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outdoor summer concerts in NYC

The 2018 Guide to Free and Cheap Outdoor Summer Concerts in NYC

By / May 15, 2017

In New York City, summer is the season for free (and super cheap!) ways to catch music’s hottest names.

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 a venue near you this summer.

BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival


This popular outdoor summer series at Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, celebrating 40 years this summer, entertains roughly 250,000 people throughout the season. 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 outside the venue’s perimeter. (PS, enter our contest for a chance to win VIP access to every show in 2018.)

When: May through August

The lineup includes: Common (6/5), Fischerspooner/Juliana Huxtable (6/23), Brandi Carlile/Ruthie Foster (7/26), Gary Clark Jr./Fiona Silver (8/9), and The Breeders/Speedy Ortiz (8/11)

Check out the full lineup here.

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Citi Concert Series on TODAY


Go to a concert—before work? Yep, you can see some of music’s biggest names before you clock in by checking out TODAY’s concert series in Rockefeller Plaza. You can count on joining tons of screaming fans for epic shows all summer—and maybe even get caught on camera. It’s free to attend, but spots are on a first-come, first-served basis. The folks behind the series recommend arriving by 5am at the latest for a chance to score a sweet spot. So load up on coffee, but not too much—if you leave to use the bathroom, you’ll lose your spot.

When: May through August

The lineup includes: Shawn Mendes (6/1), Kelly Clarkson (6/8), 5 Seconds of Summer (6/22), Lady Antebellum (7/6), and Jason Mraz (8/10)

Check out the full lineup here.

Good Morning America’s Summer Concert Series


Like TODAY’s summer concert series, Good Morning America throws their own impressive version at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park every Friday morning. (We know—you might have some tough decisions to make if you love different artists performing on the same morning). Doors open to the public at 6am and concerts go down between 7am–9am. Prepare to rock your face off before heading to work!

When: May through August, Fridays

The lineup includes: Sting/Shaggy (5/25), Halsey (6/1), Pitbull (6/15), Florence + The Machine (6/29), Backstreet Boys (7/13), and The Chainsmokers (8/10)

Check out the full lineup here.

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Central Park SummerStage


With the exception of a handful of ticketed events, the majority of the shows in this series are free! And don’t let the name deceive you—though Central Park SummerStage calls Rumsey Playfield its home base, this summer series features shows that take place all over the five boroughs. The series includes artists across all genres, with big names spanning the best in music, dance, Broadway, comedy, and poetry,.

When: June through September

The lineup includes: Gregory Porter/Victory (6/2), Kool and The Gang (6/16), Talib Kweli/Oshun (6/30), Oh Wonder/Sasha Sloan (7/9), and Dej Loaf (8/12)

Check out the full lineup here.

Lincoln Center Out of Doors


Lincoln Center Out of Doors brings free performances from some of the world’s best music, dance, and spoken word artists to Damrosch Park. Killer live shows aren’t all this series brings, either. Rotating food trucks serve up food from city hotspots like Hill Country BBQ, Korilla Korean BBQ, L’Arte del Gelato, and Motorino Meatball. Drinks such as frozen rosé, summer cocktails, wines, and beer are available too.

When: July through August

The lineup includes: RZA: Live from The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (7/24), Carly Rae Jepsen/Jamila Woods/I’m With Her (8/1), Peter Wolf (8/3), and Americanafest NYC (8/11–8/12)

Check out the full lineup here.

MoMA PS1: Warm Up


OK, so this one isn’t free, but it’s one of our favorites and it’s still relatively cheap at $18 a pop for six hours of music. Disclaimer aside, MoMA PS1 is back for its 21st year to bring the latest experimental music to its stage for 10 Saturdays this summer. This popular outdoor music series features both international and local artists alike. Best of all, you can score tickets to all 10 dates for just $99. The lineup has yet to be announced, but check here for the latest update.

When: June 30–September 1, Saturdays

Check out the full lineup here.

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

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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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