With summer about to get under way, many Queens residents would normally be planning their vacations, or big parties. Although many people may be cutting back this summer, luckily for them, there is plenty going on in Queens to fill the void.
Most of the programs are free and are held outdoors. Many are good for the entire family and can include music, dance or drama.
The Central Astoria Local Development Coalition sponsors a free waterfront concert series every summer at Astoria Park. It kicks off with an independence day celebration with fireworks on June 29 at 7:30 p.m., with Joe Battaglia and the New York Band. Starting July 9, and continuing every Thursday until Aug. 6, there will be all types of music, from a Beatles cover band, to Joey Dee and the Starlighters.
The City Parks Foundation, which puts on free shows in parks all over the city, has several acts lined up for Queens. On July 14th, at Queensbridge Park, 80’s group, The Sugar Hill Gang will be performing. The band, whose single “Rapper’s Delight” was ranked 248th on Rolling Stone magazine’s 500 Greatest Songs of All-Time, will perform at 7 p.m.
Queensbridge Park will also be the venue for Kulu Mele African American Dance and Drum Ensemble and Soul Steps, on Aug.1st at 4 p.m. The Kulu Mele African American Dance and Drum Ensemble is Philadelphia’s longest running African dance company, while Soul Steps uses dance to tell stories.
Gantry Plaza State Park at 49th Avenue and the East River in Long Island City, will host numerous free programs throughout the summer, ranging from Chinese Theatre Works on June 23, to the Silbin Sandovar Revue, with indie rock all-stars on Aug. 18. For a full schedule, call (718) 974-8383.
On Aug. 6, Tony Award winner Heather Headley will perform in Springfield Park, at 7 p.m. The R&B singer, who has also been nominated for two Grammys, is touring in support of her third album, “Audience of One.”
Springfield Park is the site of several other concerts this summer, including Chrisette Michelle on July 30, and James Fortune and the Trin-I-Tree 5:7, whose gospel music reaches youth through singing and dancing, on Aug. 13. Both events start at 7 p.m.
For the older crowd, 1960’s a cappella group The Persuasions, will be performing on Aug. 20 at Rochdale Park, at 7 p.m.
The Queens Library will also be holding concerts this summer at many of its branches. The biggest one is a 50th anniversary retrospective of Lincoln Center. The concerts, featuring a flamenco dance company, are on June 21, July 18 and Aug.15. For locations and a complete schedule, go to queenslibrary.org/index.
The Poppenhusen Institute in College Point is hosting three concerts this summer. On July 5 at 6 p.m. listen to the American Concert Band perform patriotic music and more. On July 12 at 3 p.m. watch Risky Business perform music of the 50s and 60s. Both concerts will be held at MacNeil Park, 5th Avenue and College Place.
The final concert, on July 19 at 3 p.m. will be held in the yard of Poppenhusen Institute, 114-04 14th Road. It will feature the Something Special Orchestra performing sounds of the Big Band era.
Forest Park in Woodhaven has a full schedule of events this summer. Most of the performances are on Wednesdays and Sundays. Call 311 or go to nyc.gov/parks for details.
On June 21 at 2 p.m. listen to the Mary Lamont Band and on June 24 at 7:30 p.m. see a show featuring impersonators of stars including Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis.
The Queens Festival Band and Queens Symphony Orchestra will both perform at Forest Park twice this summer. The Trammps will perform their disco hits on July 1 and a Bon Jovi tribute band will entertain on July 8 , both at 7:30 p.m.
If your tastes are more cinematic, the Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City hosts an Outdoor Cinema Film Festival in July and August. Held every Wednesday at 7 p.m., the series starts July 15, and runs through August 19. Each show has a pre-screening performance and discounted food from a local vendor, who is chosen based on the movie. Admission is free.
The series, held in collaboration with The Museum of the Moving Image, highlights cultural diversity in Queens. Some of the movies being shown include Lou Reeds’ “Berlin,” the 1963 French film “Contempt,” and winner of the 2008 Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival, “Gomorrah,” about the Italian underworld.
If you’re less interested in cultural diversity, and more interested in the latest blockbusters like “Night at the Museum” and “Terminator: Salvation,” the Center Cinema 5, located at 42-17 Queens Blvd. in Sunnyside, shows first-rate movies, at a bargain basement price. Tickets run $7.50 for adults, and $5 for children and seniors. In addition, the theatre charges just $5 on Tuesdays and for matinees.
A different kind of performance takes place in Forest Park in August. Presented on Aug. 16 and 23 the Hip to Hip Theatre Company will be performing two of Shakespeare’s biggest works, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” and “Romeo and Juliet,” beginning at 5 p.m.
Founded in 2007, the Hip to Hip Theatre Company specializes in bringing free Shakespeare to the park each summer.
For parents who are looking for ways to entertain their children during the summer, one solution might be Puppets in the Park. This summer, the group will be putting on “Sleeping Beauty,” at various parks throughout Queens, including Forest Park, Alley Pond Park, and Fort Totten Park. For details, call (718) 352-4793.
This summer is the perfect time to learn how to dance, as Forest Park, Little Bay Park, and Dry Harbor Playground will feature Dancing Under the Stars. The program, which runs in June and July, features 45- minute dance lessons outdoors. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 6 p.m. you can learn to cha cha, swing, or rhumba in this free for all ages program.
If festivals are more your thing, don’t miss the annual Hong Kong Dragon Boat races and festival on Aug. 8 to 9 at Meadow Lake in Flushing Meadows Park. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., rain or shine.
There will be live musical entertainment, food, Asian crafts and more plus the exciting boat races pitting teams from across the country.
Throughout the summer, be sure to check for other weekend festivals in Flushing Meadows, including Dominican, Ecuadorian, Chinese, Columbian and more.