Especially in Queens, there’s much more to summertime than surf, sand and sun.If you wilt at the thought of summertime heat and prefer the bliss of an air-conditioned room, consider our seasonal roundup of family-friendly outdoor activities, and some indoor ones, to reacquaint you with the borough’s festive side. You might just end up sampling foreign cuisine, hearing a new favorite song or stumbling upon a new corner of a nearby street or public park.
Thomas Jefferson once extolled walking as the best possible exercise.
But it seems that many in Western Queens, known for its culture, expanding green spaces and, yes, walkability between public transportation hubs, are taking healthy movement to the next level this summer.
Popular hip-hop artist Nicki Minaj says in her song “Starships,” “Let’s go to the beach, each/ Let’s go get away.”
With scorching, and at times very humid, temperatures expected to stick around and the city allocating $687,000 to keep beaches in the five boroughs open one week past Labor Day — you’d be foolish not to take Minaj’s advice.
When the sun is blazing on these hot summer days, there are few things more refreshing than a cold beer or cocktail down at the neighborhood watering hole.
In Central and southwest Queens, there is an abundance of bars and restaurants that draw crowds from all over the city, with each one maintaining unique qualities not easily found in popular Manhattan or Brooklyn nightspots.
It should come as no surprise that the annual Jamaica Arts and Music Summer Festival, which runs on Aug. 7 and 8, will take up a full 10-block stretch of Jamaica Avenue from Parsons Boulevard to 170th Street.
“We want to celebrate the multicultural aspects of Queens,” said Tyra Emerson, of Cultural Collaborative Jamaica. “People call Queens ‘the World’s Borough.’ We feel the same way.”
The Northern Queens area has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to outdoor festivals and events in August, starting on the 1st and continuing throughout the month.
Leading off the mix is the Flushing Street Festival on Saturday, Aug. 1 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., on 40th Road and Prince Street in the downtown area. There will be vendors as well as a bounce house and rock climbing. The event is sponsored by the Flushing BID.
Dancing to buoyant acoustic pop, two puppets — Thoros of Edessa and his wife — adopt another figure, Baldwin I, in a cheery celebration. Moments later, Baldwin accepts a crown as his adoptive parents’ heads gaze out emptily from spear heads.
This treacherous scene embodies the delightfully weird “Cabaret Crusades,” a trilogy of films by Wael Shawky on exhibition at MoMA PS1 in Long Island City.
The overture begins. The performers take their places on stage. The lights come up. And if all goes well, audiences are magically transported to another world.
But what went on behind the scenes can be another story altogether.
One block from Astoria Park on a recent Thursday evening, a curious sound broke through the din of passing trains and car traffic: the sultry melody of “The Lady is a Tramp.”
As the sun headed for the horizon, the Astoria Park waterfront, overlooking the swift current of the East River, was packed with families who lounged on blankets and chairs for the Waterfront Concert Series, which brings an eclectic array of musical acts to residents Thursday evenings this summer.
Betwixt defunct NASA rockets and the Arthur Ashe Stadium, a crowd has formed around a patch of blacktop, intent on a stretch of tents- and the perfume of smoke and spices curling into the air around them.
The anticipation was palpable at the reopening of the Queens International Night Market on Saturday, July 11, and perhaps audible, in the form of growling stomachs. Eager patrons arrived an hour early, waiting around the New York Hall of Science parking lot for the 6 p.m. entry to be signaled.
As the No. 7 train made its stop at the 46th-Bliss St. station in Sunnyside last month, the sounds of subway shrieks were quickly replaced with the faint-yet-growing reverberation of horns and percussion.
The subway underpass was transformed into a communal concert where five musicians, known as the Street Beat Brass Band, played a hot brass-based number.
The first collaboration between the legendary team of Rodgers and Hammerstein was 1943’s musical “Oklahoma!,” a romantic and tuneful tale that is about to open a two-weekend run at Maggie’s Little Theater in Middle Village.
At a recent rehearsal, the cast ran through the show for the first time, and, despite the lack of some of the accoutrements (sets, costumes, lights, props and the like) that give a show its finished look, all signs pointed to an audience hit in the making.
