Offbeat New York






New York City Festivals and Events

There's always something doing in the Big Apple. Many are yearly traditions, beloved by residents and tourists year in and year out. Here are some of the best.

January

New York Boat Show - Jacob K. Javits Convention Center

Yachts, fishing boats, kayaks—you’ll find them all at the New York Boat Show, a New York City institution for more than a century. Check out the latest in boats and fishing equipment, attend daily seminars with a full slate of top fishing and boating pros. Find out more at NYBoatShow.com

Chinese New Year

Sometime in January or February, it's the Lunar New Year, also known as the Chinese New Year. Besides Beijing, there's perhaps no better place to celebrate the Chinese New Year than New York City. The celebration encompasses several days of free events, including the Firecracker Ceremony and Cultural Festival (firecrackers are detonated to ward off evil spirits), the Lunar New Year Flower Market and the Lunar New Year Parade & Festival. Read more at Chinese New Year

February

February is famous for Valentine's Day - and we always publish our roundup of activities both romantic and well, anything else we come across. Read about your V-Day opportunities at Valentine's Day in New York City

Westminster Dog Show - Madison Square Garden

Each year, dog fans flock to Madison Square Garden to find out which pooch will be designated Best in Show. Founded in 1877, the Westminster Kennel Club is America's oldest organization dedicated to the sport of purebred dogs. Come watch these regal canines compete for top-dog honors. Read more at WestminsterKennelClub.org

March

St. Patrick's Day Parade

The New York City St. Patrick's Day Parade is our country’s oldest and proudest Irish tradition, marching for the first time more than 250 years ago, on March 17, 1762 -- fourteen years before the Declaration of Independence. Read more at NYC St Patrick's Parade

Macy's Flower Show - Macy's Herald Square

Macy's Annual Flower Show features blooms from around the world—the rare, the exotic and the simply beautiful. Also enjoy specialty gardens and tours.

April

Easter Parade

Every year on Easter Sunday it's time to see and be seen along Fifth Avenue from 49th to 57th Streets. It is the epitome of dressing up in Easter finery and Easter bonnets. The street is closed to traffic for parade participants and people watchers from roughly 10am until 4pm. The best place to watch is from the area around St. Patrick's Cathedral.

Tribeca Film Festival

This very popular yearly festival generally takes place for a week in April or May. World premiers, documentaries, shorts, interviews and more. It's a little of everything. For more information visit TribecaFilm.com

New York International Auto Show - Jacob K. Javits Convention Center

See the cars before they hit the streets at this high-octane event, featuring the latest concept vehicles, new green technology and more. Nostalgic drivers can also check out a classic-car gallery. Read more at AutoShowNY.com

Brooklyn Botanic Garden Cherry Blossom Festival

Hanami is the Japanese tradition of enjoying each moment of the cherry blossom season. Cherry-blossom viewing is the culmination of a month of celebrations of the brilliant blooms. And the highlight is the display on Cherry Esplanade. Activities include 2012 Sakura Matsuri Saturday, April 28–Sunday, April 29 | 10 a.m.–6 p.m. A weekend celebrating traditional and contemporary Japanese culture Taiko Drumming • Manga Artists • J-Pop Bands • Tea Ceremonies Samurai Sword Fighting • Cosplay Fashion Show • Bonsai Demonstrations. More information at BBG.org

May

Fleet Week

From the end of May to the beginning of June, US Marine Corps, Navy and Coast Guard pull into the New York City harbor. Fleet Week, a New York City tradition since 1984, lets the public tour ships docked at New York Passenger Ship Terminal in Manhattan and Staten Island's Stapleton Pier, view military demonstrations and more. Additional information can often be found at IntrepdiMuseum.org and from Navy.mil

Ninth Avenue Food Festival

Taste what Hell’s Kitchen is cooking at this annual food festival, where restaurants and outdoor vendors serve up food to suit every taste. The 20-block gastronomic extravaganza features cuisine from around the world. Hey, New York is a multi-ethnic melting pot. Read more at Ninth Avenue Food Festival

Cherry Blossom Festival - Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Each spring, the 220 cherry trees at the breathtaking Brooklyn Botanic Garden are in full bloom. To celebrate, the BBG hosts the weekend-long Cherry Blossom Festival, known in Japanese as Sakura Matsuri. During the festival, visitors enjoy scores of events celebrating Japanese culture including J-pop concerts, traditional Japanese music and dance, taiko drumming, martial arts, bonsai-pruning workshops, tea ceremonies and manga art. Read more at BBG.org

