11 Ways to Have a Very New York Summer


Drums Along the Hudson

June 1

It’s been a while since the Lenape held sway in New York. (Maybe those trinkets weren’t such a great deal after all.) But Native Americans will make their presence felt at Drums Along the Hudson, a festival in Inwood Hill Park where the Thunderbird American Indian dancers will lead the powwow. From July 25 to 27, many of those same drummers will head to the Queens County Farm Museum for a midsummer dance competition among 40 Indian nations. Inwood Hill Park, 218th Street and Indian Road,; Queens County Farm Museum, 73-50 Little Neck Parkway, Queens,

Staten Island Yankees
and Brooklyn Cyclones

June 13

You could brave the crowds to down garlic fries at Yankee Stadium or shake hands with Mr. Met. Or you could support one of New York’s lesser-known clubs. Sure, the concessions are lackluster and the fielding often error-filled, but tickets start at a mere $9. On June 13, the Staten Island Yankees will kick off a mini-Subway Series as they face off against the Mets’ farm team, the Brooklyn Cyclones, in the “Battle for the Bridge”; the Cyclones return the favor at their Coney Island home the following night. Richmond County Bank Ballpark, 75 Richmond Terrace, Staten Island,; MCU Park, 1904 Surf Avenue, Brooklyn,

Jazz Age Lawn Party

June 14–15

You could hop aboard the Hampton Jitney and hope to catch a glimpse of Gatsby’s green light. But for a more surefire source of 1920s style, dust off your spats and catch a free ferry to Governors Island for this plein air costume party. Prohibition-inspired revelers can enter a Charleston dance contest, caress 1920s motor cars, or peruse vintage gramophones while sipping era-appropriate cocktails. Dance troupes, vaudevillians, follies girls, and Michael Arenella and his Dreamland Orchestra provide added entertainment. Ain’t they got fun? Governors Island,

The Mermaid Parade

June 21

Though Coney Island continues its inexorable march toward gentrification, there’s still apparently a place for exposed breasts, seaweed wigs, and debatably lewd marine life. Yes, the Mermaid Parade will again wend its way through Brooklyn’s streets as 1,500 roisterers celebrate the solstice by paying homage to Neptune and his watery realm. This year’s cavalcade will include the Hungry March Band, Bensonhurst Car Clubs, and floats from the neighboring New York Aquarium. West 21st Street and Surf Avenue, Brooklyn,

Adventures NYC

June 21–22

Few would dispute New York City’s urban credentials—and yet more than a quarter of our city’s square footage is given over to parkland, beaches, nature preserves, etc. To learn how best to take advantage of Gotham’s wild side, join the New York City Parks Department for this festival offering free instruction in sports, games, and outdoor pursuits. Held in Central Park and Marine Park, activities include rock climbing, guided canoe tours, and stand-up paddle boarding. Central Park at 72nd Street; Marine Park, East 33rd Street and Avenue U, Brooklyn,

Gay Pride March

June 29

With more and more states legalizing gay marriage, the LGBT community and those who love to wave at them have a lot to celebrate this June. Some 350,000 people will march down the lavender line or wave from the sidewalk. After the march, merrymakers can sidle over to PrideFest for street food and entertainment. And once the sun sets, they can don their party gear (or, it being Pride, take it off) for a dance party on the pier. March, starts at 36th Street and Fifth Avenue; PrideFest, Hudson Street; Dance, Hudson River Park, Pier 26,

Independence Day

July 4

Suck it, New Jersey. Macy’s has announced that it will move the July 4th fireworks extravaganza from the Hudson back to the East River. Of course, pyrotechnics are only one way to celebrate our freedom from those nasty Brits. For a uniquely American form of rejoicing (because what is more American than processed meats, spectacle, and gluttony?), you can witness Coney Island’s annual hot dog eating contest in which participants struggle to down dozens of frankfurters in just 10 minutes. East River,; Nathan’s Famous, 1310 Surf Avenue, Brooklyn, Soloski

Bastille Day

July 13

America isn’t the sort of country to celebrate a prison break, but that hasn’t stopped French ex-pats fêting Bastille Day. Americans with a revolutionary spirit (and/or a taste for Pernod) can don a beret at parties in Manhattan or Brooklyn. The Upper East Side version includes mimes, cancan dancers, and a wine and cheese tasting, while the Brooklyn version features a pétanque tournament. 60th Street at Lexington Avenue,; Smith Street, Brooklyn,

Brooklyn Bridge Swim

July 20

As unlikely as it seems, water samples from the East River meet the federal guidelines for safe swimming. So while a crawl from Brooklyn Bridge Park to the East River Park still has its dangers (currents, flotsam and jetsam), communicable illnesses likely aren’t among them. This annual swim includes 400 riparians, among them teams from Manhattan and Brooklyn, competing in “The Battle of the Bridge.” Other summer events include the Statue of Liberty Swim on June 6 and the Governors Island Swim on June 22. Brooklyn Bridge Park,

Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival

August 9–10

The fact that dragons don’t exist hasn’t prevented them from decorating some very cheerful seacraft. Each summer some 180 international teams heft their dragon boats to Corona Park for a race across Meadow Lake. Back on shore, you can enjoy music, snacks, lion dancers, and the occasional martial arts demonstration from the genuinely fearsome Shaolin warrior monks. Flushing Meadows–Corona Park, Queens,

West Indian American
Day Carnival

September 1

Millions of fans of steel drums, spicy food, and minimal attire line Eastern Parkway for this boisterous Labor Day parade. The celebration kicks off in the pre-dawn hours with a rowdy cavalcade known as J’Ouvert before the legitimate parade gets going in the late morning. Street vendors and cheering crowds swarm the sidewalks while live bands and legions of women wearing sequins, glitter, feathers, and not much else strut proudly down the center of the street. Starts Eastern Parkway at Utica Avenue, Brooklyn,