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What Will This Summer Look Like in New York City?

By Lyndsey Matthews and Sarah Buder

05.22.20

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All concerts, festivals, and other nonessential events in New York City will be canceled through June, and social-distancing rules will be enforced in various parks and public spaces.

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All concerts, festivals, and other nonessential events in New York City will be canceled through June, and social-distancing rules will be enforced in various parks and public spaces.

With events and parades officially canceled through June 2020, New York will experience a summer unlike any other in order to control the coronavirus outbreak.

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This is a developing story. For up-to-date information on traveling during the coronavirus outbreak, visit the websites of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.

Even though New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio both recently stated that New York City is on track to start reopening by early-to-mid-June, that doesn’t mean life in NYC will immediately go back to normal after the first post-lockdown phase begins. In fact, summer in the city will look very different in 2020 compared to previous years.

On April 17, Mayor de Blasio announced that all concerts, festivals, and other nonessential permitted events will be canceled through the month of June, calling it a decision “we have to make” in order to keep people safeAs for visitors hoping to travel to New York this summer, NYC hotels previously stated they’re hoping to reopen this July, but they are basing their projections on the curve the virus has taken in other countries and not on any official announcement from the government. (During the pandemic, thousands of NYC hotel rooms have been used to accommodate health workers, recovering COVID patients, and the homeless.)

While de Blasio said that most of the city’s summer events will be rescheduled later in the year, New Yorkers should not anticipate traditional summer-in-the-city activities. Here’s what we know so far about what events have been canceled, whether beach, pool, and park access will be permitted, and what the city’s Fourth of July celebration could look like.

Will NYC beaches, pools, and parks be open this summer?

New York City public pools will not open this summer, and a similar decision on beaches is likely soon from the Mayor’s office.

Beaches and outdoor public pools

On Thursday, April 16, Mayor de Blasio announced that city pools will not open this summer. However, all tri-state beaches will open to the public at 50 percent capacity starting Memorial Day weekend—although at New York City beaches, swimming will not be allowed. In a press briefing on Friday, May 22, Mayor de Blasio announced that the city’s 14 miles of public beaches would not permit swimming until at least June, although beachgoers can sunbathe and enter the water up to their ankles. (Surfing is also permitted.)

The mayor added that NYPD and Parks Department beach patrols will be up in force at NYC beaches to make sure beachgoers follow the rules, which include mandatory social distancing and the use of protective masks when people can’t stay six feet apart. Most beaches on Long Island, New Jersey, and Connecticut will permit swimming beginning Memorial Day Weekend, but social-distancing rules will be in effect everywhere. In some areas neighboring New York City, local officials have moved to limit beach access in order to keep outsiders away. On Long Island, the town of East Hampton suspended the sale of nonresident parking permits and began enforcing summer beach parking regulations early this year, the New York Times reportedSmith Point on Fire Island and Cupsogue Beach in the Hamptons (both Suffolk County–run beaches) have also closed to nonresidents. 

New York City public parks

In a coronavirus press briefing on Friday, May 8, de Blasio unveiled new entry rules to cut down on crowds at New York City parks where there has been well-documented overcrowding on recent warm days. The new guidelines targeted places like Manhattan’s Hudson River Park (Piers 45 and 46) and Domino Park in Williamsburg. At these parks, the city will limit capacity and increase NYPD presence to ensure that people stay six feet apart as social-distancing rules mandate, according to the mayor. It’s unclear how long these limits will be in place and whether the city’s larger public green spaces, such as Central Park in Manhattan and Prospect Park in Brooklyn, will also be subject to them.

Which NYC events are canceled this summer?

The NYC Pride March is just one of many parades canceled in the upcoming months.

NYC Pride March

For the first time in its half-century history, New York City Pride has been canceled, along with all in-person events on the NYC Pride 2020 roster, originally scheduled for June 14–28, 2020.

“Pride is a staple in New York City, and is oftentimes a safe space for many,” David A. Correa, Heritage of Pride interim executive director, said in a statement. “This weighed on our members, board, and staff, knowing that we serve as a haven for vulnerable communities. It was not easy to arrive at the decision to cancel pride . . . but our top priority remains the health and well-being of all those that participate with us.”

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NBC New York reported that Mayor de Blasio said Pride events could be rescheduled for the fall, but some events will occur virtually this summer.

“WABC Channel 7 will continue to support Heritage of Pride this year by broadcasting a special NYC Pride programming event in June to all communities across the NYC and tri-state area,” said Debra O’Connell, president and general manager of WABC-TV, the broadcast partner of Pride in NYC.

Celebrate Israel Parade

The 56th Celebrate Israel Parade, originally scheduled for June 7, 2020, has also been canceled. With the largest Jewish population outside Israel, NYC hosts the annual parade, which usually draws more than 40,000 marchers, including American and Israeli community leaders and celebrities.

Parade organizers said in light of the cancellation, they have decided to host a virtual event in lieu of the Fifth Avenue parade. More specific details will be announced on a later date, but the online event will have a theme of todah (“thank you” in Hebrew), to express gratitude to all the “healthcare, first responder, and other frontline workers in New York, across the United States, in Israel, and around the world.”

Puerto Rican Day Parade

The 63rd Annual Puerto Rican Day Parade was originally scheduled for June 14, 2020. Since New York is home to the largest Puerto Rican community off the island, it’s one of the city’s biggest events of the year, typically drawing 1.5 million spectators and marchers to Fifth Avenue to celebrate the people of Puerto Rico.

While this year’s parade will not happen in June . . . we look forward to seeing everyone on Fifth Avenue at a later date, once city, state, and health officials give the green light to hold large-scale gatherings in our beloved city,” parade organizers said in a statement on nprdpinc.org.

