Annual Events in NYC
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From ballet and biking to fashion shows and film festivals, New York City is the place to see and do everything. And many of the City's biggest events recur annually, offering a chance to experience them again and again, year after year. Whether you're planning a visit next week or next year, the calendar below will help you determine which of NYC's big annual events will be occurring during your stay—along with more information on what each one is all about.
New York Boat Show
Jacob K. Javits Convention Center
Don’t miss the boat. 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. Each year, tens of thousands flock to the event to check out the latest in boats and fishing equipment. Visitors can also attend daily seminars with a full slate of top fishing and boating pros.
New York Jewish Film Festival
The Jewish Museum
This film festival—a collaborative effort between the Jewish Museum and the Film Society of Lincoln Center—aims to record, investigate and celebrate the Jewish experience around the world with two weeks of cinematic offerings, including shorts, documentaries and feature-length narratives. Previous NYJFFs have spotlighted films that went on to great national acclaim, like Nowhere in Africa, Beaufort and Empty Nest.
Three Kings Day Parade
El Museo del Barrio
El Museo del Barrio hosts the annual Three Kings Day Parade—by far the largest and longest-running Three Kings Day fete in the City. It’s also one of the only New York City parades populated almost entirely by children! Paraders will join camels, sheep, a donkey, colorful puppets, brightly dressed community leaders posing as the Three Kings and thousands of spectators for a festive day replete with music and gift giveaways.
Winter Antiques Show
Park Avenue Armory
Each winter the most prestigious antiques show in America comes to the Park Avenue Armory. It features a selection of pieces from ancient and medieval times to art deco and beyond, and also serves as a benefit for the East Side House Settlement.
Chinese New Year
Besides Beijing, there’s perhaps no better place to ring in 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.
Lunar New Year Parade & Festival
Want to see a dragon dance? Then don’t miss Chinatown’s Lunar New Year Parade & Festival, one of the City’s most beloved cultural celebrations. To ring in the Lunar New Year, dazzling dragon troupes wend their way through the streets of Manhattan's Chinatown. The family-friendly parade draws crowds of hundreds of thousands, who come to watch thousands of participants, elaborate floats, marching bands, martial artists, Asian musicians, magicians, acrobats and processions by local organizations. Festivities take place in Chinatowns in Flushing, Queens, and Sunset Park, Brooklyn, as well.
Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week
Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week promises yet another week of star-studded soirees at Lincoln Center showcasing the following fall's newest styles. The world’s top designers debut their fall collections on the runways, as style-conscious celebrities from Hollywood, sports and the modeling world look on. You can be right there with them (but you'll need to land on a guest list first). Fans of upcoming designers, meanwhile, will want to pay attention to MADE Fashion Week, which takes place in the Meatpacking District.
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. Crowd and judge favorites include hound dogs, terriers, retrievers, Saint Bernards, bulldogs, dachshunds and the ever-stylish poodle. Come watch these regal canines compete for top-dog honors.
New York City St. Patrick's Day Parade
Fifth Avenue, from 44th to 86th Streets, Manhattan
You don’t have to be Irish to get a kiss at New York City’s famous St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The parade, which was first held on March 17, 1762, is the City’s oldest and largest. Officiated by the archbishop of New York, the parade celebrates Irish culture and the Catholic faith. (Cars, floats and other vehicles are not allowed.) The parade begins at 11am, led by members of the National Guard's 69th Infantry Regiment, known as the "Fighting 69th."
The Armory Show
Piers 92 and 94
Since its inception in 1999, the Armory Show has become the world’s leading art fair devoted exclusively to contemporary art, known for featuring works directly from artists' studios. In 2009, the Armory Show–Modern, dedicated to historically significant modern and secondary market works, made its debut, joining the fair’s celebrated contemporary program, known for featuring works directly from artists’ studios.
New York International Children's Film Festival
Helping to redefine what a “kids' movie” has to be, the New York International Children’s Film Festival shines a light on some of the most unique, engaging and thought-provoking youth-oriented films made outside the Hollywood system. From obscure animated shorts to full-length, live-action dramas, the NYICFF covers nearly every style, age group and cultural background, making it an ideal event for the whole family.
Macy's Flower Show
Get a head start on spring with Macy's Annual Flower Show, one of the largest in the City. The show features blooms from around the world—the rare, the exotic and the simply beautiful. Also enjoy specially created garden environments and guided tours.
