A guide to summer theatre in NYC: locations, live shows, and more

A complete guide to summer theatre in NYC

Discover indoor and outdoor shows taking place across New York this summer, plus answers to frequently asked questions about planning a summer theatre trip.

Gillian Russo
Gillian Russo

To quote Hamilton, there’s nothing like summer in the city, especially at New York theatres. With Broadway and Off-Broadway theatre in full swing throughout the summer, there’s a ton of live entertainment on your doorstep.

Summer is the perfect time to finally check that long-running show off your bucket list, experience a new show on or off Broadway, or take the kids to their first live entertainment experience.

Grab your friends and family. Hear the orchestra tune up. Get ready to experience the summer of a lifetime at New York theatres. Here’s our guide to summer theatre in New York City.

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Shows to see in New York this summer

The New York theatre scene is bustling in the summer. While it's true that only a handful of new Broadway shows open in the summer months, the ones in 2024 are blockbusters: There are the critically acclaimed Off-Broadway hits Job (a psychological thriller starring Succession's Peter Friedman and Sydney Lemmon) and Oh, Mary! (a satirical romp about Mary Todd Lincoln, written by and starring Cole Escola).

If you missed Tony Award winner Sutton Foster in the Princess and the Pea musical Once Upon a Mattress, you can see the production this summer, or you can rediscover the quietly moving Home, a hidden-gem play about self-discovery from 1980.

Additionally, you can use this time to catch up on hits from earlier this year, like the frontrunning Tony Award winners Stereophonic and The Outsiders. You can also venture off Broadway instead and see something like Cats, a reimagining of Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical set in the queer ballroom scene.

Plus, without tons of new Broadway shows opening, summer becomes the perfect time to finally check a long-runner off your must-see list or catch up on this year's Tony Award winners. Go beyond traditional theatre and see stand-up comedy or burlesque.

Read our full guide to all the top theatre to see in New York this summer.


Shows to see with kids in New York this summer

With the kids out of school, the summer is the perfect time to bring them to the theatre, whether you live local to New York or are visiting the city on a summer vacation with your family. Theatre is the perfect summer activity for families, as there are plenty of shows that will keep the kids entertained for a few hours — screen-free.

Disney shows like The Lion King and Aladdin are among the best Broadway shows for kids, and they're on all season long. Or, you can check out an Off-Broadway event like Gazillion Bubble Show, perfect for introducing very young children to live entertainment for the first time. Bubbles are perfect for summertime!

Read our full guide to the best Broadway shows for kids, which also includes FAQs and advice for taking kids to New York theatres.

Get tickets to family-friendly shows on New York Theatre Guide.

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Are New York theatres air-conditioned?

Yes! All Broadway theatres and most Off-Broadway theatres in New York are air-conditioned. So if you're looking for a place to beat the summer heat, a theatre is a great option! Plus, you can get a cold drink to cool you down even further while watching your show.

If you get cold easily, you might want to bring a light jacket into the theatre since they're air-conditioned. Otherwise, a theatre will probably be the perfect temperature for you. Since 2021, when theatres reopened following the Covid-19 pandemic, Broadway theatres and many Off-Broadway theatres have also been equipped with purifying air filters.


Best outdoor venues in New York

New York weather is beautiful in the summer, especially at night once it cools off a little. So why not enjoy the weather and a show at the same time? Catch a show under the stars at one of these outdoor performance venues in Manhattan.

Delacorte Theater

The premier outdoor theatre venue in New York is the Delacorte Theater in the heart of Central Park, where The Public Theater puts on its annual Shakespeare in the Park season.

The Delacorte is closed for renovations in 2024, but it will reopen in 2025. This summer, the Public is putting on a free traveling production of The Comedy of Errors, an English- and Spanish-language musical adaptation of Shakespeare's play about mistaken identities. The Comedy of Errors is playing at various parks across all five boroughs through June 30.

For the rest of the summer, the Public is offering free public screenings of past Shakespeare in the Park productions as well as opportunities to stream some from home anytime.

Central Park SummerStage

SummerStage is a program that puts on summer entertainment in parks across all five boroughs, but the flagship location is the Central Park SummerStage. This stage mainly hosts concerts from well-known bands and underground artists alike, and most are free.

Bryant Park

Each summer, a stage is put up at the edge of Bryant Park's lawn, where its annual series of Bryant Park Picnic Performances take place. Opera, music, theatre, and dance companies put on free performances throughout the summer, and you can sit on the lawn and watch them under the stars.

Richard Rodgers Amphitheater

This venue is not to be confused with the Richard Rodgers Theatre on Broadway! The Richard Rodgers Amphitheater is located in Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem, and Classical Theater of Harlem and SummerStage put on various theatrical and other live shows there annually throughout the summer. Notably, CTH puts on a free Shakespeare production each year, and 2024's is A Midsummer Night's Dream.

