The calendar might not yet say “June 21,” but for all intents and purposes—i.e., the sudden, glorious onslaught of sun and heat—it is summer in Brooklyn. And what a time this is. Brooklyn abounds with cultural riches all the time, but it is even more fun to take advantage of them when you can, at times, be outdoors, and not freeze while you’re at it. Even better? Taking advantage of those things when you have to pay zero dollars for the pleasure of it.
So! To that end, we have compiled a list of 73 free cultural Brooklyn-based things that you can and should make sure to go to and enjoy, financially-guilt-free, this summer. Whether your tastes veer toward outdoor movie screenings, yoga in the park, book readings, book signings, comedy, physical activity, fine art, live music, DJ sets, or—what’s that? You’d like a massive vegan outdoor potluck? You can have that, and all the rest of it, too. So scroll down and get ready to have diverse, cultural, and economically-good times this summer in Brooklyn.
1) The Beehive at Northside
The Wild Honey Pie and Pop Montreal collaborate to put on a free show during Brooklyn’s Northside festival. Just RSVP online and swing on over to The Well to enjoy some tunes. 6/8 at The Well on 272 Meserole Street, Williamsburg
2) Massive Vegan Potluck Picnic
The name here really says it all: if you’re a vegan who would like to share a huge communal meals outdoors with other vegans, this is your chance.
6/4 at Prospect Park, Grand Army Plaza, Park Slope
3) Target First Saturdays
Take advantage of the art and entertainment that the Brooklyn Museum has to offer, with free admission the first Saturday of every month. Click here for a list of current and upcoming exhibitions.
First Saturday of every month at Brooklyn Museum, 200 Eastern Parkway, Prospect Heights
As Brooklyn’s longest running film and music series, SummerScreen has brought crowds of moviegoers to McCarren Park for over a decade. Come re-watch your favorite classic after listening to a set played by your next favorite band! Click here for this summer’s lineup. 7/6-8/10 on Wednesdays at McCarren Park, Williamsburg
5) Bushwick Arts Festival
Arts in Bushwick started Bushwick Open Studios nine years ago, but the annual event has since been moved to October. Bushwick Arts Festival, in its inaugural year, aims to be a world-class art event that showcases works in spaces throughout the neighborhood—all while taking advantage of the pleasant summer weather.
6/3-5 Various locations, for more info, visit here
6) Outdoor Yoga in Prospect Park
Join The Prospect Park Alliance, Bed + Bloom Yoga, and Lululemon Brooklyn every Thursday for free, community yoga classes in Long Meadow. Bring your own towel or mat!
6/2-8/25 Long Meadow in Prospect Park, Park Slope
7) Greenlight Bookstore readings
Greenlight’s events schedule is always busy, with writers from a multitude of literary genres sharing their work on and off site. Click here for more info.
Readings and talks all summer long at Greenlight Bookstore and other locations, 686 Fulton Street, Fort Greene
8) Celebrate Brooklyn
Get ready for an unforgettable season of performing arts at Prospect Park’s Bandshell! The lineup this year includes Dr. Dog, Alvvays, and many, many more.
6/8-8/13 Prospect Park Bandshell, Park Slope
9) Open mic at the Poets Settlement
The Poets Settlement holds open mic nights and other literary events each month that are free and open to all lit lovers. Click here to sign up for June’s event.
10) DJ Hard Hittin Harry and Afripedia with Q&A
Haitian-born Brooklyn DJ, Hard Hittin Harry will play a hip-hop, Afro-Caribbean inspired set, to open up for Afripedia, a documentary series about the generation of rising creative talents in Africa.
6/13 at Saratoga Park, Halsey Street between Howard and Saratoga Avenues, Bed-Stuy
11) Vegucated screening at Park Slope Food Coop
This documentary follows three cheese and meat lovers as they adopt a vegan diet for six weeks. The film explores issues of health, sustainability, and ethics in relation to the meat industry.