June

River to River Festival

From June through August it's one huge Arts Festival in a variety of public venues that canvas all of Downtown New York - from Chambers Street down to the southern tip of Manhattan and across the island from river to river. With a broad sweep of programming and free admission this is one of the best bargains in the city. For more information visit RiverToRiverNYC.com

Shakespeare in the Park

From June to the beginning of August, head to Central Park. Organized by the Public Theater in New York City, the phenomenon of free Shakespeare in New York was pioneered and brought into being Joseph Papp and his colleagues. He did a very good thing, and the Public Theater continues the tradition. Read more at PublicTheater.org

Museum Mile Festival

It may be the city's biggest "block" party, taking place on 5th Ave from 82nd St to 105th St. One day a year, for the past 31 years, nine of the country's finest museums, all ones that call Fifth Avenue home, collectively open their doors from 6pm - 9pm for free to New Yorkers and visitors for a mile-long block party and visual art celebration. This traffic-free, music- and art-filled celebration fills the street and sidewalks of Fifth Avenue from 82nd to 105th street, the mile now officially designated as Museum Mile. Don't even think of driving along the upper 5th avenue. For more information go to MuseumMileFestival.org

SummerStage (through September) - Central Park

Since 1986, Central Park SummerStage has been providing great live music in Central park, at no charge. The offerings of the annual outdoor concert series span all genres. The lawn fills quickly, so arrive early. Rain or shine. Read more at SummerStage.org

Coney Island Mermaid Parade

The Mermaid Parade celebrates the sand, the sea, the salt air and the beginning of summer, as well as the history and mythology of Coney Island, Coney Island pride, and artistic self-expression. The Parade is characterized by participants dressed in hand-made costumes as Mermaids, Neptunes, various sea creatures, the occasional wandering lighthouse, Coney Island post card or amusement ride, as well as antique cars, marching bands, drill teams, and the odd yacht pulled on flatbed. This beloved parade has not yet achieved national awareness and maintains its local flavor. More information Mermaid Parade

Celebrate Brooklyn (through August)

Celebrate Brooklyn! has provided three decades of free music, dance, theater, film and specially commissioned projects. It is one of the City’s longest-running outdoor art festivals. Read more at BricArtsMedia.org

Pride Week

As in Gay Pride - New York City is home to one of the world's most vibrant gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities. The week culminates with the famous march down Fifth Avenue. Read more at NYCPride.org

Puerto Rican Day Parade - Fifth Avenue

In celebration of their community, country and culture, the march from 44th to 86th Streets in Manhattan is part of the annual National Puerto Rican Day Enjoy the energetic musical performances, floats and a host of Puerto Rican celebrities. Read more at NationalPuertoRicanDayParade.org

July

Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks

Celebrate America’s independence as fireworks light up the skyline, with musical accompaniment by the New York Pops orchestra and special guest stars You can watch the fireworks from several viewing locations around the City.

Asian American International Film Festival

The Asian American International Film Festival is the first and longest running festival in the country devoted to showcasing films created by media artists of Asian descent and about the Asian community. Read more at AAIFF.org

New York City CringeFest

From mid-July to early August, it's time to watch "bad" plays. Okay, not bad in the sense of poorly written, but these offerings are more like works that are irreverent, politically incorrect, politically satirical, naughty, and utterly ... er... bizarre? For more information go to NYArtists.org

Harlem Week

Far more than a week (despite its name), this celebration features performances, vendors and tributes at assorted venues. Most of the festivities are free. Read more at Harlem Week

August

The Fringe Festival

The New York International Fringe Festival is the largest multi-arts festival in North America, with more than 200 companies from all over the world performing for 16 days in more than 20 venues – that's a total of more than 1300 performances! FringeNYC generates an atmosphere of excitement, and energy. Read more at FringeNYC

Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival - Flushing Meadows–Corona Park

In celebration of the fifth month of the lunar calendar, more than 120 dragon boat teams converge on Meadow Lake to compete in one of America’s largest dragon boat festivals. Take in the spectacle on the water, and enjoy a wide array of international music, martial arts, crafts, dance and cuisine. Read more at HKDBF-NY.org

US Open Tennis - USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center

It’s the final tournament of the year. The US Open is also an iconic event in American tennis. Read more at USOpen.org

Lincoln Center Out of Doors

Enjoy music, dance and spoken word —- more than 100 live performances -- in Damrosch Park. Family friendly, and free. Read more at LincolnCenter.org

