snacking on local food trucks and listening to live music and DJs.

Photograph: Courtesy Hudson River Park

9. Blues BBQ Festival


Get ready to chow at this 18th annual riverside bash with barbecue from local grillmasters like Dinosaur Barb-B-Que and Mighty Quinn's, while tuned to live blues and roots performances by The Campbell Brothers, Sugar Ray and the Bluetones, Terrie Odabi, Dumpstaphunk and more.

HO99O9 - Afropunk Fest
Photograph: Filip Wolak

10. Afropunk


Afropunk Festival is an annual event that takes place in August at Brooklyn's Commodore Barry Park (City Park). Over the course of a weekend, Afropunk 2017—NYC's outdoor summer music festival celebrating multicultural arts—will host a wide array of well-known musical artists (including some of the biggest hip-hop artists), as well as “BITES & BEATS” food trucks, live artworks and the SpinThrift Market.

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