The Best Free Concerts in Central Park at Summerstage

NOTE: SummerStage will not take place in May and June 2020. There may be performances later in the summer or fall so please check back for updates.

This post is about Summerstage, a series of free concerts held in Central Park every summer. We include information about how to attend a show, a list of who is performing and other free music options throughout NYC.




Every summer since 1986, a series of free concerts called Summerstage has been held in Central Park

Though most of the shows are in Central Park, there are also concerts scheduled in over 15 additional parks throughout the 5 boroughs.

The Summerstage line-up is diverse and includes 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. 

A few shows require paid tickets, but those are benefit shows to raise money to keep the rest of the concerts free.

If you are heading to a show, why not make time before to explore Central Park? 

Consider joining us on of one of our pay-what-you-wish toursWe also have a GPS-led Audio Tour of Central Park which you can take any time. 


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Where is Summerstage

The stage is located in Central Park at Rumsey Playfield near 5th Avenue and 72nd Street.


Where is Summerstage NYC


How To Get There

The easiest way to get there is to take the subway.  Take the 6 train to “68th St-Hunter College” station and enter the park at Fifth Ave and 72nd St.  

You can use this Google Maps link to get exact directions from your point of departure to Summerstage. 

To learn more about using the subway check our guides

Are Tickets Needed?

No tickets are necessary if it is a free show. Admission is given on a first-come, first-served basis, so entry is not guaranteed.

Benefit shows require a ticket. These shows cost around $50-65.

Some extra spectacular with multiple top performers, shows may cost $100 and up.

When Should I Arrive?  

  • Free weekends shows – gates open 90 minutes prior to the show-time
  • Free weekday shows – gates open 60 minutes prior to show-time
  • Benefit concert times vary

Food and Beverages

  • At the free shows, food and non-alcoholic beverages are permitted
  • However, glass bottles, coolers, and alcohol are not permitted
  • You can purchase food and drink at the concert 

Items Not Allowed in Concerts


Your bags will be searched on entry. You cannot bring:

  • alcoholic beverages
  • any kind of glass bottle
  • ice coolers
  • pets
  • bicycles
  • video cameras
  • recording devices
  • flash cameras

TIP: If you have large bags, a bicycle, luggage or anything else you cant bring into the concert, you can find inexpensive hourly storage in the area.

See our post about where to store luggage and more in NYC.


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SummerStage will not take place in May and June. There may be performances later in the summer or fall so please check back for updates.

See the Summerstage website for more details.



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Look at our guide to Summer in NYC and our monthly posts:

Also, see our post on hundreds of free things to do in New York.

Don’t forget that NYC Street & Subway Performers are always free! 



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About the author

Courtney is a lifelong New Yorker fascinated with the city’s history, culture and cuisine. She loves exploring the world, as well as sharing her travel expertise with others.

She joined the Free Tours by Foot team in 2011, first as a guide and then as a writer. She has a law degree, a teaching degree and a worn-out passport. Her motto is “Have backpack, will travel”.