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#ExperienceHarlem 2017 #FreeHarlem #HarlemSummer Guide: 50+ Free Events in Historic Harlem

Updated: Dec 29, 2021

Give us free, you say? Well, you got it. All summer long. The truth is the rent is too damn high and so is everything else. Take in the beauty and rich legacy of historic Harlem with Experience Harlem. We’ve done the legwork and put together a comprehensive guide for alla Uptown massive so you don’t have to; We’ve identified more than 33 events for the family; O.G.s, new jacks, music buffs, film lovers, sexy people and everyone else who loves this vibrant social and community. It’s #HarlemSummer, baby, and it’s all Gratis. Free99. No cash required. #FreeHarlem. See you out in these streets.


The Classical Theatre of Harlem presents The Three Musketeers July 9 – 30, Tues – Sun (no Monday showings), 8:30 p.m./Dusk The Richard Rodgers Amphitheater in Marcus Garvey Park, 18 Mt. Morris Park West Since 1999, CTH has presented the stalwarts of the stage with original adaptations featuring music and dance, and this year, it’s all for one and one for all as D’Artagnan and the Musketeers engage in a rousing story of double crossings, kidnappings, spellbinding fights and sweeping romance. Directed by Jenny Bennett and choreographed by Tiffany Rea-Fisher. Adapted by Catherine Bush. Free.


Target Free Sundays at the Studio Museum Sundays, June 4, 11, 18, 25; Guided Tours: 1:00 p.m. Hands on: 2:00-4:00 p.m. The Studio Museum in Harlem, 144 W. 125th St. Each Sunday in June, the Studio Museum offers free guided tours of its current exhibits. June 4: Harlem Postcards Spring 2017 and Smokehouse, 1968–1970; June 11: Regarding the Figure; June 18: the art of Rico Gaston; June 25: Signature. The gallery tour welcomes folks of all ages; stick around for the “Hands On” family programming with painting, arts or crafts for little people. Free.

Reflections & Yoga June 10, July 8, August 12; 10:00 am Morningside Park, Manhattan Avenue & 117th St Practice conscious breath and movement in the summer sun. Reflections is a collaborative project with artist Aya Rodriguez-Izumi, Art In FLUX and Three and a Half Acres Yoga featuring three interactive public sculptures that utilize the collective ideas of art and yoga as platforms for healing, harmony, and reflection while simultaneously encouraging inclusivity in two practices that are historically non-diverse. Free.


’80s Outdoor Movie Screenings at Morris-Jumel June 15, 1:30-3:00 pm; July 27 & August 24 8:30-10:00 pm Morris-Jumel Mansion, 65 Jumel Terrace Though the drive-ins of the ’70s are mostly long gone, you can enjoy classics of the ’80s under the stars and in the shadow of Manhattan’s oldest mansion. On June 15, there will be an afternoon showing of Back To The Future, starring Michael J. Fox; July 27 promises thrills and lots of slime-filled fun  watching the original Ghostbusters (Who you gonna call?); and Aug. 24, promises a take on the crazy antics of The Goonies. Free.

25th Anniversary of Juice & Afterparty Fri., July 7, 2017, 6:30 p.m.-8:00 p.m. Schomburg Center, 515 Malcolm X Blvd. Tupac back! And he’s starring in a hip-hop classic filmed and set in Harlem. Released in 1992, Juice comes home. Starring Omar Epps and presents the acting debut of rap icon Tupac Shakur alongside Jermaine “Huggy” Hopkins, Khalil Kain and Samuel L. Jackson. Relive the epic moments of this thriller and then participate in a talkback with the film’s director, Ernest Dickerson, and surprise guests. Following the film will be a ’90s music-themed after party. Free.| schomburg events

ImageNation Presents: Get Out Mon., July 10; Music at 6:00 p.m., Films at 8:00 p.m. or Sundown Marcus Garvey Park, 18 Mt Morris Park West Even if you have seen the most talked about film of the year, it’s worth bringing friends and foes alike to see a reprise of Get Out, a speculative thriller that most view as absolutely brilliant. Directed by Jordan Peele of Key & Peele fame, Get Out is the young African-American man visits his white girlfriend’s family estate, and becomes ensnared in the more sinister real reason for the invitation. Afterwards, get your dance on with DJ Brittofied. In partnership with Historic Harlem Parks. Free.

