Staycation this summer? Our GO Brooklyn guide makes it a great one

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It’s summer and the economy stinks. But Brooklyn is the perfect place for a staycation. From outdoor films to Mojito-soaked patios to circuses to parades of half-naked mermaids, you’ll find plenty to do this summer — all in walking or subway distance from your home.

Of course, you’ll first need The Brooklyn Paper’s indispensable, comprehensive and totally awesome summer guide. Enjoy.


Start making sense

This year’s “Celebrate Brooklyn” festival gets off to a great start on Monday as the head Talking Head, David Byrne, performs — and the suggested donation is just $3. Then catch Blonde Redhead (June 26), Robert Gay (July 17), Jackson Brown (July 21), TV on the Radio (Aug. 4) and Bonnie Raitt (Aug. 12).

Prospect Park band shell, For info, visit

Do north

Music lovers will no longer have to trek to Austin — or Manhattan — to check out a premiere indie-rock festival, thanks to the first-ever “Northside Festival,” which runs June 11–14. More than 150 acts will perform, including the Hold Steady (whose show sold out long ago), Sunset Rubdown, Asobi Seksu, and Brightblack Morning Light, at more than 30 venues.

Northside Festival, June 11-14, venues vary. For info, visit or see a day-by-day schedule at

Klezmer fever

Andy Statman returns to Brooklyn! The king of the klezmer revival will leave his usual Manhattan spot, the basement of the Charles Street Shul, and cross the East River to play a show at Park Slope’s Barbes on June 11. This trailblazing artist draws on Hasidic Jewish melodies, folk-tunes and free-improv jazz to create something truly extraordinary.

Andy Statman at Barbes [376 Ninth St. at Sixth Ave. in Park Slope, (347) 422-0248], June 11, 10 pm. Tickets, $10. For info, visit

‘Dam’ this is good

There are still three more Friday night concerts as part of the Williamsburg gallery, Dam Stuhltrager’s “Summer Festival.” Each Friday show features This Frontier Needs Heroes (which was recently dubbed a smash by The Brooklyn Paper’s “Smash or Trash” team), and three other bands.

Summer Festival at Dam Stuhltrager Gallery [38 Marcy Ave., at Hope Street in Williamsburg, (646) 671-3775], June 12, 19 and 26. For info, visit

Carroll for kids

Music isn’t only for adults this summer. Bring the kids to Carroll Park for four concerts over the next three months. The action starts on June 14 with Brooklyn natives Astrograss, who mix bluegrass and old-school blues (and, yes, there’ll be sing-alongs). Audra Rox (July 15), Starfish (July 29) and Putumayo Kids (Aug. 8) follow.

Carroll Park Kids Concerts (President and Smith streets). Free. For info, visit

Wilco (the concert)

Wilco, your favorite band and ours, is playing Keyspan Park on July 13. If you didn’t win The Brooklyn Paper’s Wilco ticket giveaway, you must shell out 45 bucks. But it’ll be worth it to hear the new songs off the Chicago-based band’s just-released album, “Wilco (the Album),” as well as a decade of great rock and roll.

Wilco (with Yo La Tengo) at Keyspan Park (1904 Surf Ave., at W. 19th Street in Coney Island), July 13, doors open at 6 pm. Tickets, $45 (children under 6 are free, believe it or not). For info, visit

String band

If a summer rock concert doesn’t interest you, consider a peaceful evening in Prospect Park listening to the New York Philharmonic. Lie back, let the music wash over you, and enjoy a free fireworks display after the show.

‘Siren’ songs

Head to the beach on July 18 for the Siren Music Festival, featuring two outdoor stages and more rock than the average human brain can handle. The current lineup includes Built to Spill, the Raveonettes, and Bearhands — with more to be announced in the coming months!

Siren Music Festival (next to the Cyclone at Surf Avenue and W. 10th Street in Coney Island), July 18, noon-9 pm. Free. For info, visit

Graceland at Metrotech

Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s work with Paul Simon won the male singing group a Grammy Award in 1987, and the troupe is still considered an emissary of South Africa at home and abroad. Office workers at the Metrotech complex in Downtown will benefit greatly, thanks to a July 30 concert by the group, presented as part of the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Rhythm and Blues Festival. That fest also includes Toshi Reagon (July 2) and Anthony Davis (July 16).