6/14 at Park Slope Food Coop, 782 Union Street, Park Slope
12) Music in Motion
A weekly neighborhood family concert featuring classical music under the Brooklyn Bridge! The Music in Motion series follows each show with a musician Q&A.
5/7-8/27 at Fulton Ferry Landing in Brooklyn Bridge Park, Brooklyn Heights; Saturdays at 4 p.m.
13) Rite of Summer Music Festival, Governor’s Island
This festival, which features some of the best and most promising artists in classical and contemporary music, is taking place for its fifth year on Governors Island. Bring a blanket, some picnic food, and friends!
5/29-8/27 Nolan Park, Governors Island
14) BAM R&B Festival
In this lunchtime concert series, BAM brings R&B, funk, gospel, soul, jazz, and world music artists to Downtown Brooklyn. Take a break from work and come groove.
6/2-8/4 at Metrotech Commons, 10 Metrotech Roadway, Downtown Brooklyn
There are few things better than free performing arts and days spent in an NYC park. SummerStage offers the best of both—check out this year’s lineup to see what’s in store!
6/4-8/23 at various locations. Click here for the full events calendar.
16) The Dysfunctional Collective
House 8B on Governors Island becomes transformed when multimedia theatre group puts on its shows. Come to see adaptations of Shakespeare’s works as well as dance and recited poetry!
5/28-9/25 at Nolan Park, Governors Island
17) BRIC House: B-Side
BRIC’s in-house music performances place a spotlight on local emerging artists and allow viewers to sit in on an intimate show in a cozy setting.
5/5-7/7 at BRIC House, 646 Fulton Street, Fort Greene
18) Shakespeare at Sunset
What better venue to watch a Shakespeare play than on the waterfront at sunset? Come for this summer’s feature production of The Winter’s Tale.
8/9-14 at Brooklyn Bridge Park, Brooklyn Heights
19) On Stage at Kingsborough
This festival’s mission is to bring diverse performing artists from around the world to perform at Kingsborough’s bandshell each July. This year’s series features the Glenn Crytzer Orchestra and Svetlana & the Delancey Six among others.
7/2-23 at Kingsborough’s Lighthouse Bandhshell, Manhattan Beach
20) Coney Island Flicks on the Beach
Beach, rides, and a movie all in one day? You bet it’s possible. This film series features a mix of modern, classic, and indie movies that are projected on to the big screen right beside a lit up Deno’s Wonder Wheel.
Mondays, July-August at the beach at West 10th Street, Coney Island
21) Waterfront Workouts at Pier 2
From dance, to yoga, to zumba, get ready to get your fitness fix without ever having to step foot in the gym. Who needs to during the warm summer months after all?
5/30-9/13 at Pier 2, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Brooklyn Heights
22) Kayaking in the East River
Escape the bustle of the city by turning the East River into your own private getaway! Kayaks are available to rent, free, at specific times throughout the week.
Saturdays from 10 a.m.–3 p.m. & Thursdays from 5:30 p.m.–6:45 p.m., Pier 2, Brooklyn Bridge Park
23) The End of the Line screening at Park Slope Food Coop
The Plow to Plate film series continues at the Park Slope Food Coop with The End of the Line, which centers on the decimation of numerous food species do to overfishing.
July 12 at Park Slope Food Coop, 782 Union Street, Park Slope
24) Sundance Shorts
Each year, a large crowd gathers at Metrotech Commons to get a taste of what’s new in short film. Click here for a preview of what’s to come!
6/10 at Metrotech Commons, 5 Metrotech Center, Downtown Brooklyn
25) Ties that Bind: Short Films About Families
The protagonists of these short films are families: people we wish our families could be, and those we sometimes are.
6/15 at Metrotech Comons, 5 Metrotech Center, Downtown Brooklyn
26) Dangerous Docs
Don’t try to make these films at home—an evening screening devoted to true stories that were shared at their own risk.