Imagenation Presents: I Am Not Your Negro [HARLEM WEEK] Sat., August 19; Music at 6:00 p.m., Films at 8:00 p.m. or Sundown St. Nicholas Park, 135th St. & St. Nicholas Ave Learn more about the life and thoughts of one of Harlem’s most revered native sons, James Baldwin. “I Am Not Your Negro” was nominated for a 2017 Academy Award, and the seed for this film was planted more than 35 years ago. In 1979, James Baldwin wrote a letter to his literary agent describing his next project, “Remember This House,” a personal account of the lives and assassinations of three of his close friends: Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. This film is a reimagination of that work. Music by Radio 103.9. |

Imagenation Presents: “Queen of Katwe” [HARLEM WEEK] Sat., August 26; Music at 6:00 p.m., Films at 8:00 p.m. or Sundown St. Nicholas Park Great Lawn, 135th St. & St. Nicholas Ave. More blackgirlmagic comes to the big screen with this gem of a film starring David Oyelowo, Lupita Nyong’o and Madina Nalwanga. This Ugandan/South African flick depicts the life of Phiona Mutesi, a Ugandan girl living in a slum in Katwe who learns to play chess and becomes a Woman Candidate Master after her performances at World Chess Olympiads. Featuring music by a live DJ + Chess activities for kids presented by the St. Nicholas Chess Club. Free. |


Jazzmobile Wednesdays at Grant’s Tomb Wednesdays, July 5, July 12, July 19, August 2, August 9; 7:00-8:30 p.m. Grant’s Tomb, West 122nd St. & Riverside Dr. Hump Day turns into the best day if you crave the sounds of jazz under the stars. Jazzmobile marks its 53rd year (so you know it has to be good) with a stellar line-up of musicians and singers serenading General Grant and Harlemworld: July 5: Winard Harper; July 12: Sonny Fortune; July 19: Antonio Hart; Aug. 2:– Houston Person; Aug. 9: Alyson Williams. Free.

Jim Jones Sat., August 19; 5:00- 7:00 pm Marcus Garvey Park, 18 Mt. Morris Park West One of Harlem’s prodigal sons returns as Joseph Guillermo Jones II, better known as Jim Jones, rocks the stage of Marcus Garvey’s ampitheatre. This hometown hero and self-proclaimed capo of Harlem-born and bred Diplomats (Cam’ron Giles, Freekey Zekey and Juelz Santana,) will no doubt perform his biggest hit, “We Fly High,” as well as a bevy of other songs made famous by his Dipset crew. Ayyyye! Free.

Jazzmobile Friday’s at Marcus Garvey Park Fridays, July 7, July 28, August 4, August 11, August 18; 7:00-8:30 p.m. Marcus Garvey Park, 18 Mt Morris Park West What better way to kick off the weekend than with live music? Every Friday, starting in July, you got plans. And they involve jazz, the outdoors and pretty people. July 7: Wycliffe Gordon Quartet; July 28: Brianna Thomas; Aug. 4: Jeremy Pelt; Aug. 11: Craig Harris. On Friday, Aug. 18 catch the soulful Blues Festival, featuring “King” Solomon Hicks with Special Guests. Free.

Jazz at the Mansion Sat. & Sun., August 19 & 20; 2:00-6:00 pm Morris-Jumel Mansion, 65 Jumel Terrace Melt into the sounds of classic jazz as you enjoy the great outdoors on the lawn of one of oldest houses in the city (George Washington decamped here for a spell during the American Revolution). Bring a blanket and some libations as Harlem icon Marjorie Eliot, who has been giving live jazz concerts in her home for more than 30 years, performs the standards. Free.

Sundae Sermon August 13, 2017 Harlem’s most beloved dance party returns and promises to be a stone cold groove as legendary DJ Stormin Norman spins classic hip-hop, soul, Afrobeat and house. Revel in the sun with Harlem’s most beautiful, who spill into the park after church, brunch or sleeping in ready to mix, mingle and move. If your hands are not in the air at least once during the day, you may want to get your soul checked. Family-friendly. Free.

