Parades, parties, concerts and camping: Your guide to Brooklyn’s best free events this summer

free summer dance party in brooklyn bridge park
Having fun doesn’t have to mean spending money — here are a host of free summer activities in Brooklyn this summer.
Photo courtesy of Will Raggozzino/Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy

As the temperatures rise and the cost of living continues to squeeze budgets, finding ways to enjoy the summer in the city without breaking the bank is essential.

Fortunately, Brooklyn is brimming with free events offering entertainment and fun for all ages throughout the coming months. From outdoor concerts and movies to community street fairs, art exhibitions and kayaking in the East River, there are countless opportunities coming up to enjoy the best of what the borough has to offer without spending a dime — costs of transport and iced drinks aside.

Here are some free events happening around the borough to check out in the coming months:

Make the most of the people’s playground with fireworks and parades

Coney Island’s iconic fireworks are coming back in full swing this summer, starting June 21 and continuing each Friday thereafter through Labor Day.

The Friday Night Fireworks series runs for 10 weeks during the summer months and can be seen along the historic Riegelmann Boardwalk anywhere from West 10th Street to Stillwell Avenue. The spectacle starts at 9:30 p.m. every Friday.

On June 22, the annual Mermaid Parade returns to the Coney Island boardwalk at 1 p.m., rain or shine, starting on West 21st Street and Surf Avenue.

people dressed up for mermaid parade
Grab your fins and sew on your fish-nets for the 42nd annual Mermaid Parade on June 22. File photo by Erica Price

Fans can line up for blocks to get a peek at the decadent costumes and floats that have made the parade a must see for locals and tourists alike. Marchers will then make their way to West 10th Street, where mermaids and floaters will split. The crowd will continue down the historic Riegelmann Boardwalk until Steeplechase Plaza and Parachute Jump, the official ending of the march.

Afterward, participants and viewers can stick around for a post-parade ceremony on Coney Island Beach.

Jam out at a silent disco

The People’s Playground will also host a free silent disco, open to all ages, on Saturday, June 15, from 6-9 p.m.

Grab a set of wireless headphones by Steeplechase Plaza and dance to the beat of multiple music channels alongside fellow revelers. Music is curated by Sound Off Experience DJs, and all that is needed to take part is a form of I.D. to exchange for headphones.

coney island silent disco
Coney Island and the city’s Parks Department are hosting free silent discos around the city all summer long! File photo by Trey Pentecost

If you can’t make it to Coney Island, fear not, as you will be still able to dance to your favorite tunes elsewhere in the borough.

In Bay Ridge, on Saturday, June 8, and June 22, headphones will be available from 6-9 p.m. at the American Veterans Memorial Pier to dance up a storm against the backdrop of lower Manhattan.

The free party will continue in Canarsie Park on June 14 and also in Brownsville’s Betsy Head Park on June 15 – both running from 6-9 p.m.

Camp in Marine Park

Escape the bustling energy of the city for a night of camping with the Urban Park Rangers in Marine Park’s Salt Marsh Nature Center on June 22.

Whether you’re a seasoned camper or a curious novice, this urban camping experience offers a chance to unwind, connect with fellow Brooklynites, and enjoy a night under the stars without leaving the convenience of the city.

Spaces are limited and families who wish to partake are chosen by lottery which opens on Wednesday, June 12. More information can be found here.

Enjoy free music and dance on the waterfront

Nestled along the scenic waterfront with views of the Manhattan skyline and the Brooklyn Bridge, Brooklyn Bridge Park is set to be transformed into a hub of activity and entertainment over the coming months -including live music performances and fitness classes.

free outdoor dance class in Brooklyn Bridge Park
Dánice Jones will hold a free outdoor dance class at Brooklyn Bridge Park on May 25. Photo courtesy of Rebecca Greenfield/BAM

On Saturday, May 25, the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s DanceAfrica Community Class is running an outdoor class where you can learn rhythms and movement from Cameroon, led by Brooklyn Academy of Music teaching artist and performance art education scholar Dánice Jones.

BAM also returns to the Park on Sunday, September 22 for “A Celebration of African Diasporic Dance” led by teaching artist Yasmar Cruz. Both events are hosted at Pier 6 Plaza and free to attend, but advance registration is needed.

Enjoy the great outdoors at Brooklyn Bridge Park 

Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy and Brooklyn Bridge Park Boathouse are running free kayaking experiences from June to September, with no experience necessary and all equipment provided. Paddle along the East River to take in the unique vantage point of New York City’s skyline, and hopefully catch a nice sea breeze to cool down.

The free experience is run out of the park’s Pier 2 throughout the summer on Wednesday and Thursday evenings from 5-7 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday afternoons from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

kayaking in Brooklyn Bridge Park
Paddle out and enjoy the beautiful weather and better views at Brooklyn Bridge Park this summer! Photo courtesy of Etienne Frossard/Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy

Advanced registration is required to get your hands on a paddle, applications for which open two weeks ahead of each date and can be found here. Children under 18 must have an adult guardian present.

If you prefer to stay on dry land, ground yourself with a free morning yoga practice and sound meditation at Harbor View Lawn at Pier 1 on Friday June 20 from 8 a.m. to midday. ONEYOGAHOUSE founder Anna Haddad will lead the experience that begins with intention setting, breath work, and a Vinyasa flow experience before moving onto a sound mediation of singing bowls, chimes and drums.

The event is currently open to all who show up. The first 100 participants to arrive will also be gifted with a lululemon yoga mat and some other swag from ONEYOGAHOUSE.

Get limber with free yoga on June 20! Photo courtesy of Etienne Frossard/Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy

The waterfront will also be running free walking tours twice monthly on Sunday mornings and Tuesday evenings from May to October, offering an insight to the history of the Brooklyn waterfront, the Park’s sustainable design, and how it came to life. Spaces are limited so advanced registration is required and can be found here.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Prince’s legendary album and movie Purple Rain, and to celebrate the Conservancy is hosting a special celebration at Pier 3 Plaza and Central Lawn on Friday, July 26 and Saturday, July 27.

Go crazy at a special screening of the film followed by dance party tribute on both evenings from 6:30-10:30 p.m.

Expand your knowledge — summer style

Whether you’re looking to expand your knowledge or need somewhere to escape the heat, the Environmental Education Center in Dumbo has free entry on Thursdays and Fridays from 3-5 p.m., and Saturdays from 1-5 p.m.

Complete with a 250 gallon aquarium filled with critters from the East River, a scale model of Brooklyn Bridge Park, crafts, and reading corner, the center at 99 Plymouth St. offers to chance to learn about the borough.

The Brooklyn Museum also has free entry on the first Saturday of each month from 5-11 p.m. The evenings of free programming is open to visitors from central Brooklyn and beyond but advanced registration is required as spaces are limited. Tickets are released on a rolling basis includes general admission to the museum. More information can be found here.

We’ll be updating this list throughout the summer, if you have any free events to share contact adaly@schnepsmedia.com