Each summer, an eclectic line-up of bands and artists hit Central Park’s Rumsey Playfield for the SummerStage free-concert series. Many of these are underground acts or cult faves in the jazz, soul, folk, alternative, and world-music genres. Big names do play the SummerStage as well, but they often perform in designated benefit concerts, which require a ticket purchase.
To get to Rumsey Playfield, enter the park at 69th Street on the East Side or at 72nd on the West. Bag checks at the entrance are thorough, so leave your recording devices, glass bottles, alcoholic beverages, and pets at home. Chairs aren’t allowed either, but bleacher seating is available in the back if you arrive early enough (the gates open about an hour before the performance).
If you like the music, but hate the crowds, find a nice patch of grass to spread out on outside of the Playfield. Or if you’re just not a fresh-air fan in general, stay at home and watch the concerts later when they’re broadcast on NYC TV.
- Public Transportation: Very good (convenient to subway lines B and C 72nd Street and buses M1–M4, M10, M20, M66, M72, M79)
- Handicapped Accessibility: Good
- Performances/Programs: Free music, dance, spoken word and film events are performed throughout the summer. All events take place rain or shine. Performance schedule varies
- Ticket Prices: Most performances are free
- Membership: Memberships start at $150. Members get benefits such as reserved seating and free tickets.