Open City



French Institute, Alliance Française, 22 East 60th Street, 212-355-6100,

July 13: War, schmar, let bygones be bygones at FIAF’s eighth annual street fête for French American friendship. The mussels, pâté, and crème brûlée offered by local restaurants and the sights and sounds of bal musette (traditional French street dance led by Jacques and Marie and the Paris Swing Orchestra, and Dominic Kanza and the African Rhythm Machine) will help you find that lost joie de vivre, sucked dry by this city long ago.


Red Hook’s Waterfront Museum & Showboat Barge, 699 Columbia Street, Brooklyn, 718-624-4719,

June 1-29: Out on Red Hook, former cruise ship entertainer and museum president David Sharps performs his clownery along with lariat manipulators, stilt walkers, Native American hoop dancers, acrobats, a trapeze artist, and oodles of poodles on a barge dating back to 1914. A free shuttle bus will take you to the barge from Park Slope.


Various venues,

June 5-22: Obie-award-winning Circus Amok brings its free urban circus to a park near you (among them: Prospect and McCarren parks in Brooklyn, Tompkins Square Park in Manhattan, and Socrates Sculpture Park in Queens). Having refused to register with the INS, the juggling Fratelli brothers are on the run, encountering acrobats, stilt walkers, and other performers who will shock and awe.


Various venues, 212-505-2225,

August 20-26: Celebrating the capital of counterculture; the stomping grounds of de Kooning, Kerouac, Ginsberg, Jonas Mekas, Joe Papp, Keith Haring, the Ramones, Blondie, Lou Reed, Patti Smith, et al. and home to hordes of hippies, beatniks, trustafarians, and punks; this festival includes the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival in Tompkins Square, the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Festival ending with a group reading of Howl!, the East Village Film Festival taking place in the neighborhood’s independent cinemas, and Art Around the Park bringing a canvas of local art wrapped around Tompkins Square.


Fifth Avenue from 44th to 86th streets, 718-401-0404

June 8: If you disapprove of J.Lo’s choice of Ben Affleck, support your other (and much closer) Puerto Rican friends at this annual parade. Since Puerto Ricans make up 24 percent of the city’s population, the city really comes out—over 2 million strong—to celebrate one of its biggest contributors to diversity.


Meadow Lake, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Queens, 718-767-1776,

August 9-10: Legend tells of beloved Chinese poet Qu Yuan exiled by his king in the third century B.C. After he threw himself into a river upon learn-ing that his country had been invaded, local fishermen raced out in boats and thrashed their paddles to distract the fish from making a meal of him. For the 13th year at this festival—also displaying the music and dance of Flushing’s local ethnicities—New Yorkers, folks from all over the U.S. and Canada, police officers, corporate-sponsored teams, and athletic clubs will race in slender teak vessels to honor Qu Yuan and/or to win 10,000 bucks.


Surf Avenue between West 10th and West 15th streets, Coney Island, Brooklyn, 718-372-5159,

June 21: Coney Island, U.S.A. celebrates the 21st anniversary of this art parade featuring extravagant costumes, sexy sirens, and mysterious ladies of the sea guaranteed to make any merman or landlubber swoon. Anyone can march, as long as they register early through the Web site.


The Museum of the City of New York, Fifth Avenue and East 103rd Street, and other museums along Fifth Avenue, 212-606-2296,

June 10: Anti-smoker Michael Bloomberg makes an appearance at the opening ceremony of this festival’s 25th anniversary. On this day, Fifth Avenue shuts down as the city’s finest cultural institutions make the Museum Mile free to the public (albeit only for three hours). Musicians and street performers will amuse as you walk from the Met to the Guggenheim to El Museo del Barrio and others.


Continental Army Plaza Park, Roebling and South 4th streets, Brooklyn, 718-625-0080,

June 22: It’s Willy B’s 100th birthday! Williamsburg-ians new and old can toast to the “immigrant bridge,” which was instrumental in creating the cultural diversity of New York and in paving the way to Brooklyn. Billyburg’s local communities of Poles, Jews, Puerto Ricans, and Italians will all be present to provide food and music. For enlightenment, engineers and historians will lead walking tours of the bridge and bridge-themed exhibits will be on hand. Old-skool games of stickball and dominoes further amuse before the flatbed-truck-sized birthday cake topped with a sculpture of the bridge makes its grand appearance.


Socrates Sculpture Park, Broadway and Vernon Boulevard, Queens, 718-956-1819,

Through August 3: This outdoor exhibition brings an urban perspective to a suburban space. Sixteen artists searched their memories for interpretations of lawn microcosm, which includes plant, animal, and human life in symbiosis with plastic junk. This meeting between the natural and artificial points to our constant shrinking of space, propelled by the marketing of an American ideal: the perfect home.

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