Circus of what?!?

It’ll be a circus of girls this summer, when the all-gal troupe Lady Circus joins forces with comedy group FUCT to put on one hell of a show. These performers aren’t afraid to mix classic big tent American circus (you know, clowns, jugglers and acrobats) with raunchy burlesque dancing, freaky sideshow acts, and avant-garde aerials. Who could ask for more?

Lady Circus and FUCT present “Cirque du Quoi?!?” at the House of Yes (342 Maujer St., between Morgan Avenue and Waterbury Street in Bushwick, no phone), now through June 8. Tickets, $20.

Homegrown fun

Brooklyn’s homegrown circus troupe is no joke. The Bindlestiff Family Cirkus combines vaudeville, burlesque, and Wild West-style sideshows in its can’t-miss performances. From 2002 to 2004, the 16-year-old Williamsburg troupe performed in the “last vaudeville house in Times Square,” and this summer, they’re offering a monthly showcase, open to all variety of entertainers, so anything goes!

Bindlestiff Family Cirkus at Galapagos Art Space [16 Main St. at Water Street in DUMBO, (718) 222-8500], first Monday of every month, 8 pm. Tickets, $5.

Small time show

Ever feel the desire to reach out and grab an acrobat mid-tumble? Now’s your chance. CIRCUSundays puts world-class talent inches away the audience. So close in fact, that you can touch the performers, says artistic director Karen Gersch, though you probably shouldn’t, for safety’s sake.

CIRCUSundays at the Waterfront Museum & Showboat Barge [Conover and Beard streets in Red Hook, (718) 624-4719], June 7, 14, 21, 28; 1 and 4 pm. Tickets, $14 (kids under 12 are $10).

Cure all

The Brick Theater’s Antidepressant Festival is sure to bring smiles to faces (of both the content and manically depressed). The festival includes original works, ranging from the story of a 2012 apocalypse (told through the eyes of sock puppets) to the formation of a Serial Killer’s Anonymous. Check yourself into the Brick for some professional care. Really, who in Brooklyn doesn’t need a dose of therapy?

Antidepressant Festival at the Brick Theater [575 Metropolitan Ave. at Lorimer Street in Williamsburg, (718) 907-6189], now through July 4. Tickets, $15. For info, visit


A blast from the past hits Brooklyn as circus acts and vaudeville entertainers take over the Galapagos Art Space in a throwback to Coney Island’s famed Luna Park. Entertainment includes the Red Hook Ramblers jazz group, circus acts and even a burlesque show (you know what we’re talking about!) by “Little Brooklyn.” Don’t miss this chance to revisit Brooklyn’s glory days.

“The Vaudevillionairs of Luna Park” at the Galapagos Art Space [16 Main St. at Water Street in DUMBO, (718) 222-8500]. June 26, 9 pm. For info, visit

Freak out!

It wouldn’t be summer without the freaks, geeks and other wonders of human curiosity at Dick Zigun’s Coney Island Circus Sideshow, one of America’s last 10-in-one sideshows. How can you resist a show that features Donny Vomit and Serpentina (she’ll twitch it, she’ll twatch it — and she’ll let you all watch it, as the saying goes).

Coney Island Circus Sideshow [Surf Avenue and W. 12th Street in Coney Island, (718) 372-5159], Saturdays and Sundays until Memorial Day; 1–9 pm; after Memorial Day, expanded hours. Tickets, $7.50 (children under 12 are $5).

The ‘Greatest’ show

When people say they want to run away and join the circus, it’s Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey that they’re talking about. And now the so-called “Greatest Show on Earth” is coming to Brooklyn for the first time in its 139-year history. The one-ring thrill ride is called “Coney Island Boom A Ring,” and its elephants, tigers, clowns and acrobats will keep you entertained through Labor Day.

