|Japanese Street Fair - 5th Avenue|
You can read it on Expat Arrivals or below. The list is nowhere near exhaustive of course but I had to start somewhere!
New York is known the world over as the city that never sleeps. Though for many, the city’s borderline manic activity can actually be felt as much during the day as it can at night. In the summer season in particular, the energy is almost palpable, seemingly bouncing off gleaming buildings and steaming hot asphalt.
There is simply always something to do here; either an old favourite pastime that you’ve neglected for a while or an entirely new pursuit. As for picking just a few events, certainly a difficult task, but here’s is a list of tried and tested annual events, as well as some still on the to-do list.
New York Restaurant week - February & July
Some of the city’s most famous and most exclusive restaurants participate in New York’s bi-annual Restaurant Week. Eateries featured in this culinary dream period offer a prix-fixe lunch and/or dinner for $24 and $35 respectively. So this is your chance to sample some of the best kitchens in the city at the best of bargain prices, from Daniel Boulud’s modern French cuisine at DBGB to old school New York charm with an Eastern European twist at the Russian Tea Room.
St. Patrick’s Day Parade - March 17th
The Irish heritage in the New York area is omnipresent and St. Patrick’s Day is the event of the year to witness in all its intoxicating glory. On the day itself, there is a parade, complete with costumes and marching bands, that slowly snakes up 5th Avenue and is tons of fun to watch. A lesser known fact however is that Hoboken (just across the Hudson in New Jersey) hosts a veritable Irish extravaganza the weekend before St. Patrick Day. People start pouring into the small town from 9am onwards as pubs open especially early for the occasion and everything pretty much turns green (drinks, people, streets, clothes). Needless to say, most revelers start drinking early in the day, so things do get a little messy!
Street Festivals - April onwards
One of city’s most charming cultural gems is the appearance of random street festivals that pop up all over town on the weekends as soon as the weather starts to perk up, usually from April onwards. While there’s no official, comprehensive guide of when and where they are scheduled to happen, the chances are that if you are visiting NYC during that time, you are highly likely to stumble upon one. Sometimes they have a theme but most often they don’t - what they always have though are food stands (Thai, Japanese, Greek), Tarot cards readers and lots of useless but charming knick knacks.
Rooftop drinking - May onwards
Technically speaking, this is not an event at all of course; though with the start of the outdoor drinking season, it’s certainly a momentous occasion. In a place filled with skyscrapers, it is easy to see why looking out over the sweeping cityscape while sipping on a gorgeous cocktail is a New Yorker’s favourite past time. Some of the best rooftops are the Metropolitan Museum rooftop, 230 & 5th and the lesser known Bookmarks in the Library Hotel and newcomer Ink 48's Press Lounge.
Gay Pride Parade - June
Gay Pride is a huge event in the city and is usually made to last for the entire week with a number of smaller events all leading to the main parade on a Saturday. As Gay Pride originally started in NYC, there is certainly something special about this particular event. The celebration has its roots in 1970, and is an occasion to mark the one year anniversary of the Stonewall Inn incident. The event is incredibly diverse; with every single ethnic origin, gender and age being represented.
Outdoor Movies & Concerts - All Summer long
The list of these is almost endless - from River Flicks on the Hudson, to the Bryant Park Monday night movies and the Rooftop Films Summer series, there is really something for everyone.
Outdoor concerts in the city are also quite ubiquitous with the most notable being the New York Philharmonic concerts in Central Park, the Tompkins Square Park Charlie Parker Jazz Festival and the P.S.I Warm UP series.
Be it a music or cinema event (or ideally both!), one thing is for sure - there is nothing quite as magical as having the glittering city as the backdrop to your evening.
San Genaro Festival - September
San Genaro is a week long festival that takes place in Little Italy every year. It is actually a religious occasion and a statue of San Genaro (the Patron Saint of Naples) is carried through the cobbled streets by burly men, followed by a large procession of people. The atmosphere is electric with music, freak shows (!), street food vendors loudly selling their wares (you must try a sweet, cream-filled, cannelloni) and huge crowds slowly meandering through it all, usually clutching a cocktail in a giant, brightly colored plastic glass!
NBA Basketball Season - October to April
There are many sporting events in New York, the most popular being the baseball season (with the old rivalry between the Yankees and the Mets), as well as the US Open. NBA basketball season is also not to be missed; running from October to April with New York Knicks games being played at Madison Square Garden.
Despite the Knicks’ poor performance of the past few years, they have ardent fans and the atmosphere at the games is amazing - the combination of the venue, the fun musical and dance interludes, the constant chanting of the fans and the fast pace of the match make this a must-do experience in the city.
Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade - November
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade is a well known event, and even preparations can be captivating to watch. On the night prior to the parade, the famous huge balloons depicting animals or cartoon characters are being inflated somewhere on the Upper West Side, usually near the National History Museum on Central Park West. It’s a great spectacle to see after a dinner out with friends - when hopefully a couple of glasses of wine will have warmed you up enough to brave the chilly temperatures and chance of snow.