by Brian Lipton

Summertime in the Big Apple means you can bask in (and sometimes bake in) the sort of sizzling entertainment that simply can’t be experienced anyplace else in the world.

Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
Patti Smith / Photo by Kevin Yatarola

1. LINCOLN CENTER OUT OF DOORS: This annual celebration of global music, held at Lincoln Center’s lovely Damrosch Park, brings us unforgettable performances by some of the world’s finest artists–all for free! This year’s lineup begins with a bang on July 20 as legendary poetess and rock goddess Patti Smtih is joined by musical collaborators Lenny Kaye and Tony Shanahan, as well as special guests Mariachi Flor de Yolache. Additional don’t-miss events include concerts by South African vocal ensemble Ladysmith Black Mambazo (July 21), the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra (July 22), R&B great Darlene Love (July 23), Broadway’s Maurice Hines (July 28), and dance superstar Soledad Barrio (August 3). (For a complete schedule or for more information, visit

Shakespeare in the park2. SHAKESPEARE IN THE PARK: For more than 50 years, the beautiful Delacorte Theatre smack in the middle of Central Park has been home to the Public Theater’s free Shakespeare in the Park series, giving millions of audience members joy, and maybe their first introduction to the works of the Bard of Avon. Even the most seasoned Shakespearean lover, however, may never have seen Troilus and Cressida (July 19-August 14), a love story set against the atrocities of the Trojan War. Given the credentials of Tony-winning director Daniel Sullivan, who has assembled a superb cast of newcomers (including the equally beautiful Andrew Burnap and Ismenia Mendes in the title roles) and seasoned pros (including Max Casella, John Glover, David Harbour, Corey Stoll and John Douglas Thompson), there’s probably no time like the present to join the ranks. (For more information, visit

ROCKETTES3. THE NEW YORK SPECTACULAR: Few theaters in the world match the grandeur and brilliance of Radio City Music Hall, and no group of dancers in the world match the precision of the Radio City Rockettes. These leggy, lovely ladies are the main attraction for Radio City’s newest theatrical offering, The New York Spectacular, a multi-media showcase choreographed by the always inventive Mia Michaels (of So You Think You Can Dance fame). This family-friendly outing, featuring a book by the hilarious Douglas Carter Beane, will provide a journey through the Big Apple, stopping at some of the city’s most iconic landmarks, and giving us a never-before-seen glimpse at some larger-than-life statues, including Lady Liberty and the Wall Street Bull. (Tickets are available through August 7 by calling 866-858-8007).