Credit: Aehee Kang Asano

City Parks Foundation is proud to announce the 2016 season of SummerStage, New York City’s largest free performing arts festival, bringing more than 100 free performances to Central Park and 15 neighborhood parks throughout the five boroughs. With performances ranging from American pop, Yiddish Soul, and Taiwanese music to dance, comedy and theater, SummerStage will feature more than 200 unique artists, filling a vital niche in New York City’s summer arts landscape, ensuring that New Yorkers will have access to exceptional cultural experiences, free of charge. Since its inception 31 years ago, SummerStage has benefited more than six million people from New York City and around the world.

Having highlighted hip-hop music and culture in 2013 and salsa and Latin music in 2014, the festival is thrilled this year to honor another distinctly New York musical form: Jazz. The 2016 season of SummerStage will both showcase exceptional performing artists from around the globe, and will also feature more jazz performances than ever before, with nearly half a dozen planned for Central Park and many more in neighborhood parks across the city. The focus on jazz this season coincides with the upcoming centennial of the musical dawning of the term “jazz,” as well as what would have been the 100th birthdays of late jazz greats including Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, and Ella Fitzgerald.

Caribou with guest Sinkane at East River Park
Caribou with guest Sinkane at East River Park

Living jazz legends McCoy Tyner, Ron Carter, and Roy Haynes will kick off the festival in Central Park on June 4, with the first free show of the season. Other notable performances will include the acclaimed Kamasi Washington, also in Central Park; jazz trumpeter Terence Blanchard in Staten Island’s Clove Lakes Park performing Breathless, a work based on the final words of borough native Eric Garner; pre-eminent soul jazz vocalist Dianne Reeves in Queensbridge Park; and Stefanie Batten Bland presenting an interdisciplinary dance collaboration with jazz ensemble Burnt Sugar the Arkestra Chamber also in Queensbridge Park. The annual, three-day Charlie Parker Jazz Festival, New York City’s annual salute to the late saxophonist, will feature performances from Jason Lindner: Breeding Ground, Randy Weston African Rhythms Sextet, and DeJohnette – Moran – Holland. The final free show of the 2016 season will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the hit Jazz Age Broadway musical, Chicago, with performances from the current cast.

SummerStage is thrilled to welcome Comedy Central back to the festival for a guaranteed laugh-filled evening of stand-up from The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. Accompanying a screening of A Ballerina’s Tale, the 2015 documentary on African-American principal ballerina Misty Copeland, award-winning choreographer Jeremy McQueen will present “The Black Iris Project,” a premier ballet collaborative celebrating diversity in art and dance. Roger Guenveur Smith will perform his one-man show, Rodney King, which explores the very timely and sensitive issues of police brutality. Other highlights include reggae sensation Alpha Blondy in Harlem’s Marcus Garvey Park; Latin soul icon Joe Bataan in St. Mary’s Park in the South Bronx; the return to Central Park of the folk rock duo Indigo Girls, whose last performance at SummerStage took place using generators during the 2003 blackout; hip-hop greats Public Enemy in Brownsville’s Betsy Head Park, and electronic rockers Neon Indian in East River Park.

“At City Parks Foundation, we believe culture should be convenient and affordable for everyone. Our SummerStage festival removes the barriers to culture, bringing world-class artists, topical and popular, to neighborhood parks across all five boroughs, free of charge,” said Heather Lubov, Executive Director of City Parks Foundation. “SummerStage brings together New York’s diverse communities in authentic and meaningful ways, making high quality performing arts — from music to spoken word, circus and contemporary dance — truly accessible.  We are thrilled to bring another season, filled with exceptional artistry, to communities across the City.”

Credit: Durst Breneiser
Credit: Durst Breneiser

“The SummerStage festival celebrates the rich cultural fabric of New York City,” said Erika Elliott, Executive Artistic Director of City Parks Foundation. “This year, we’ll celebrate the 100th anniversary of jazz, with both emerging and master musicians, who will highlight the long legacy jazz has in the city and its continued impact on New Yorkers.”

“Capital One is proud to once again support SummerStage as it celebrates New York’s artistic energy and creativity,” said Michael Slocum, President, Commercial Banking and Northeast Regional President, Capital One. “The arts build communities and enrich lives, and this remarkable festival embodies our commitment to investing for good in the diverse communities where our associates live and work.”

The complete SummerStage schedule is available here. Other highlighted acts include The Indigo Girls, Lyfe Jennings, Angie Stone, and Public Enemy, just to name a few.  All legends in their own right who are taking part of something really special.  For the most up-to-date scheduling and line-up for all SummerStage programming, follow SummerStage via the below links and visit  for festival information.