The last month of summer is not slacking off. August is full of perfoming arts festivals on the water, traditions like Coney Island’s sand castle contest and the final edition of the Jazz Age Lawn Party and the year’s largest video game festival (hey, we all need a break from the sun sometimes). So if you’re looking for the best things to do in New York City in August, here’s your guide.

Play in the middle of the street

For three days this month, one of New York City’s busiest streets belongs to the people again. The Department of Transportation’s wildly popular Summer Streets program shuts down Park Avenue from the Brooklyn Bridge to East 72nd Street to car traffic and turns it into a 7-mile block party open to pedestrians and cyclists with free entertainment, crafting, a zipline, an agility course for pups and tons more. Aug. 4, 11, 18; 7 a.m.-1 p.m., free, nyc.gov

Watch the ultimate dodgeball tournament

Turns out there’s a whole league of people who weren’t traumatized by dodgeball in elementary school. The 2018 Dodgeball World Cup comes to Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater to celebrate what they call “one of the most inclusive and community driven sports on the planet,” with competitors from Malaysia to Egypt and the U.K. vying for top honors. Aug. 4, msg.com

 

Pair unlimited wine with desserts

If an outdoor wine and dessert festival isn’t peak summer, we don’t know what is. Get to the LIC Flea & Food market in Queens for a whole weekend of more than 20 dessert vendors (churro empanadas and vegan doughnuts, anyone?) paired with curated bottomless wines at the Wine & Sweets Fest. Entrance to the event is free, but you’ll need a ticket for unlimited wine (desserts are pay-as-you-go). Aug. 4-5, $39-$59, licflea.com

Possibly the last truly indie music festival

Elements NYC is for the music lovers who like to go off the beaten path when it comes to their art. BangOn!NYC makes its annual festival special with things like pirate ships and slip ‘n’ slides and even flaming stages, so leave your cute fest gear at home and come ready to get into the action. Aug. 11, $89-$169, bangon-nyc.com

Cheer on the dragons

Join one of the year’s most colorful and exciting events, the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival, at Flushing Meadows Park. Though the main event is the more than 100 teams of dragon boat racers ranging from kids to seniors and professionals competing on the lake, there’s plenty of entertainment onshore like performances by a Chinese orchestra, arts & crafts, martial arts demonstrations by Shaolin monks and a food court featuring Asian cuisines. Aug. 11-12, rain or shine, hkdbf-ny.org

Play all the games at Play NYC

New York City has a massive tech scene, including game developers, and you can play the newest titles from indie labels and the big guys at Play NYC. Created by Playcrafting, the coding and business education site for developers, the convention is “100% playable” meaning you’ll be moving from game to game through the four floors of the Manhattan Center, with something for casual and hardcore gamers of all ages. Aug. 12, $33, play-nyc.com

Performances with a view

There’s no better backdrop than the harbor and Statue of Liberty, and that’s just what you’ll get at the Battery Dance Festival. The city’s longest-running free public dance festival takes over the Lower Manhattan waterfront at Robert F. Wagner Jr. Park for six nights of modern performances by a wide range of professional troupes. Aug. 12-17, 7-9 p.m., free, batterydance.org

Lock down 2-for-1 Broadway tickets

The summer edition of Broadway Week 2018 isn’t until September, but if you wait that long to get tickets you’ll miss out on the hottest shows. Reservations open Aug. 15 when you can score two-for-one tickets to what is always a choice lineup of shows, both new productions and ones you’ve been meaning to see forever. nycgo.com

A day to take it easy

We thought you should know that Aug. 15 is National Relaxation Day, so put it in your calendar as a day for some self-care. Whether that’s making a date you’ll keep with a friend, a spa appointment or taking a pool day is up to you. But seriously, you need this.

Crown New York City’s best burger

Timeout’s annual Battle of the Burger is always a good time. Come hungry because New York’s best burger places will take over LIC Landing for a massive cookout to vie for your votes (and the judges) to be named the new champion of the grill. Attendees get unlimited burger tastings, complimentary Budweiser, sides and desserts by various vendors, plus live music and games. Aug. 16, must be 21+, $55-$75, eventbrite.com

Truly avant-garde theater in the park

Torn Out Theater challenges us to be radical in our body positivity by tackling the politics of nudity with each of their shows. After starting out with Shakespeare’s The Tempest two summers ago, this year they’ve gone with The Rover, a play that explores sex work, to be performed among the trees of Prospect Park. Select days and times between Aug. 16-26, free (donations welcome), tornoutheater.org

Build the ultimate castle

Sand artist will create impressive, strange and towering sculptures on the shores of New York City’s own amusement park during the 28th annual Coney Island Sand Sculpting Contest. The beach and Boardwalk from West 10th to 12th streets will be given over to the visionaries, and it’s free to participate or gawk. Aug. 18, noon-4 p.m., free, wearebcs.org/sand

The chillest afternoon you’ll have all summer

How does a cookout with some amazing blues artists sound? Hudson River Park’s annual Blues BBQ Festival brings the good vibes to Pier 97, with a free concert lineup of blues and roots musicians playing while you enjoy some of the best barbecue to be found in the city. Aug. 18, 2-9 p.m., hudsonriverpark.org

Get woke at the queer Comic Con

The geek community is, ironically, not always the most accepting space. So the queer nerds of Geeks Out created the world’s largest convention for all rainbow flag-flying fans, Flame Con. Get to the Sheraton Times Square for two days of comics and entertainment with special guests from the LGBTQ fandom, performances, screenings, cosplay and more. Aug. 18-19, $25-$65, flamecon.org

 

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Spike Lee throws a block party

The King of Pop’s legacy lives on in the annual BK Loves Michael Jackson hosted by Spike Lee. Shake it over to Do The Right Thing Way (Stuyvesant Avenue between Lexington Ave. and Quincy St.) for a free day of fun, music, dancing and tributes. Aug. 25, noon-7 p.m.

Step back in time to the Jazz Age

All the Dapper Dans and flapper girls head to Governors Island for two throwback weekends every summer where everything is from the 1920s and ‘30s. The spirit of the era lives again at the Jazz Age Lawn Party, with live music from headliner/host Michael Arenella and His Dreamland Orchestra and many more, as well as all the usual trappings: dancing, cocktails, photo ops, vintage shopping, lawn games and, best of all, endless gawking at all the amazing ensembles. Aug. 25-26, $35, jazzagelawnparty.eventbrite.com

The festival where underdogs rule

AfroPunk Fest defines itself as a place where underdog musicians have a chance to prove themselves and rise to greatness. Whether you’re going for the star headliners or to hear the next big act, this festival mixes music with art and politics to create a party with a purpose. There’s also a market, food trucks and craft vendors at the main Commodore Barry Park festival area, plus After Dark events at other venues on both nights. Aug. 25-26, afropunkfest.com/brooklyn

Show your love for tennis in Queens

The U.S. Open is the nation’s largest tennis championship of the year, and it all goes down at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing. The Grand Slam tournament features all-star talent on the court and tons of fun, from cool food to sporty games and concerts, for fans in the sprawling tennis village. Aug. 27-Sept. 9, ticketmaster.com

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