The following information is always subject to change. Confirm before you make plans around a specific event. Call the venue or the New York City Convention & Visitors Bureau at tel. 212/484-1222, go to www.nycgo.com, or buy a copy of Time Out New York at any newsstand for the latest details.JANUARY
New York Boat Show. Yachts to pontoon boats to canoes are all on display at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. www.nyboatshow.com.
Winter Restaurant Week. A misnomer, because this gourmet shindig actually lasts 2 weeks, this is the time of year when cheap foodies can try out the city’s best restaurants for as little as $25 at lunch, $35 at dinner, for three courses. Some recently participating restaurants included standouts like The Dutch and EN Japanese Brasserie. Visit www.nycgo.com for updcoming dates. You can make reservations starting 2 weeks in advance. Late January/early February.
Chinese New Year. Based on the lunar calendar, Chinese New Year always falls sometime in January or February, with 2 weeks of parades, festive meals, and special performances staged throughout Chinatown's streets, and along East Broadway. Visit www.explorechinatown.com.
Fashion Week. Early February is when American designers parade their new lines for the press and big department store buyers. It's impossible to get tickets to the runway shows (they go to the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow and Madonna). I only mention Fashion Week here because the event can tie up rooms at the Midtown hotels (better to stay Downtown or Uptown when the fashionistas are in town).
Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. I’ve always found it funny that Fashion Week—that parade of “Best in Breed” women—should be followed directly by a dog show. At least at the dog show, they’re upfront about the purpose of the spectacle. The winnowing from just cute to anatomically awesome takes place the second weekend of the month at Madison Square Garden. With over 2,500 pooches appearing, it’s quite the scene. Check the website www.westminsterkennelclub.org for further info. Tickets are available starting in mid-October via Ticketmaster (www.ticketmaster.com). Mid-February.
St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Thanks to one of the largest Irish-American populations in the United States, St. Paddy’s is an enormous event in NYC, rivaling only New Year’s Eve for its displays of public inebriation. Every pub in town throws a party, and in the afternoon, all of 150,000 marchers parade down Fifth Avenue from 44th to 86th streets, starting at 11am. For more info: www.nycstpatricksparade.org. March 17.
New York International Auto Show. Here’s the irony: You don’t need a car in New York, yet this is the largest car show in the U.S. Held at the Javits Center, many concept cars show up that will never roll off the assembly line but are fun to dream about. To learn more: www.autoshowny.com. Mid-April.
Easter Parade. No floats, no marching bands, just ordinary people strolling in extraordinary hats mark Easter in one of the city’s most low-key but charming celebrations. Fifth Avenue from 57th Street all the way down to 45th is closed to traffic from 11am to 4pm, with the greatest number of chapeaus in evidence around noon.
Tribeca Film Festival. Founded by Robert DeNiro and Jane Rosenthal in 2002, this little film festival has quickly grown into one of the most influential in the nation. You’ll see films from all over the world here, from big studio pictures to tiny independent productions from places such as Slovakia and Dubai. And unlike other film fests, this one is truly for all ages, with a nifty street fair on the second weekend (usually featuring a zoo and rides), as well as children’s films throughout the 2-week event. To learn more, visit www.tribecafilm.com/festival.
Fleet Week. About 10,000 Navy and Coast Guard personnel are “at liberty” in New York for the annual Fleet Week at the end of May. Usually from 1 to 4pm daily, you can watch the ships and aircraft carriers as they dock at the piers on the west side of Manhattan, tour them with on-duty personnel, and watch some dramatic exhibitions by the U.S. Marines. Even if you don’t take in any of the events, you’ll know it’s Fleet Week because those 10,000 sailors invade Midtown in their starched white uniforms. It’s wonderful—just like On the Town come to life. Go to www.intrepidmuseum.org. Late May.
Frieze New York. An off-shoot of the London original, this artapalooza brings hundreds of international galleries to tents on Randall’s Island. Big money is spent and made here, but even if you’re not a buyer, the chance to see art this cutting-edge is exciting. Early May. http://frieze.com/fairs
TEFAF. In 2017, the world’s leading arts and antique show (The European Fine Art Fair, long held only in Maastricht, Holland) hit the road for the first time. Now, twice a year (in April and November) exquisite pieces from the Stone Age through today are brought to New York’s Park Avenue Armory. The items are so rare they often make the news. In recent years treasures have included Persian drinking vessels from 1000 b.c., a Flemish tapestry from 1600, and a painting by 17th century Spanish master Jusepe di Ribera. Go to www.tefaf.com.