6/24 at Metrotech Comons, 5 Metrotech Center, Downtown Brooklyn
27) Videology Movie Trivia Night
Show off your movie trivia skills over a round of drinks! Neither you nor your friends will regret it.
Every Tuesday at Videology 308 Bedford Ave
28) LGBTQ Spotlight with Bushwick Film Festival
Join moderator Tiq Milan for a discussion following an evening of LGBTQ films.
5/25 at BRIC House Stoop, 647 Fulton St., Fort Greene
29) TropiChat: Latin-o-American, the Brooklyn Edition
Come view a series of films created by Latino filmmakers who call Brooklyn home. Afterward, join Carlos A. Gutiérrez and panelists for a dialogue on what it means to be a Latino filmmaker.
6/15 at BRIC House Stoop, 647 Fulton St., Fort Greene
30) FAB Flicks
Presented through a partnership between Fulton Area Businesses and BAMcinématek, FAB Flicks will screen a film each Thursday night in June. Come for Mahogonay, Claudine, and more.
6/2-23 at Putnam Triangle on 22 Putnam Avenue, Bed Stuy
31) Habana Outpost Outdoor Movies
Enjoy a meal and some drinks at Habana Outpost while watching a free film projected on to the big screen. Of course, the food itself won’t be free, but you’re still getting a two for one deal!
Sundays 5/1 – 10/30 at Habana Outpost on 757 Fulton Street, Fort Greene
32) Bluegrass Brunch with the Kitchen Dwellers
Bring the family to enjoy brunch at the Bowl with some quality bluegrass.
3/6 at the Brooklyn Bowl, 61 Wythe Avenue, Williamsburg
33) Nathan’s 2016 Hot Dog Eating Contest
There are few Fourth of July traditions more Brooklyn than going to watch Joey Chestnut and opponents scarf down hot dogs in this timed competition.
7/4 Nathan’s Famous, Coney Island
34) Opening Reception for Tai Hwa Goh: Leaks
Tai Hwa Goh uses hand-printed paper to create delicately layered installations in this exhibition that explores themes of containment, embodiment, and creativity.
6/29 BRIC House Hallway, 647 Fulton Street, Fort Greene
35) River to River Arts Festival
Join fellow art aficionados to experience eleven days of dance, music, visual art, and new media projects, which will take place in public parks, historic landmarks, on Governors Island, and along the waterfront.
6/16 – 26 on Governors Island and various other locations
36) Brooklyn Children’s Museum free hours
Bring the kids and explore the exhibitions on view at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum!
Thursdays 2 – 6 p.m at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, 145 Brooklyn Avenue, Crown Heights
37) Figment NYC
This is the festival that calls upon all lit lovers. Come sit for readings, bond with other writers, and share your own work!
6/3-5, Governors Island
38) Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks
This year marks the fortieth anniversary of the Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks. Fireworks will be set off from barges located between the Brooklyn and Queensboro Bridge
7/4 at various viewpoints along the East River
39) Coney Island Fourth of July Fireworks
Alternatively, skip the barbecue spend your Independence Day at Coney Island, with a Nathan’s Famous hot dog under the balmy sun.
7/4 Coney Island Boardwalk, Coney Island
40) Geeks Who Drink Pub Quiz
Assemble a team to duke it out in a Pub Quiz at The Rock Shop. This is not your average trivia game. Prepare to race through seventy multimedia questions in two riveting hours.
Every Wednesday at The Rock Shop on 249 Fourth Avenue, Park Slope
41) Basement Beats
DJ Colleen Crumbcake (East Village Radio) plays a late night hip-hop dance set to get you moving!
5/27 Union Hall, 702 Union Street, Park Slope
42) DJ Manila Ice
Join DJ Manila Ice as he plays a set during Brooklyn Pride!
6/10 Union Hall, 702 Union Street, Park Slope
43) DJ MH The Verb Presents: DEC4DES
Dress up in the garb from your favorite decade and get ready to party!
