Real New Yorkers know summer in the city means shorter lines, smaller crowds, and some of the best events all year. Here is a sampling of some of our favorite summer events in Brooklyn.
BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival (Various dates throughout the summer)
Summer evenings in Brooklyn mean strolling, skating or biking around Prospect Park or just relaxing with an ice cream. But on special nights, visitors can attend the free shows put on for the Celebrate Brooklyn series.
The series, when it started in 1979, was originally staged to revitalize an ailing neighborhood; today, Park Slope and Prospect Heights are much improved, and offer a range of dining and drinking options before or after a show. Oh, and the entertainment? A variety of concerts, dance performances, as well as Music & Movies — live musicians accompanying films projected on the city’s largest outdoor screen. Check out the schedule here.
The best place to check out the performances? “Grab a spot on the rear hill,” says Jack Walsh, BRIC vice president of performing arts and executive producer of the festival. “You can spread out a blanket and enjoy great site lines overlooking the entire venue before you.”
Friday Night Fireworks at Coney Island (Every Friday until Labor Day)
Looking for a reason to visit Coney Island beyond Nathan’s Famous hot dogs and Luna Park? Every Friday at 9:30 p.m., until Labor Day, fireworks produced by the Alliance for Coney Island will be shot off from the beach. “It’s very nostalgic for Brooklynites,” says Angie Morris, brand manager for Luna Park. “I can’t imagine Coney Island without the Friday night fireworks. It’s a fascination for the eye that everyone has to see.”
Prime viewing is on the boardwalk from West 10th to West 12th streets or from the Wonder Wheel. Another popular viewing spot is Steeplechase Pier. Our favorites? The pinwheels, aqua shells, and rainbow effects are not to be missed.
Smorgasburg (Every Saturday and Sunday through the summer)
For the uninitiated, this upscale food market has been ground zero for launching new culinary businesses. Visitors with an appetite for gourmet cheap eats can line up for lobster rolls or several dozen other offerings. In addition to Saturday Smorgasburg at East River State Park, Sunday Smorgasburg opens shop in Prospect Park. One hundred vendors set up on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Breeze Hill, located near Lakeside and the park’s Lincoln Road entrance. New items include quail eggs on a stick, Argentinian sausage sandwiches, and Japanese water cake.
“The Sunday Smorgasburg has tons of shade and lawns,” says Smorgasburg co-founder Eric Demby. “It’s generally a more laid-back way to experience the market. Saturdays in Williamsburg are the flagship, but it definitely gets crowded.”
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Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival (July 13-16)
Brooklyn could arguably make a claim for contributing more to hip-hop than anywhere else on the planet, so it’s no surprise that the world’s top talent turns out for this. Taking place from July 13-16, events include panel discussions, exhibitions, parties, an award show, and a family-friendly block party. It all culminates on July 16 in a finale concert at Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 5 featuring Nas, Fabolous, Talib Kweli and Rapsody.
Giglio Festival (Through July 17)
Go to North 8th and Havemeyer streets on July 13 at 8 p.m. and you’ll see 130 Italian-American men straining under the weight of a 72-foot, four-ton tower adorned with flowers and angels — and an Italian brass band, singer and parish priest. It’s the Giglio Lift, the cornerstone of the Giglio Festival, a religious observance that’s been an institution in Williamsburg since 1903. With live entertainment nightly, vendors selling Italian specialties and international delicacies, parades, and a bazaar with games and children’s rides, it’s easy to see why they say “Heaven touches Brooklyn in July.”
Brighton Jubilee (August 28)
Take a trip to the old world and visit Brighton Beach for the most authentic Russian food you can find this side of Moscow. Plan your trip around the 40th anniversary of the Brighton Jubilee, a street festival that runs from Corbin Place along Brighton Beach Avenue to Coney Island Avenue, then heads toward the boardwalk. The event features rock bands and crooners all day on 14th Street, a flea market, and craft fair.
“In a very eclectic area, there is a mystique about Brighton Beach that will be uncovered at this year’s festival,” says Pat Singer, founder and executive director of the Brighton Neighborhood Association. “The six blocks of festivities will keep your eyes getting wider.”
West Indian Day Carnival Parade (September 5)
For some people it’s about the authentic Caribbean food, for others it’s about the elaborate costumes. For us, it’s all about the music. The annual event, which draws an estimated 2 million people to Crown Heights each September, shuts down Eastern Parkway for seven hours as participants strut out in authentic colorful Caribbean garb and feathery finery. Food vendors along the route serve jerk chicken and other regional fare, while steel pan and calypso bands provide the soundtrack.
Atlantic Antic (September 25)
For many Brooklynites, the Atlantic Antic, the City’s largest street fair, signals the real end of summer. From the intersection of 4th and Atlantic avenues through Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill, Brooklyn Heights and Downtown Brooklyn, the fair features street performers, including a variety of musicians, and, of course, what it’s best known for: the many food vendors, prompting the saying: “Eat it at the Antic, walk it off on Atlantic!”