When people talk about traveling to New York City, one topic often comes up: expense. The Big Apple can be an expensive city to visit, unless you have some strategies on how to keep the cost down. One great strategy is to seek out free entertainment. The summer season in New York is full of free festivals, concerts, and performances that provide an excellent excuse to visit. One of the best is the River to River Festival. This is the largest free summer arts festival in Lower Manhattan
, bringing together a variety of events in theater, dance, film, music, and more.
The 2012 Festival
Each year the River to River Festival takes place from mid June through mid-July. The festival got its name from the concept that all of the performances take place in Lower Manhattan
, from Chambers Street down to Battery Park
, from the Hudson River to the East River
. A variety of public venues host these events that showcase not only talented performers, but the beautiful neighborhoods of Lower Manhattan. Each year over 100,000 people flock to Lower Manhattan to enjoy music, theater, dance, art, and more.
There are main forms of entertainment that contribute to the River to River Festival, but the festival is perhaps best known for live music. This summer festival can take advantage of lovely outdoor venues including concerts at Pier 17
and early evening concerts at Rockefeller Park
. Music venues for this festival include the New York Stock Exchange
, Poets House
, One New York Plaza
, Zuccotti Park
, the Seaport
and more. All events are free and tickets aren't required to enjoy the concerts and other entertainment. Artists for this year's lineup include Amy Kao
, Claudia Weber
, Come Out & Play
, A Far Cry Orchestra
, the Parallelograms
, and Trinity Choir
The best way to figure out whether the River to River Festival is for you is to take a look at the 2011 program. These details will give a great overview of what the festival typically entails. In 2011, film screenings included Godfather Part II
and Desperately Seeking Susan
shown at the Elevated Acre at 55 Water Street. Of the long list of music performances, some acts that took the stage in 2011 included the New York City Opera
and the Emmet Cohen Trio
. There were dance performances by Third Rail Projects
and American Ballroom Theater
as well as a theater performance of Henry V
in Battery Park.
In addition to downtown Manhattan
, there are also art exhibitions on Governors Island - near Brooklyn
- that are part of the River to River Festival. From an open studio weekend to group exhibitions featuring a variety of artists on a single theme, such as nature, Governors Island also plays a significant role in this festival. Transportation from lower Manhattan to Governors Island is free, and the island is open on weekends only. Another element of the festival is called "Play."
There are many events scheduled under this play category, and a few on Governors Island. Get ready for piggyback races, field sports, and social games all with incredible views of the Manhattan skyline.
Discovering Lower Manhattan
In addition to music and art, the River to River Festival is a great reason to discover Lower Manhattan. Since 9/11, these neighborhoods have experienced incredible growth and are full of attractive vacation rentals
, excellent restaurants, and bustling nightlife. Choose a vacation rental in one of these neighborhoods, such as Tribeca
, the Financial District
, or Battery Park City and you will be placing yourself within easy walking distance of all the festival activities. Hot restaurants and bars change with alarming frequency in New York City, so before your trip check out local newspapers, magazines, and blogs for recommendations on the best new restaurants.
Lower Manhattan Rentals for the River to River Festival
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