New York has the reputation of being one of the most popular cities in the world that probably never sleeps. The nightlife here is exhilarating – you can go from being the hard worker employee your boss can easily rely on to being the heart of the party, dancing away all night. It is a city that is the birthplace of various genres of music. It has been a thriving home to jazz, R&B, disco, urban blues, and rock music, for naming a few.
Music and New York City
So, if you think of the iconic music events in the country and around the world, such as Coachella and Glastonbury, and become sad about not being able to attend them, then hold your thoughts. The vibrant culture of NYC has molded the city’s music calendar to cater to almost all types of music lovers. You do not have to go to California to attend Coachella; New York City has all set for you.
Most of the NYC music events are held during summer, as winter in this city can be unforgiving sometimes. The summer season attracts tourists, and just like any other entertainment industry, music keeps the tourists captivated. This article contains the details of all the big music events in the city. During this time, some parts of NYC transform into a giant stage for serving as a platform for big names in music.
Most Notable Annual Music Festivals and Events in New York City
1. Governors Ball Music Festival
Initiated in the year 2011, Governors Ball is probably the largest summer music events in the city. Approximately 150,000 music fans attend this event every year. The original one-day event was initially held on Governors Island (which is only accessible by boat). However, due to logistic reasons and feasibility for attracting an even larger audience, the music festival is not held at Randall’s Island.
It has now turned into a three-day affair wherein some giants of the music industry and icons of various genres of music, such as rock, hip-hop, pop, and indie music, perform. Just to give you an idea of how prestigious this event is, here is some glimpse of the annual performer’s names: Chance the Rapper, Phoenix, Wu-Tang Clan, Lorde, etc.
Performances by Kanye West, Beck, and Outkast in the previous years have made this festival one of the most significant events in the music scene of NYC.
2. Panorama Music Festival
Popularly known as the Coachella of East, as it is organized by the same organizers who are behind Coachella in California, this music event started in 2016. It is also a three-day event held during summer at Randall’s Island. This event is the closest one to give Governor’s Ball a competition as it also features some of the huge names such as Frank Ocean, A Tribe Called Quest, Belle, and Sebastian, Nine Inch Nails, etc.
In addition to providing an unmatched music experience, Panorama Music Festival attracts its attendees by pool parties, interactive technology displays, and huge stalls belonging to Sephora, Hendricks’s Gin, and Glenfiddich.
3. The Meadows Music and Arts Festival
Legend has it that this music festival is inspired by a small incident at the Governor’s Ball when it rained, and Kanye West’s performance was canceled in 2016. The same year, Kanye West and J. Cole performed in a heated environment of the Citi Field in Queens – the heart of the New York Mets baseball team. This event started since then and is held in early fall in the stadium.
The Meadows Music and Arts Festival organizers are the same as the Governor’s Ball, so they are up against their competition. Last year’s lineup could, however, give chills to any competitor, as it included high-power performances by Jay-Z, Gorillaz, Nas, Future, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Erykah Badu. The food at this festival is delectable. You could go full to this festival and still eat a lot.
4. Summer Stage
This is held by the City Park Foundation as NYC’s largest performance art festival. It has events planned throughout the summer season, including live concerts happening across all five boroughs. The events are, of course, held at the various city parks. The lineup of this big music event in NYC includes Patti Smith, Elvis Costello, Bob Moses, etc.
5. Electric Zoo
If you have been looking for some electronic music events and been disappointed by the lineups and the fact that the DJ is pushed back from the mainstage, this event is just for you. Launched in 2009, Electric Zoo is a three-day music event held during the Labor Day weekend in Randall’s Island. It is spread out to various stages and sets and aims to include and showcase newbies in the field.
The energy in this event is electrifying (as the name suggests) – with crowds roaring and moving to the DJ beats like puppets. If you are planning a visit to New York City, better make it during the Labor Day weekend and experience the most thrilling music festival ever!
6. Northside Festival
Held every year in June, this music festival is an ode to creativity and innovation spotted in Brooklyn. It is a significant arts event that celebrates talents that flourished through the neighborhoods of Bushwick, Williamsburg, and Greenpoint.
This festival essentially uplifts the spirits of the artists and encourages their art. It was started in 2009, and its venues vary every year. It has some popular names attached to it that attracts a humongous number of people, such as Dirty Projectors, Kamasi Washington, and Neko Case.
7. BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn!
Unlike SummerStage spanning its events throughout the five boroughs, BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! is held at the Prospect Park Bandshell only. It was started in 1979 to help capitalize the efforts of the city’s management to revitalize Prospect Park. It has since become the most popular outdoor performing arts festival, and that too for free.
Besides some free shows, countless benefit concerts require purchasing tickets. This festival has had notable performers such as The Shins, The Soul Rebels, and Andrew Bird perform previously.
8. Blue Note Jazz Festival
Among all the music festivals and events dedicated to pop music, this Blue Note Jazz Festival ignites the soul of the city’s music. It was held for the first time in 2011 and is an ode to celebrate New York City’s deep-rooted tied with jazz music.
It is held throughout June in the well-known Blue Note Jazz Club in Greenwich Village. More programs are planned at various other popular venues across the city. Notable previous performances include engrossing performances by Natalie Cole, Bela Fleck, and Dave Brubeck.
9. Afropunk Festival
It is inspired by the documentary Afro-Punk and was launched in 2005. It is held to celebrate the inclusivity of the African-Americans in white punk. Since its launch in 2005, this festival has become a significant celebration of Black music and culture.
Owing to its success in the city and popularity among people across the country, it has now become an international music event held in Atlanta, London, Paris, and Johannesburg.
10. The Classic East
The Classic East was held at the Citi Field in July 2017. The inaugural performances are lined up with Rock and Roll Hall of Famers, such as The Eagles, Steely Dan, and The Doobie Brothers. This music event also included powerful performances by the Rock and Roll giants, such as The Rolling Stone and Bob Dylan.
Experience Music in New York City
If you want to experience the real feel of live music, then come to NYC during summer. There is a bunch of events lined up during summer to make you lose yourself in the music. From jazz to pop and punk and rock and roll, you have got everything to choose from.