The Five Festivals Every New Yorker Must Hit This Summer

Block parties, beer parties and jazz parties, oh my

May 4, 2016 9:00 am

In summer, the people will gather.

And we’re not talking around a rickety AC unit or a wrenched fire hydrant.

We’re talking festivals — namely, the five every New Yorker must attend to get the most out of summer.

A block party hosted by all the city’s best museums? Got it. A parade of funnymen (and women) sponsored by more booze brands than you can shake a cocktail straw at? In there. A celebration of blues and jazz more than 1,000 artists strong? Got that, too.

Summer’s just heatin’ up.

For art enthusiasts who lack indoor voices: Museum Mile Festival
Closing down Fifth Avenue for the city’s biggest block party, the MM Festival brings together eight museums in one place. In addition to free admission, the street is lined with live music and art demos along the way. The lines are long but move quickly. Plan to hit two to three museums max. Allowing for stops off for face painting and sidewalk chalking. Live a little. (June 14)

For the fair-weather culture hound: River to River
The dance card is getting full, what with free shows from SummerStage to Celebrate Brooklyn. But make room for R2R, an eleven-day fest celebrating music, theater, visual arts and body movin’ all over downtown, with venues that include South Street Seaport, Governor’s Island and Rockefeller Park. All without the Lincoln Center Fest’s dress code or the Broadway sticker shock. That is: it’s all free and summer casual. (June 16 – 26)

For anyone who understands sarcasm: Brooklyn Comedy Festival
Created by some Comedy Central and Comedy Cellar greats to give up-and-coming acts a time and place to shine. The fest showcases sketch, standup, improv and panel conversations. And new in ‘16, BCF will present their first ever comedy short film festival, SHORTS, at Nitehawk Cinema. The event is consistently peppered with surprise drop-ins from the SNL cast and beyond. Offering liquid courage and liquid empathy, BCF is is sponsored by Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Brooklyn Brewery, Sixpoint Brewery and Tullamore Dew. (August 22 – 28)

For sommeliers of suds (aka cicerones): Craft Beer Festival
Celebrating its 5th year, the Summer Series Craft Beer Fest means 75 breweries and 150 beers, ciders and meads in one place, all with a liberal tasting policy. Industry experts will be at the ready to answer your small-batch and barrel questions. Or just so you can give ‘em a pat on the shoulder and say, “Thank you man. Thank you for all you do.” (June 17 – 18)

For the toe-tapper and brass-lover: Rochester International Jazz Festival
A nine-day affair packed with 1,500+ artists performing at more than 19 close-knit venues resulting in a grand total of 324 concerts — including 93 free shows and events. So, we hope you like jazz. Guests bounce from headliners to outdoor stages to nightly jam sessions. RIJF features legends (Gregg Allman and Erykah Badu), familiar favorites and rising stars from all corners of the globe. A breeding ground for the next generation of bebop and ragtime, their motto is “It’s not who you know, it’s who you don’t know.” (June 24 – July 2)

This is the first installment of 37 Things a Man’s Gotta Do This Summer, our annual compendium of everything worth seeing, doing, eating, drinking and generally making time for in your neck of the woods between now and September

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