If you're looking for free entertainment this summer, there are few better places to find it than New York City. Free fairs, concerts, shows, and family programs seem to know no end in this city that never sleeps.     

SummerStage, one of the few performing arts festivals that span all five boroughs, is back for its twenty-sixth year.  The all-encompassing free festival touches nearly every aspect of performing arts, providing not only concerts but dance classes, shows, comedy, and poetry.

This season, SummerStage has attracted an impressive lineup of artists that is sure to keep the city buzzing for the festival's three month run.  With more than its fair share of Grammy-Award winners and internationally appreciated celebrities, there's something for everyone this summer.

Hip-hop seems to be especially hot, with Latino bands and jazz performers equally as popular.  Indie music lovers will discover an assortment of new artists, and multicultural enthusiasts will enjoy traditional music from around the world. Even opera aficionados will find themselves feeling welcome with the Metropolitan Opera Summer Recital Series scheduled for mid-July.

This coming week promises to be especially exciting, with performances by Jon B, Olivia, Talib Kweli, and Florence and the Machine.

Jon B, a popular hip hop/soul artist who will be releasing his seventh album later this year, is teaming up with Olivia, the R&B singer known for her role as The First Lady of [50 Cent's] GUnit, for a special concert tonight. The 7:00 PM SummerStage event will be in Brooklyn's popular Herbert Von King Park, which will later this summer host performances by actor Brandon Victor Dixon and American band Burnt Sugar the Arkestra Chamber.

It may be a hard act to follow, but next week features Talib Kweli, the popular Brooklyn hip hop artist whose talented work has brought him an extensive international following. The rapper will certainly be greeted with a warm welcome as he performs in his native Brooklyn on Tuesday at 7:00 PM in Red Hood Park.  

In order to support the free festival, a selected number of concerts do require paid tickets, as is the case with next Friday's performance by Florence and the Machine, Twin Shadow, and Bubbles. Florence and the Machine, the UK sensation, is stopping in at SummerStage as part of her United States summer tour, and will be backed up by the two lesser known bands. The 6:30 PM concert at Central Park's main stage is already sold out and is set to be a smashing success. 

SummerStage continues through Labor Day, so be sure to keep an eye on their calendar at SummerStage.com for this summer's most exciting - and least expensive - performances. 

Article by Ayelet Pearl