Where to laugh, learn and celebrate in Coney Island all summer long

Coney Island Mermaid Parade
Celebrate the unofficial start of the season at the Coney Island Mermaid Parade on June 18.
File photo by Norman Blake

With the Coney Island beach opening up for the season, the island locals will host a myriad of summer activities for all ages and demographics. Whether you’re looking to celebrate the season with a parade, sharpen your comedy skills at an open mic night, or enjoy a classic Coney Island circus, the famous seaside neighborhood has you covered all summer long.

40th Annual Mermaid Parade

The annual Mermaid Parade is making an anticipated return for the first time in two years. Organizers and fellow Brooklynites will gather on June 18 to celebrate the parade’s 40th anniversary.

According to the artistic director of Coney Island USA, Adam Rinn, this event represents the “unofficial start of the season,” and is expected to amp up revenue for local businesses.

“We’re really expecting hundreds of thousands of people to come out on parade day and celebrate with us,” says Rinn. “We have to set it up but it’s really the people that make the parade. It’s the people’s creativity that shines during this parade.”

For more information on registration, check-in and general parade details, visit the Coney Island USA website

Upa inSpace Comedy Fest Coney Island
Comedian Upa inSpace hosts a biweekly open mic night where all Coney Island residents and visitors can sharpen their comedy or other live performance skills. File photo by Irina Ginzburg

Open Mic Night

Coney Island Comedy Festival will partner with other art programs to present a series of open mic nights every other Thursday until September. According to co-producer and comedian, Upa inSpace, the event is for all ages and participants are encouraged to share whatever genre of live performance they enjoy.

“We just wanted to give space to the community [if] they’re dreaming about it or it’s like their childhood dream to get on stage, we really wanted to provide that space,” said inSpace.

The succession of shows will feature free admittance, up to 8 participants a night and drinks available at the Freak Bar. 

Burlesque at the Beach

For Brooklyn residents looking for more risque entertainment, a ‘sumptuous’ series of Burlesque at the Beach shows will run through September. Local producers feature a wide-range of themes such as ‘Brides of Burlesque’ and ‘Something Wicked’.

According to Rinn, this is the longest running burlesque series in the city that began over thirty years ago. The shows will spotlight “sideshow attractions, unique performers,and  new vaudeville music.

All shows will be $20 and attendees must be 18 years or older to enter. 

Enjoy a classic Coney Island circus sideshow at Sideshows by the Seashore from June until September. File photo by Erica Price

Community Event hosted by Kingdom Manna

A local church’s global missions team is providing a free community event on June 11 in Kaiser Park. According to church-member and co-leader of the global mission, Rakiesha Weir, Kingdom Manna’s goal is to “bring fun, wholesome family activities back into the community.”

The church will be offering free produce, barbecue, Mister Softee ice cream and family activities. 

“There’s a lot of violence [and] stress in families right now and a lot of pressure in the community. We want to be known as a people group that would [help] alleviate those pressures,” said Weir. 

Kingdom Manna will also be providing free resources regarding fire safety, health awareness and personal protective equipment. 

Sideshows by the Seashore

One of the island’s biggest summer programs, the Circus Sideshow, will begin running daily from June 13 until July 17 but will continue on an abbreviated schedule until Sept. 5. Rinn calls the performers “some of the most incredible acts you’ve ever seen” and says the acts will include: sword-swallowers, fire-eaters,  and glass-walkers. 

“It’s a throwback to the old-time sideshows but with a very modern twist,” said Rinn. “This year we captured lighting in a bottle and we’re presenting it onstage.”

Show tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for children under 12.

For more summer events and information on pricing and schedules, visit the Coney Island USA website


Correction June 6, 2022, 9:45am: This story previously misstated the dates of the Circus Sideshow. We regret the error.