Free Concerts in Central Park at Summerstage 2018

This post is about Summerstage, a series of mostly free concerts held in New York’s Central Park, including tips on planning your attendance and who is performing.




Every summer since 1986, a series of free concerts called  Summerstage has been held in Central Park. What started as a small music festival has grown into one of the most anticipated free events of summer in New York City.

The Summerstage line-up is diverse, everything from afro-punk, Latin jazz, soul, hip-hop, avant-garde and good old rock and roll. They also have stand-up comedy, dance performances and sometimes Broadway musical performances.  Almost all of the concerts are free!

Summerstage shares a location with the Good Morning American Concert Series, which has more top-name performers.  

A small handful requires paid tickets, but those are ‘benefit’ tickets to raise money to help keep the rest of the concerts free.

Where is Summerstage?

The stage is located in Central Park at Rumsey Playfield (map).  If you are heading to a show, why not make time before to take on of our to explore more of Central Park on one of our pay-what-you-wish tours or our self-guided GPS-enabled audio tour.

How do I get there? 

The easiest way to get there is to take the subway.  Ride the 6 train to “68th St-Hunter College” station and enter the park at Fifth Ave and 72nd St.  To learn more about using the subway and other transportation, check our guide on getting around New York.

Do I need a ticket?

The answer is no for the free shows.  Admission is based on a first-come, first-served basis, so entry is not guaranteed.  

When should I arrive at the show?  

Gates open 90 minutes prior to the show-time on weekends and benefit concerts and 60 minutes prior to show-time on weekdays.  The more popular the performer(s), the earlier you will want to arrive


Do the shows get canceled in rain? 

Nope! Unless there is lightning and conditions are not safe for the audience and the performers.

What you CAN bring with you:  

At the free shows, food and non-alcoholic beverages are permitted. However, glass bottles, coolers, and alcohol are not permitted.

What you CANNOT bring with you:  

Alcoholic beverages, bottles, coolers, pets, bicycles, video cameras, tape machines, or flash cameras. Bags are searched on entry.

Are there food and beverages for sale on site?

Yes, you can purchase food and drink at the concert area.


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JUNE (read our guide to things to do in June)

  • June 2 at 7 pm – Gregory Porter / Victory, in association with Blue Note Jazz Festival
  • June 9 at 7 pm – Bowie Symphonic: Ensemble LPR led by Evan Ziporyn performs Bowie’s Blackstar for cello and orchestra/solo cellist TBA / Donny McCaslin Group
  • June 11 at 8 pm – The Metropolitan Opera Summer Recital Series featuring Latonia Moore, Mario Chang
  • June 13 at 7 pm – Yiddish Under the Stars
  • June 16 at 7 pm – Rhiannon Giddens / Son Little
  • June 20 at 6 pm – Fête de la Musique: Vianney / Chassol / Joakim
  • June 23 at 6 pm – Mariza / Noiserv / Renato Diz, in association with Arte Institute
  • June 24 at 7 pm – Hallelujah Disco with the Harlem Gospel Choir and Melba Moore
  • June 25 at 6 pm – Rock Rubber 45s film premiere with live DJ sets from Rich Medina, Stretch Armstrong, Spinna &
  • Bobbito Garcia, a special performance by lyricist Pharoahe Monch, and an appearance by Rosario Dawson
  • June 30 at 7 pm – 3 Sides of Damien Sneed: Classical, Jazz and Sanctified Soul with Brandie Sutton, Stefon Harris

JULY (read our guide to things to do in July)

  • July 1 at 3 pm – Northern Beat: Broken Social Scene / Melissa Laveaux / The East Pointers
  • July 7 at 6 pm – Taiwanese Waves: Soft Lipa / Sheng Xiang Band / Elephant Gym
  • July 9 at 7 pm – Oh Wonder / Sasha Sloan
  • July 11 at 6 pm – Gabriel Garzón Montano / Nicola Cruz / Tomasa del Real / DJ Bitman
  • July 14 at 3 pm – Jorge Drexler / Trending Tropics / ÌFÉ, July 15 at 3 pm – Family Day: Rebirth Brass Band 
  • July 25 at 8 pm – Alonzo King LINES Ballet
  • July 28 at 3 pm – Pete Rock & The Soul Brothers / Hannah Williams & The Affirmations / DJ Emz
  • July 29 at 3 pm – Femi Kuti & the Positive Force / Jupiter & Okwess / DJ Geko Jones
  • July 31 at 11 am – Special Youth Dance Matinee & Workshop

AUGUST (read our guide to things to do in August)

  • August 1 at 8 pm – Special Guest to-be-announced / Movement of the People Dance Company
  • August 4 at 6 pm – The Originals (Stretch Armstrong, Clark Kent, D-Nice, Rich Medina, Tony Touch)
  • August 5 at 3 pm – BaianaSystem / Hamilton de Holanda Trio feat. Roberta Sá / Xênia França
  • August 11 at 6 pm – Kero One, in association with Korean Cultural Center New York
  • August 12 at 7 pm – Music + Revolution: Greenwich Village in the 1960s
  • August 19 at 7 pm – Mura Masa / Jessy Lanza, in association with MeanRed
  • August 22 at 8 pm – “Mr. Gaga” with GALLIM
  • August 26 at 6 pm – Eddie Palmieri La Perfecta / Tony Vega
  • August 28 at 8 pm – Voices of A People’s History featuring Staceyann Chin, Rachel Dratch, Michael Ealy, Laura
  • Gómez, Celisse Henderson, Viggo Mortensen and more

You can visit the official Summerstage website for more details.


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BENEFIT SHOWS (Tickets $50 and under)

  • May 16 at 6:30 pm – Liam Gallagher / Richard Ashcroft
  • June 14 at 6 pm – Jake Paul
  • June 18 at 6 pm – Dispatch / Nahko and Medicine For the People / Raye Zaragoza
  • July 19 at 6 pm – Dispatch / Nahko and Medicine For the People / Raye Zaragoza
  • August 8 at 6 pm – Voodoo Threauxdown with Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue / Galactic / Preservation Hall
  • Jazz Band
  • August 9 at 7 pm – Good Vibes featuring Jason Mraz / Brett Dennen
  • August 13 at 6 pm – O.A.R. with special guests Matt Nathanson and The New Respects
  • September 8 at 6 pm – Mac DeMarco
  • September 26 at 6 pm – Blood Orange

You can visit the official Summerstage website for more details.


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If you aren’t here during the summer and miss out on Summerstage, don’t forget that New York City has some of the best subway musicians, buskers, and performers. Our post about Where to find New York City Street Performers and Subway Music will lead you right to them!


Written by Courtney Shapiro