After months of miserable weather and anxiety over COVID-19 spikes, the summer music festival season is almost here to offer outdoor music and culture in the more comforting open-air environs of city parks.

Today, City Parks Foundation announces the expansive lineup for Capital One City Parks Foundation SummerStage 2022, which will feature about 90 free and benefit concerts spread out among 13 parks around the city. Shows will take place at the SummerStage flagship venue at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park; Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem; Von King Park and The Coney Island Amphitheater in Brooklyn; Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens; Crotona Park in the Bronx; and Corporal Thompson Park in Staten Island among others.

Highlights of this year's iteration of the beloved summertime event, which features tons of international artists, include an opening night Central Park show on June 11th with legendary jazz pianist and composer Herbie Hancock; shows by the likes of celebrated indie bands Caribou (joined by Ela Minus and a Toribio DJ set in Central Park on June 28th) and Waxahatchee (joined by Swearin’, Ohmme, and a Delphine Blue DJ set in Central Park on June 22nd); and up-and-coming international musicians including experimental British jazz group Sons of Kemet (along with Makaya McCraven on July 31st in Central Park) and Ghanaian dancehall star Shatta Wale (in Crotona Park on August 13th).

There are diverse lineups dedicated to Brazilian Carnaval (featuring Monobloco, Nailah Blackman and Batalá) on June 26th in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, and K-Pop (Brave Girls, Golden Child and AleXa) at Central Park on July 10th. There are tribute shows to Harlem-based music critic Greg Tate (featuring Burnt Sugar Danz, Harriet Tubman, Resistance Revival Chorus and more) on August 20th at Marcus Garvey Park, and Force MDs founding member Jessie Lee Daniels (featuring Force MDs & Friends DJ S1 and Bugsy Buggs) on August 7th in Corporal Thompson Park on Staten Island.

There's a screening of Questlove's Oscar-winning documentary Summer Of Soul to commemorate Juneteenth in Marcus Garvey Park; the annual three-day Charlie Parker Jazz Festival taking place from August 26th to August 28th at various parks in Harlem and the East Village; a six-show series at The Coney Island Amphitheater at the Coney Island Boardwalk; dance performances galore; and a host of big-name benefit shows from Modest Mouse, Belle & Sebastian, George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic, Big Freedia, the unstoppable trio of Sharon Van Etten, Angel Olsen, and Julien Baker, to name a few.

This summer's series will mark the first time in more than two years that SummerStage will be presenting a full lineup of shows across the five boroughs, according to Heather Lubov, executive director of City Parks Foundation. She told Gothamist that during the pandemic's height in 2020, SummerStage, like so many other NYC cultural institutions, mostly had to rely on streaming events and shows.

"We wanted to make sure that people still had access to culture, particularly free culture, and that artists still had ways to work and share their art," said Lubov, who is in her seventh year at City Parks Foundation. "And I think that for a while, that was okay, it was better than nothing.

"But people have been desperate to get back together," she said. "We're social beings, and there's a very visceral experience that people have when they watch a concert together, when they hear the music together, and when they react together. Online is okay, but really, music should be experienced in person when you can, and it's just a completely different experience and, I think, one that people have really been missing."

With the easing of some restrictions last summer, SummerStage was able to program about 40 shows — half as many as usual — in just four parks. People were seated six feet apart, and tickets had to be ordered in advance online, which is not the case for free shows this year. So it "had a very different, somewhat restrictive feel for a very good reason, obviously," Lubov said.

"But this season, we're back in every neighborhood park that we've been in," she said. "We're in every borough; we were not able to do that last year. And we're building out our full venue in Central Park, which we had only used one time in 2019."

SummerStage's seasonal Central Park venue received a $5.5 million overhaul in 2019, which included a new stage canopy, better sight lines, VIP areas and upgraded accessibility.

The pandemic isn't over — COVID cases are increasing throughout the city due to the prevalence of the BA.2 substrain of the omicron variant. But most cultural venues have by and large dropped all pandemic restrictions once they were no longer required by the city or state.

Lubov says SummerStage is following the city's current COVID guidelines, so masks are "strongly recommended" but not required. Their staff is required to be vaccinated and strongly recommended to mask "all the time."

Joe Killian, who founded SummerStage in the mid-'80s, previously told Gothamist that the idea behind the fest was to "let New Yorkers connect the dots between dance and spoken word and world music." Among the things Lubov is most excited about this year's fest is the ability to once again host a large assortment of international artists, which wasn't possible last year due to pandemic travel restrictions.

"It was difficult to get visas, and [there were] different health conditions in different countries," she said. "Of course, there are lots of great artists in New York, but we are an international festival, and that's important to us. So I think what you see is a lot of international artists this summer: we have artists from India, from Korea, from Nigeria, from Brazil and literally all over the world. And that was a goal, to make sure that we got back to our roots as an international festival, because New York is really an international city."

Among the international highlights this summer is Aussie BBQ in Central Park on June 18th, which will feature eclectic acts from down under, including indie rock band You Am I, indigenous rapper Baker Boy and Aboriginal electronic music duo Electric Fields. For French music fans, there's Fête de la Musique on June 21st in Central Park, headlined by hip hop legend MC SOLAAR. Brazil's Ney Matogrosso, a Latin Grammy Lifetime Achievement Awardee, will perform along with Brazilian-Mexican folk-rock group Francisco El Hombre and queer duo Fado Bicha on July 17th in Central Park. And the king of bachata "El Rey Supremo" Luis Vargas will perform alongside Dominican artist El Gran Alcover and Latin pop group Grupo De Ahora on August 7th in Central Park.

As for which ones she's personally looking forward to attending, Lubov said she's planning to be at most of them.

"I have to say, I'm a little crazy," she said. "But you know, every show is different. Every community is different. People respond to concerts in a different way. I love that feeling of watching a community enjoy their culture. So I try to go to almost every show, unless there are three on a day, and then it's kind of impossible."

SummerStage performances are free and open to the public with the exception of the benefit concerts, the proceeds of which help fund the annual event. Some shows will be live-streamed on You can see the complete lineup of artists and dates, plus ticketing info for the benefit shows, here.