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River To River Festival Brings Free Arts Events Downtown

The River To River Festival draws thousands of people to free summer arts events in Lower Manhattan.
The River To River Festival draws thousands of people to free summer arts events in Lower Manhattan.
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River To River Festival/David Godlis

LOWER MANHATTAN — This summer's River To River Festival will kick off with a bang.

The popular Downtown arts festival will launch its 11th season June 17 with the Bang on a Can Marathon, a freewheeling 12-hour concert at the World Financial Center featuring musicians from around the globe, organizers announced this week.

Other highlights from the month-long festival — which was founded after 9/11 to bring dozens of free music, dance, film and theater events to venues south of Houston Street — include the Philip Glass Ensemble performing June 20 in celebration of Glass' 75th birthday and the band Alarm Will Sound offering a tribute to composer John Cage on July 15.

Large dance performances this year include Le Grand Continental by Sylvain Émard Danse, a modern line dance on Pier 17 several days in June, and Tap It Out, which will bring 300 tap dancers to the World Financial Center July 13. New Yorkers can also get a sneak peek at Trisha Brown Dance Company's rehearsals as the dancers prepare for "Astral Converted," a show that will be mounted later in the summer at the Park Avenue Armory.

"We are delighted to be offering an unparalleled breadth and depth of programming at this year’s River To River Festival," Sam Miller, president of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, said in a statement.

"Audiences have the opportunity to see several generations of artists, and in many instances participate in events — from dance to games, workshops to family programming."

Cinephiles will want to check out the free movie screenings on the Elevated Acre at 55 Water St., which are sponsored by Tribeca Film and will include "Stella Days" starring Martin Sheen (June 18), Martin Donovan's "Collaborator" (June 25) and Keanu Reeves' filmmaking exploration "Side by Side" (July 9).

This year's festival will also feature an array of quirky family-friendly events, from the classic and invented games at Come Out & Play Field Day July 14 to Improv Everywhere's MP3 Experiment July 15, both on Governors Island.

The River To River Festival will run from June 17 to July 15. For a complete schedule of events, visit the festival's website.