Summer in NYC: Music Festivals

by: Barbie Bertisch

Forget whatever idea of a great summer you’ve had before. Sure, hanging out with your high school friends by the pool or spending a month in Barcelona is fun; but there’s no place like NYC during the summer. From May to September, people are on a mission to have fun, free stuff actually exists, and the party carousel never stops. Here are a few of our favorites.

Doing It Big

Large scale music festivals have a big place in NYC. You can count on these to cover the big ticket portion of your summer. First, Electric Daisy Carnival in May–an EDM and a rave haven for those of the furry boot-persuasion. Second and a crowd favorite is Governor’s Ball in June, where the best rock and electronic bands,  DJs, and Pitchfork readers gather en masse. Third is the new festival Panorama, brought to you in July by the Goldenvoice folks who throw Coachella. Last but not least, during early September, Electric Zoo is your second chance for an EDM-focused festival–and your opportunity to bid summer adieu.

Concerts & Parties

Summerstage at Central Park is a local favorite. See Stevie Wonder, The Zombies, Disclosure, Kamasi Washington, CHVRCHES, Caribou, Mobb Deep, Blood Orange, and plenty more, play “free” shows (disclaimer: some require tickets) at parks all over NYC. SummerStage delivers a solid daily music itinerary, ranging from jazz to hip hop, rock to electronic, or Latin grooves to soul.

Northside Festival

A fairly new music event (founded in ‘09) is Williamsburg’s Northside Festival. This newcomer has made strides in showcasing emerging talent alongside world-renowned names like Questlove, Brian Wilson, or Sun Ra Arkestra. Brooklyn’s finest, BAMbill and Brooklyn Magazine, carefully curate the lineup. At Northside, you’ll surely discover your next favorite band or producer.

Warm Up

Lastly, Warm Up at MoMA PS1, is probably where all those good looking people you saw on Tinder are hanging out without you. This  Long Island City program introduces audiences to the best local and international DJ’s through experimental music, sound, and dance. Every year a visual artist takes over the courtyard for a large-scale installation that will last throughout the season. Don’t sleep on advance tickets.

  • 1 Hotel Central Park

    The 1 Hotel is our pick for best lodging that won’t break the bank. It’s close to many NYC sights (if you’re looking to get your tourism on), and the beautiful, rustic, vine-covered structure is a sight for sore eyes. These festivals aren’t easy to get to, since most require a ferry ride, so staying in the city is certainly a convenient way to get around. The hotel feels young and fresh, and is amazingly comfortable. It also gets a huge plus for being eco-friendly.

  • Wythe Hotel

    Staying at the Wythe Hotel means you’ll most likely run into some of the acts that you’ll be watching on stage at these festivals. Within the hotel, make sure to dine at Reynard–a restaurant by the Marlow & Sons group that’s heralded as one of Brooklyn’s finest. Staying at the Wythe also means that you’ll be within walking distance of most after-party locations…and it doesn’t get much better than that.

  • The Standard High Line

    One of our all time favorite spots, The Standard High Line shines in its support for local and internationally renowned artists and musicians. You can find the best names in House and Disco spinning at their famous Top of The Standard clubs. On the roof lies Le Bain– a disco, bar, plunge pool and crêperie. Shout out to this stunning spot and its super friendly staff (hard to come by these days). Our only advice: make sure you’re on the list so that you’re all set to get in.

  • Ace Hotel

    The Ace Hotel is where we’d stay if we wanted to fly under the radar. Unlike a lot of the newer hotels, the Ace isn’t flashy or trying too hard. They’re perfectly content doing things their way, and are quite good at it. In addition to their award-winning dining, the Ace features creative programs like Artists in Residence, weekly DJs in the lobby (also a great place to work), and galleries to peruse and shop.

  • The Bowery Hotel

    Located between Soho, the East Village, and the Lower East Side, the Bowery is one of NYC’s iconic downtown hotels. Everyone from Chloe Sevigny to Zayn Malik, and a whole lot of normal folks, choose to call home this place home for its location and beauty. The history of the hotel runs deep through the city’s musical roots, and is just a short cab ride away from the ferry to most festival grounds.

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