Coney Island Boom A Ring [West 21st Street between the Boardwalk and Surf Avenue, (201) 507-8900]. Performances Wednesday–Sunday, June 18 to Sept. 7. Tickets start at $10. For info, visit

To see or not to see

Something’s rotten in J.J. Byrne Park as “Hamlet” hits Brooklyn in a free, summer-long play series put on by Piper Theater Company, which will also stage “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead” (July 12, 19 and 26).

“William Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’” at the Old Stone House [336 Third St. between Fourth and Fifth avenues in Park Slope, (718) 768-3195]. Free. For info, visit


Green guerillas

Did your jerky friends take off for the Hamptons and leave you on your own? Why not spend a Saturday in Prospect Park helping restore Brooklyn’s only forest?

“Weekend Woodland Volunteers” meet at the Picnic House (enter park at Third Street and Prospect Park West) every Saturday at 10 am. For info, visit

Little shop of horrors

You don’t have to hike through the Amazon to get bitten by a flesh-eating plant. Instead, head to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, where the plantsmiths have put together a season-long celebration of violent flora to celebrate author Amy Stewart’s new book, “Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln’s Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities.” (OK, so we won’t get that close!)

“Wicked Plants” at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden [900 Washington Ave. at Eastern Parkway in Prospect Heights, (718) 623-7200], now through Sept. 6. Admission is $8 ($6 seniors and students; free for children younger than 12). For info, visit

Gay old time

Take advantage of Brooklyn’s diverse gay community in style on June 13 in Prospect Park. More than your usual street fair, the festival will feature stage performance, shopping, and delicious food, as well as a family zone, so bring the kids.

Gay Pride Multicultural Festival (Prospect Park West at Bartel Pritchard Circle), June 13, 11 am–6 pm. For info, visit

A two-fer!

They grow up so fast! Join the New York Aquarium in celebrating Brooklyn’s beloved baby walrus’s second birthday. Visit Tuusaq and his mother Kuluu and enjoy music, games and walrus crafts. And take a moment to mourn Ayveq, the beloved masturbating walrus who died last year.

Terrible Twos! Walrus Big Baby Birthday Bash, New York Aquarium [Surf Avenue at W. Eighth Street in Coney Island, (718) 265-FISH], June 13-14, noon–4 pm. For info, visit

More maids!

As if you needed an excuse to go to Coney Island this summer! The transformation of Coney Island from a rundown, gritty, honky tonk playground into a glitzy, year-round theme park hasn’t begun (yet?), but one thing is constant: the Mermaid Parade. Head to Surf Avenue and watch an endless procession of half-naked people (and that’s just Marty Markowitz!) riding on naughty nautical floats. If that’s not enough fun, stick around for the Mermaid Ball, where the excitement and debauchery continues well into the night.

Mermaid Parade (starts at Surf Avenue at W. 21st Street and heads to W. 10th Street before turning towards the Boardwalk), June 20, 2 pm. For info, visit

Sandy hook

Stop just lying around on sand and start making sculpture out of it. On July 25, the beach at Coney Island will be filled with some serious sand castles and, if past years are any indication, some seriously scary King Neptunes at the 19th Annual Sand Sculpting Contest. The winner gets $400 and the adoration of an entire neighborhood.

Sand Sculpting Contest [on the beach between W. 10th and W. 12th streets in Coney Island, (718) 266-4653], July 25, noon–4 pm. Free. For info,


How ‘Sweet’ it is

You know her as the chef behind Brooklyn’s best apple pie. But “Sweet” Melissa Murphy also serves up artisanal ice cream in her parlor next to her Sweet Melissa Patisserie on Court Street. And Murphy isn’t the only pastry guru to lower the temperatures this summer — last week, Jacques Torres (aka “the Willy Wonka of Water Street”) opened an ice cream parlor next to his sweet shop. Torres’s ice cream is the best in the city — but unlike Murphy, he doesn’t have an awesome backyard garden in which to enjoy it.