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How to plan a trip to see New York theatre in the summer

Summer in the city is a blast, but only if you're prepared for what to expect weather-, transport-, and crowd-wise. Here are some practical planning tips to help you plan your best summer theatre trip.

Arrive to theatres early in the summer.

Firstly, you'll beat the heat for longer if you're inside sooner. But more importantly, summer is a busy vacation season, so theatres are more likely to be packed. Arrive early so you don't have to wait in a long line to enter the theatre. If you beat the line, you'll have plenty of time to use the bathroom and find concessions before the show starts.

Make pre-show restaurant reservations well in advance.

The 2-3 hours before a show begins are always popular times to eat at a Theatre District restaurant no matter what season it is. But with more people in the city in the summer, there's even more competition for those prime tables.

If there are specific restaurants you're set on going to, make restaurant reservations in advance as you plan your theatregoing itinerary. This is especially true if you want to eat outdoors, as outdoor seating is often more limited than indoor seating.

Leave wiggle room between shows.

Shows happen at all times in New York, particularly on weekends. Children's shows can start as early as 10 a.m., and adult-oriented events can start at 9 p.m. or later. (Most shows have a 7 or 8 p.m. evening show and, on weekends, a 2 or 3 p.m. matinee.) Depending on how you plan, you can absolutely fit two or even three shows into a single day!

But be sure you leave time in between to get between venues, especially if they're not within walking distance — you don't want subway delays or taxi traffic to make you miss your show. It's also good to leave time to eat between shows, even if that just means grabbing a snack or a slice on the go.

Get familiar with New York City transportation options near your theatre.

The good news is that all but one Broadway theatre is located near Times Square, and more than a dozen subway lines stop at or near Times Square. No matter what neighborhood you're staying or visiting other attractions in, you'll be able to get to Broadway theatres pretty easily. If you're staying in the Times Square area, you can just walk everywhere you need to go!

But if you are going between neighborhoods, it's good to know exactly which subway lines you'll be taking beforehand. As a backup, in case a subway is down or delayed, research what other means of public transportation — like buses — are available in your desired area. Taxis and Ubers are always around as well, but keep in mind that you'll need to build in extra time in case of rush hour or weekend traffic.

Read our full guide to how to get to each Broadway theatre by car, bus, and subway.

Pack sunscreen, water, and snacks for your theatregoing trip.

Sunscreen is important for protecting yourself during outdoor shows, or for when you're walking outside in the city from place to place. Water and snacks are also key for staying energized and hydrated throughout your day, especially on very hot days — you wouldn't want heatstroke to ruin your theatregoing plans!

Packing refreshments will also save you from spending time and money at theatre concessions stands. Check your theatre's website before you go, however, to be sure outside concessions are allowed in.

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Why to see theatre in New York in the summer

Now you know what to see, where to see it, and how to plan your trip — but still wondering why you should? Summer is one of the best seasons to see theatre in New York. Here are five top reasons.

The Tony Awards just took place.

Lots of people discover their next must-see shows after watching them perform on the Tony Awards. If that sounds like you, then get into the city to see the award-winning hits while the buzz and energy are at their freshest. On the flip side, some Tony-nominated shows close toward the end of the summer if they don't win awards (or if they're scheduled for a limited run from the start), so you'll want to get tickets now if you still want to see them.

Check out all the 2024 Tony-nominated shows on Broadway right now.

Summer is peak tourist season in New York.

Yes, that means there will be a lot of people there, but that also means you'll get the full, bustling experience of New York, and you're more likely to find more options for shows, attractions, and events to check out, whereas there might be slightly less going on in the off-season.

Kids are out on summer break.

With kids out of school for the summer, it's the perfect time to take them to New York to see a show. You can even spend a couple days or a long weekend taking them around to multiple family-friendly shows, like The Lion King and Aladdin.

You can enjoy the New York outdoors before and after a show.

Seeing a show is fun any time of the year, but rushing between your theatre, hotel, and car to escape the cold isn't as fun. But in the summer, you don't have to rush — you can have a leisurely park picnic before your show, explore the Theatre District on an afternoon walk, or have a pre- or post-show bite at a restaurant with outdoor dining.

Discover some of the best pre- and post-show restaurants in the Theatre District.

There's lots of ticket availability for Broadway and Off-Broadway shows in summer.

Because there are lots of tourists in the city and there are lots of great shows to choose from, there are lots of Broadway tickets available in the summer. There may only be a few new shows, but that doesn't mean there's a lack of shows by any means — there are still lots of long-running favorites that are hotter than ever in summer, and you can finally check them off your list. And you still can be among the first audiences to see one of the new summer Broadway shows before they become even buzzier.

Get tickets to Broadway shows on New York Theatre Guide.

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