Summer in New York gets merry with a lineup of amazing festivals this week. The Fringe Festival is already in full swing for those who like offbeat and under-the-radar theater; the Blues and BBQ Festival is for anyone who likes a side of live music with their food; and the Brooklyn Comedy Festival is sure to give you a good laugh. To wash it all down, check out the Margarita March. Or escape the oppressive August heat with a jaunt to the beautiful Berkshires.
AFAR Local is our weekly insider guide to the best of what’s happening in cities around the U.S.
August 20 | Food and music festival
Blues and BBQ Festival
The 17th annual Blues and BBQ Festival returns to the Hudson River—this year further uptown at Pier 97—for another year of foot-stomping music and top-notch barbecue from some of the city’s favorite restaurants. Grab your grub from Arrogant Swine, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, Fort Gansevoort, or Mighty Quinn as you sway to the sounds of The Dirty Dozens Brass Band, Cash Box Kings, and more. The fest will run rain or shine and while entry is free, each food stall does charge for a plate (but, man, is it worth it!).
2–9 p.m. | Pier 97, W. 57th St. and Hudson River, New York | Free | website
August 21 | Drinks
NYC Margarita March
For the fourth year running, the NYC Margarita March is bringing together drink enthusiasts from around the city for a daylong exploration of one of summer’s finest beverages: the margarita. Your ticket includes a margarita at eight different bars and restaurants, and portions of the proceeds go to local charities. Pace yourself with some great food along the way—this is a marathon, not a sprint.
12–10 p.m. | Location revealed with ticket purchase | $65 | website
August 20–21 | Escape the city
A perennial, year-round getaway for weary New Yorkers, the Berkshires in Western Massachusetts is sheer perfection this time of year. There are countless scenic nature walks and hikes, like the Cascades Trail in North Adams and the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail in Cheshire. There’s yoga at the world-renowned Kripalu Center, golfing and spa treatments at Cranwell Resort, and the Berkshire Botanical Gardens. Culture lovers flock to the region for its myriad museums, including Mass MoCA, The Clark Art Institute, The Norman Rockwell Museum, and The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. And a trip to the Berkshires this season isn’t complete without catching a performance at Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
August 21–28 | Comedy festival
Brooklyn Comedy Festival
The annual Brooklyn Comedy Festival celebrates the borough that’s at the heart of New York’s thriving comedy scene with dozens of performances. Catch musical comedy favorite Reggie Watts (of the podcast Comedy Bang! Bang!), Saturday Night Live’s Vanessa Bayer, The Daily Show’s Wyatt Cenac, Jo Firestone, and so many more. The first few nights of the festival include special editions of beloved Brooklyn comedy shows like Night Train and Cheap Date, and Wednesday night features a charity event for “We Bee Spelling” at Union Pool.
Times and locations vary | Free | website
Through August 28 | Theater festival
The New York International Fringe Festival
Every year, North America’s largest multi-arts festival draws some 200 theater and dance companies to perform 1,100 shows over 16 days. The performances range from musica to drama, solo to ensemble, vaudeville to dance, and take place in venues throughout the city. Catch Catalyst, a mixed media show that follows six people who survive the apocalypse, or one-woman comedy show Poops, I Did It Again: True Tales of an Angry Colon.
Times and locations vary | From $13 | website
A native New Yorker, Katherine is a freelance food and travel writer who has eaten her way across the globe and is always on the lookout for her next great meal. She is an avid reader, insatiable traveler, sometimes photographer, and mom to an inquisitive toddler.