June Culture Calendar: Beloved Brooklyn summer traditions are back!



In store this month: Pre-pandemic levels of celebration. Photo courtesy of brooklynpride.org

Just when I didn’t think I could take another minute of cold doldrums, June is FINALLY upon us! And as if that wasn’t enough, all the things we have been desperately missing out on for the past few summers are suddenly cropping up again, so if this list feels like a who’s who of bygone Brooklyn mainstay events that we once carelessly took for granted, well, that’s because it is. After what had to have been the most reluctant emergence of spring in decades, it is finally consistently comfortable to be outdoors again and suddenly EVERYTHING that used to make summer in Brooklyn magical is back again! I am beyond pumped for what is in store for us in the month ahead, so without further ado, let me present some of the things I’m most excited to get into. Start marking your calendar because I have a feeling that free time is going to get gobbled up before you know it. We are all over-ready to just have some goddamn fun for once, so do your part, friends, and get out there and make it happen!

1. Fire Island, streaming now


Photo courtesy of Hulu

Sure, this June marks the release of all kinds of summer blockbusters, from the new Top Gun to the new Jurassic Park to Baz Lurmann’s Elvis, but I’m hard pressed to come up with a better way to get into the summer spirit than a sweet romcom (complete with Jane Austen undertones) set in a share house in The Pines. Hulu’s Fire Island, which boasts a cast including Joel Kim Booster (who wrote the screenplay), Bowen Yang, Margaret Cho, and Conrad Ricamora, began streaming on Hulu yesterday, and it sounds funny and endearing and ready to snap the most hardened pandemic winter veteran into the right mindset. 

2. Pride, all month long

For the first time since 2019, Pride Month is pretty much back with a full slate of pre-pandemic level programming this month, and what a fantastic reason to celebrate! Of course, the main event in NYC since 1970 has been the massive Pride March in Greenwich Village, which is scheduled for June 26, but each borough has its own festivities you can take part in. Brooklyn Pride Week starts on June 6, and includes a special Cyclones Pride Night at Maimonides Park, a 5k run/walk, and its own big 5th Avenue parade on June 11. But the fun doesn’t stop there —Montclair, New Jersey is entering the fray with its inaugural Pride bash, and a very appealing event called Drag Queens and Doughnuts which may just justify a trip to the suburbs. But for my money, the 10th annual Night Of A Thousand Judys concert at Joe’s Pub on June 5, a tribute to Judy Garland’s 100th birthday with proceeds to benefit the Ali Forney Center, sounds like the ticket I want to jump on to celebrate the return of Pride Month in NYC. 

3. Celebrate Brooklyn!, opening June 8


Photo courtesy of BRIC Arts Media

To me, nothing says summer in Brooklyn more than the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! concert series in Prospect Park, and I’m ecstatic about its full return this year. There’s so much that we’ve missed out on over the past two years, but I’ve felt a palpable hole where watching the sun set over the bandshell at a chill outdoor concert with friends in the park used to reside in my soul. The season kicks off on June 8 with a free concert featuring multi-instrumentalist, composer, and producer Kamasi Washington, with opening acts Ravyn Lenae and DJ Reborn, and other highlights from later in the summer include Phoebe Bridgers and Erykah Badu. 

4. Philharmonic in the Park, June 19 


Photo courtesy of nyphil.org

For anyone who has had the pleasure of meeting friends for an al fresco picnic dinner in Prospect Park on a lovely June night with a backdrop of soothing classical music played by world-renowned musicians followed by a fireworks show, well, what can I say other than Philharmonic in the Park is back, baby! This year’s Brooklyn stop on the 5-borough tour is happening on June 17, and the program includes works by Wagner and Dvořák.

5. Mermaid Parade, June 18 


Photo: Norman Blake via Coney Island USA

The Mermaid Parade, which has the distinction of being the nation’s largest art parade, is making its long-awaited return to Surf Avenue in Coney Island on June 18, and I for one will be there with bells on (if not a meticulously crafted costume). If you’ve never been, now is the perfect opportunity to get in on the action of this wonderfully weird, creative, and inspiring tradition. Just be sure to charge your phone beforehand, because photo ops abound! 

6. Juneteenth, citywide


Photo courtesy of Juneteenth NYC

With pandemic restrictions loosened, the city is gearing up for a larger-scale Juneteenth celebration than what has been possible for the past few years. In Brooklyn, Juneteenth NYC is hosting a three-day long event on the weekend of June 17-19 featuring a virtual summit, an in-person festival in East New York, and an all-day live concert in Prospect Park, but there are also a variety of one-off events happening all over town. For example, there will be a free outdoor screening of Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson’s Oscar-winning doc Summer of Soul (. . . Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) in Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem on the evening of the 17th; free musical performances and a silent disco dance party at I Dream A Dream That Dreams Back at Me: A Juneteenth Celebration at Lincoln Center on the 19th; and The Big Mix Juneteenth, which is being billed as a one-of-a-kind performance party, at Little Island off Pier 55. 

7. Shakespeare in the Park, June 21


Photo courtsey of publictheater.org

Yet another beloved NYC summer tradition is back after a pandemic-induced hiatus this year — the free Shakespeare in the Park summer series in Delacorte Theater in Central Park opens its 60th season with a production of Richard III beginning June 21. Directed by Tony nominee Robert O’Hara, this age-old tale of extreme ambition and political villainy is certainly (and sadly) relevant for our modern times.  

8. Lapvona, June 21

If you haven’t had the pleasure of reading anything by Ottessa Moshfegh yet, I’ll just say that for me, the dark, unsettling nature of her novels has been a weird balm for me during the ordeal of the past couple of years. Her latest title, Lapvona, sounds like it is a dramatic departure from prior works like Eileen and My Year of Rest and Relaxation in that it veers into fantasy and magic, set in a medieval fiefdom against a battle between a good young shepherd and a villainous aristocrat. It’s set to be released on June 21 and sounds like it just might perfectly capture the mood alteration that we’re all experiencing as life shifts all over again while we ease into yet another “new normal” this June. 

9. Metropolitan Opera Recital, June 22


Photo courtesy of brooklynbridgepark.org

If you need another opportunity to plop yourself on a blanket outside with some snacks and vino while world-class performers entertain you (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?), don’t forget that singers from the Metropolitan Opera also bless us with a free outdoor performance in June. This year, three of the Met’s most promising young stars, Brittany Renee, Ben Bliss, and Justin Austin, will be singing a selection of arias and duets from an array of popular operas in the spectacular setting of Brooklyn Bridge Park on June 22. It’s free, it’s lovely, and you won’t regret it if you block the date off in your calendar now. 

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