New York Botanical Garden
Each year the New York Botanical Garden chooses a region of the world to showcase in its annual Orchid Show. In the resulting exhibition, thousands of brilliantly colored orchids are displayed in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. Marvel at the beauty of these flowers while surrounded by lush settings depicting the natural habitat from which they came. Past shows have featured orchids from Cuba and Brazil.
Big East Tournament
Madison Square Garden
The Big East Men's Basketball Championship has called Madison Square Garden home for more than 30 years. Though the makeup of the conference changed radically in 2013 (now 10 instead of 16 teams, three of those brand-new to the league), the excitement of this postseason event remains, as the schools compete for a title and an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament later in March.
Tribeca Film Festival
In a relatively short amount of time, Robert De Niro’s Tribeca Film Festival has become a leading player on the entertainment scene. Founded in the wake of 9/11 to help revitalize Lower Manhattan, the annual festival celebrates film, music and culture and transforms the downtown neighborhood into a hub for glamorous red carpets and gala affairs. The festival screens more than 100 films from around the world and even offers free outdoor “drive-in” screenings—no car necessary.
New York International Auto Show
Jacob K. Javits Convention Center
See tomorrow’s hottest cars before they hit the streets at the New York International Auto Show. This high-octane event is North America’s oldest and most-attended auto show, featuring the most innovative automotive technology, the hottest exotics, the latest in green advances and more.
Easter Parade and Easter Bonnet Festival
Fifth Avenue, Manhattan
Each year on Easter the best of the bonnets are showcased along Fifth Avenue by New Yorkers roaming the streets in festive spring gear. The parade marches north on the thoroughfare, starting at 49th Street, but the best place to watch the procession is from the area around St. Patrick's Cathedral.
Celebrate the greenest day of the year in New York City by attending one of the many events that go on all week. Encouraging locals and visitors to be earth-friendly throughout the year, the City hosts art exhibitions, educational forums, entertainment and outdoor events in the parks.
Mets and Yankees Season Openers
Take a trip to Queens or the Bronx (or both!) to watch these two teams open their seasons. Enjoy the outdoors and take in America's favorite pastime while sampling all the delicious cuisines the Mets and Yankees offer in their stadiums. Both ballparks are easily accessible by subway, making the trip all the more attractive.
Cherry Blossom Festival
Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Each spring, the 220 cherry trees at the 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.
TD Five Boro Bike Tour
The best way to explore all of New York City in a day is on your own two wheels! The Five Boro Bike Tour is an annual tradition that attracts more than 32,000 cyclists of all ages. The ride is 40 miles long, but the terrain is mostly flat, so you don’t have to be an expert cyclist to join. Take your time pedaling over five bridges—including the Queensboro and the Verrazano-Narrows—and enjoy breathtaking views of the City from every angle.
Ninth Avenue International 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 15-block gastronomic extravaganza features cuisine from Greece, Brazil, Italy, Morocco, Senegal, Ukraine, Thailand and everywhere in between, with music and dancing to match.
Frieze New York
Launched in 2012, Frieze New York is an art fair in a spectacular setting: Randall's Island Park, where the organizers set up a gargantuan tent, an outdoor sculpture park and a heady selection of food purveyors. Art buyers and viewers gather here to see the latest in contemporary art represented by galleries in the US and Europe. The event, an offshoot of the original Frieze London and affiliated with the art magazine Frieze, also features talks by artists and curators.
Museum Mile Festival
Eight of the country’s finest museums offer free admission amid a festive car-free block party with live music, street performers and activities for kids. From the Metropolitan Museum of Art at the southern end of the mile to El Museo del Barrio at the northern, the strip offers your chance for a bargain crash course in New York City culture. Rain or shine.
River to River Festival
Head downtown for the River to River arts fest, which offers musical performances and events for free. Highlights from years past have included shows by the Bang on a Can All-Stars, the New York City Opera and Superchunk.
SummerStage (through September)
Central Park’s Rumsey Playfield and citywide
Since 1986, Central Park SummerStage has been a sure bet for great live music in a picturesque alfresco setting—for free. The offerings of the annual outdoor concert series span all genres: past performers over the years have included Taj Mahal, Dinosaur Jr., Joni Mitchell and Q-Tip. There is also a SummerStage Kids series that runs from June to August and features artists from around the world performing music, dance, circus acts, spoken word and more for the little ones.
