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5 Ways to See Outdoor Performances in NYC This Spring

By: Elyse Orecchio
Date: Apr 22, 2021

Find out where alfresco culture is happening this season


If you're not ready to head back indoors to see in-person performances, how about catching a show outside in the open air? (Still masked and distanced, of course.) Come spring, New York City will be abloom with alfresco offerings. Here are five outdoor culture initiatives to put on your radar.

Lincoln Center: Restart Stages - Opens Monday, May 10

62nd to 66th Streets between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues

Lincoln Center's majestic buildings may still be closed, but the cultural powerhouse is transforming its campus into an outdoor arts hub featuring 10 separate performance and rehearsal spaces. Dubbed Restart Stages, the program launched on Wednesday, April 7 with an invite-only show exclusively for healthcare workers. Currently, Tony-winning designer Mimi Lien's The Green is being installed to transform the area into a park-like destination. On Monday, May 10, the public events kick off with performances by singer-songwriter Martha Redbone and Tony nominee Norm Lewis. Programming throughout the spring and summer will include performances from resident companies Lincoln Center Theater and New York City Ballet as well as partner organizations such as BAAD! Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance, the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute, the Harlem Arts Alliance and the Korean Cultural Center New York. There will also be an outdoor reading room hosted by The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, movie screenings curated by Film at Lincoln Center, and community service events such as blood drives and food distributions. You can browse the list of upcoming Restart Stages performances on TodayTix.

How to attend performances: While all events are free, tickets will be required. TodayTix is distributing all tickets via lotteries. Masking and social distancing will be enforced.


Little Island @Pier55 - Opens Friday, May 21

Pier 55 in Hudson River Park between 13th and 14th Streets

Opening in late spring, Little Island has big plans. Starting on June 14, this pier-turned-public park will host a wide variety of performances spearheaded by its artists-in-residence: tap dancer and choreographer Ayodele Casel; Tony-nominated theatre director and playwright Tina Landau; performer and Broadway Inspirational Voices founder Michael McElroy; and the glorious PigPen Theatre Co. In addition to developing their own work for the space, they'll be curating theatre, dance and music performances. Check out the event calendar and note that some offerings are ticketed, others aren't. That said, you need to reserve a free timed entry ticket just to visit Little Island between the hours of noon and 8 p.m. daily.


NY PopsUp - Ongoing

Throughout NYC

As the name suggests, NY PopsUp presents free surprise performances for lucky passersby throughout the five boroughs. These unexpected offerings bring bursts of cheer while curbing crowds. If you're a planner, you're out of luck. But keep your eyes peeled for these pop-ups—Broadway's Gavin Creel and Shoshana Bean. and rock legend Patti Smith have already done mini-concerts, and Billy Porter, Mandy Patinkin and Renée Fleming are some of the stars slated to perform in the coming months. Follow @nypopsup on Instagram for last-minute clues about who's performing where—maybe you'll be in the neighborhood.


Open Culture Events - Ongoing

Throughout NYC

NYC's Open Culture initiative allows theatres, music venues, comedy clubs and other cultural institutions to apply to perform at outdoor locations throughout the five boroughs. Programming starts in April, and the offerings and ticketing info will vary by producer. However, you can peruse the list of designated performance spots to keep an eye on.


Radial Park in Queens - Late May

27-50 1st Street in Astoria, Queens

Last summer, Radial Park at Halletts Point pioneered a return to in-person entertainment with screenings of drive-in movie musicals accompanied by live musicians and singers. This 50,000 square-foot open-air space located on the waterfront reopens May 27 with The Blues Brothers (not quite Broadway, though there are songs), and The Doors, Chicago and Dreamgirls will play this summer. Tickets start at $100 per car; if you don't have a vehicle, it's $35 per person to sit at socially distanced picnic tables.

And this is just the beginning! The Public Theater's Shakespeare in the Park is happening and we anticipate there will be many performances in parks and plazas throughout the city this summer. We will keep you informed!

Do you plan to attend outdoor performances this spring? Let us know in the comments.


Elyse Orecchio is TDF's Online Presence Manager. Follow her on Instagram and on Twitter at @elyseo. Follow TDF on Twitter at @TDFNYC.

Top image: Aerial view of Lincoln Center. Photo by Iñaki Vinaixa.

Elyse Orecchio is TDF's Digital Content Manager. Follow her on Instagram at @elyseo. Follow TDF on Instagram at @TDFNYC.