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What to Do in July in NYC

For travelers who can stand the heat (it’s not uncommon for temperatures to breach 90 degrees), July is one of the best times to visit New York City. There are a number of fun things to do in the Big Apple in July, including Independence Day fireworks over the East River and outdoor film screenings across the five boroughs.

And because so many locals head out of town for the long summer weekends, visitors can enjoy a quieter, more laid-back version of the Big Apple. Expect steamy subway platforms but surprisingly empty trains and uncrowded sidewalks.

Most of all, be prepared for some of the city’s titular summer events, including a star-studded music festival and a lyrical celebration of poetry on Governors Island. Consult Refinery’s definitive guide for exactly what to do in New York City this July.

See the Fourth of July Fireworks

Don your red, white and blue duds and head outside on July 4 to catch the epic Macy’s Fourth of July fireworks, now in its 42nd year. For nearly half an hour starting at 9:25 p.m., the annual fireworks display will light up the East River — and in 2018, viewers can expect 20 new effects and 3,000 individual pyrotechnics. The best views of the brilliant displays can be seen from public parks and rooftop bars, including Northern Territory in Brooklyn and Williamsburg’s East River State Park. While the city’s official viewing locations are still being confirmed, One World Observatory at the World Trade Center and Riverpark restaurant, in Manhattan’s Gramercy neighborhood, are solid bets for paid entry.

Catch an Outdoor Movie Screening

Come evening, when the temperatures dip, travelers can watch classic and contemporary flicks during an al fresco screening at any number of the city’s outdoor movie festivals. In Midtown’s Bryant Park, for example, HBO’s annual film festival runs screenings every Monday (July selections include A League of Their Own, Little Miss Sunshine, and The Princess Bride). On July 13 and 27, head to the flight deck of the Intrepid to catch Friday the 13th or last year’s Blockbuster, Dunkirk, respectively. And across the river, Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Movies With a View will be showing an unexpected mix of cinematic selections, alongside impressive city skyline views. Photo courtesy of siniauer on Instagram.

Party at the Panorama Music Festival

For three days (July 27 to July 29), Randall’s Island Park transforms into one of New York City’s most electric concert venues. This year, the Panorama music festival will feature major performers such as Dua Lipa, Fleet Foxes, Gucci Mane, Janet Jackson, SZA, and The Killers, among others. One-day general admission starts at $125 all-in, with access to charging stations, shade tents, air conditioned restrooms and, as an added bonus, even free admission to the Queens Museum. Festivalgoers will also have access to The Lab, a collection of experiential digital installations.

NYC Poetry Festival

Now in its 8th year, the New York City Poetry Festival is a free event on Governors Island that features some 250 poets. Scheduled readings take place between 11:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. on July 28 and July 29, and the 2018 festival is headlined by by celebrated authors Ladan Osman, Nico Tortorella, Terrance Hayes and Danielle Pafunda. In addition to poetry readings, visitors can check out participating vendors, listen to (or participate in) the Open Mic, and peruse the onsite art installations. Photo courtesy of nycpofest on Instagram.

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