Forget about swinging the freezer door open or flopping in front of a fan to beat the NYC heat. In this city, you’ve got to get creative, and keeping cool means unleashing the fire hydrants and frolicking in the cool spray on the sizzling streets. 

This summer in NYC, do as the New Yorkers do. Whether you find yourself dancing in fire hydrant fountains or jamming out at the Bang on a Can Marathon, bring on the heat this summer solstice. The first day of summer falls on June 21, so celebrate its onset with these top things to do in New York City. 

Sunrise: Wake up! There’s no time for snoozing when the solstice sun is shining down on the city for the longest day of the year. Relish the first rays of sunlight at Gantry Plaza State Park and marvel at the sun rising across the silhouette of the city skyline. The day breaks at 5:25 a.m.  

Viewfinder Tip: Every registered yogi at the Solstice in Times Square event will receive a complimentary yoga mat.

Morning: Stretch into some sun salutations on the first day of summer. Solstice in Times Square: Athleta Mind Over Madness Yoga is taking over the city with downward facing dog and pigeon poses. In celebration of both the solstice and the International Day of Yoga, thousands of yogis will descend on the city for a session. The free hour-long classes run from 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. 

Midday: What do Lady Gaga, 50 Cent, and the Beastie Boys have in common? They’re all New York City musicians who rose to fame in the Big Apple. Hit up Make Music New York, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., to listen to some local musicians who just might be the next big thing. Catch some hip hop on the stoops and some punk rock in the plazas—this music festival spans all five boroughs. 

Afternoon: Get outside your bubble by immersing in the arts at the River to River Festival. This 10-day event showcases theater, music, film, dance, and other art forms in Lower Manhattan. Prepare for a racket at the annual Bang on a Can Marathon at Winter Garden at Brookfield Place, from noon to 10 p.m., and then be amazed at the Trisha Brown: In Plain Site dance performances at Robert F. Wagner, Jr. Park, at 4 and 6 p.m. 

Sunset: Tap into your spiritual side at Socrates’ Solstice Festival. Urban Shaman Mama Donna is leading an inspiring solstice ritual to welcome the summer season, while workshops offer art-making demos and face painting. Linger around the Socrates Sculpture Park and listen to the Queens Symphony Orchestra serenade at 7:30 p.m., and then marvel at the sun setting over the Manhattan skyline at 8:31 p.m. 

Regardless of whether the day’s hot enough to release the fire hydrants, the NYC summer solstice is bound to be epic with sidewalk serenades and urban yoga sessions. If you’re traveling from out of town, check out hotels near Broadway in New York for easy access to all the action.  

Here’s what you missed during the 2014 New York summer solstice:

– We watched the sunrise from the Brooklyn Bridge.

– We hopped on a Citi Bike and cruised around the Make Music New York performances.

– The NYC Craft Beer Festival served some cold ones, and the Socrates’ Solstice Festival hosted its annual ritual.

– The Empire State Building was the ultimate spot for watching the solstice sun set.

 What’s your favorite New York City summer activity?

Header Image Attribution:  Flickr/Creative Commons/Aurelien Guichard/Via/
Body Copy Image Attribution: Flickr/Creative Commons/David McSpadden/Via/