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What’s Happening 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 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 — July 4

Don your best red, white and blue duds and head outside on July 4 to catch the epic Macy’s Fourth of July fireworks, now in its 43rd 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 five new effects (hidden happy faces, multicolor meteor mines and revolving dragons among them) and 70,000 pyrotechnics. The best views of the brilliant displays can be seen from public parks and rooftop bars, including those in Dumbo, Brooklyn and Manhattan’s South Street Seaport. 

The Greatest Day Ever — July 13 and 14

The multiday Panorama music festival may be taking a hiatus in 2019, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be a quiet July. This year, head to Coney Island (instead of Randalls Island) for the two-day Greatest Day Ever festival and carnival at the Ford Amphitheater. Electronic and rap performers take the stage on July 13 and 14 (think: Zeds Dead, Pusha T, Andre Power and Armani White). General admission tickets start at $57 and include access to Coney Island amusement rides. 

The New York City Poetry Festival — July 27 and 28

Now in its 9th year, the New York City Poetry Festival is a free event on Governors Island that features some 250 poets. Scheduled readings start at 11:00 a.m. on July 27 and July 28, and the 2019 festival is headlined by celebrated authors Robert Pinsky, Dorothea Lasky, Chen Chen, Javier Zamora and Lynn Melnick. In addition to poetry readings, visitors can check out participating vendors, listen to (or participate in) the Open Mic, watch short films based on poems and peruse the onsite art installations.

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, there are film screenings every Monday (July selections include To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and the 1976 thriller, Carrie). On Friday, July 19, head to the flight deck of the Intrepid to catch a screening of First Man. And across the river, Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Movies With a View enters its 20th year with an unexpected mix of cinematic selections (Pariah, Girlfight and It Happened One Night), alongside impressive city skyline views.


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