NYC always marches to its own beat, but the rhythm gets kicked up a notch in the summer. All season long, the city and various institutions within it will be staging family-friendly music concerts and performances. We’ve rounded up some of the most exciting series and concerts you won’t want to miss. And the best news is that many, if not most, are free! Uptown, downtown, in the classical, jazz, kindie superstars and beyond, here’s where to get your groove on as a family all summer long!
photo: via SummerStage NYC Facebook page
Central Park SummerStage Festival
Central Park is always a blast in the summer, but a visit to a Summerstage performance is a must for families who love to rock out. This year’s performers include the likes of Elvis Costello & The Imposters (June 15) and Regina Spektor (July 27), tickets for which are $55. However, many concerts are free. The space does get crowded and the concerts run late — until 10 p.m. — but it’s a quintessential NYC experience worth staying up past bedtime.
Various times and dates
Most performances free
Rumsey Playfield at Central Park
14 E. 71st St.
photo: Make Music New York via Flickr
Make Music New York
Scheduled on the longest day of the year each summer, Make Music New York is a truly unique celebration. Musicians of all ages, backgrounds and skill levels are empowered to perform in public spaces throughout all five boroughs of NYC. Over its 10 year history, Make Music New York has grown to become NYC’s largest, one-day collection of free, outdoor concerts.
Wed., June 21, all day and all night long
photo: via The City Stompers Facebook page
The City Stompers
Join the City Stompers for an evening of fun fiddle music perfect for kids who love to move to the music. This unique show encourages people to get up and dance to the lively music, and is free to the public. Stomp around at Beach 94th in Rockaway Beach, the Midland Beach Splash Plaza in Staten Island, or the Ft Hamilton Senior Center.
Various times and locations in NYC parks
Recess Monkey photo: via Madison Square Park Facebook page
Madison Square Park
Madison Square Park holds free, outdoor concerts for kids in June and July. This season’s acts are Michael and the Rockness Monsters (June 15), Alastair Moock (June 22), Jazzy Ash and the Leaping Lizards (June 29), Joanie Leeds and the Nightlights (July 6), Mister G (July 13), The Not-its (July 20), Lucy Diaz and the Family Jam Band (July 27).
Thursdays, 10:30 – 11:30 a.m., June 8 – July 27
Madison Square Park
Madison Avenue and 23rd Street
photo: via Hudson River Park Facebook page
Always a heavy-hitter when it comes to summer concerts and events for kids and families, Hudson RiverKids is doubling down this season, presenting tons of big acts twice a week from May 22 to September 14 and adding another location. Concerts will take place at Pier 25 in Tribeca and Pier 62 in Chelsea, with start times of 4 p.m. and 6:30. (See individual event listing for time.)
The lineup includes: Alex and the Kaleidoscope Band (6/12 Chelsea; 6/15, Tribeca), Alastair Moock (6/19 Chelsea; 6/22, Tribeca), City Stomp (6/26 Chelsea; 6/29, Tribeca), Mil’s Trills (7/6, Tribeca), Mike Messer (7/10 Chelsea; 7/13, Tribeca), Tim Kubart (7/17 Chelsea; 7/20, Tribeca), Rolie Polie Guacamole (7/24 Chelsea; 7/27, Tribeca), Bilingual Birdies (7/31, Chelsea; 8/31, Tribeca), Suzi Shelton (8/7 Chelsea; 8/10, Tribeca), Ramblin’ Dan and the Freewheelin Band (8/21, Chelsea; 8/24, Tribeca), Mister G (8/24, Chelsea; 8/31, Tribeca), Mil’s Trills (9/7, Chelsea), The Pop-Ups (9/11, Chelsea; 9/14, Tribeca).
June 1 – Sept. 14
Hudson River Park
Pier 25, Tribeca & Pier 62, Chelsea
92st Y’s Broadway Chorus Spring Concert
This chorus concert departs from classical choral music in favor of Broadway classics. Join the 92stY family for a concert straight off Broadway, featuring some favorite tunes from musicals. The event is free but advanced registration is required; the concert will be followed by a small reception.
Sun., June 18, 1 p.m.
Kaufmann Concert Hall at the 92stY
Lexington Avenue at 92nd St
Upper West Side
photo: via Aquabats Facebook page
The Aquabats Super Show
The quirky Aquabats are coming to Highline Ballroom for some kid-oriented musical pieces. Created by one of the minds behind Yo Gabba Gabba, the group assumes superhero identities to fight evil and boredom through music and humor. Shows are full of action, and consist of a blend of animation and live performance of ska- and rock- inspired music for some campy fun.
Wed., July 19
$83 & up
431 W 16th St
Bang on a Can
Brooklyn-born performer Kaki King can play the guitar like you’ve never seen before, using the entire instrument to create a music unique to her. With eight albums and high praise from Rolling Stone magazine under her belt, King will be coming to the Jewish Museum this summer. The concert is not specifically geared towards children, but older kids will appreciate the unique way King uses her guitar, and how many different sounds she can get out of it.
Thurs., July 20, 7:30–9 p.m.
Scheuer Auditorium at the Jewish Museum
1109 5th Ave. & 92nd St.
Upper East Side
photo: via BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn Festival Facebook page
Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival
All summer long the Prospect Park bandshell will be hosting live music of different beats and cultures. Check out the featured children’s music show featuring Lisa Loeb with The Knights on June 17 at 3 p.m., or stop by for any of the other concerts to enjoy some R&B, jazz, even Mexican folk music and much more.
Various times and dates
Prospect Park Bandshell
141 Prospect Park West
photo: via Downtown Bklyn Facebook page
BK Block Party
Free concerts, along with face-painting, double dutch, balloon animals and more are part of this summer series of monthly BK Block Parties. This year’s music includes performances by Shira & Friends (6/17), Rolie Polie Guacamole (July 15) and Astrograss (9/16).
Corner of Fulton & Bond Street
BAM’s R&B Outdoor Festival
Every year, BAM holds a spectacular soul-filled outdoor music festival, and this summer’s lineup is no exception. Every Thursday between June 8 and August 10, MetroTech Commons will be home to lively musical concerts by R&B, funk, gospel, soul, jazz, and world music performances. This year’s performers feature some new names and a few established musicians, so stop by to enjoy the music.
Every Thurs., June 8 – Aug. 10, Noon
304 Bridge St.
Bargemusic Neighborhood Family Concerts
Music on a boat is as relaxing as it sounds. Bargemusic holds one-hour, free, classical music performances in its barge, which is docked at the tip of Brooklyn Bridge Park just off the bridge itself. Every Saturday through August 26, the space will host a performance followed by a Q&A session with the performing musicians. Doors open 15 minutes prior to the event and seating is first-come first-served.
Every Sat., May 6 – Aug. 26
4 – 5 p.m.
1 Water St. (Fulton Ferry Landing)
photo: via Kidz Bop Facebook page
Kidz Bop Best Time Ever Concert
You’ve probably heard the Kidz Bop music before: kid-friendly versions of popular music, sung by children. This summer, you can catch the Kidz at Coney Island’s Ford Amphitheater as part of their Best Time Ever 2017 tour. The shows feature spectacular choreography and family-friendly music, and kids are encouraged to get up and dance, sing along, and generally have a great time. The concert is a 60 minute show with a 15 minute intermission.
Sun., July 16
$36 & up
3052 W 21st St
What band are you definitely checking out this summer? Tell us in the comments below!