Great Jazz on the Great Hill Sat., Aug. 5; 4:00 -7:00 p.m. The Great Hill, Central Park, Central Park West and 106th Street Jazzmobile and the Central Park Conservancy present the sounds of jazz on a great incline in Central Park. Join The Jimmy Heath Big Band, Allan Harris and Matthew Whitaker as the sounds of jazz make a truly perfect Saturday possible. Free. |

Jazzmobile Presents: Havana Festival [HARLEM WEEK] Wed., August 16; Havana has a very rich connection to Harlem, musically, historically, and socially and so it is only fitting that Jazzmobile join with the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce to present the Havana Festival, which promises to roll out the sounds, smells and sights of this Cuban city smack in the heart of Harlem. Enjoy Cuban music, food, cultural displays, goods and more. Free. |


Imagenation Presents: Moonlight [HARLEM PRIDE] Fri., June 16; Music at 6:00 p.m., Film at 8:00 p.m. or Sundown Marcus Garvey Park, 18 Mt Morris Park West Winner of Best Picture at the 2017 Academy Awards, this extraordinary drama explores three defining chapters in the life of Chiron, a young Black man growing up in an impoverished neighborhood in Miami. His epic journey to manhood is guided by the kindness, support and love of the community that helps raise him. Starring Mahershala Ali, Janelle Monae, Naomi Harris, Andre Holland. Directed by Barry Jenkins, Afterwards, let go with an outdoor house party spun by DJ Michael Forde! In partnership with Historic Harlem Parks, Harlem Pride, Slay TV and Harlem2020. FREE |

Summer of Music Outdoor Film Series July 17, 2017 @ St. Nicholas Park, 135th St. & St. Nicholas Ave July 24, 2017 @ Jackie Robinson Park, Address 145th St & Bradhurst Music set at 7:00 p.m., Film at 8:30 p.m. Join the Maysles Documentary Cinema Center in its 9th Annual music and documentary series. This year promises to free your mind with two astounding documentaries that celebrate the resilience, joy and fight that is people of color. July 17: Freak the sounds of salsa, freestyle and hip-hop, before viewing “We Like It Like That.” Music of Revolution is the order of the day on July 24, as you spin to those sounds before watching the 2017 documentary “Whose Streets,” about the Ferguson uprising and the activists involved in it. Free.

Imagenation Presents: “The 13th” & Soul Train Tribute! Sat., Aug. 12; Music at 6:00 p.m., Film at 8:00 p.m. or Sundown Marcus Garvey Park, 18 Mt Morris Park West After watching the truly harrowing documentary, “The Thirteenth,” by Academy-Award nominated director Ava Duvernay, a moving treatise on the U.S. prison industrial system, you will assuredly need release. And the annual Soul Train Tribute is it! Arguably the hottest jam in the park for six consecutive years, the Soul Train Jam celebrates the soundtrack of American social movements with a tribute to Freedom Songs from the Soul Train Era. With Music spun by DJ Stormin’ Norman of Sundae Sermon, this tribute will feature music from Soul Train artists: James Brown, Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder and others interpreted by an all-star cast of independent artists. In partnership with Historic Harlem Parks, InJoy Enterprises, Sundae Sermon. Free.

Imagenation Presents: Black Girl Magic! Sat., Sept. 9; Music at 6:00 p.m., Film at 8:00 p.m. or Sundown Marcus Garvey Park, 18 Mt Morris Park West Celebrate the superflyness of black women and girls of with a screening of critically acclaimed Sundance pick, The Fits, directed by Anna Rose Holmer. The film follows an 11-year-old tomboy as she tries to fit in with her peers after joining an all-girl dance team in this dreamy exploration of girlhood. Beforehand, let the sounds of hip hop, Soul, House and more spun by DJ Natasha Diggs wash over you before you rock out with live music curated by Injoy Enterprises. There’s also an all-female band in the mix starring Camille Gainer Jones with wicked performances from independent black girls like Abby Dobson, Claudia Hayden, Toni Ann Semple, Vivian Sessoms, and more. Free.


116th Street Festival in El Barrio Sat., June 10; 11:00 am – 5:00 pm Around 116th Street and 3rd Ave Wepa!!!! The annual 116th Street Festival is a celebration of community and culture and in the heart of El Barrio, or Spanish Harlem. The largest street festival in NYC, the one-day event always takes place the day before the Puerto Rican Day parade, and features five stages of national touring acts and homegrown talent. Gorge on pasteles and pernil, and wash it down with pina colada and coquito as you peruse over 200 exhibitors under the sounds of booming salsa, hip-hop, and other traditional Latin music. Free.

