10 events to visit in and around NYC this July


With summer in full flow, July is a great time to visit the Big Apple. Sunny weather and a busy programme of events – both indoors and out – ensure there’s always something fun to see and do.

A performer at a previous edition of the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival (Photo: Steven Pisano via Flickr / CC BY 2.0)

New York City pulsates with energy at all times of year, but there’s nothing quite like visiting the iconic metropolis during the sun-kissed summer months. July in particular is a busy period for NYC’s cultural and entertainment scenes – if you’re planning a visit during this time, here are 10 of the best events to look out for.

BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival

Promoting talent from around the world and around the block for more than 40 years, the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival returns for 2021 promising to be bigger and better than ever. The free summer-long outdoor concert and performance series welcomes global music icons, legendary jazz artists, chart-topping indie bands, gravity-defying dance troupes, large-scale film projects and even a virtual reality performance, gaining it a reputation as one of the city’s foremost cultural attractions and most beloved of summertime traditions.

Prospect Park Bandshell, Brooklyn / 31 July 2021

New York City Poetry Festival

Despite its rich history of poetry and poets, New York City didn’t have its own poetry festival until 2011 when it was founded by Stephanie Berger and Nicholas Adamski. In the years since, the event has gone from strength to strength, with poetry organisations and collectives of all shapes and sizes descending on Governors Island for two days of celebrating the ancient form of rhythmic literature. The festival places a strong focus on inclusivity, aiming to bridge the divide that often prevents people from  truly engaging with poetry. There are recitals by established poets, as well as open mic opportunities, art programs, vendors, and even a dedicated Youth Poetry Festival aimed at encouraging the next generation of Bards.

Venues across Governors Island / 24-25 July 2021

Crowds gathered for a recital at the New York City Poetry Festival (Photo: Carl Mikoy via Flickr / CC BY 2.0)

Beer Bourbon & BBQ Festival

The 11th annual Beer Bourbon & BBQ Festival sees a change of venue this year as it migrates to Brooklyn. But fear not, despite the fresh setting, revellers can still look forward to a raucous day of beer sippin’, bourbon tastin’, music listenin’, cigar smokin’, and barbeque eatin’. Your admission buys you a sampling glass so you can enjoy an all-you-can-taste sampling of beer and bourbon. Highlights include  The Beast Cage serving up exotic smoked meats all day, and there are also distillery and brewery seminars, as well as live DJ sounds.

Brooklyn Expo Center / 31 July-1 August 2021

Independence Day

As is the case in cities across the US, Independence Day is a seriously big deal in NYC. On 4th July events to mark the occasion are held across the Big Apple including carnivals, parades, fireworks, fairs and baseball games, while many choose to celebrate with their own picnics and barbecues in one of the city’s famous green expanses. Perhaps the most famous New York Independence Day event is the evening fireworks display organised by the legendary department store Macy’s.

Venues across NYC / 4 July 2021

Sung Hwan Kim’s Temper Clay exhibition 

Among the Museum of Modern Art’s summer exhibitions this year is Temper Clay, an installation of drawings and objects based on the eponymous film made by Korean-born and now New York-based contemporary artist Sung Hwan Kim. Illustrating the artist’s distinctive way of intertwining video, music, storytelling, and sculpture, the exhibition delves into many of the themes explored in the video film including matriarchy, domesticity, and Korean society in poetic form, analysing the dynamics of the contemporary Korean family from the perspective of different generations and social classes.

Museum of Modern Art, Midtown Manhattan / Through 18 July 2021

A photograph from the Temper Clay exhibition (Photo: Museum of Modern Art)

elrow NYC: Psychrowdelic Trip

After almost a two-year hiatus, the global immersive dance party brand, elrow, will be returning to New York this July for a night full of open-air dance music fun, accompanied by a stellar line-up. Inspired by the free spirits of the 1960s, this year’s edition is called Psyrowdelic Trip, and is already being billed as the world’s wildest hippy commune, with dancers dressed as hippies, alchemists, demonstrators, spaced-out trippers, and more. The venue itself will also be turned into a psychedelic playground with numerous props and decorations in keeping with the far-out theme.

Brooklyn Mirage – Avant Gardner, Brooklyn / 24-25 July 2021

Creatures of Light exhibition 

Visitors to the American Museum of Natural History this summer can explore an immerse exhibit all about the world of Bioluminescence – the term used to describe the generation of light  by living things. The exhibition invites you to learn all about the extraordinary organisms that blink, glow, flash and glitter, from fireflies found in backyards, to the deep-sea fishes that illuminate the perpetually dark ocean depths, to hungry glowworms that use their bright tails to lure aquatic insects into deep caves.

American Museum of Natural History, Upper West Side, Manhattan / 2 June-5 September 2021

A visitor peruses the Creatures of Light exhibition (Photo: American Museum of Natural History)

Full Send Summer Fest

Among New York’s regular calendar of summer festivals will be a newcomer this year in the shape of the Full Send Summer Fest. Taking place within the immersive Radial Park entertainment multiplex,  complete with outdoor amphitheater, the all-day event will be teeming with beer, food, entertainment, and a mini-music festival including live bands and a DJ. There’ll also be visiting micro-breweries and local NYC food trucks on hand to help keep revellers well fed and watered.

Radial Park, Queens / 10 July 2021

She NYC Arts Summer Theater Festival

New York’s premiere festival showcasing the new, original works of women writers, composers, & directors returns this July and August for another action-packed programme. Run and organised by SheNYC, a group of theatre professionals focussed on helping kick-star the careers of women looking to break into the industry, the festival will once again feature multiple full-length plays and musicals, all created by talented, up-and-coming female writers.

Connelly Theater, East Village, Manhattan / 27 July-8 August  2021

A music performance at the NYC Arts Summer Theater Festival (Photo: She NYC Arts Summer Theater Festival)

The New Woman Behind the Camera exhibition

Featuring more than 120 international photographers, this groundbreaking exhibition explores the work of the so-called New Woman of the 1920s who embraced photography as a mode of professional and artistic expression from the 20s through the 50s. During this tumultuous period shaped by two world wars, women stood at the forefront of experimentation with the camera and produced invaluable visual testimony that reflects both their personal experiences and the extraordinary social and political transformations of the era. The exhibition is the first to take an international approach to the subject, highlighting female photographers’ innovative work in studio portraiture, fashion and advertising, artistic experimentation, street photography, ethnography, and photojournalism.

Metropolitan Museum of Art, Upper East Side, Manhattan / 2 July-3 October 2021

By Paul Joseph