Celebrate Brooklyn! (through August)
Celebrate Brooklyn! has more than earned its exclamation point through three decades of free music, dance, theater, film and specially commissioned projects. One of the City’s longest-running outdoor arts festivals, it has featured such acts as They Might Be Giants and Maceo Parker. If you can, catch the Live Music for Film program, where artists play along with screenings of silent, animated and short movies.
Gay Pride Week
New York City is home to one of the world's most vibrant, thriving gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities. The City embraces its incredible diversity as a source of strength, and that's never clearer than during Pride Week, when neighborhoods throughout the five boroughs celebrate the progress made in NYC and beyond since the Stonewall Riots of 1969. The week culminates with the famous march down Fifth Avenue on the last Sunday in June.
National Puerto Rican Day Parade
Fifth Avenue, Manhattan
In celebration of their community, country and culture, more than 80,000 Puerto Ricans march from 44th to 86th Streets in Manhattan as part of the annual National Puerto Rican Day Parade. "Lively" doesn’t even begin to describe this event, which welcomes nearly 3 million spectators every year and includes energetic musical performances, floats and a host of Puerto Rican celebrities.
Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks
Celebrate America’s independence with the nation’s most dazzling pyrotechnics display. Fireworks light up the skyline, with musical accompaniment by the New York Pops orchestra and special guest stars, as millions watch in person and on television. You can take it all in from any number of prime waterfront viewing locations around the City.
Nathan's Famous Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest
With a combination of steely grit, limber swallowing abilities and highly expandable stomachs, competitors in the Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest take on the NYC dogs to the delight of throngs of screaming fans every year. A select group of skilled eaters convenes at high noon, eating Nathan’s dogs for 10 minutes straight, stopping for nothing—not ketchup, not mustard or even a french fry. Don’t miss this year’s competition, which continues a tradition established in 1916.
MoMA PS1 Warm Up
The MoMA PS1 Warm Up is an immersive multimedia experience: a rollicking outdoor concert housed in an installation created by the winner of PS1 and MoMA’s Young Architects Program. In addition to live music, DJs and dancing, guests are encouraged to explore everything PS1 has to offer—admission to the Warm Up includes access to all exhibitions.
Lincoln Center Festival
One of the most celebrated and highly anticipated events of the year, the extraordinary Lincoln Center Festival puts artistic risk and radical ideas on display in the genres of dance, music, theater and puppetry. Events often occur at venues all around the City, including Governors Island.
Harlem Week (through August)
Don’t let the name fool you—Harlem Week lasts for nearly a month. It makes sense, as seven days is hardly enough time to capture all the history and culture of this vibrant neighborhood. The annual celebration features performances, vendors and tributes at assorted venues. Making it even more of a must-do: most of the festivities are free.
Lincoln Center Out of Doors
As the name suggests, the setting is outdoors. The scene, however, is much more than that: music, dance and spoken word—more than 100 live performances in all—fill Damrosch Park with energy and creativity that the whole family can enjoy. And it’s free.
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.
New York International Fringe Festival
A brief synopsis just can’t do the New York International Fringe Festival justice. Stretching out over two weeks, Fringe Fest includes more than 1,000 distinct stage performances—running the gamut from absurdist comedies to social commentaries to hip-hop musicals—with participating theater companies from down the street and around the globe. Choose a show or two that floats your boat, or buy a multiday pass to get the full experience.
Between 7am and 1pm on three August Saturdays, the sounds of honking horns and idling engines will be replaced with contented sighs and the cling-cling of bicycle bells on select streets throughout the City. From the Brooklyn Bridge to mid–Central Park, Park Avenue and connecting streets will be closed to traffic and open to the public for anything from biking to strolling to dancing. Summer Streets events are great for your health (and the earth's), so check them out. Plus, haven't you always wanted to walk right down the middle of Park Avenue, free from the shoulder-bumping sidewalks?
US Open Tennis
USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center
It’s the final Grand Slam tournament of the year—the one that makes or breaks seasons, and sometimes careers. The US Open is also an iconic event in American sports, rivaled only by the Masters, the World Series and the Super Bowl. No matter how the tournament nets out, it's always fun to watch it unfold.
