New season of free ‘Picnic Performances’ at NYC’s Bryant Park

Bryant Park’s popular annual series of Picnic Performances, presented by Bank of America, returns for its fifth season with a full line-up of shows beginning on May 31 and running through September 13, featuring 25 live music, dance, and theater events from Grammy winners, world-class dance companies, theater stars, centennial celebrations in jazz and opera, a James Bond-themed finale, and dozens of local artists and spotlight performers from Ghana, New Orleans, Mexico, and South Africa. All shows, designed to be enjoyed casually on the lawn, are free to the public, no tickets required, with more than 700 picnic blankets for audience members to borrow and ample chairs available. A wide selection of food and drink is also available for purchase from a curated lineup of local vendors near the lawn, or you can bring your own.

Photo by Ryan Muir.

Picnic Performances has grown to become one of NYC’s foremost outdoor performing arts festivals and a vital outdoor platform for the City’s arts institutions, showcasing long-standing partnerships with Carnegie Hall, New York City Opera, Harlem Stage, The Town Hall, and Joe’s Pub, as well as new partnerships with New Victory Theater, World Music Institute, and Belongó. Last summer, more than 75,000 people attended the series and nearly half a million enjoyed the free performance livestreams. This season, sixteen shows will be livestreamed for free viewing on Bryant Park’s social media channels and website, reaching national and international audiences; additional media support is provided by public radio stations WBGO and WQXR.

For the opening weekend beginning on May 31, New York City Opera commemorates the 100th anniversary of the death of Giacomo Puccini with a two-night celebration of his music featuring orchestra, chorus, and star vocalists. The summer of Puccini continues with a fully-staged production of Tosca in August. Among the other 2024 summer highlights are:

Internationally acclaimed dance companies – including Mark Morris Dance Group, Ronald K. Brown/EVIDENCE, and David Dorfman Dance – headline multiple evenings of Contemporary Dance alongside established, rising, and student companies;

Jazzmobile celebrates the Centennial of legendary jazz vocalist Sarah Vaughan, “The Divine One,” with a performance by the acclaimed vocalist Charenée Wade and her septet;

Carnegie Hall Citywide presents five concerts in July and August, beginning with a special evening with Pulitzer-Prize-winning composer Tania León and The Harlem Chamber Players with special guests, followed by the acclaimed South African musician Thandiswa Mazwai, Grammy Award-nominated leader of The Late Show Band Louis Cato, the high-energy Afrojazz trailblazer Michael Olatuja and Lagos Pepper Soup, and red-hot salsa dura band La Excelencia;

Florencia Cuenca. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Joe’s Pub brings rising theater stars Jaime Lozano and Florencia Cuenca for Broadway en Spanglish, featuring bilingual performances of iconic show tunes with Mariachi Real de Mexico and more guest stars TBA;

As part of New Victory Theater’s summer series New Victory Dance, Ephrat Asherie and Barkin/Selissen Project join together for an interactive dance event curated specifically for kids and families;

World Music Institute welcomes Ghanaian highlife band Gyedu-Blay Ambolley in their NYC debut;

Asian American Arts Alliance features ‘MacArthur Genius’ pianist Vijay Iyer and his trio;

The popular Bryant Park tradition Accordions Around the World returns with 2024 Grammy nominee Zydeco star Dwayne Dopsie and Latin funk band Afro Dominicano;

American Symphony Orchestra kicks off their season with Beyond the Hall, a program highlighting music from beyond the confines of the traditional concert hall; and

The Town Hall and Belongó celebrate John Barry’s iconic James Bond music with an all-star lineup of musicians led by Arturo O’Farrill with the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra, and composer/arranger and slide trumpet master Steven Bernstein, together with exciting surprise special guests.

Picnic Performances play May 31-September 13, 2024, on the lawn at Bryant Park, between 40th-42nd Streets, 5th-6th Avenues, NYC. Entry is free, no tickets are required. For the full schedule and additional information about artists and performances, go online.


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