Summer Bucket List: New York’s Best Outdoor Concert Venues

When summer finally hits full swing, we’ll use any excuse to get outside and enjoy the sun. And when that excuse happens to be live music, what more could you ask for?!Luckily, New York has more than a few amazing outdoor venues, from lush parks and historic stadiums to sculpture gardens. Read through for our favorites and start planning your concert calendar for the final days of summer.

Central Park Summerstage

Catching a Summerstage show at Central Park’s Rumsey Playfield should be at the top of everyone’s NYC bucket list. The outdoor stage is just a quick walk from 72nd Street and 5th Avenue, nestled amongst the trees. There you can catch everyone from historic bands like The Beach Boys to newer artists such as Goldlink and Vulfpeck. Even better: most of the shows free! Spend a day at Sheep Meadow and then walk over to the Playfield for the ultimate Central Park adventure. View the Summerstage lineup here.

Forest Hills Stadium

Though Forest Hills is best known as the original host of the U.S. Open, it has a rich musical history as well, with iconic bands from The Beatles to The Talking Heads having filled the stadium. It’s a tradition that has continued in the last few summers, and this year includes a bill of performers spanning every genre, from country great Dolly Parton and the king of disco (and it’s comeback) Nile Rodgers to Australia’s breakout electronic artist Flume. View the Forest Hills lineup here.

Summer Thursdays at MoMA

The Museum of Modern Art’s sculpture garden is an enchanting space in and of itself, but their Summer Thursdays take it to the next level. They bring in some of the most exciting and interesting new acts, from Torres to Daedalus, to fill the garden with their bold and brilliant soundscapes. An evening of music and art, all in one of New York’s most iconic museums. View the Summer Thursdays lineup here.

Warm Up at MoMA PS1

And if you’re looking to really get your music fix, MoMA’s Warm Up series has you covered. The museum’s satellite campus in Queens plays host to some of the most renowned experimental musicians from around the world every. Each Saturday boasts a lineup of four to five different acts for a day filled with dancing amidst their seasonal installation. This summer the courtyard is home to Escobedo Soliz Studio’s work, “Weaving the Courtyard,” creating a boldy-colored canopy that envelopes the courtyard, creating an almost alternate plane—perfect for escaping the city and succumbing to the sound. View the Warm Up lineup here.

Prospect Park Bandshell

Prospect Park is Brooklyn’s answer to Central Park—it may not be quite as large, but it has a lot to offer—from the sprawling hills and the Botanical Gardens to the Prospect Park Bandshell. Each year they partner with the BRIC Arts Media foundation for the Celebrate Brooklyn summer concert series (some free and some ticketed), bringing in a variety of amazing artists, from rockers like Bierut to jazz legend Herbie Hancock. And if you’re looking to keep things really low key, you can set up your own picnic just outside the fence and still hear the tunes.  View the Celebrate Brooklyn lineup here.

Words by Alex Thurmond