8th Annual Harlem Pride Celebration Day Sat., June 24, 2017; 12:00 p.m. – 6: 00 p.m. West Harlem: 12th Avenue between West 135th and West 138th Streets In 2010, Harlem Pride’s founders saw an opportunity to celebrate not just our Same Gender Loving/LGBT community, but its role and contributions to Harlem’s rich history. The mission of this vibrant day is to advocate for, educate, promote, and unite Harlem’s Same Gender Loving/LGBT individuals, organizations and supporters in cultivating a sense of honor, dignity and respect for our diverse culture and community. Rain or shine. Free.

Shop Harlem Live Harlem Lifestyle Expo

Saturday, June 24, 2017; 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.

MIST, 46 W 116th St

Enjoy 60+ Harlem Made products; Virtual Tour of new Sugar Hill Creamery ice cream shop; Meet and Greet with the Harlem Whole Foods Market Vendors; plus Family/Kids activities including Adult and Kids Indoor Cycling and Mini Trampoline Classes by Eye Cycle NYC; Kids Cooking Demo by Plant Rich Life; Arts and Crafts by Grandma’s Place; Face Painting by Layla Merritt; Live Musical Performance by Vy Higginsen’s Teen Gospel Choir; and Music by Dj Stormin’ Norman, Sundae Sermon. Learn why Harlem is NYC’s favorite neighborhood to EAT, SHOP, PLAY!   Register for FREE tickets at

Harlem Book Festival Sat., July 15; 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. W. 135th St & Malcolm X Boulevard Bibliophiles and those who love them can get their literary life at the annual Harlem Book Festival, the largest African American book fair in the U.S. For one day in Saturday each year, 135th Street is lined with authors, exhibition booths, workshops, panel discussions, food, handmade crafts, and of course, books, and lots of them. Notable participating authors have included Maya Angelou, Cornel West, Sonia Sanchez, Amiri Baraka, Walter Mosley, Terry McMillan, Touré, Farai Chideya, Stanley Crouch, Nelson George, and Mark Anthony Neal. Free.

Go Africa Harlem Street Festival Sat., July 15; 10a.m.-7p.m. 116th Street between Adam Clayton Powell & Frederick Douglass Ave. In recognition of the significant and thriving African community in Harlem, “Little Senegal” transforms into the L’Afrique in a full day of homage to the Motherland. Peruse unique goods and services provided by African & Caribbean merchants on 116th street and check out two pavilions showcasing dance, art, music and dress from various regions throughout the continent and Caribbean. Free.

“A Great Day In Harlem” [HARLEM WEEK] Sun., July 30; various activities; 1:00 p.m.-8:30 p.m. U.S. Grant National Memorial Park; West 122nd & Riverside Drive A Great Day in Harlem always shapes up to be just that as the community shows off its local artists and institutions. From 1:00-3:00 p.m. take in the “International Cultural Showcase,” featuring dance companies and choral ensembles; 3:00-4:15 p.m. it’s time for the Gospel Caravan, featuring inspirational music; 4:30-5:30 p.m. is the Fashion Fusion Showcase, showing the best in urban fashion; and finally, 5:45-8:30 p.m. is a “Concert Under the Stars.” Free.

5th Annual Harlem Revive! A Community Day of Unity Sat., Aug. 5; 12:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Jackie Robinson Park Bandshell, 148th & Bradhurst Join HCCI, the Harlem Congregations for Community Improvement, and nearly 1000 Harlemites for the fifth annual Harlem Revive!: A Community Day of Unity. This community affair offers job opportunities; gospel choirs and dance ministries, arts and crafts for children, free food and contact with community leaders and local residents who bring a spirit of love and community engagement.

Harlem Day [HARLEM WEEK] Sun., August 20; 12:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. 135th Street – between Fifth Avenue and St. Nicholas Ave. Over 90,000 people descend on four blocks in central Harlem to partake in this always unique fair with flair. There are four outdoor stages of live entertainment, this year featuring “The International Roots of Jazz:” reggae, Latin, soca, gospel, R&B, hip-hop, rock, blues and calypso. The Upper Manhattan Auto Show from is always fun; as is the Children’s Festival at the YMCA stage. Wash all the magic down with delectable soul vittles and fresh squeezed lemonade, and cop some music, clothing, bags or shirts. Free.