Mermaid Parade Coney Island

Originally scheduled for June 20, 2020, the 38th annual Mermaid Parade in Coney Island will be moved to a later date in August or this fall. If events are put on hold for longer, Dick Zigun, the founder of Coney Island USA, says he and the parade’s other organizers plan to move the mermaid parade online

Shakespeare in the Park 

The Public Theater’s free Shakespeare in the Park 2020 season, held at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, has been canceled. In addition to planned productions of Richard II and As You Like It, the theater company will also be suspending the remaining season of programs and events, including Cullud Wattah and all performances at Joe’s Pub in its flagship home at Astor Place through August 31, 2020.

Lincoln Center Out of Doors, Midsummer Night Swing, and Mostly Mozart Festival 

The 50th edition of Lincoln Center Out of Doors, which brings free performances to the Lincoln Center Plaza, has been canceled for summer 2020. However, the performing arts center has virtual opportunities available right now and plans for other in-person events later on.

“It is our intention, when it is safe again to gather in-person, to stage a free pop-up festival in a celebration of our great city, and the selfless first responders and healthcare workers who are giving so much during this crisis,” Lincoln Center said in a statement. “Currently, and for the foreseeable future, we’re taking our work online with Lincoln Center at Home, our new portal helping families and communities keep the performing arts front and center.”

BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival 

The 2020 edition of the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival has been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, but event organizers are looking at ways to bring the annual summer concerts online.

“Each year 200,000 people come together to be part of the beautiful and unique community of our BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival, but sadly this year, we will not be reunited at the Bandshell,” event organizers said in a statement. “We have been working hard to imagine what a remote Festival could look like instead, and we are committed to bringing performances to your home. In the coming weeks, we’ll announce our full plans.”

City Parks SummerStage

Capital One City Parks Foundation SummerStage is New York’s largest free outdoor performing arts festival, producing more than 100 performances in 16 parks throughout the five boroughs each summer. Per city restrictions, none of its events will be taking place this May or June. However, the City Parks Foundations is hopeful that it will be able to present SummerStage performances later in the summer or fall if and when public gatherings are allowed, according to a statement on its website

In the meantime, it will be adding new live performances to its website to bring SummerStage concerts directly to your home. For updates, visit cityparksfoundation.org/summerstage.

Governors Ball 2020

Governors Ball Music Festival (Gov Ball), which was scheduled to take place on Randall’s Island from June 5–7, 2020, has canceled its 2020 event and will not be rescheduling it for later in the year.

“Over the past few weeks, we have gone to great lengths to find a postponement date that works for all parties involved. Due to a myriad of planning and logistical issues, we have come to the conclusion that there are no sufficient options available to us,” the festival wrote in a statement. “We are pushing ahead, and are already jumping into plans for 2021.”

Five Boro Bike Tour 

The TD Five Boro Bike Tour, a 40-mile ride across all five boroughs, is being postponed from its original date on May 3, 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While New York City officials marshal every available resource to slow the spread of the virus and save lives, we continue to discuss alternative dates for later in the year. We’ll keep you apprised as these discussions progress,” Ken Podziba, Bike New York president and CEO, said in a statement

Frieze New York 

Instead of postponing its original May 7–10 dates, the Frieze New York contemporary art fair on Randall’s Island is hosting a virtual fair with online viewing rooms for more than 200 exhibitors (open to the public from May 8 to 15).

New York City Poetry Festival

The 10th annual New York City Poetry Festival, which was scheduled to take place on Governors Island July 25–26, 2020, has been officially postponed to July 2021.

Which NYC summer events are still happening?

Mayor de Blasio says the annual Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks will take place, but will look different than previous years.

Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks

In a video posted to Twitter on April 22, Mayor de Blasio said Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks show will go on, but in a different way that is still yet to be determined.

“We may not be able to do it the way we historically have,” de Blasio said in the announcement. “One way or another, the show will go on. One way or another, we’re going to celebrate the Fourth of July in a very special way in New York City. There’s definitely going to be fireworks. How we do them, where we do them, how we do them in a way that’s safe and keeps New Yorkers safe, there are a lot of questions that need to be answered between now and then.”

Which NYC summer events are still up in the air? 

As of now, many other events scheduled for later this summer like Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest on July 4 and Brooklyn’s West Indian Day Parade held on Labor Day are still uncertain whether or not they will have to cancel. Earlier in April, Mayor de Blasio previously stated that NYC can’t allow sporting events with large crowds until individual cases of coronavirus can be tracked, which puts the Yankees and Mets season on hold for now.

As for the city’s museums, institutions such as the MoMA and the Guggenheim are currently closed until further notice. Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Museum of Art recently announced tentative plans to reopen in mid-August or “perhaps a few weeks later,” postponing its target July 1 reopening date. The Met said that when it reopens, major safety precautions will likely include reduced days and hours, and all tours, talks, concerts, and events will be canceled through 2020.

While most of New York’s performing arts institutions had to cancel the remainder of their spring seasons through June, it is unclear yet if the Metropolitan Opera, Carnegie Hall, and the New York Philharmonic will return as scheduled for their fall seasons.

With so much uncertainty, it can be hard to have hope. But Mayor de Blasio promises that when the city does reopen, the first major event will be a ticker tape parade in honor of health-care workers and first responders.

“When the day comes that we can restart the vibrant beautiful life of this city again, the first thing we will do is we will have a ticker tape parade down the Canyon of Heroes for our health-care workers and our first responders,” de Blasio said during a press conference. “We will honor those who saved us.”

This article originally appeared on April 24, 2020; it was updated on May 22, 2020, to include current information.

>> Next: Will We Be Able to Travel This Summer?