Richmond County Fair
Historic Richmond Town
There’s fun for the whole family at the Richmond County Fair, a Staten Island tradition since 1979. Kids can enjoy circus performers, a petting zoo and even a visit from cartoon characters, while their parents groove to live music and other performances on two stages. Rides, food and reliable county fair standbys like a pie-eating contest round out the weekend. Plus, proceeds benefit Historic Richmond Town, itself a year-round attraction and one of the City’s unsung educational resources.
New York Film Festival
This festival has been bringing some of the world’s most inventive cinema to New York City, an international movie capital, since 1963. This is the place to see cutting-edge films before they hit it big—in the past, the festival has showcased the likes of Jean-Luc Godard, Pedro Almodóvar and Martin Scorsese. Adventurous cineastes will especially want to check out Views from the Avant-Garde series.
Feast of San Gennaro
Little Italy is bustling all year round—and the excitement hits its peak at this annual salute to the patron saint of Naples. Banners and lights adorn the streets, and the crowds pack every block. Join the revelers for 11 days of parades, entertainment, Italian food and even a cannoli-eating contest.
Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week
Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week promises yet another week of star-studded soirees at Lincoln Center showcasing the following spring's newest styles. The world’s top designers debut their spring collections on the runways, as style-conscious celebrities from Hollywood, sports and the modeling world look on. You can be right there with them (but you'll need to land on a guest list first). Fans of upcoming designers, meanwhile, will want to pay attention to MADE Fashion Week, which takes place in the Meatpacking District.
Atlantic Antic Festival
Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn
One of the City’s biggest, best street fairs, the Atlantic Antic Festival in Brooklyn features all the foods and crafts you’d expect and then some—country, jazz, rock, R&B and other music on multiple stages, storytelling and pony rides for the kids and cuisine from every corner of the globe. It’s no wonder that around a million people come out for the festivities. Rain or shine.
BAM Next Wave Festival (through November)
Brooklyn prides itself on being cutting edge, and this event showcases creative dance, theater, film and literature from around the world. Past offerings have included Robert Wilson’s production of Heiner Müller’s Quartett, the Philip Glass opera Kepler (of planetary motion fame) and DJ Spooky’s electronic soundscape composition Terra Nova: Sinfonia Antarctica.
Each September, New York City continues its tradition of remembering and honoring the victims of the World Trade Center attacks at a variety of memorial events. Churches, temples and synagogues throughout the City host special events for those affected by the tragedy, and memorial concerts and fund-raisers continue throughout the month. In addition, the eight-acre 9/11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center serves as a tribute to those who lost their lives after the attacks on both September 11, 2001, and February 26, 1993. It features a public plaza with two large waterfalls, along with a museum that preserves the story of 9/11 and provides educational resources and artifacts.
The Metropolitan Opera Fall/Spring Season
The Metropolitan Opera
Each fall, the Metropolitan Opera announces its upcoming season, always promising a sensational lineup of milestone performances, including company premieres, new productions and exciting revivals. Notable performances have included Georges Bizet's Carmen and Julie Taymor's production of The Magic Flute, as well as Met premieres of John Adams' Nixon in China, directed by Peter Sellars, and Gioachino Rossini's rarely staged French opera Le Comte Ory, under the direction of Bartlett Sher.
Village Halloween Parade
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 become a massive party with wildly costumed characters, puppets, bands, dancers and about 2 million spectators. Don’t let the crowd scare you off—this is a lively NYC tradition you won’t want to miss.
Open House New York
From towering skyscrapers to cozy brownstones, New York’s edifices provide much of the City’s character. A celebration of that architecture and design, Open House New York (OHNY) weekend includes free tours of buildings and sites—many of which are normally closed to the public.
CMJ Music Marathon and Film Festival
The CMJ Festival has always cut out the middleman and brought the music industry (and more recently, the film industry) directly to its fans, from the newest media platforms to the most vibrant live performances at New York City's top venues. Odds are, next year's need-to-know bands and films will be here, so don't miss the chance to take a peek in the crystal ball this October.
New Yorker Festival
Occurring annually for 15 years, the New Yorker Festival is a thinking-man's All-Star Game of sorts—a three-day event that brings together the premier talents and top minds from politics, the arts, journalism, television and everything in between. Past panels and special guests have included Salman Rushdie, Stephen Colbert, Mindy Kaling, Elmore Leonard, Matt Groening, Sherman Alexie and Lena Dunham. The fest's lineup and schedule is unveiled in September.
