Free concerts in Central Park at Summerstage 2017

Every summer since 1986, a series of free concerts called Summerstage has been held in Central Park. What started as a small music festival has grown into one of the most anticipated free events of summer in New York City. The Summerstage line-up is diverse, 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.  Almost all of the concerts are FREE! A small handful require paid tickets, but those are ‘benefit’ tickets to raise money to help keep the rest of the concerts free.

Summerstage is a great way to join in the fun for free in the beautiful surroundings of Central Park. For more free summer fun in New York, see our comprehensive guide to free events in summer.

Below are some of the highlights of the 2017 line-up, but be sure to check the official Summerstage website for the complete listings. Here are some good things to know:

Where is Summerstage?

The stage is located in Central Park at Rumsey Playfield. (map).  If you are heading to a show, why not make time before to take on of our to explore more of Central Park on one of our pay-what-you-wish tours or our self-guided tour.

How do I get there? The easiest way to get there is to take the subway.  Ride the 6 train to “68th St–Hunter College” station and enter the park at Fifth Ave and 72nd St.  To learn more about using the subway and other transportation, check our guide on getting around New York.

When should I arrive at the show?  Gates open 90 minutes prior to the show-time on weekends and benefit concerts and 60 minutes prior to show-time on weekdays.


Do the shows get cancelled in rain? Nope! Unless there is lightning an conditions are not safe for the audience and the performers.

What you CAN bring with you:  At the free shows, food and non-alcoholic beverages are permitted. However, glass bottles, coolers and alcohol are not permitted.

What you CANNOT bring with you:  Alcoholic beverages, bottles, coolers, pets, bicycles, video cameras, tape machines, or flash cameras. Bags are searched on entry.

Is there food and beverages? Yes, you can purchase food and drink at the concert area.


Here is just a partial list of performances. See their website for full listing.

June 3: Mavis Staples and Toshi Reagon
June 12: The Metropolitan Opera Summer Recital Series
June 15: Elvis Costello & The Imposters  ($55)
June 17: Laura Mvula, Taylor McFerrin & Marcus Gilmore and Blue Lab Beats
July 10: UCB All Stars featuring SNL’s Sasheer Zamata
July 17: Yo La Tengo and Ultimate Painting
July 19: PJ Harvey
July 27: Regina Spektor
July 30: Rock Steady Crew’s 40th anniversary show, featuring MC Lyte
July 31: All Time Low
Aug. 10: The Revivalists and White Denim
Aug. 16: “Lincoln Center at the Movies” featuring the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Aug. 20: Def Poets reunion, featuring Ursula Rucker, Jessica Care Moore, Mums, Steve Colman and more

If you aren’t here during the summer and miss out on Summerstage, don’t forget that New York City has some of the best subway musicians, buskers and performers. Our post about Where to find New York City Street Performers and Subway Music will lead you to right to them!


Written by Courtney Shapiro