September

New York City Film Festival

The 17-day New York Film Festival highlights the best in world cinema, featuring top films from celebrated filmmakers as well as fresh new talent. More information at New York City Film Festival

Festival of the Feast of San Gennaro

Annual Feast of San Gennaro fills the streets of historic Little Italy. Although dedicated to a saint, there's lots of secular activities and fun... and food. Read more at SanGennaro.org

October

October brings lots of Halloween activities. Read more about Halloween in New York City

Village Halloween Parade

According to legend, the Village Halloween Parade had humble beginnings back in 1973, as neighborhood children in the West Village walked from house to house with their friends. Over the years it's been transformed into a massive party with wildly costumed folks, puppets, bands, and dancers. Justifiably famous. For more information to go Halloween-NYC

openhousenewyork Weekend

A celebration of that architecture and design, openhousenewyork Weekend includes free tours of buildings and sites -— many of which are normally closed to the public, as well as fee-based activities. A great organization providing an unusual look at New York City. For more information go to OHNY.org

New York City Wine and Food Festival

The Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival is the only festival in New York to bring together both legendary culinary icons from around the globe and America's most beloved television chefs. Mirroring the charitable component of its sister event, the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival presented by Food & Wine, 100 percent of the net proceeds from the New York City festival directly benefit the hunger relief organizations Food Bank For New York City and Share Our Strength. Read more at NYC Wine and Food Festival

New Yorker Festival

Occurring annually for more than a decade, the New Yorker Festival is a three-day event that brings together politics, the arts, journalism, television, and more. Past panels and special guests included Salman Rushdie, Stephen Colbert, Clint Eastwood, Elmore Leonard, Matt Groening, Sherman Alexie and Oliver Stone. This year's lineup and schedule will be revealed in September. Read more at NewYorker.com

November - December

These two months seem to form New York City's winter holiday season, with special events and old favorites. Read about the winter holiday events at New York City Winter Holiday Events

The New York City Horror Film Festival

Along with introducing up-and-coming horror filmmakers to a wider audience, the festival also pays homage to the legends, from Roger Corman to George Romero. For more information, visit NYCHorrorFest.com

New York Chocolate Show

If horror isn't your idea of fun, perhaps chocolate will be a better choice. Inventive presentations, samples, book signings, cooking demonstrations For more information, visit ChocolateShow.com

Holiday Train Show - New York Botanical Garden

A family favorite, the Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Garden features toy trains chugging alongside more than 140 replicas of City landmarks made from bark, seed and other plant materials. Highlights include a miniature Brooklyn Bridge and Yankee Stadium. More recent additions include the original Penn Station, an elm-bark Ellis Island and a replica of the George Washington Bridge that spans the exhibit’s entrance. Read more at NYBG.org

Holiday Windows

Right after Thanksgiving, up through New Year's, the major department stores along 5th Avenue, and Macy's on Herald's Square dress up their windows in what has become one of the city's most popular strolls. It's a holiday tradition that you won't want to miss. The windows are beyond what you would imagine.

Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting

The Christmas tree lighting at Rockefeller Center heralds the holiday season in New York City. The ceremony, televised live since 1966, also includes live entertainment for the entire family. The tree is always a treat to view, adorned with more than 25,000 multicolored lights, but if you want to avoid some of the crowds, come after the official lighting, anytime up until the week after New Year's Day. Read more at RockefellerCenter.com

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

School marching bands, celebrity guests and performers bring excitement to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, but they take a backseat to the real stars of the show—the balloons. Every year, more than 2.5 million cheering spectators watch as SpongeBob, Snoopy, Garfield and other giant helium-filled characters float along the route. It’s no wonder this is one of NYC’s favorite holiday traditions. Balloon inflation the night before is open to the public. This amazing and iconic spectacle of celebrities, Broadway performers, enormous balloon creatures and the first Santa of the season can be witnessed in person along the route.

Chanukah Celebrations

Chanukah can fall at the end of November, or more commonly into December. But whenever it is, a menorah-lighting ceremony takes place at Brooklyn's Grand Army Plaza You can also see what's billed as the largest menorah in the world at 5th Avenue and 59th street, by the Plaza Hotel. It is 32 feet high, gold-colored, 4,000-pound steel holiday icon. Every evening during the holiday, a candle is lit - using equipment donated by the fire department it order to reach the top.

Want more event information - visit NYCGo.com New York City's official tourism website.

Please note: We do our best to verify information prior to posting however we can not guarantee the accuracy of the information. Please check with the listed organization for further information.
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