Al Fresco Culture: The Best of New York’s Outdoor Events Skip to main content

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Al Fresco Culture: The Best of New York’s Outdoor Events

New York City shines during the dog days of summer. Many locals are off vacationing, so there’s a noted quiet in the normally clamorous streets. Come August, the cultural calendar starts picking up again, and everyone in the city spends as much time as possible attending outdoor events—this summer, Shakespeare has taken over, with three of his plays on park stages. Here’s where to enjoy the best of Manhattan’s al fresco culture:

A New York summer tradition since 1956, the Public Theater's Shakespeare in the Park brings notable actors of stage and screen into Central Park for nightly outdoor performances. This year, Tony Award nominees Lily Rabe and Kate Burton star alongside Hamish Linklater in Cymbeline, a romantic romp about forbidden love, deception and redemption. Held at the Delacorte Theater, Shakespeare in the Park’s performances take place under the stars and within sight of Central Park’s Belvedere Castle (seen above).

Through August 23rd. Ask a WestHouse Concierge for ticketing help.

The city’s Park Department hosts this summer arts and culture festival in Riverside Park on the Upper West Side, with events going through September. A few highlights: readings from memoirist Saïd Sayrafiezadeh (August 17th)  and poet Eileen Myles (September 21st); a county fair on September 6th; and tri-weekly performances of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus.

For thirty years, SummerStage has brought a diverse range of cultural events to the city’s parks. It’s New York’s largest free performing arts festival, and a favorite among locals. We’re excited for the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival (Aug 20-23; uptown at Marcus Garvey Park and in the East Village’s Tompkins Square Park) and reggae performances from Bob Marley’s Grammy-winning scions Damian and Stephen (August 30th; at Central Park’s Rumsey Playfield).

MOVIES: Bryant Park

A leafy oasis between Midtown’s Times Square and Fifth Avenue hosts some of the summer’s finest events. Monday evenings see the park fill up with locals and visitors for the HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival, which screens classics such as Chinatown (August 17) and Back to the Future (August 24). On weekday afternoons, piano concerts fill the park’s back terrace with classical, jazz and ragtime music. And for the second summer in a row, the Drilling Company has put on three Shakespeare productions. This season’s final play is The Taming of the Shrew, shown weekends beginning September 2nd.


Of course, WestHouse Hotel New York’s terrace is a prime space to unwind and enjoy a glass of wine while overlooking bustling Manhattan. The residential patio is your house away from home.

Photo courtesy of the Public Theater.