Summer Guide to Cultural Events

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DOWNTOWN Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit Entering its 82nd season, the annual Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit is one of those New York traditions that just never gets old. The art isn't flagrantly modern, for the most part, but it doesn't feel tired, either. The exhibitions run the gamut; the same block may feature landscape photographs from Southeast Asia, abstract paintings of electric guitars and clocks made from scrap metal. That's the show's beauty, really: Despite its large cast of regulars, you still never know what you'll find. Everything is for sale-although it may cost you an arm and a leg-but it's well worth the trip just to browse. May 26-28, June 2-3, Sept. 1-3 & 8-9. University Place betw. 3rd & 12th Sts., DOWNTOWN Hester Street Fair This annual street fair, an urban version of its country counterpart, is thankfully free of carnies and scary looking rides. Stroll through the outdoor market on the Lower East Side and support local artisans selling vintage threads and baubles, original art, handcrafted jewelry and homemade jams and pickles. Munch alfresco on summertime staples from Pies 'n' Thighs and Luke's Lobster, then grab a gourmet ice pop from La Newyorkina or build your own gourmet gooey s'more at S'amore. Saturdays through the summer, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Hester St. at Essex St., DOWNTOWN HOWL! Festival Indulge your inner beat at the annual HOWL! Festival. Named after Allen Ginsberg's celebrated poem, the festival kicks off with a group reading of "Howl" on Friday night. The rest of the weekend promises plenty of musical performances and dances. Be sure to check out one of the key attractions: 140 artists in action as they transform an 8-foot-high, 900-foot-long blank canvas into a mural of art encircling the park. HOWL! is kid-friendly, too, with carnival games, face-painting and story-telling. June 1-3. Tomkins Square Park, 7th-10th Sts. betw. Aves. A & B, DOWNTOWN Summer in the Square Union Square is the focal point every Thursday as the Union Square Partnership hosts its annual Summer in the Square, including a series of free activities and concerts in the park. "Fitness in the Square" starts at 7 a.m. and features yoga and cardio classes, while "Kids in the Square" begins at 10 a.m., offering activities for children. Starting at 6 p.m., local musicians regale listeners with everything from rock and jazz to folk and Latin music. June 14-Aug. 9. Union Square, 14th-17 Sts. betw. Broadway & Park Ave. S., DOWNTOWN River to River Festival Watch Colombian Harpist Edmar Castaneda perform, take a walking tour of the Brooklyn Bridge or learn how to tie a knot. Or, do all three. This Lower Manhattan performing arts festival offers an array of free events every day at venues including Castle Clinton, Governors Island, South Street Seaport Museum, Wall Street Plaza and more. Featuring music, dance, art, film and theater events, the festival began as a way to revitalize the downtown area after 9/11 and is now celebrating its 10th year. June 17-July 15. Various locations, DOWNTOWN Swedish Midsummer Festival Scandinavians are hot. That's a fact. Male or female, these high-cheekboned wonders will be running rampant at the Midsummer Festival at Battery Park. The festival, starting at 5 p.m., is meant to celebrate the summer solstice, or some pagan jazz like that. For some reason, the solstice makes people want to dance around trees with wreaths on their head. We don't know why, but who cares when you can munch on waffles and herring and pretend you're a Viking against the backdrop of the New York Harbor? OK, we could do without the herring part. Go summer! June 22, 5-8 p.m. Robert F. Wagner Jr. Park, off Battery Place, DOWNTOWN Gay Pride Parade With the passage of gay marriage in New York last year and President Barack Obama coming out in support of same-sex marriage, expect this year's Gay Pride Parade to be one big love fest. This über-fun event takes over the entire west side of Manhattan, with a parade down Fifth Avenue, parties on the pier, performers, a street fair and fireworks. June 24. Begins at 36th St. & 5th Ave., ends at Christopher & Greenwich Sts., DOWNTOWN Hudson Square Music & Wine Festival A great way to enjoy the late sunshine after work, this weekly festival brings musicians as diverse as the Portland Cello Project and Marshall Crenshaw together with a full bar and wonderful (yet affordable) wines in the courtyard behind City Winery. It's an eclectic celebration of the melting pot of New York City. June 26-Aug. 28, Tuesday nights, 5:30 p.m. City Winery, 155 Varick St., DOWNTOWN Lowdown Hudson Blues Festival Celebrate the blues with old and new artists at the second annual Lowdown Hudson Blues Festival at the World Financial Center Plaza. Buddy Guy, ranked in the top 30 of Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time, will headline the show on July 11, and Grammy-nominated singer Neko Case will perform July 12. Other performers include Charles Bradley and John Mayall. July 11-12, 6-9:30 p.m. World Financial Center, 220 Vesey St., betw. North End Ave. & West St., MIDTOWN India Day Parade Celebrated to commemorate Indian independence from Britain, there is usually a Bollywood star or two in attendance at this glittery parade to which Indians from all over the tristate area come to party like it's 1999. There's food and goodies sprinkled along the parade route, so you can chow down on your favorite goodies like samosas and kebabs. August (date TBA). Madison Ave., from 38th to 28th St., UPPER EAST SIDE Museum Mile Festival For those who want to explore a few of New York City's most famous museums for free, the 34th annual Museum Mile Festival is the event to attend. Known as New York's biggest block party, Fifth Avenue will be closed to traffic from 82nd Street to 105th Street, and 10 museums will open theirs doors to the public free of charge. The event will also feature live music and outdoor art activities for kids. Participating museums include the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, El Museo Del Barrio, Museum of the City of New York and more. June 12. 5th Ave. betw. 82nd & 105th Sts., ( EAST SIDE Bastille Day If you secretly wanted to protest at Zuccotti Park but didn't want to deal with the lack of showers and that whole sleeping outside thing, Bastille Day on 60th Street is for you-it's like the sanitized, more fun version of protesting. After all, it was the poor French who decided they weren't going to take it anymore from that bossy monarchy. The good news is no one is going to be guillotined at this Bastille Day. Instead, visitors can play pétanque, sip on kir royales and eat some smelly cheese. July 15, 12-5 p.m. 60th St. betw. 5th and Lexington Aves., ( WEST SIDE Midsummer Night Swing If you're looking for a fun new way to dance away a hot summer's night in New York, consider Lincoln Center's outdoor dance party. Midsummer Night Swing offers a one-hour dance lesson followed by live music and dancing at the bandshell and elevated dance floor in Damrosch Park. Opening night features music from the '50s and '60s, and subsequent nights features such genres as jazz, salsa and rock 'n' roll. June 26-July 12, 6:30-10 p.m.; $17, passes for multiple nights are available. Damrosch Park, at 62nd St. betw. Columbus & Amsterdam Aves., GOVERNORS ISLAND The Seventh Annual Jazz Age Lawn Party A free ferry to Governors Island lets you slip away to a Gatsby-inspired refuge. Come to the best 1920s outdoor summer party of 2012, featuring live music, a 50-foot-square real wood dance floor (with dance lessons), delightful and refreshing cocktails, fun summer foods and desserts, an old-fashioned DJ spinning records on an antique phonograph, vintage booths and so much more. June 16-17 & Aug 18-19; $15, kids are free. Governors Island,

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