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The Top 10 Ways to Celebrate Labor Day in New York City

Category Broadway

|by Mark Robinson |


From Broadway shows to outdoor events and more

It is always sad to see summer in New York City come to an end. It means setting aside playtime and getting back to more serious things, like school and work. Labor Day Weekend typically signals the end of the summer as we celebrate it, even though there are three more weeks before we technically enter autumn. In order to make the most of the time we have left with sunshine and leisure, here are some great ways to celebrate Labor Day weekend in New York City. From Broadway shows to cruises and museum exhibits, you’ll find something for everyone. 

Say goodbye to summer in NYC with a sightseeing cruise (Photo: iStock)

Say goodbye to summer in NYC with a sightseeing cruise (Photo: iStock)

Opera Outdoors at Lincoln Center
You can always count on Lincoln Center to offer high-caliber performances overflowing with not only the city’s, but the world’s, greatest talents. Now through Labor Day, Lincoln Center will continue its Summer HD Festival where the venue presents screenings of opera productions in the out of doors. 3,000 seats are set up in the plaza at Lincoln Center for these free events that start nightly around 8 pm. It’s an enchanting evening of glorious storytelling and music.  

The West Indian Day Parade
A parade full of color, culture, music and wonderment, The West Indian Day Parade (or Carnival) in Crown Heights, Brooklyn is a must-see for everyone. An annual Labor Day tradition, the parade typically draws between one and two million people. The parade will be held on Monday, September 2, 2019 and commences at 11 a.m. Elaborate costumes, calypso bands, dancing their way down Eastern Parkway as vendors sell mouthwatering food for parade audiences to buy. 

Catch a performance of Moulin Rouge! on Broadway
Moulin Rouge!, adapted from the 2001 Baz Luhrmann hit jukebox film, is currently Broadway’s latest arrival (and hit). A sumptuously designed production of song, spectacle, dance and performances by some of Broadway’s most-talented players (including Aaron Tveit, Karen Olivo and Danny Burstein), the musical bursts with popular songs sandwiched into its romantic story. Escape into the tragic love story of Satine and Christian, star-crossed lovers whose hearts become one at the famous Parisian nightclub. Moulin Rouge! plays at Broadway’s Al Hirschfeld Theatre.

Electric Zoo Festival
This electric dance music festival is a stimulating thrill for both the eyes and the ears. Held at Randall’s Island Park, Friday through Sunday of Labor Day, The Electric Zoo Festival is New York City’s biggest electronic music festival. A vast array of artists from the world EDM, from the mainstream to the underground, will be on hand for this event’s eleventh anniversary. Tickets are required. Visit www.electriczoo.com for more details. Don’t miss this sensory kaleidoscope!

Grab Some BBQ
Labor Day Weekend is also about consuming some great barbeque, and though the recipes of the south are typically what come to mind, there are plenty of places in the Big Apple where you can find some finger-licking good takes on pork, beef, and chicken. Dallas BBQ at 241 West 42nd Street offers a tasty BBQ brisket, as well as the typical meats and sides. Hill Country Barbecue Market at 30 West 26th offers all-you-can-eat BBQ on Mondays (perfect for your Labor Day outing).

Take In a Yankees Game
Baseball is America’s pastime. In New York City you are near one of baseball’s most-famous ballclubs, The New York Yankees. A quick subway ride to the Bronx and you can visit Yankees Stadium where the Oakland A’s will play the iconic team this Labor Day Weekend. Grab a hot dog with mustard, a beer, and head up to the stands for some ball.

Voyage on the Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise
There is no more breathtaking way to see New York City than from the water. The majesty of the skyline and the awe-inspiring architecture of Manhattan and the surrounding boroughs is thrillingly explored from the Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise. This is the only cruise experience that entirely circumnavigates the island of Manhattan.

“City of Workers, City of Struggle” Exhibit
The Museum of the City of New York has the perfect exhibit to commemorate Labor Day. “City of Workers, City of Struggle” is a detailed look at how labor movements changed New York, illustrating the story of over two-hundred years of the labor organizations that struggled to find their collective bargaining strength to protect workers, ultimately giving way to unions. It’s a story of men, women, children, and immigrants facing-off against a system that didn’t always favor their industry or humanity. “City of Workers, City of Struggle” will run through January 5, 2020.

Swim at the Beach
With summer coming to an end, warm weather conducive to outdoor swimming will be hard to come by before we know it. It might be smart to get in a few more dips in the briny at Brighton Beach, Manhattan Beach, Coney Island or Orchard Beach while the sun is still shining. The beaches are also a great place to unwind and get in that last bit of relaxation before the school starts and everyone gets back into their daily routine.

Hercules in Central Park
The stage adaptation of the Disney animated film musical Hercules will be playing under the stars at Central Park’s Delacorte Theatre from August 31 through September 8, 2019. These will be tough tickets to come by, particularly because they are free. Both a digital lottery and an in-person lottery are in place to distribute the tickets. Those who do score tickets will delight in this theatrical piece that brings to life an ancient myth with a delightful Alan Menken/David Zippel score. A night of theatre, especially outdoors and family-friendly, is a perfect and to a perfect summer.

Mark Robinson is the author of the two-volume encyclopedia The World of Musicals, The Disney Song Encyclopedia, and The Encyclopedia of Television Theme Songs. His forthcoming book, Sitcommentary: The Television Comedies That Changed America, will hit the shelves in October, 2019. He maintains a theater and entertainment blog at markrobinsonwrites.com.

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