New York Comic-Con/Anime Festival
With geek culture having established an undeniable influence over mainstream entertainment, Comic-Con is gaining more and more ground. With the NY Anime Fest alliance still in effect, expect to see costumed cosplayers. They'll provide plenty to gawk at, even if you don't hit the fest's many booths, panels and screenings.
Columbus Day Parade
The annual Columbus Day Parade honors more than just its eponymous explorer and the corresponding holiday itself. With fantastic floats and musical performances, this Fifth Avenue spectacle is a celebration of the bond between Italian-Americans and their city—a sentiment shared by New Yorkers of all backgrounds who've also flocked to the Columbus Day Parade for a bit of Monday revelry and camaraderie.
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 exhibition’s entrance.
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 2.5-mile route. It’s no wonder this is one of NYC’s favorite holiday traditions. The area where the balloons are inflated the night before the event is open to the public.
Radio City Christmas Spectacular
Radio City Music Hall
New York City continues its most famous holiday production, now more than 80 years old, with recently introduced original scenes and Rockettes numbers, along with show stopping special effects that include fireworks and a flying Santa. The traditional parts of the show—such as “Living Nativity” and “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers"—remain the same.
TCS New York City Marathon
This is the big one—a sporting event that often proves to be as much a life-changing experience as a physical challenge. Like all marathons, the New York City race covers 26.2 miles from start to finish—but no other city offers competitors the sights, sounds and sheer excitement of the NYC Marathon’s five-borough course, which extends from Staten Island to Central Park. Thousands will run, millions will watch.
New York Comedy Festival
Pretty much every big name in comedy graces a New York City stage during the NYCF. Past participants have included Adam Carolla, Rosie O'Donnell, Ricky Gervais, Dane Cook, Andy Samberg, Bill Maher and Tracy Morgan. Serious, professionally minded panels share the schedule with over-the-top improv nights at small venues and large-scale shows at venues like Madison Square Garden and Town Hall.
Lighting of the World's Largest Hanukkah Menorah
Celebrate Hanukkah with the lighting of the world's largest menorah at Fifth Avenue and 59th Street (right in front of the Plaza Hotel). This 32-foot-high, gold-colored, 4,000-pound steel holiday icon is a sight to behold. Every evening during the holiday, a candle will be lit. A rival World's Largest Menorah sits across the river, in Brooklyn's Grand Army Plaza (at the head of Prospect Park).
Bryant Park Winter Village
Grand Central Holiday Fair
Satisfy your shopping list and get into the holiday spirit by visiting one of the many outdoor holiday shops that pop up in winter all around the City. From Union Square to Grand Central to Bryant Park to Columbus Circle, hundreds of merchants set up shop offering everything from clothing to trinkets. In addition to helping out local merchants, you can finish off your list and perhaps find a little something special for yourself.
Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting
The Christmas tree lighting at Rockefeller Center heralds the holiday season in New York City. Brave the crowds and the cold to see the giant tree adorned with tens of thousands of multicolored lights. The ceremony, televised live since 1966, also includes live entertainment for the entire family—past performers have included the Rockettes, Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson. The tree remains lit until the week after New Year’s Day.
George Balanchine's The Nutcracker
David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center
For more than 50 years, the New York City Ballet has brought visions of the Sugarplum Fairy, marching toy soldiers and the Mouse King to life with its enduring production of The Nutcracker. The performance is distinguished by old-fashioned costumes, the spectacle of an onstage snowstorm and magical sets including a one-ton Christmas tree for Clara’s Christmas party; against these backdrops, the company dances dreamily to Tchaikovsky’s timeless music.
Times Square New Year's Eve
It wouldn’t be New Year’s Eve without watching the crystal ball drop in Times Square. Despite the typically frigid temperature, a million people gather for the world’s most famous New Year’s Eve party. Designated viewing areas fill up on a first-come, first-served basis, and many spectators camp out in Times Square to get a prime spot while audiences around the world watch the celebration on TV.
New York Road Runners Midnight Run
This annual race through Central Park is a good alternative to the Times Square New Year’s Eve ritual: instead of revelers standing in place, there will be a costume contest and parade and a 4-mile fun run. A limited number of same-day registration kits will be available at the race, but it’s free to watch.