Sweet Melissa Cremerie [276 Court St., between Douglass and Butler streets in Cobble Hill, (718) 855-3410]; Jacques Torres [66 Water St., between Main and Dock streets in DUMBO, (718) 875-1269].

Vegan soul food?

Consider Red Bamboo, Fort Greene’s vegan and vegetarian, Caribbean and soul food restaurant. That’s a mouthful, but so is its trademark dish: Cajun-flavored soy chicken cutlet breaded with panko, which has earned the restaurant a largely Rastafarian clientele. But, again, it’s summer, so what you really care about is the eatery’s wonderful patio, the mojitos with the homemade sorrel syrup and the live jazz on Saturday that make it all work perfectly.

Red Bamboo [271 Adelphi St., at DeKalb Avenue in Fort Greene, (718) 643-4806].

Ping pong patio

Established nine years ago, Iona has been a continuous presence throughout the re-birth of Williamsburg. A classic Irish bar is one thing, but a classic Irish bar with a garden is quite another (hint: it’s better). Better still, that garden has a ping-pong table — and, as The Brooklyn Paper proved earlier this year, ping-pong ranks second to kickball as the most-important game in the borough.

Iona [180 Grand St., between Bedford and Driggs avenues in Williamsburg, (718) 384-5008].

Paging some food

Spencer Rothschild, Park Slope’s favorite restaurant entrepreneur, has done it again. Enjoy his own brand of Latino-influenced beach cuisine at the outdoor Open Book Cafe, located on the plaza in front of the Brooklyn Public Library’s central branch. The food is great, but better still is the homemade watermelon lemonade and mango iced tea (at least until the wine and beer license is approved, that is).

Open Book Cafe by Mambo at the Brooklyn Public Library’s Central Branch [Grand Army Plaza at Flatbush Avenue and Eastern Parkway in Prospect Heights, (718) 230-2458].

People’s yacht club

Smith Street is still Chic Street, but there’s nothing better than kicking back with a watery Pabst on the outdoor patio at the Gowanus Yacht Club. Come as early as 4 pm (2 pm on the weekend), and embrace your inner Homer Simpson by ordering a Duff beer (on tap!) and chow down on simple hot dogs while watching those fancy foodies rush by to the street’s stuffier options.

Gowanus Yacht Club (323 Smith St., at President Street in Carroll Gardens. No phone). Open Memorial Day through Halloween (weather permitting). Cash only.


Biennial bash

Oh how time flies. It’s been two years and the Bushwick Biennial is back and kicking! To celebrate, four prominent galleries — NUTUREart, Pocket Utopia, English Kills, and Grace Exhibition Space — have joined forces, each with its own interpretation of the neighborhood. Four different galleries, four different experiences. Its guaranteed to stuff your artistic mouth to capacity. Come get your fill!

Bushwick Biennial opening parties are on June 6 at three venues. Check the festival’s official Web site at for info.

Tape job

Who knew black masking tape could be so … artistic? When Sun Kwak is using it, it’s more than just a sticky strip. She took three miles of the stuff and turned it into maze of adhesive amazement. This is one show that’s guaranteed to stick with you.

“Enfolding 280 Hours,” at the Brooklyn Museum [200 Eastern Pkwy. at Washington Avenue in Prospect Heights, (718) 638-5000], through July 5. For info visit

Winning race

Artist Yinka Shonibare brings together African culture with European Colonialism in his big summer-long exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum. A Nigerian by birth, Shonibare is known for race-bending paintings, sculptures, installations, and moving images.

Brooklyn Museum [200 Eastern Pkwy. at Washington Avenue in Prospect Heights, (718) 638-5000], June 26 to Sept. 20. For info, visit


Up on the roof

The “highly” anticipated Rooftop Films Summer series returns! Now through Sept. 20, weekend movies will be lighting up rooftops all over the borough. There’ll be everything from underground films to documentaries to features to shorts at several locations. Don’t miss “No Impact Man,” the documentary about the guy who is using no energy (or toilet paper, from what we hear!) on June 11 at Automotive HS in Greenpoint.