Charlie Parker Jazz Festival Thurs.-Sat., Aug. 24-Aug. 26; 7:00-9:00 p.m. Marcus Garvey Park, 18 Mt Morris Park West Marcus Garvey Park comes alive with the sounds of sweet music for the 25th anniversary of the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival. Here, artists of all stripes pay homage to the jazz legend also known as Byrd. August 24: Jason Samuels Smith tap dance exhibition; August 25:Lee Konitz Quartet; August 26: Anat Cohen Tentet. Free.


First Fridays: LGBT Pride Fri., June 2; 6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. Schomburg Center for Research In Black Culture, 515 Malcolm X Blvd. Kick off Pride month and party with the fabulous people in honor of the In the Life archive, a collection of materials of and by black LGBT people throughout history, housed in the Schomburg’s Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division. Add to that a pop-up exhibit highlighting the life and work of historical LGBT activist Storme DeLarverie, who was central to the Stonewall Riots. DJ Missy B and Craig Nice lord over the Langston Hughes Lobby or jam to DJ Frankie Paradise in Our American Negro Theatre. Signature drinks. Free (donations welcome). | schomburg events

Uptown Fridays! at The Studio Museum Fridays, July 7, July 21, August 4, August 18; 7:00p.m.-10:00p.m. Studio Museum in Harlem, 144 W. 125th Street Uptown Fridays! celebrates the sights and sounds of the season by transforming the museum’s courtyard and galleries into a vibrant social hub, featuring food and drink specials, free guided tours and live entertainment. A great way to kick off the weekend, and mingle with Uptown’s finest. Free.

Entertainer’s Basketball Classic at “The Rucker” June 19 -August 2017 Holcombe Rucker Park, 280 W 155th St. Old School Harlem is in effect at “The Rucker,” the basketball league that showcases the finest street ball with professional and amateur players alike. Shot callers such as Jay Z and Fat Joe sponsor teams who dazzle and defy gravity while the emcee keeps the crowd in stitches narrating the ballers’ deft moves. Try to come early and peep everyone from LeBron James to Shaquille O’Neal who has come to the old Pologrounds for this iconic set. The first week will feature give aways for the kids along with big performances and great games all in the honor of founder Greg Marius who died in April. Free.


Black Power 50 Multimedia Harlem Walking Tour Sat, June 10, 2017; 11:00 a.m. & 2:00 p.m. Schomburg Center for Research In Black Culture, 515 Malcolm X Blvd. Take a leisurely stroll through the historical Harlem streets, with this unique walking tour showcasing Harlem sites associated with the Black Power and Civil Rights movements. Beginning in the 1960s through present day, this tour is an educational and entertaining field experience to complement the Schomburg Museum’s Black Power! exhibition, which explores the Black Power movement. Free. | schomburg events

5K Run & Health Walk

Percy Sutton 5K Run & NYC Health Walk Sat, August 26; 6:00 a.m. registration, 8:30 run start time; 9:30 a.m. walk start time 135th Street & St. Nicholas Avenue Thousands of participants from all over the NYC, tri-state regional participate in this annual health event named for one of Harlem’s scions, Percy Sutton. Sutton, who as Manhattan borough president in the 1970s championed the New York City Marathon as a five-borough event. A 1.5 mile walk accompanies the event. Registration required. To register for the walk, register here; to register for the run, register here. Free. |


NYC Children’s Fair [HARLEM WEEK] Sat, August 19; 12:00 – 5:00 p.m.; West 135th St., Bet. Malcolm X & Adam Clayton Powell Blvd. Sun., August 20; 12:00 – 6:00 p.m.; YMCA Stage, 125th & St. Nicholas Ave. Over 10,000 children between the ages of 5 to 12 descend on 135th Street to revel in a day of storytelling; children’s entertainment showcasing tap dancers, dance troupes, step shows, hip-hop dancers, theater, poetry and vocalists; arts and crafts; double dutch competitions; face painting; technology; health services; dance lessons and sporting events. Free.


Cheryl Wall Speaks On “Women of The Harlem Renaissance” Wed., June 21; 7:00 p.m. Revolution Books, 437 Malcolm X Blvd. Professor Cheryl A. Wall, author and foremost scholar on women artists of the Harlem Renaissance, will discuss the lives and works of Jessie Redmon Fauset, Nella Larsen, Zora Neale Hurston, Bessie Smith and others. This promises to be a fascinating evening exploring the struggle of a generation of literary women in the 1920s and ’30s who sought to depict the lives of Black people, especially Black women, honestly and artfully. Willis is a literary critic and professor of English at Rutgers University. Free (donations welcome).


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