6/11 Union Hall, 702 Union Street, Park Slope
44) Ya DiG! (free before 11 p.m. with RSVP)
Think hip-hop/R&B basement party. Ya dig it? Come on through.
6/18 Union Hall, 702 Union Street, Park Slope
45) Awesome Aughts: Music of the Early 2000s
Do you find yourself missing 2005 sometimes? We do too. Make your way to Union Hall for this event to shamelessly relive the best of the last decade.
6/24 Union Hall, 702 Union Street, Park Slope
46) Drunk Debates
Opinionated, confrontational, and a quick thinker? If you answered “yes” to all of these, considering trying your hand at Union Hall’s Drunk Debates. You’ll be asked a question and then to defend your answer, with more and more booze as the rounds move along.
6/26 Union Hall, 702 Union Street, Park Slope
47) Free Bike Mornings on Governors Island
Biking in Governors Island is a sweet escape from the frenzied car traffic of the five boroughs, so take advantage of the free hours and get riding!
Weekdays, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m., Colonel’s Row, Governors Island
48) Shape Up NYC
Shape Up is New York’s free, drop-in exercise series that takes place throughout the five boroughs. Try your hand at kickboxing, capoeira, or a bootcamp class!
Various dates and locations, click here for more info
49) Garden Moves: African Dance
Work up a sweat and get in touch with your inner rhythm in a free African dance class. Part cardio, part dance party.
Wednesdays from 6/22 – 8/24 Target Brooklyn Community Garden, Bed-Stuy
50) City of Water Day
This family themed festival features art and food and takes place in pockets along multiple waterfronts on Governors Island, Hoboken, and at more locations.
7/16 at various locations. Click here for more info.
51) Red Hook Boaters
Red Hook Boaters is an organization that provides free kayaking in Brooklyn and is run by volunteers. Visit here for more details about free hours.
6/5-9/25 at Louis Valentino Jr. Pier Park, Red Hook
52) Free Outdoor Swimming
From McCarren Pool in Williamsburg to Commodore Barry Pool by the Navy Yard, Brooklyn has its fair share of public pool to keep you cool for the summer. Click here for a full list of City pools and their operating hours.
NYC Pools are set to open on 6/29
53) Brooklyn Pride
Celebrate love the Brooklyn way at Pride, this side of the East River. Events include a 5K pride run, an all-day festival, and culminating parade.
6/11, 5th Avenue, Park Slope
54) French Culture: Films on the Green
Films on the Green is a free outdoor French film festival developed in partnership by the French Embassy, FACE Foundation, and NYC Parks. Screenings this summer will include Breathless, Subway, and more.
6/7 – 9/8 various locations
55) 40th Annual Brighton Jubilee Festival
Jubilee has been taking place in Brighton Beach for nearly four decades and is a multi-block festival that celebrates the diversity of Brooklyn. Featuring multiple stages as well as food and merchandise tents, this is a block party on a massive scale.
8/28, for info visit here
56) Writing on It All
This Governors Island event encourages participants to write on the interior surfaces of an out-of-use house, to explore the relationship between the act of writing itself, the object being written on, and the everyday issues we can confront through writing. Each weekend has different programs with different artists; check the website for more details.
6/4 – 26, on Governors Island
57) NYC Poetry Festival
This year’s festival will feature over 250 poets from all five boroughs. Come to hear new works, share your own, and support fellow writers!
7/30-31 at Colonel’s Row, Governors Island
58) Books Beneath the Bridge
Nearly 5,000 people have gathered in Brooklyn Bridge Park since this series launched in 2012. Throughout July and August, come to for readings and Q&As by some of your favorite writers!
7/10 – 8/20 under the Brooklyn Bridge Park at Granite Prospect
59) Karaoke on the Boardwalk
Not a good singer? Doesn’t matter! Anyone can come and belt their hearts out at this weekly karaoke series in Coney Island.
