Best Brooklyn Events
You can always find something special to do in Brooklyn, but these are the standouts that Brooklynites plan their calendars around. They're organized by month, with ongoing events at the end.
Greenpoint Gallery Night. Locals and visitors alike have the chance to go gallery-hopping two Friday nights a year thanks to Greenpoint Gallery Night, which is fortunate because many of the neighborhood's art spaces fly under the radar. (Some are open to the public throughout the year, usually on weekends.) Start at 67 West Street, which houses many small galleries, including the Greenpoint Terminal Gallery, Calico, and Fowler Project Space, and follow the map of participating galleries posted online. Greenpoint, Brooklyn, New York, 11222. www.greenpointgalleries.org. Mar., Sept..
Park Slope House Tour. For nearly 60 years, the annual Park Slope house tour has offered a glimpse inside beautiful private family homes. The self-guided, ticketed event takes place on a Sunday afternoon in May, rain or shine, and shuttle buses connect key sites. Ticket-holders receive an illustrated brochure with the history and details of the participating homes. Poly Prep Lower School, 50 Prospect Park West, at 1st St., Park Slope, Brooklyn, New York, 11215. 347/871--0477; www.parkslopeciviccouncil.org. from $20. May.
June through August
Afropunk Fest. This annual multicultural fete brings artists like D'Angelo, Big Freedia, and Chuck D to an urban park near the Brooklyn Navy Yard, at the far north end of Fort Greene. The fashion scene is as fabulous as the music. Local food trucks provide sustenance, and an on-site skate park and thrift market keep fans occupied between sets. Commodore Barry Park, Flushing Ave. at Navy St., Fort Greene, Brooklyn, New York, 11201. www.afropunkfest.com. 2 days in Aug..
Bastille Day. The French equivalent of the Fourth of July, Bastille Day is celebrated annually on Smith Street on the second Saturday of July (though the actual holiday is July 14). The street is closed off and transformed into a massive party, with area restaurants setting up booths and a temporary pétanque court near Bar Tabac. Smith St., Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, New York. . July.
Bushwick Open Studios. The volunteer-run organization Arts in Bushwick puts together festivals and activities throughout the year. The main event, Bushwick Open Studios, is a huge art fair that takes place over a weekend in early June. Hundreds of artists throughout the neighborhood open their studios to the public, and there are events, performances, and panel discussions. Bushwick, Brooklyn, New York, 11237. www.artsinbushwick.org. June.
Celebrate Brooklyn!. New York City’s longest-running summer outdoor performance festival began in 1979 and remains a top-notch crowd-pleaser with its diverse roster of mostly free (and some benefit) star acts. There's ample bandshell seating, but locals tend to favor arriving early with a blanket to get a good seat on the grassy slope. Acts range from artists such as Janelle Monáe, the National, Neutral Milk Hotel, and St. Vincent to the Shen Wei Dance Arts company and Dance Theatre of Harlem. Look for silent film nights accompanied by innovative live music or spoken word performances. Pack a picnic or buy food from local, on-site vendors like the Farm on Adderley. Prospect Park Bandshell, Entrance on Prospect Park W, at 9th St., Prospect Park, Brooklyn, New York, 11217. 718/683-5600; www.bricartsmedia.org/performing-arts/celebrate-brooklyn. June--Aug..
Mermaid Parade. Plan a trip to Coney Island in late June for the neighborhood's biggest event of the year, and you'll without a doubt have something to talk about for months to come. The costumes (or lack thereof) and floats are memorable, with some pretty outlandish presentations. It can get hot and crowded and hedonistic—more akin to Mardi Gras, with some nudity, than the Thanksgiving Parade, so you may wish to leave the kids at home. www.coneyisland.com. June.
