The Art of Starting Summer: Memorial Day Weekend Doings |

The Art of Starting Summer: Memorial Day Weekend Doings

Theater for the New City’s Lower East Side Festival of the Arts delivers thousands of thrills in the venerable venue’s four theaters (and at an outside street festival). Photo by Peter Welch.

THEATER FOR THE NEW CITY’S 22ND ANNUAL LOWER EAST SIDE FESTIVAL OF THE ARTS | Hundreds will fill the theaters and flood the streets — and that’s just the lineup of talent set to entertain the thousands upon thousands who will eat up this tasty smorgasbord of outdoor food and vendor festivities, dance, music, movies, theater, and art representing the heart and soul of Lower East Side cultural diversity. Mindful of the tone set by the current presidential administration, host venue Theater for the New City has declared this year’s theme “Art V. Tyranny.” That “V,” they say, is meant to stand as “a kind of victory sign” — a bold declaration of the inevitable outcome when we “take up art against a sea of troubles.”

Always ready for confrontation through its year-round offerings of socially relevant and politically progressive subject matter, Theater for the New City is one scrappy fighter ever-mindful of the value of cutting loose and raising a little hell just for the fun of it. Case in point, the cavalcade of talent they’ve booked to enthrall and inspire. Here’s a glimpse at the lineup, in no particular order: Faceboy, Maquina Mono Latin rock band, Reno, The Drilling Company, Tammy Faye Starlite, Yangtze Repertory Theatre of America, Zero Boy, Fairytale Marionettes, New Yiddish Rep, Penny Arcade, Glitter Kitty, Cobu Japanese drumming ensemble, Burning City Orchestra, and, you’d better believe it, many, many, many more!

Free. At Theater for the New City (155 First Ave., btw. E. Ninth & E. 10th Sts.). Inside TNC from 6pm–1am, Fri.–Sun., May 26–28. The street festival happens on Sat., May 27, 12pm–5pm (on 10th St., btw. First & Second Aves.). Visit

Members of our military rock out, take a dive, and show they know the drill, in a series of Times Square Fleet Week events. Photo by Jenny Rubin.

FLEET WEEK EVENTS | They leave their ships to explore New York City, while we board a ship to explore their world — that’s Fleet Week, Pier 86-style, when The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum puts all hands on deck for a series of activities, themed events, and live demonstrations saluting the arrival of those who serve in the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard.

Fri., May 26, the research vessel Neil Armstrong will be open for public tours. Guided talks take place on the hanger deck, and the Intrepid’s free summer movie series takes flight with a screening of “Top Gun,” introduced by NASA astronaut and former T-38 pilot Gregory C. Johnson (limited seating on a first-come basis).

On Sat., May 27, happening throughout the day on Pier 86 (and repeating for the next two days), those hosting hands-on activities and displays include the US Coast Guard, the FDNY, the South Street Seaport Museum, and former Intrepid crewmembers. The Pier 86 stage goes Broadway at noon, with performances from the casts of “School of Rock,” “Cats” and “Kinky Boots.” By 7pm, the area has been taken over by a 2,000-square-foot wood dance floor, for a three-hour Battle of the Big Bands that invites you to “follow the fleet in Navy-inspired outfits and vintage clothes” while you swing dance the night away (ages 21+ only; dance lessons provided). 

Sun., May 28 sees an 11am demonstration on the flight deck from the United States Coast Guard (USCG) Silent Drill Team and an excerpt from the new Off-Broadway musical “Deployed” (about a veteran’s search for purpose after deployment to Iraq) at 1:30pm and 4:30pm.

Fleet of foot or in need of a lesson? Head to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum’s Battle of the Big Bands on May 27 and swing dance the night away. Photo by Eric Vitale.

Memorial Day is observed on Mon., May 29, with an 11am public commemoration ceremony attended by veterans of wars and conflicts from World War II to the present. The playing of “Taps,” a wreath laying, and the unfurling of a 100-foot American flag are among the solemn observances that are part of this annual event. At 2pm, the USCG Search and Rescue team will perform a demonstration on Pier 86. 

Times Square is also hosting its share of Fleet Week happenings, with an emphasis on acts of talent and skill. Access the “Schedule of Events” option on the home page of to find out where and when you can see the USCG Silent Drill Team, Navy rock band Rhode Island Sound, a dive tank demonstration, a Navy Band concert, and the Marine Corps Battle Color Detachment.

Intrepid Museum and Pier 86 events take place daily through Mon., May 29. Live demonstrations are presented by Intrepid Museum educators, and Fleet Week-themed tour guide talks take place on the hangar deck. Pier events are free; those inside the Museum require admission. The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum is located at Pier 86 (W. 46th St. & 12th Ave.). Regular weekly hours: Mon.–Fri., 10am–5pm; Sat. & Sun., 10am–6pm. Regular admission: $33 adult, $31 ages 65+; $24 ages 5–12; free for retired and active US Military, US Veterans, & children under 5. NYC residents with photo ID: $19 adults & seniors; $17 ages 5–12. Visit