There are a gazilion FREE and cheap things to do in NYC any time of year, especially in summer, including in August.
There are plenty of outdoor movies and concerts, including the annual Charlie Parker Jazz Festival, Harlem Week events, car-free Summer Streets weekends, the annual Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival and so much more.
Our list is family-friendly, too.
Get more NYC for less money with NYC on the Cheap, and get these August events on your calendar.
Most of these events are outdoors, rain or shine, so let’s hope for shine.
Best NYC Events in August
There are seven miles of car-free streets in Manhattan on first three Saturdays of August.
Once again, five “rest stops” along the route will offer different FREE activities and performances at each stop, including rock-climbing walls, the poppular 165-foot zip line, outdoor fitness classes, wheelchair basketball games, a dog park, FREE bike repair and rental, and lots of FREE samples from food and drink vendors.
The three-week festival of FREE concerts, FREE dance performances, FREE theater and more FREE events throughout the Lincoln Center campus continues through August 11.
With more tan 50 events, we can’t list them all, but here are some highlights:
- Soul at the Center, featuring Legacy: Lalah Hathaway sings Donny Hathaway. Also on the bill for evening are The Illustrious Blacks.
- Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy
- An exhilarating evening of dance with Bessie Award–winning jazz, tap, and swing wunderkind Caleb Teicher
- Screening of the Bob Fosse–directed concert film Liza with a “Z”
- The third installation of NPR Music’s popular series Turning the Tables Live: The Motherlode.
- Eight iconic female artists whose work shaped the path of popular music will be celebrated with performances from Rhiannon Giddens, Xiomara Laugart, Ledisi, Amina Claudine Myers, Cleo Reed, Valerie Simpson, Charenée Wade, and Lizz Wright
- An evening of stand-up comedy with Comedy Central’s Roy Wood Jr. & Guests
- desi:NOW a night featuring genre-bending creatives defining modern South Asian-American identity through the arts
- Singer songwriter and Americana stalwart Patty Griffin, joined by Yola, fresh off her Dan Auerbach–produced record, Walk Through Fire
There are dozens of FREE outdoor movies in NYC parks in all five boroughs, and there is something playing FREE every day through Labor Day. Take your pick.
The annual event features movies about New York City, or those filmed in New York City. This year’s festival is three films, down from four last year and five in previous years.
Gates open at 6:30 pm. Pre-show programming and music from 6:30 pm. Movie starts at dusk.
The screenings begin around 8:00 p.m. at Central Park’s Frisbee Hill. That’s the landscape north of Sheep Meadow, mid Park at 69th Street, which is accessible from both the east and west sides of the Park at 72nd Street.
Films on the Green movies from France or with a French theme
Best Music and Dance Events in August
This annual celebration has turned from a week of events into a month-long festival. The main event is this weekend, Sat./Sun. Aug. 17/18, with two full days of FREE entertainment, fashion shows and more.
Sat. Aug 17th, 11AM-6PM
Outdoor Concert: R&B, Hip-Hop, Latin, Reggae, Rock and Outdoor Film Festival
Special Events: Higher Education Fair & Expo, Step Shows and Sports Fashion Show
Music Theme: Back On The Block – Quincy Jones
Sun. Aug 18th 10AM-7PM
Music: Salsa, Latin, Gospel, R&B, Reggae, Jazz, Hip-Hop, Rock, Blues, Soca, Calypso.
Special Events: Upper Manhattan Auto Show, Children’s Fashion Show, Tennis Clinics, Business Expo
Music Theme: Let’s Stay Together – Al Green
- Everything is at West 135th St., between Fifth and St. Nicholas Aves.
- Everything is FREE to attend.
In the world of modern music, few figures loom as large or cast as long a shadow as saxophonist Charlie “Bird” Parker, who is celebrated as a bebop pioneer and for bringing jazz into the modern era.
The annual Charlie Parker Jazz Festival honors the legendary music pioneer with a week of FREE concerts, films about jazz and more, in NYC parks and other locations including the National Jazz Museum in Harlem.
Concerts include both contemporaries of Charlie Parker and young jazz musicians from the USA, Africa and the Caribbean who are continuing to shape and drive the art form he helped make so popular.
The Charlie Parker Jazz Festival 2019 is Friday, August 23 through Sunday, August 31st, with more than a dozen events, both afternoon and evening events.
The annual festival celebrates him and his work.
With more than a dozen concerts and events over a week, we can’t list them all, but you can find blurbs about each on the along with some great music tracks to inspire you.
FREE lunchtime entertainment returns to Lincoln Square for the 12th year, with a local musicians performing everything from jazz to Andean music to rock to opera.
The series is every Wednesday, rain or shine, July 3 to August 28, in Richard Tucker Park, Broadway at 66th St. One group plays at noon each Wednesday, another at 1pm, and there is bistro-style seating to sit and enjoy the music. In between performances, music lovers can stretch and relax with free and gentle restorative yoga sessions by instructors from the West Side Y—a great way to relax during lunch. Whole Foods Market will sponsor free product samples during each performance.
This FREE music and dance event returns with Friday night concerts by NYC artists, and the chance to dance to the music. Bring a blanket and a picnic and also enjoy cool breezes and the sunset.
Music is 7pm to 9pm, at Pier 45 at Christopher Street In Greenwich Village
- AUGUST 2 – The Hum
- AUGUST 9 – Koku Gonza
- AUGUST 16 – Manhattan Samba
- AUGUST 23 – High & Mighty Brass Band