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NYC’s Best Free and Cheap Summer Outdoor Concert Series

Summer in the city means tons of super affordable ways to catch incredible live shows. That means you can count on seeing your faves while also saving money for trips to the beach, rooftop drinks, and merch at summer festivals. With shows happening before and after work and during weekends, there’s a concert series out there for every kind of fan and schedule. These are our favorite series bringing the talent to town.

By / May 15, 2017
   Photo by @vinnikava via Twenty20.
   Photo by @vinnikava via Twenty20.

TODAY Concert Series
MIDTOWN
May-September
Rockefeller Center

See some of today’s biggest names in music before you head into work by checking out The Today Show’s morning concert series. You can join tons of screaming fans for epic shows all summer long, and you may even get caught on camera. It’s free to attend, but grabbing a spot to stand in the crowd is on a first-come, first-served basis. The folks behind the concert series recommend arriving by 5 a.m. at the latest for a chance to score a sweet viewing spot.

The lineup includes: New Kids on the Block (5/15), Zac Brown Band (5/16), Mary J. Blige (5/19), Miley Cyrus (5/26), Shania Twain (6/16), Ed Sheeran (7/6), Flo Rida (7/7), Brad Paisley (8/4), Hailee Steinfeld (8/18)

Check out the full lineup here.

 

Good Morning America Summer Concert Series
MIDTOWN
May-August, Fridays
Rumsey Playfield in Central Park

Like TODAY’s morning concert series, Good Morning America throws their own in the summer at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park every Friday morning. (You might have some tough decisions to make if you love the artists performing at both shows on the same day.) Fans should use the 72nd Street entrance on Fifth Avenue, and doors open to the public at 6 a.m. (when the park opens). Concerts go from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., so load up on coffee and prepare to rock your face off before heading to work!

The lineup includes: Green Day (5/19), Florida Georgia Line & Nelly (5/26), Fifth Harmony (6/2), The Lumineers (6/16), Big Sean (7/7), Lady Antebellum (7/14), Eric Church (8/18), Paramore (8/25)  

Check out the full lineup here.

 

Central Park SummerStage
VARIOUS
June-September
Various

With the exception of a handful of ticketed events, the majority of the shows in this series are free! Don’t let the name deceive you—Central Park SummerStage may call Rumsey Playfield its homebase, but this summer series features shows that take place all over the five boroughs. SummerStage always includes artists across all genres, with big names spanning the best in music, dance, Broadway, comedy, poetry, and more.

The lineup includes: George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic / Main Source / Chloe x Halle / DJ Marley Marl hosted by Roxanne Shante (6/11), KRS-One / DJ Chuck Chillout (6/25), Ginuwine / Boogie Blind (6/30), Just Sole! Street Dance Theater Company (7/5), UCB All Stars feat. Sasheer Zamata (7/10), Yo La Tengo / Ultimate Painting (7/17), GZA (7/23), Jadakiss (8/6), Nuyorican Poets Cafe: Staceyann Chin / Ntozake Shange / Sarah Kay (8/9)

Check out the full lineup here.

 

BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival
PARK SLOPE
June 7-August 12
Prospect Park Bandshell

This popular outdoor summer series at Brooklyn’s Prospect Park has been running for nearly 40 years and entertains roughly 250,000 people throughout evenings in the summer. Featuring just about every genre of music out there, Celebrate Brooklyn! includes a mix of free and benefit shows, the latter of which you can technically hear for free if you pop a squat along the venue’s outer perimeter. Food vendors will be on site, so bring some extra dough for bites and beer.

The lineup includes: Lake Street Dive (6/7), Alice Smith / Bilal / Kris Bowers (6/10), Lisa Loeb with The Knights (6/17), Yeasayer / Poliça / Cymbals Eat Guitars (6/22), Robert Randolph & the Family Band / Eric Krasno (7/13), Andrew Bird / Esperanza Spalding (7/28), Béla Fleck & the Flecktones / Nellie McKay (8/3)

Check out the full lineup here.

 

Lincoln Center Out of Doors
UPPER WEST SIDE
July-August
Lincoln Center Plazas

Lincoln Center Out of Doors will deliver free evening performances from some of the world’s best music, dance, and spoken word artists over three jam-packed weeks across its many onsite plazas. No lineup has been released yet, but given last year’s performers like M. Ward and Patti Smith, you know it’s gonna be good. Keep your eyes peeled for more information here.

 

Charles Roussel

 

MoMA PS1 Warm Up
LONG ISLAND CITY
July 1-September 2
MoMA PS1 Courtyard

Okay, so this one isn’t exactly free, but we had to include it! It’s one of our favorites because it’s still relatively cheap for six hours of music at $18 a pop. Disclaimer aside, the Warm Up series will be celebrating its 20th year of bringing the latest experimental music to its stage. For 10 Saturdays this summer, this popular all-day event features both international and local artists alike, and 2017 is rumored to be the series’ most ambitious season yet. To celebrate two decades of putting on shows, you can score tickets to all 10 dates for just $98. The lineup has yet to be announced, but check here for the latest updates.

 

Have a tip on a free or cheap concert series happening this summer? If so, post in the comments below!

 

By

Melanie is a Jersey girl who now calls Brooklyn home. She’s written for Fuse TV, MTV News, Interview Magazine and more, and enjoys creating content that informs, inspires and entertains people. She’s passionate about music, running, cheese and dachshunds, and her husband fully accepts her love affair with NYC.

More articles by Melanie Gardiner

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