As hundreds filed into Astoria’s Athens Square last week, many clustered, as devotees might have in ancient times, around four statues: Athena, Socrates, Sophocles and Aristotle. Two of the Hellenic icons, Socrates and Sophocles, are Astoria natives, having sprung to life just north.
On a recent afternoon, in their birthplace, the Modern Art Foundry, third-generation president Jeffrey Spring sat amid bronze heads and other curious objects in his office. The foundry, established in 1932 by Spring’s grandfather and now surrounded by warehouses and stray-cat-populated streets, still takes artists’ visions and churns them to life.
The idle feel of summer has seemingly had no effect on Queens’ community theater scene, which will be offering up six new productions before early August.
The first are two classics from a bygone era offering truckloads of charm with a touch of corn as they set audience members’ toes a-tappin’ and hearts a-flyin’.
Musician Craig Crawford enjoys playing in Roy Wilkins Park, where the Craig Crawford Players will kick off “Jazz on the Lawn — Barbecue Style” at 6:30 p.m. today, July 9.
“It’s one of the oases in Jamaica,” he said. “Absolutely a hidden gem, where you can find some of the greatest musical talent that we have in Queens.”
When was the last time you fathomed the East River, that big waterway separating Queens and Manhattan?
In capturing his crossing of the channel, long before its shores looked anywhere near to the sites of new development that they do now, poet Walt Whitman confronted the estuary: “Flood-tide below me! I see you face to face!”
New York City schoolchildren studying the history of slavery in America quickly learn that the institution did not exist in New York by the time of the Civil War.
But at the King Manor Museum in Jamaica, the home of Founding Father Rufus King and his descendants, they can learn that slavery did exist here long after the Revolutionary War. And that even then, those who spoke out against it had to be brave to do so.
Amid a lineup of familiar patriotic tunes, a peculiar melody stemming from a far loftier altitude than Jackson Heights began to play.
With a line of woodwinds and horns supplying a warm backbone of harmony, the string section of the Jackson Heights Orchestra, sounding much mightier than one might expect given its petite size during a recent rehearsal, inquired, “How do you solve a problem like Maria?”
The SummerStage Concert series is underway in Queens.
While there are many concerts in the series, which is in its 30th year, taking place in 18 parks around the city, the Queens shows will be held in Queensbridge Park and Socrates Sculpture Park through July 30.
Dancers — and dance lovers — of the world, it’s time to come together!
The World’s Fair Salsa Congress, the first of what is expected to be an annual event, is poised to take the town by storm on June 26 at Queens Theatre.
As soft breezes send nearby plants rustling, the morning sun washes a meadow lake with warmth. Suddenly, a symphony playing a tranquil melody crescendos and a battalion of birds surges into view, their tightly packed bodies coloring everything dark. As the flock pivots, the music booms. The pastoral image folds upward and yields to a wormhole-like tunnel of rainbows.
This is neither a dream nor a psychedelic romp, but a hyper-realistic film upon ocular screens attached to a head device.
What is performance, and how do we experience it? We seem to live in little cubbies, beckoning the world from tiny beacons that sit in our pockets and on our laps: our smartphones and other devices.
Now those devices are taking center stage in “Woyzeck: The Human Experiment,” a rendition produced by The Mesh Group. Playwright Georg Buchner began it in the 1830s, but died before completing it. The play premiered in 1913 in Munich after being reworked by a legion of writers and editors and continues to be retouched and remixed in perpetuity.
Cultural reinvention is nothing new to the people of New York City.
But at an exhibit at Dorsky Gallery Curatorial Programs in Long Island City, the intersection of customs from one’s homeland and new ideologies formed here is pushed to the forefront. Twenty artists, each bridging cultures, center on an underlying tension between tradition and new waves of thought. Often, that assessment sparks a brash subversion of cultural expectations.
Emerging playwrights have an ideal venue to gain exposure in the Variations Theatre Group’s Unchained Theatre Festival. And audiences get to experience theater at affordable prices, right in their own backyard.
Now in its third year, the festival, held at the Chain Theatre in Long Island City, will present 15 pieces, with some as short as 15 minutes and others full-length works, with many by Queens playwrights.