Belmont Stakes. The final event in horse racing's grand trifecta of events (the Kentucky Derby and The Preakness are the first two). Any horse able to win all three instantly enters the record books and his owner becomes a multi-millionaire, thanks to the breeding fees he’ll be able to collect for the rest of that horse’s life. For information, visit www.nyra.com. Early June.
Gay Pride Weekend. More than just a parade (though the naughty, outrageous, rambunctious parade is still at the heart of the festivities), NY’s pride weekend draws men and women from across the U.S. for a weekend of lectures, dances, and rallies. Learn more at www.nycpride.org.
Mermaid Parade. A smaller, nautically themed, daytime version of Greenwich Village’s Halloween Parade, the Mermaid Parade takes place towards the end of June each year in Coney Island. Founded in 1983, the parade has the same kind of home-grown ambience and raunch as its Greenwich Village counterpart. Along with the ball that follows, featuring performances by local burlesque acts, the event is a heckuva a lot of fun. Get details at www.coneyisland.com.
Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks. Start the day amid the crowds at the Great July 4th Festival in lower Manhattan, and then catch Macy’s fireworks extravaganza over New York Harbor. It's the country’s largest pyrotechnic show on Independence Day, and huge barges launch the fireworks from the Hudson or East Rivers. www.macys.com/fireworks.
Restaurant Week. Mid-July (see “January,” above).
Several Festivals at Lincoln Center. The Mostly Mozart Festival brings master musicians from all over the world to play the music of the 18th-century master.In 2018 it exapanded to include ballet and theater performances. Also part of the fun, outdoors at Lincoln Center, is Midsummer Night’s Swing: evenings of big-band swing, salsa, and tango under the stars to the sounds of top-flight bands. Dance lessons are offered with purchase of a ticket.
Harlem Week. The world’s largest black and Hispanic cultural festival actually spans almost the entire month, to include the Harlem Jazz and Music Festival and the New York City Children's Festival. Expect a full slate of music, from gospel to hip-hop, and lots of other festivities. Visit https://harlemlocal.com/harlem-week. Throughout August.
New York International Fringe Festival (FringeNYC). Held in a variety of downtown venues and park spaces for a crowd looking for the next underground hit (as in Urinetown, which went from the Fringe to Broadway in 2001), this arts festival presents alternative as well as traditional theater, musicals, comedy, and all manner of performance. Hundreds of events are held at all hours over about 10 days. Suffice it to say that the quality can vary wildly Visit www.fringenyc.org. Mid- to late August.
U.S. Open Tennis Championships. For one brief, bright-tennis-whites moment each year at the end of August (and into September), the city becomes a center for international sport with the start of the U.S. Open, one of tennis’ four Grand Slam events. For full information, visit www.usopen.org for information. Two weeks around Labor Day.
Fashion Week. Part 2 of the event mentioned above, and yes, it sends hotel rates soaring. Try and avoid visiting the week if you can (details on dates at www.mbfashionweek.com)
New York Film Festival. Legendary hits like Pulp Fiction and Mean Streets both had their U.S. premieres at the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s 2-week festival, a major stop on the film-fest circuit. Screenings are held in various Lincoln Center venues; advance tickets are a good bet always, and a necessity for certain events (especially evening and weekend screenings). Check out www.filmlinc.com/nyff. Two weeks from late September to early October.
Greenwich Village Halloween Parade. Men in drag, women in drag, zombies dancing to Michael Jackson’s Thriller—all these apparitions and more made their appearance at recent parades, and you’ll see them if you attend. This is New York’s most outrageous event and the largest Halloween parade in the world. Some locals spend all year working on their costumes; if you dress up, you can march, too. For information on how to do that, and for the parade routing (which changes), visit www.halloween-nyc.com. To snag a viewing spot in Greenwich Village along the parade route, you’ll need to show up at about 5pm (2 hr. before the parade starts) . . . or have a nice dinner and show up at 9pm to view the second half. The crowd will have thinned by then, and because the event usually doesn’t end until close to 11pm, you’ll have more than enough time to enjoy it. October 31.
