New York City: New and upcoming this summer

By: Maxine Sheppard

June 19, 2019

Macy's Fourth of July Fire Works © NYC & Company

Macy's Fourth of July Fire Works © NYC & Company

NYC: There's nowhere better to celebrate summer in the city. We bring you the lowdown on what's new, just opened, and coming up soon...

New and recent openings

Arguably NYC’s best known landmark, the Statue of Liberty has welcomed generations of immigrants to the shores of the United States. In recent times, the number of tourists able to enter the statue and ascend to the crown has been restricted due to security concerns, but the striking new Statue of Liberty Museum adds a new visitor experience for the 4.5 million people who come here each year, providing historical context to the story of how Lady Liberty came to be. The free, glass-walled museum offers galleries, exhibitions and performances, as well as a rooftop pavilion and extensive views of the Lower Manhattan skyline. Artefacts include the statue’s original torch, which was removed and replaced in 1984.

Also making its debut last month, the new Empire Outlets on Staten Island is the first discount designer shopping mall within the city limits. The mall is adjacent to the Staten Island Ferry Terminal, making it a free, easy and quick 20-minute journey from Manhattan. The new retail destination is home to around 100 big-name brands and factory stores, including Levi’s, Nike, True Religion, Guess and Nordstrom Rack, as well as a varied selection of waterfront dining options.

Statue of Liberty Museum © Courtesy of Liberty Ellis Foundation

Launched earlier this month, a whole ten years after the elevated park originally opened, the High Line Plinth is the newest and last remaining section of the original railroad to be completed. Located at the western end of the High Line, and inspired by the Fourth Plinth of Trafalgar Square in London, the Plinth is the first and only space in the park to be dedicated entirely to a rotating calendar of contemporary art exhibitions, each remaining in place for 18 months. The inaugural commission is Simone Leigh’s Brick House, a 16-foot-tall bronze bust of a Black woman that faces down 10th Avenue in stark contrast to the surrounding architecture.

High Line Plinth

2019 marks the first summer season for NYC’s newest neighbourhood, Hudson Yards. Opened in April, the new performance and cultural hub The Shed brings together artists and performers in every conceivable field from digital media to dance to sculpture, with a summer programme that includes futuristic kung fu musical Dragon Spring Phoenix Rise and intimate street dance production Maze. Other immersive experiences include Thomas Heatherwick’s centrepiece landmark Vessel, with its 154 flights of stairs, and the multi-faceted exhibition space Snark Park on the second floor of the Shops at Hudson Yard, whose debut installation comprises a monochromatic maze and contemplation room.

Upcoming Hudson Yard openings include the new wellness-inspired Equinox Hotel, due to launch in July. Further down the line, the 1,000-foot-high, glass-floored Edge is set to open in 2020, becoming the highest outdoor observation deck in the Western Hemisphere.

The Shed at Hudson Yards © Photo by Iwan Baan

Probably the most anticipated hotel launch of the 21st century, the TWA Hotel at JFK is now fully open for business. Located in the 1962 Eero Saarinen-designed former TWA Flight Center, and the only accommodation on airport grounds, the hotel has been restored with incredible attention to mid century Jet Age detail. Book one of the 512 fully soundproofed guest rooms and enjoy a rooftop infinity pool with runway views, a cocktail lounge inside an authentically restored Lockheed Constellation “Connie” L-1649A, and curated displays of aviation paraphernalia from the vintage TWA era, including inflight amenities, David Klein travel posters and complete TWA uniforms from the 1940s – 1990s.

The TWA Hotel © courtesy of The TWA Hotel

The TWA Hotel rooftop pool © courtesy of The TWA Hotel

Upcoming summer events

In the 50th anniversary year of the Stonewall Uprising, there’s no bigger happening in NYC this summer than the Pride celebrations taking place across all five boroughs, culminating with the US debut of WorldPride from June 26–30. More than 50 events will be squeezed into the five day run, with up to to three million participants expected to attend. Highlights include the Whoopi Goldberg-hosted opening ceremony at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, the Pride Island weekend music celebration on the Hudson River headlined by Madonna (sold out, but re-sale tickets are available) and of course, the NYC Pride March on Sunday 30 June, which kicks off from 26th Street and Fifth Avenue at noon.

Other summer events and attractions are a mix of old favourites and new debuts, with the biggest and brashest being the annual Macy’s Fourth of July fireworks display. Explosions of light, sound and colour will erupt from Brooklyn Bridge and four barges along the shores of Pier 17, making it the largest Independence Day celebration in the United States. The star(s) of the show are yet to be announced, but previous performers have included Jennifer Lopez, Justin Timberlake and Katy Perry. On the same day in Brooklyn, the world’s best known hot dog stand takes centre stage at Coney Island, where Nathan’s Famous 2019 Hot Dog Eating Contest looks set to break more records. For more Coney Island Independence Day festivities, head down the boardwalk for the Brooklyn Cyclones game and post-game fireworks show.

Later in the summer, there’s the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival from 3–4 August, with 200 dragon boat teams racing on Meadow Lake in Flushing Meadows Corona Park in celebration of the fifth month of the lunar calendar. Expect traditional food, martial arts demonstrations and dance performances, along with Chinese crafts and children’s activities.

Finally, look out for Apollo 11: Media, the Moon and Beyond, a new installation which opened in May at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum that brings together archived news media displayed through vintage televisions, plus a calendar of accompanying events.

Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, Coney Island, Brooklyn © NYC & Company

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Virgin Atlantic operates daily flights to New York’s JFK and Newark Liberty airports.


Maxine Sheppard

Maxine is the co-editor of the Virgin Atlantic blog. Travel and music are her joint first loves, and despite having written for Virgin for more years than she cares to remember she still loves nothing more than jumping on a plane in search of new sights and new sounds.

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