Rooftop Films Summer Series (locations vary). For info and full sked, visit or call (718) 417-7362.

Spike Lee day

It’s a “Miracle at St. Felix” on July 5, as the Brooklyn Academy of Music honors the great (and, alas, former Brooklynite) Spike Lee with an all-day program featuring a 20th anniversary screening of “Do the Right Thing,” plus other tidbits. Do the right thing? Go to this event.

Spike Lee festival at Brooklyn Academy of Music [30 Lafayette Ave. near St. Felix Street in Fort Greene, (718) 636-4100], July 5. Tickets, $11 for adults ($8 for seniors and students).

It’ll be a blast

Now what could be more wholesome than the tale of unstable, nuclear-missile-wielding maniac? No, we’re not talking about Kim Jong Il, but the immortal “Dr. Strangelove,” which hits J.J. Byrne Park harder then an A-bomb on July 8! As part of a weekly Wednesday night series, Brooklyn Film Works presents this Kubrick classic outside of the Old Stone House. In the case of rain, sleet, or nuclear winter, the show will be moved inside.

Old Stone House [inside J.J. Byrne Park, Fifth Avenue between Third and Fourth streets in Park Slope, (718) 768-3195], July 8, 8:30 pm. Free.

An ‘Evil’ good time

The dead awaken … again! On July 15, “Evil Dead 2,” sequel to the cult classic “Evil Dead,” screens in McCarren Park as part of Summer Screen Series. Enjoy the evening with some wholesome company and a whole lot of zombie killing. Chainsaws, sadly, are prohibited.

McCarren Park (Bedford Avenue at N. 12th Street in Williamsburg), July 15, 7:30 pm. Free. For full schedule, visit

Cutting edge

Ah! There’s love, lust and whole lot of sharp metal on the Brooklyn waterfront as “Edward Scissorhands” cuts a swath across the big screen. For absolutely no cost, enjoy this classic about a socially inept, scissor-digited half-man (Johnny Depp, who, in real life, is a full man, let us tell you!) — plus get a great view of the Brooklyn Bridge. And Depp’s not all! The Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy is also screening “Raising Arizona” (July 9), “The Maltese Falcon” (July 16), “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” (Aug. 13) and many others as part of the “Movies With a View” series.

“Edward Scissorhands” at Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park [enter on Main Street at Plymouth Street in DUMBO, (718) 802-0603], Aug. 27, after sunset. Free. For full sked, visit

Let it ‘Rain’!

Prince’s “Purple Rain” wasn’t just an album and it wasn’t just a movie. It was a pop culture phenomenon! Thankfully, Celebrate Brooklyn is going to give us a chance to relive the 1980s — with a campy sing-a-long screening of the immortal film. There’s nothing like seeing the Artist Formerly (and Once Again) Known as Prince on the big screen in Prospect Park, but if you miss it, Habana Outpost is doing its own outdoor screening on Aug. 23.

“Purple Rain” at the Prospect Park band shell (enter park at Ninth Street and Prospect Park West in Park Slope), Aug. 6, 7:30 pm. Free. For info, visit

Habana heaven

Possibly the greatest assemblage of movies ever brought together can be found this summer at Habana Outpost in Fort Greene. The schedule is a classic (and the Mojitos don’t hurt, either). If you miss “Star Wars,” on Aug. 9, there’s obviously a disturbance in your force. Also on the schedule is “Scarface” (July 12), “Saturday Night Fever” (June 21) and “Jaws” (July 5). The fun starts this Sunday with “Way of the Dragon”!

Habana Outpost [757 Fulton St. at S. Portland Avenue in Fort Greene, (718) 858-9500]. For info, visit

The New York Philharmonic in Prospect Park (enter park at Ninth Street or 15th Street and Prospect Park West in Park Slope), July 15, 8 pm. Free. For info, visit

Ladysmith Black Mambazo on the commons at Metrotech [Myrtle Avenue Promenade at Lawrence Street in Downtown, (718) 636-4100], July 30, noon. Free. For info, visit

Updated 5:13 pm, July 9, 2018
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