Holiday Trimmings. Starting the day after Thanksgiving (and often even before that), the entire city dresses up for Christmas, stringing lights, hanging tinsel, and inserting the computer chips into all of the moving figurines that have, of late, hijacked the windows of the city's large department stores. The best street to see the trimmings, by far, is Fifth Avenue, between 39th and 59th streets. Along with the spectacular windows at the big department stores—Saks Fifth Avenue, Lord & Taylor, Bergdorf Goodman, and Tiffany’s—you’ll also want to admire the massive fir tree at Rockefeller Center (off Fifth Ave., at 51st St., lit in late November; go to www.rockefellercenter.com for more details). The windows at Macy’s (34th St. at Broadway) are also deservedly famous, as is the indoor winter wonderland display at the heart of which is a Santa, waiting to hear your tots’ Christmas wishes (just like in Miracle on 34th Street). Madison Avenue, between 55th and 60th streets, is also worth a stroll, and if you have the time, drop by Bloomingdales (Lexington Ave., between 59th and 60th sts.) for its yearly display.
Chanukah is also a big deal in this city, with the largest Jewish population outside of Israel. On Fifth Avenue at 59th Street, a giant menorah—at 32 feet it’s the largest in the world—is lit each year on the first night of Chanukah and for 7 nights thereafter. On the first and final evenings, steaming latkes (potato pancakes) are distributed at sunset, and live music accompanies the electric candle-lighting.
New York City Marathon. Some 30,000 runners from around the world participate in the largest U.S. marathon, and more than a million fans cheer them on as they follow a route that touches all five New York boroughs and finishes at Central Park. Go to www.nyrr.org, for applications. First Sunday in November.
Radio City Christmas Spectacular. This New York tradition now starts well before Thanksgiving, and it’s still as extravagantly kitschy as ever, with laser-light shows, onstage ice-skating, horses, camels and, of course, the fabulous Rockettes, executing their 300-plus kicks per show. Shows run approximately 7 days a week, with six daily performances (on many dates) starting at 9am and going until 10pm. For information, surf to www.radiocitychristmas.com; you can also buy tickets at the box office or via Ticketmaster’s Radio City Hot Line (tel. 866/858-0007), or visit www.ticketmaster.com. Throughout November and December.
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The procession starts at Central Park West and 77th Street and finishes at Herald Square at 34th Street, a much-beloved national tradition. Huge hot-air balloons in the forms of Rocky and Bullwinkle, Snoopy, the Pink Panther, Bart Simpson, and other cartoon favorites are the best part. The night before, you can usually see the big blow-up on Central Park West at 79th Street. Thanksgiving Day.
The Nutcracker. Ballet impresario George Balanchine’s masterpiece. The music is by Tchaikovsky, and half the cast is under 15, culled from New York City Ballet’s famous dance school at Juilliard. Your children will love it, though it’s an expensive treat. The show sells out early, so make your reservations in October if you can, when the seats first go on sale. Go online to www.nycballet.com. Late November through early January.
Christmas Traditions. In addition to the Radio City Christmas Spectacular and the New York City Ballet’s staging of The Nutcracker (see “November,” above), traditional holiday events include the National Chorale’s singalong performances of Handel’s Messiah at Avery Fisher Hall (www.lincolncenter.org) for a week before Christmas. The Messiah is also staged in many churches and other venues throughout the city during December. Check local listings.
New Year’s Eve. The biggest party of all is in Times Square, where raucous revelers count down the year’s final seconds until the ball drops at midnight at 1 Times Square. Standing in the, cold surrounded by thousands of tipsy revelers, all penned in by NYPD barricades, is a masochist’s delight. Use the restroom before you wedge yourself in. More info at www.timessquarenyc.org. December 31.
Runner’s World Midnight Run. Enjoy fireworks followed by the New York Road Runners Club’s annual run in Central Park, which is fun for runners and spectators alike; go to www.nyrr.org. December 31.
Brooklyn’s Fireworks Celebration. Head to Brooklyn for the city’s largest New Year’s Eve fireworks celebration inside Prospect Park (and supervised by the FDNY). Visit www.prospectpark.org. December 31.
New Year’s Eve Concert for Peace. The Cathedral of St. John the Divine is known for its annual concert, whose past performances have included singer Judy Collins, Forces of Nature Dance Company, and the world premiere of Songs of War, Remembrance, and Hope by Glen Cortese. The evening culminates in the passing of a candle flame while the audience of thousands sings "This Little Light of Mine." For tickets, go online to www.stjohndivine.org. December 31.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.