Sometimes, it’s the little things that make life great — music festivals are no exception. These festivals all tout great headliners, but they’ve also got their own, individual perks that make them unique.
BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival
June-August, Prospect Park Bandshell
Tickets: Free ($3 suggested donation), with the exception of benefit shows
Notable acts: Tame Impala (June 15), Ray LaMontagne (June 22), Angelique Kidjo (July 29) and The Lumineers (August 3)
Why you should go: The majority of Celebrate Brooklyn! offerings are free and dedicated to supporting new works in the performing arts scene. The festival also commissions a variety of concerts, ranging from well-known and emerging artists to movie screenings and spoken word shows.
June-September, various locations
Tickets: Free, with the exception of benefit shows
Notable acts: Barenaked Ladies (June 13), Flight of the Conchords (July 24) and The Go-Go’s (August 13)
Why you should go: The city’s largest performing arts festival is one of the reasons there’s no place like New York in the summer. Most of the 100+ shows are free, with a few ticketed big-name acts to support all that programming. Central Park is the hub but events take place at 16 parks in all five boroughs.
The Amphitheater at Coney Island Boardwalk
June-September, Coney Island
Notable acts: The Beach Boys (July 4), Fifth Harmony (August 2) and Erykah Badu (August 3)
Why you should go: Starting this summer, Coney Island will be home to the first boutique amphitheater in New York. The venue will showcase current bands like Fifth Harmony, in addition to hosting fun throwback shows featuring your favorite 90s jams (98 Degrees or Vanilla Ice, anyone?). Plus, the amphitheater is located right on the Coney Island Boardwalk, so you can catch some rays by the beach or take a walk to the New York Aquarium before heading to a show.
Forest Hills Stadium Concert Series
June-October, Forest Hills Stadium
Tickets: Prices vary based on performance
Notable acts: Mumford & Sons (June 16-17), Disclosure (June 18), Paul Simon (June 30 and July 1) and Louis C.K. (July 22)
Why you should go:Forest Hills Stadium was originally built as the home of the US Open tennis tournament, giving it a cool, retro and sporty vibe to it. Plus, both the LIRR and the MTA subway lines stop within blocks of the stadium, making the commute a breeze.
June 3-5, Randall’s Island
Tickets: Sold out — check ticket resale sites
Headliners: The Strokes, The Killers and Kanye West
Why you should go: When you’re looking to kill time between sets, be sure to hit up the food trucks at this year’s Gov Ball. The music festival has teamed up with Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer (whose decadent milkshakes have gone viral all over the Internet), Ramen Burger and a slew of other vendors to offer festivalgoers food that’ll be as satisfying to their stomachs as the music will be to their ears.
Hot 97 Summer Jam
June 5, MetLife Stadium
Tickets: Starting at $45
Headliners: Future and Chance the Rapper
Why you should go:This year, the hip-hop and R&B station is currently hosting a contest called “Making the Stage,” which is giving one unsigned artist the chance to open the June 5th show and receive a recording and distribution contract. The press release also promises “it’s not Summer Jam without the surprise guests,” so you never know who else you’ll see there.
June 6-12, Brooklyn
Tickets: Music badges $85, single show tickets also available
Notable acts: Conor Oberst (June 11), Kacey Musgraves (June 11) and Brian Wilson (June 12)
Why you should go: Bringing together music, innovation and content, Northside Festival is pretty much the east coast embodiment of Austin’s SXSW. In addition to live musical performances, you can purchase a badge to attend a number of screenings, roundtable discussions and panels with big names in the tech and business industries. Fashion designer Rebecca Minkoff and Paypal CEO Daniel Schulman are slated to keynote at the event.
June 10-13, Bethel Woods
Tickets: Single-day festival tickets starting at $129
Headliners:Odesza, Skrillex and Bassnectar
Why you should go:Mysteryland is a three-day long festival taking place in Bethel, which is about a two-hour drive from NYC (alternatively, the festival has shuttle services that leave from Newark Airport, JFK, Laguardia and Grand Central Station). If you plan on staying overnight (and you’re over 21 years old), look into the festival’s on-site camp offerings. You can bring your own tent, or choose from one of Mysteryland’s pre-set tent packages for the weekend. Added bonus for you history buffs: the festival’s “Holy Ground” campsite is located on top of the legendary, Woodstock 1969 grounds.
June 17-19, Camp Lakota
Notable acts: Antibalas and Porches
Why you should go: Destination Moon is dedicated to “providing an immersive artistic experience with the smallest possible ecological footprint,” according to its website. The festival is 100% solar-powered, which means you can celebrate music, art and ecological sustainability all at the same time. The campgrounds are about 2 hours away from NYC — limited $15 round-trip bus passes from Brooklyn to the site are also available.
July 22-24, Randall’s Island
Tickets: One-day GA tickets starting at $99
Headliners: Arcade Fire, Kendrick Lamar and LCD Soundsystem
Why you should go: The event producers behind Coachella are bringing a new festival, Panorama, to NYC this July. The festival gets its name from “Panorama of the City of New York,” an exhibition at the Queens Museum that boasts a nearly 10,000-square-foot model of the city. Each ticket to Panorama comes with free admission to this exhibition and a new exhibition called “Hey! Ho! Let’s Go: Ramones and the Birth of Punk.”
Aug. 5, Location TBD
Tickets: Not yet live — sign up for updates at MLIVE’s website
Why you should go: Music blog Majestic Casual is launching its first live event series this summer, with shows in New York, Los Angeles and several European cities. The NYC lineup has not been announced yet, but you can bet that the crowd will be full of social media-savvy millennials who can give you music recommendations for artists too hip or under the radar for services like Spotify.
Billboard Hot 100 Music Festival
Aug. 21, Nikon at Jones Beach Theater
Headliners: Calvin Harris, Ariana Grande and J. Cole
Why you should go: The second annual Hot 100 Festival will feature some of the biggest names in pop, electronic, rock and rap music in the Wantagh amphitheater. But besides the music, celeb spotting is another reason to check out the event. Calvin Harris is one of the festival’s headliners, so we’re hoping that Taylor Swift — along with hersuperstar posse— will be in attendance. Yes, we know that the two have broken up, but we can dream that they’ll still support each other as friends, right?
Sept. 2-4, Randall’s Island
Tickets: 3-day GA passes starting at $229
Headliners: Bassnectar, Tiesto and Hardwell
Why you should go: Unless you’re a 20-something-year-old looking for a wild, three-day party, this event is not for you. Just take a look at last year’s photos, which showcase some sort of zebra-rhinoceros hybrid art piece and over-the-top stages complete with fog machines and neon lights, and you can decide on this one for yourself.
Follow Chloe Tsang on Twitter @itschloet