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New York's Outdoor Culture

New York's Outdoor Culture

Marie Néel - 2011-07-05

During the summer months New York is inundated with every kind of cultural offering and outdoor event. The city is transformed and tourists are spoilt for choice.

New York is the very epitome of a modern city, a sprawling metropolis. Its urban area is nevertheless interspersed with life-giving lungs: the green spaces that are its parks and gardens, its wide open spaces and plazas. These are places where, all year round, New Yorkers can go to breathe and unwind. You'll find them jogging, playing baseball, picnicking, walking the dog, observing squirrels, enjoying romantic encounters and when the sun shines they are places of leisure and sunbathing. From May onwards outdoor events spring up throughout the city. Festivals, screenings, concerts: every day has its offering of shows and events. With the snow, giant ice rinks, Christmas trees and all the traditional trappings of the frosty days now forgotten, New York wakes up to   become a vibrant summery city.
Central Park and the great classics of the New York outdoors
The Summer Stage is a seasonal highlight. This great, free eclectic music festival running from June to September hosts artists from around the globe and takes place in nearly 750 locations dotted around the city, including the legendary Central Park. This year Summer Stage celebrates its 25th birthday, and the 600,000 people who enjoy it every year should be there, so why not join them?
Another summer tradition hosted in the venerable Central Park is “Shakespeare in the Park” which is a great opportunity to hear Shakespeare's verses lilting beneath the stars. Two plays will be performed alternately throughout June and July in the vast arena of the Delacort Theater in the heart of Central Park. This is an unforgettable experience.
If the language of Shakespeare leaves you cold, you might prefer the the likes of Ravel, Tchaikovsky, Rossini, Mozart and Gershwin in concerts played by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra as part of Concerts in the Parks events. This famous orchestra plays in the great outdoors, in Central Park but also in New York's other major parks.
Giant screens and Giant Picnics
The “drive-in” no longer occupies a privileged place on New York's streets. However even if you can't park your car in front of giant screens, during the summer months you can still spread a blanket out in front of one. Outdoor cinema still has an important place in the city's life and film festivals abound from Brooklyn to Manhattan. You can satiate your desire for both independent movies and blockbusters at  Bryant Park, McCarren Park, Central Park, the Rooftop, Socrates Sculpture Park and at the Brooklyn Bridge Park. A word of advice though – arrive early and bring the sustenance of your choice: bagels, sushi, doughnuts, sandwiches, popcorn, whatever you want!
The ins and outs of Art
The River to River Festival in Downtown New York from June to August has hundreds of concerts, exhibitions and events on offer. Its aim is to make art accessible in all its guises in New York's iconic locations such as the Battery Park and the Financial District. What's more it's free, killing two birds with one stone when you visit these places.
On the more trendy side of things at Long Island City the annex for the MoMA (Museum of Modern Art), puts on its summer Warm Up. Here you can enjoy its exhibitions to the sound of concerts taking place in the yard, quench your thirst whilst admiring its wacky displays. In short you can spend the afternoon in the shade or in the sun or like a New Yorker, in the winds of the latest fashions.
Go to Coney
The summertime is the best time to enjoy Coney Island. Not only because it's a beach (be warned: it gets overcrowded on sunny days), but also because of a ton of interesting events taking place there, such as the Seaside Summer Concert Series and the Siren Music Festival. These two weird and wonderful music festivals make this part of town 'the place to be' during the summer. With its beach, amusement park and its hot dogs, the music-drenched Coney Island is definitely worth a detour.
It has to be said though that this brief overview contains but a small selection. It failed to mention the Celebrate Brooklyn!, the Lincoln Center's Midsummer, the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party, the River Flicks for Kids etc. It seems you need an entire year to get to grips with a New York summer!
Shakespeare in the Park : http://www.publictheater.org
McCarren Park : http://summerscreen.org
Socrates Sculpture Park : http://www.socratessculpturepark.org 
Brooklyn Bridge Park : http://www.brooklynbridgepark.org 
River to River Festival : http://www.rivertorivernyc.com
Seaside Summer Concert Series : http://www.brooklynconcerts.com/seaside.html

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