Northside Festival. North Brooklyn’s largest festival for music, film, and innovation comes alive over the course of one week every June. Organized by Northside Media (the people behind Brooklyn Magazine and The L Magazine), the festival brings thousands together for an epic series of live performances by up-and-coming bands and indie rockstars, film screenings, and talks by Brooklyn’s influencers–-in venues across Williamsburg and Greenpoint. McCarren Park is Northside’s heart, and several free events take place there. Check the website for the full schedule and to purchase all-access badges. Brooklyn, New York. www.northsidefestival.com. June.
Red Hook Flicks. This weekly summer movie series runs through July and August at the Louis Valentino Jr. Park & Pier. Films are projected against a warehouse as the sun fades behind the Statue of Liberty. Bring a blanket and make a picnic out of it. Louis Valentino Jr. Park & Pier, Red Hook, Brooklyn, New York. www.redhookflicks.com. July--Aug..
SummerScreen. Every summer, New York City’s parks become enormous outdoor movie theaters, and McCarren Park in Williamsburg is no exception. Presented by Northside Media, SummerScreen shows a different film every Wednesday. Past films include crowd-pleasers like Dirty Dancing, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and The Princess Bride. Though the film doesn't start until the sun sets, the lawn opens at 6 pm; it’s best to bring a blanket and arrive early to score a spot. There are food and drink vendors on-site. North Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York, 11222. www.summerscreen.org. July--Aug..
Victorian Flatbush House Tour. This annual self-guided tour gives design and architecture buffs a look inside turn-of-the-century masterpieces. The event takes place, rain or shine, from 1 to 6 pm on the Sunday before Father's Day. You can go at your own pace and walk the entire route or use the shuttle bus. There’s usually a refreshment stand at one of the participating homes, work by local artists for sale, and special deals from neighborhood merchants. The tour starts at Temple Beth Emeth of Flatbush, where you can purchase or pick up tickets and collect the detailed guidebook and map. Temple Beth Emeth of Flatbush, 83 Marlborough Rd., Ditmas Park, Brooklyn, New York, 11226. 718/859-3800; www.fdconline.org/house-tour. June.
Atlantic Antic. Food, music, and a lot of fun are the features of this gigantic yearly party that closes down Atlantic Avenue from 4th Avenue to the waterfront on a Sunday in late September. There are several stages for performances and all kinds of antics at this family-friendly event, which celebrates its 41st anniversary in 2015. New York, New York. . Sept..
Brooklyn Book Festival. National and international stars of the book world headline talks and readings at the largest free literary event in New York City, which celebrated its 10-year anniversary in 2015. A week’s worth of film magazine parties, book talks, and screenings in various venues around Brooklyn lead up to the Sunday main event at Brooklyn Borough Hall. New York, New York. www.brooklynbookfestival.org. late Sept..
Greenpoint Film Festival. To see what’s behind North Brooklyn’s reputation as a haven for avant-garde artists and filmmakers, check out the four-day-long Greenpoint Film Festival, held every September. It features films in four categories (Documentary, Narrative, Experimental, and Animation), plus Q&As with filmmakers. The festival also includes an "Environmental" themed section with a special emphasis on Greenpoint. Wythe Hotel, 80 Wythe Ave., and 67 West St., Greenpoint, Brooklyn, New York. www.greenpointfilmfestival.org. $10 per program, $28 day pass, $55 festival pass. Sept..
Greenpoint Gallery Night. See March.
Taste Talks. Many consider Williamsburg to be Brooklyn’s culinary epicenter, so it’s fitting that Northside Media’s annual Taste Talks celebration brings together foodies and New York’s most influential chefs. The three-day festival offers a veritable smorgasbord of tastings, parties, and supper clubs in venues around the neighborhood. Before sampling the goods, attend lectures and panel discussions by heavyhitters like Mario Batali, Christina Tosi, Danny Bowien, and Andy Ricker, plus writers and editors from Food & Wine, Cherry Bombe, and other food-centric publications. Brooklyn, New York. www.taste-talks.com. Sept..
