Tag Archives: Astoria Music and Arts

Top five summer activities in Astoria Park

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation


Astoria Park is an outdoor urban oasis along the banks of the East River in northwestern Queens. The nearly 60-acre park, located on 19th Street off Ditmars Boulevard, is one of the largest outdoor spaces in the borough, with splendid waterfront views of upper Manhattan, as well as both the Triboro and Hell Gate bridges.

The park is the perfect staycation destination for day trippers, tourists and neighborhood regulars. Here are our picks for the top five best summer events and activities in the western Queens green space.

Astoria Pool
19th Street

This art deco, Olympic-sized swimming pool is the largest in the city, making it the perfect place for city dwellers to cool their heels on a hot summer day. Astoria Pool is free and open to the public from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. Sunbathers can soak up rays on the poolside deck while swimmers enjoy splashing around in the shadow of the Triboro Bridge. The pool offers aquatics programs and swimming lessons for youths and adults, as well as a smaller wading pool for beginners.


Photo courtesy of the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation

Special Early Bird and Night Owl swim hours are also available through the Adult Lap Swim Program, which allows swimmers to focus on fitness and swim technique. First-, second- and third-place prizes will be awarded to men and women who have completed the most lengths until Friday, Aug. 7. For more information or to register, click here.

New World Queens Festival
Astoria Park Great Lawn
Saturday, Aug. 29, noon to 9 p.m.


Photo via Astoria Music and Arts Facebook page

This free outdoor festival presented by Astoria Music and Arts will feature over 60 musical acts and visual artists with the goal of raising eco-awareness. Artists range from bossa nova, reggae, ska, R&B, rock, psychedelic, Americana, indie, funk, blue grass and Afro-Cuban bands. There will also be DJs, a pie-eating contest sponsored by Astor Bake Shop and Little Club Heads, a family dance party experience for children 1 to 12 years old, a dance tent featuring Sol Dance Studios, a puppet show by WonderSpark from Raising Astoria, and a giant Kaiju Big Battle Monster. There will also be an on-site outdoor exhibit featuring the work of over 30 visual artists, sculptors and painters. The event is family- and pet-friendly.

Pack a picnic 

Butcher Bar

Photo courtesy of Butcher Bar

Escape the concrete jungle for an afternoon without ever having to leave Queens. With its jaw-dropping views of the city and the East River, Astoria Park is the perfect, picturesque picnic spot. Picnic essentials include a large blanket or quilt, sunscreen, a Frisbee, a good book, cloth napkins and trash bags for post-picnic cleanup. The key to a well-stocked picnic basket is to start with locally made, handheld favorites. Stop by Butcher Bar and pick up the “PBLT” sandwich ($10.99), featuring grilled smoked pork belly, the Philly cheese brisket ($13.49) or its saucy, braised pulled BBQ chicken ($10.99) topped with coleslaw, onions and pickles. Pair these delectable sandwiches with one of its all-natural sodas, lemonade or famous Butcher Bar iced tea.

Movies on the Waterfront
Astoria Park Great Lawn

Photo courtesy of the Facebook page of Give Me Astoria

Photo via Give Me Astoria Facebook page

Bring a blanket or a lawn chair and some ice cream and head over to the Great Lawn in Astoria Park this summer for the Monday night Movies on the Waterfront series organized by Central Astoria LCD. Check out “Frozen” (August 3), “How to Train Your Dragon” (Aug. 10), “Ghostbusters” (Aug. 17) and “The Incredibles” (Aug. 24) on a big screen under the stars. Movies start at 8:30 p.m. on the Great Lawn, located off Shore Boulevard between the Hell Gate Bridge and Astoria Pool. The series is sponsored by nearby Kaufman Astoria Studios and admission is free.

Pop an ollie!
Astoria Skate Plaza
Hoyt Avenue at 19th Street

Photo courtesy of the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation

This 21,500-square-foot skate park is located at the southern end of Astoria Park, directly under the Triboro Bridge. Astoria Skate Plaza features multiple levels with stairs, rails, banks and ledges of varying heights and sizes. The park was created by Who Skates, a leader in municipal, urban skate park design, and features an open design that allows for a free-form style of skating. Although an attendant will be provided during official hours of operation, skaters will need to sign a special waiver with the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation before hitting the rails.




The music scene in Queens

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

By Councilmember Peter F. Vallone Jr.

So why was a councilmember asked to write about the music scene inQueens?

Little-known fact — upon graduating college, I had to make the tough decision between going to law school and signing a record contract and touring with my band. After a (short) conversation with my father, I went to Fordham Law, joined the ranks of the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, practiced as a defense attorney and was elected to serve the great people ofAstoria.

Through the years, I’ve been fortunate to sit in with local bands and even organize some of my own gigs. To celebrate my recent birthday, I joined my family onstage for a medley of rock and old-time hits. Of course my mom on sax, daughter singing “Play that Funky Music White Boy,” NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly on drums and father on cowbell were the breakout stars (see the video on YouTube or petervallone.com). The year before, I invited two local favorites — classic rock spewing “Spitfire” and Greek heavy metal band “Iskandar” — to perform at my summer kick-off party.

As much as I love to play, I’m no longer a match for our borough’s neither musical talent — nor can I keep up with every new band — so I turned to my friends in the district and Facebook for some suggestions. Here are a few:

One of the first people I happened to speak to is the mother of Nicole Mourelatos, a.k.a. Doris Cellar, anAstorianative, bassist for the hugely popular Freelance Whales, and an up-and-coming solo artist. When she’s not touring, Cellar rehearses at Astoria Sound Works and recently filmed two music videos on theQueensboroBridge. While we’re on the subject of Queens-native rock sensations,Lourds Lane’s critically acclaimed Chix 6 rock musical just completed a successful run at Queens Theatre and is slated to appear on Broadway next year.

Astoria Music and Arts, a non-profit created byAstorianative Justin Finley to promote local bands, venues and community events, is a great resource (astoriamusicandarts.com). Each summer they organize an awesome festival at Astoria Park featuring a wide range of local talent from the catchy tunes of the“Little Creatures” (who sound like they could be on an iPhone commercial) to the great ballads of the “Dirty Wings,” to heavy metal by “Sweet Magma,” and even “Rage Against the Machine”— like anti-establishment stuff from “Illimanjaro.”

To catch some of the great acts mentioned here or one of the many great local bands, stop by Gleason’s, Waltz Astoria, Shillelagh Tavern, the Woodhaven House and LIC Bar – to name a few.

I realize I’ve left out many great bands and locations, but while my space here is limited, the music options inQueensare definitely not. Keep the suggestions coming.

Hope to see you at the next show!