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Cultural Events & Festivals in New York for Summer 2017

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Author: Nicole Mungo

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Though it’s packed with festivals and exciting things to do pretty much year-round, summer is arguably the best season for New York City events. Whether you’re a foodie on a mission to track down the best grub in NYC, a music nut on the hunt for the best local bands, or you just want a good party, there’s always something to keep you happy. Here’s the lowdown.

Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks

Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks

Anthony Quintano

When it comes to New York City events, Independence Day is not to be missed. The annual Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks, set off from barges near Pier 17 and the East River, are the biggest and the best in the U.S. This year is the 40th anniversary, so it’s sure to be a show to remember. Don your best red, white and blue get-up and track down a good place to catch the show and celebrate the fourth with a bang.

Macy’s website recommends the designated viewing from Broad St., Old Slip St. and the Seaport District. Other great viewing spots in Manhattan include the following:

Houston to Midtown:

  • Houston Street
  • 23rd Street
  • 34th Street
  • 42nd Street

Lower Manhattan    

  • Broad Street ground level
  • Old Slip upper level
  • Pearl & Frankfort

Recommendations via Cititour

If you don’t mind travelling a little further afield for even better views, the best spots are probably over in Brooklyn, particularly Pier 5 and Pier 6, or Brooklyn Bridge Park.

When is it? Tuesday, July 4th 2017 starting at around 9:20pm

Tickets: None – just find a good vantage point (and get there early!)

Fresh Fruit Festival (The Wild Project, Lower East Side, Manhattan)

“We are here. We are Queer. Celebrate it.” The 15th Anniversary Fresh Fruit Festival, NYC’s grassroots festival of LGBTQA+ culture and arts, is set to be a spectacular celebration of all things queer, and all things artsy. Encompassing theatre, cabaret, music, film, comedy, dance, poetry and so much more, Fresh Fruit showcases the LGBTQA+ experience and celebrates the work of independent artists from around the world.

By far one of the most wonderfully inclusive events in New York, Fresh Fruit invites performers and artists of all sexualities, genders and ethnic backgrounds to submit work, in all artistic disciplines. Basically, there’s something for everyone, and it’s bound to be a memorable experience.

When is it? July 10th-23rd 2017

Tickets: Watch this space

Rooftop Cinema Club (YOTEL)

People enjoying a movie on the terrace of YOTEL New York in New York City at night with building lights behind

What’s better than a night in with a movie? A night out with a movie. On a rooftop. With cocktails. And a view of the Manhattan skyline. Are you sold? Rooftop Cinema Club has two venues in NYC, one of which is conveniently located on the terrace of our Midtown Manhattan hotel, which boasts a fully serviced bar and spectacular views of the city.

Showing Oscar-winning movies like Moonlight and La La Land to past favourites like Top Gun, Dirty Dancing and Back to the Future almost every night of the week, there’s bound to be something worth catching.

When is it? May – October.

Tickets: General-admission costs $33 and includes a box of popcorn and a glass of bubbly. Instead, you could go all out – or rather, spend $6 more – and nab yourself a ‘Rooftop Love Seat’ (a double deckchair plus comfy pillows) and bottomless Prosecco and popcorn. See what’s on and grab your tickets here.

Mad. Sq. Eats (Madison Square Park)

Madison Square Eats


Because eating is cultural too, right? After nine years of delicious success, the semi-annual pop-up food market, Mad. Sq. Eats is back, and better than ever. With offerings from over 20 of NYC’s most celebrated restaurants and chefs, there’ll be something to tantalise the tastebuds of even the fussiest eaters. If you’re in the area and after a quick bite, or want to stick around and sample as much as your stomach will allow, Mad. Sq. Eats has you covered.

There’s everything from wood-fired pizza ovens to creperies. Traditional cuisines like Mexican, Thai, Korean and Colombian are on offer so whatever your palette, keep this much-anticipated New York City event on your culinary radar. Just be sure to set aside some time in your itinerary for queuing!

When is it? 13th May-9th June 2017, 11am-9pm daily

Tickets: Free admission, food prices vary (check out the vendors here)

Summerstage (Rumsey Playfield, Central Park)


Cristina Bejarano

Each year New York locals excitedly await the lineup announcement from SummerStage as a sign that summer is truly on its way. With over 100 free music concerts, cultural performances and events in New York, it’s not hard to see why SummerStage has become so popular. The shows span a whole host of genres and art forms “from opera to hip-hop, film to circus to-and everything in between” according to the City Parks Foundation.

When is it? Now until late September, with most events taking place in August. You can check out the full lineup and events calendar here.

Tickets: Free on a first-come, first-served basis (so get there early!)

Panorama NYC Music Festival (Randall’s Island Park)



With headliners like Frank Ocean, Solange, Tame Impala and A Tribe Called Quest, the lineup at this year’s Panorama Festival is sure to impress. The venue isn’t half bad, either. While The Point creates an “outdoor club” feel for techno and house lovers, and The Lab celebrates art, technology and design through interactive installations and a 360 degree VR theatre, it’s the MainStage (Panorama Stage) that has us all talking. The impressive Panorama Stage boasts an ultra-high definition video screen standing at an impressive 30 feet tall and wrapping 170 degrees around the stage. Talk about immersive A/V!

When is it? 28th-30th July 2017

Tickets: From $99 for general day admission, grab them here.

Desperate to visit NYC? Check availability and book your break now, and take a look at our guides for what else to do in NYC.

Author: Nicole Mungo

Nicole Mungo contributes to YOTEL New York’s marketing team. She enjoys cooking, hiking, reading & a good glass of wine.

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