Free NYC outdoor movies all summer long

If you can get past the muggy summer days of Manhattan, one of the huge perks of living in the city is the wealth of free outdoor events held every season. A variety of festivals hold concerts, operas, street fairs, and our favorite: outdoor films.

There's nothing quite like watching a movie on the big screen alfresco. It's the perfect excuse to call a group of friends, gather some great picnic food, and voila, the perfect budget night. Times listed are suggested starting times, as the films begin as soon as it gets dark, but we recommend arriving early to secure your perfect blanket spot.

Here's your guide to free outdoor movies all summer long:

Our favorite, the River to River fest, which is presenting films this year on the Elevated Acre at 55 Water St., a hidden open air plaza on the southern point of the South Street Seaport facing the East River. All the films have a New York theme, just the way we like it.
  • The Taking of Pehlam 123 (the 1974 original) July 13, 8 p.m.
  • West Side Story, July 20, 8 p.m.
  • Sweet Smell of Success, July 27, 8 p.m.


The Riverside Park Fund presents another series of amazing New York films with Movies Under the Stars as part of its Summer on the Hudson series. Head to Pier I at 70th St. for this amazing lineup.
  • Wall Street, July 15, 8:30 p.m.
  • Dinner at Eight, July 22, 8:30 p.m.
  • The Out-of-Towners, July 29, 8:30 p.m.
  • Drums Along the Mohawk, Aug. 5, 8:30 p.m.
  • Sweet Smell of Success, Aug. 12, 8:30 p.m.
And presented by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, Films on the Green presents choice French films for the downtown set in Tompkins Square Park.
  • Works, July 17, 8:30 p.m.
  • Claire's Knee, July 27, 8:30 p.m.
At the Bryant Park Summer Film Festival, you can conveniently pickup your picnic goodies at the 'wichcraft kiosk before settling down on the massive lawn at 6th Avenue between 40th and 42th streets. The park opens the lawn at 5 p.m. for picnics.
  • How Green Was My Valley, July 13, 8 p.m.
  • Harold and Maude, July 20, 8 p.m.
  • The Defiant Ones, July 27, 8 p.m.
  • Kramer vs. Kramer, Aug. 3, 8 p.m.
  • The Magnificent Seven, Aug. 10, 8 p.m.
  • Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Aug. 17, 8 p.m.
The Central Park Film Festival promises a "cool" lineup, playing a lineup of popular films at Rumsey Playfield. Enter the Park at 69th Street and Fifth Avenue. And head to the Web site to vote on the viewer's choice screening August 22nd.
  • Shaft, Aug. 18, 8 p.m.
  • Ocean's 11, Aug. 19, 8 p.m.
  • Sex & The City, Aug. 20, 8 p.m.
  • Twilight, Aug. 21, 8 p.m.
The Hudson River Park has conveniently divided their festival into RiverFlicks for kids and for grownups. Prepare accordingly. All movies take place at Pier 54, at 14th Street on the Hudson River, and begin at sundown.

RiverFlicks for Kids
  • Kung Fu Panda, July 17, 8 p.m.
  • Ghostbusters, July 24, 8 p.m.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars, July 31, 8 p.m.
  • Muppet Movie, Aug. 7, 8 p.m.
  • Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, Aug. 14, 8 p.m.
  • Curious George, Aug. 21, 8 p.m.
RiverFlicks for Grown-ups
  • Vicky Cristina Barcelona, July 15, 8 p.m.
  • The Dark Night, July 22, 8 p.m.
  • Hancock, July 29, 8 p.m.
  • Tropic Thunder, Aug. 5, 8 p.m.
  • Sex and the City: The Movie, Aug. 12, 8 p.m.
  • Pineapple Express, Aug. 19, 8 p.m.
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