Fridays all summer long in front of Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park on Boardwalk and West 12th Street, Coney Island
60) The Mermaid Parade
Entering its 34th year, the Mermaid Parade continues to uphold its traditions of celebrating ancient mythology alongside glittering Brooklyn creativity.
6/18 Coney Island Boardwalk
61) It’s My Park
Join thousands of New Yorkers as they volunteer to clean out and beautify neighborhood park spaces. Visit here for more info.
5/25 – 9/3 various locations
62) Book Court readings
Book Court’s events span genre and scope, leaving something for every member of the family. Join Jen Hill for a story time reading of Diana’s White House Garden, or Jessica Valenti as she discusses her memoir on womanhood.
Click here for full events calendar
63) Yaa Gyasi, in conversation with poet Tracy K. Smith
Join poet Tracy K. Smith and Yaa Gyasi, as they discuss Gyasi’s debut novel Homecoming, which explores a narrative about two sisters who are torn apart between Africa and America.
6/13 Dweck Auditorium, 10 Grand Army Plaza, Park Slope
64) Ellen Freudenheim presents The Brooklyn Experience
A book party The Brooklyn Experience, Ellen Freudenheim’s newest (truly) insider’s guide to the borough. Are you a native Brooklynite who really knows Brooklyn? Then you know there’s always more to explore!
6/9 Community Bookstore 143 7th Avenue, Park Slope
65) Brooklyn by the Book presents Svetlana Alexievich
Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Alexievich will read from her latest work, Secondhand Time, which chronicles the Soviet Union’s transformation into modern day Russia through interviews conducted between 1991 and 2012.
6/23 Brooklyn PublicLibrary, 10 Grand Army Plaza, Park Slope
66) Eddie Huang and Elena Bergeron talk and book signing
Street food guru Eddie Huang joins SB Nation’s Elena Bergeron in a conversation about his newest memoir, Double Cup Love, as well as family, identity, and food—of course.
6/1 Berg’n Beer Hall, 899 Bergen Street, Prospect Heights
67) Arts in Bushwick Community Day
Arts in Bushwick’s daylong festival aims to bring the neighborhood together through music, art, and poetry. There will be an art market and stations for kids to create their own masterpieces.
6/5 at Irving Square Park, Bushwick
68) By Us For Us: A Month of Global Black and Asian Futurity opening event
An opening event for BUFU’s month long multimedia project, made up of performance and visual art as well as discussions about race, cultural exchange, and social justice.
6/3 at 283 Greene Avenue
69) Guerilla-art.mx: Transgression
Opening reception for Guerilla-art.mx: Transgression, a visual arts and film project focused on migration, displacement, and giving voice to marginalized communities across the globe.
7/11 Open Source Gallery, 306 17th Street, South Slope
70) Comedy at the Knitting Factory
Start the work week of right with weekly comedy at the Knitting Factory, featuring your favorite local comics.
Sundays at 9 p.m. 361 Metropolitan Avenue, Williamsburg
71) Smith Street Stage presents The Tempest
Smith Street Stage puts on an annual Shakespeare show in June. Come out this season to view their rendition on the Tempest!
6/8 – 6/26 Wednesday through Sundays at 7:30 p.m. // Carroll Park
72) Free Outdoor Movie Series in Fort Greene Park
Alama Drafthouse Cinema opens in Downtown Brooklyn in the next weeks, so they wanted to give fans a taste of their movie programming with a short outdoor film series this summer. Films will include Best in Show, Labrynth, and Finding Nemo.
5/27-6/10 at Fort Greene Park
73) Brooklyn Flea
Unfortunately, the merchandise isn’t free, but it always is to browse through the selection of handcrafted do-dads. Now with locations in DUMBO, Williamsburg, Prospect Park, and Fort Greene, you’ll always be able to get your Brooklyn Flea fix.
For more details, visit here