West Indian Day Parade . Each year on Labor Day, millions of spectators and participants head attend the West Indian Day Parade, which celebrates Carnival and West Indian Caribbean culture with dozens of floats, city dignitaries, marching bands, live music, and food vendors. The parade route typically heads from Crown Heights to Prospect Heights, along Eastern Parkway, from Utica Avenue to Grand Army Plaza. Celebrations actually begin very early the morning before the parade with j'ouvert (French for "daybreak") but this isn't officially part of the parade. Eastern Pkwy. , Crown Heights, Brooklyn, New York. 718/467–1797; www.wiadcacarnival.org. Labor Day.
Bushwick Film Festival. Founded in 2007, the Bushwick Film Festival draws a diverse audience of industry professionals and film fans to its annual multiday October event. Features, shorts, and documentaries are submitted by domestic and international filmmakers. Film education programs, with workshops throughout the year, help bridge the gap between craft and community. The project is sponsored by nonprofit organization Fractured Atlas. Bushwick, Brooklyn, New York. 347/450–3464; www.bushwickfilmfestival.com. Oct..
Gowanus Open Studios. The factories, warehouses, and studios of Gowanus foster many an artisan, and for one weekend in October, literally hundreds of makers open their work spaces to the public. There's an opening party on Friday night, nighttime events all weekend, and studios are open noon to 6 pm on Saturday and Sunday. www.artsgowanus.org. Oct..
Pulaski Day Parade in Brooklyn. On the same day in October that Manhattanites celebrate Polish heritage in America with a Pulaski Day parade down 5th Avenue, Greenpoint’s Polish residents take to their own streets to honor the day with music that can be heard all over the neighborhood. The festivities are named for Polish Revolutionary War hero Brigadier General Casimir Pulaski. Manhattan Ave., Greenpoint, Brooklyn, New York, 11222. . Oct..
November to December
Christmas Markets. From November through Christmas, holiday markets pop up all over Brooklyn, many with a creative, DIY bent. Some are one day or weekend only, others recur for several weeks. The Brooklyn Flea and Artists & Fleas are year-round markets that have a holiday spin leading up to December. Annual events like the BUST Holiday Craftacular (www.bust.com), the Brooklyn Holiday Bazaar (www.brooklynholidaybazaar.com), and the Etsy NY Handmade Cavalcade (www.etsy.com) take place over one weekend. One-day events include the Greenpointers Holiday Market (www.greenpointers.com). Budapest, Budapest. . Nov.--Dec..
Dyker Heights Christmas Lights. Every holiday season, Dyker Heights becomes aglow with utterly extravagant light displays. Driving is convenient, but walking can be more fun, if the weather is agreeable–-12th and 13th avenues are usually a good bet. Here are a couple of tips: take a thermos of hot chocolate to keep you warm, and if you're driving, don't wait until the days right before Christmas when the traffic can get horrendous. Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, New York. . Nov.--Dec..
DUMBO First Thursday Gallery Walk. This monthly (except for January and July) happening provides after-hours access to more than 20 of DUMBO's galleries, retailers, and exhibition halls, plus happy hour specials at neighborhood bars and restaurants. Maps are available throughout the neighborhood. DUMBO, Brooklyn, New York, 11201. www.dumbo.is/culture.
Franklin Park Reading Series. This Crown Heights reading series at the Franklin Park bar and beer garden occurs on the second Monday of each month. Previous readers have included headliners like bestselling author Hannah Tinti and comedian Michael Showalter. Franklin Park, 618 St. John's Pl., Crown Heights, Brooklyn, New York, 11238. 718/975--0196; www.franklinparkbrooklyn.com/reading-series. cover charges vary.
Pete's Candy Store Reading Series. Williamsburg’s premier reading series takes place year-round at a narrow bar in a converted train car; it's free to the public, has been patronized by Jonathan Ames and Dani Shapiro, and is held fortnightly on Thursday evening. Pete's Candy Store, 709 Lorimer St., North Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York, 11211. 718/302--3770; www.petescandystore.com/reading.
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