How To: A Guide to NYC's Summer Music Festivals

Summertime in New York is arguably the best time to be in the city. Aside from enduring the  heat of underground train stations and navigating streets overrun with tourists that flock to the city for the season - one can have the time of your life when you look in the right places. There are hundreds of things to get into: museums and art galleries to visit, parks to hike and picnic in, and restaurants to wine and dine in. One of the most important kind of events however, are music festivals. There are a couple festivals in New York every summer for the all the music fans out there. Festival season officially started with Governors Ball at Randall’s Island Park on June 1st and continued this past weekend with Hot 97 Summer Jam, an annual celebration of Hip-Hop music.

Highlights from the 2018 Governors Ball Music Festival in New York City. [Image Credit: Flickr}


The festivals come in all shapes and sizes, from weekend events to concert series that span for weeks. While the festivals cater to all genres, I’ve singled out some that center on of feature Hip-Hop music/artists for the Hip-Hop enthusiasts in the room.

  • SummerStage: a free concert-series which runs from June to early October.

  • BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn!: a Brooklyn-based concert series from June to August.

  • MoMA PS1 Warm Up: another series from late June to early September. A highlight of last year’s line-up was an incredible performance by Cardi B.

  • Panorama NYC: another festival at Randall’s Island, brought to you by the same people that organize Coachella, from July 28th - July 29th.

  • AfroPunk Fest: held on August 25th and 26th in Brooklyn, this year’s lineup includes Erykah Badu, Smino and Jaden Smith.

  • The Meadows Music and Art Festival: this year’s lineup has not been announced yet but last year’s included rapper Jay-Z as a headliner.

Music is not the only theme of big festivals that happen in The Big Apple. CurlFest is a natural hair festival organized by the Curly Girl Collective that is getting bigger and better each year. It is open to both men and women and guests can score free hair-care goodies and listen to guest panels. In addition, every summer, HBO sponsors a movie-series in Bryant Park. The HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival happens every Monday from June 18th to August 20th. Below, I’ve included some tips to navigate festival season this summer!

  1. Budgeting is Key: Plan out which festivals are worth your coins. Some events are free, but others cost a big buck. Make decisions based off of who is going to what festival and act according to your taste. You also need to incorporate funds for food, transportation, and getting the perfect festival outfit!

  2. Make it a Friend Thing: Invite some friends to go along with you. You can always go it alone, but there is nothing like belting out the lyrics to your favorite song with your homies by your side. 

  3. Plan & Prepare: Festivals are an all-day affair, so plan accordingly. Remember to hydrate and eat so you have enough energy to last the day. Pack the materials you’ll need to avoid any extra stress - portable chargers, metrocards, extra cash etc.


Festival season is in full swing and you don’t want to miss out! Do you plan on going to any festivals this summer? If so, which ones? Do you have any tips for attendees new to festivals? Comment Below!