New York City On the Calendar

Spring

Spring means the start of baseball season with home openers, usually in the first week of April, for both of New York’s Major League teams: the Yankees and the Mets.

Sakura Matsuri Cherry Blossom Festival. New Yorkers come out of hibernation en masse at the end of April to witness the extremely popular annual Sakura Matsuri Cherry Blossom Festival at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. In addition to the blooming cherry trees, there are Taiko drumming performances, Japanese pop bands, samurai swords, martial arts, tea ceremonies, and more. Brooklyn Botanical Garden, 990 Washington Ave., Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, New York. www.bbg.org. $15.

Tribeca Film Festival. Founded by Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal to contribute to the long-term recovery of Lower Manhattan after 9/11, the Tribeca Film Festival has become one of the world's most prominent film festivals. There are upward of 250 films, more than 1,000 screenings at multiple locations including the Tribeca Film Center (TFC 375 Greenwich St., 2nd fl.), and plenty of buzz. It typically takes place late April to early May. TriBeCa, New York, New York. www.tribecafilm.com.

Summer

Free outdoor movie festivals are a huge draw in summer: choices include sci-fi movies with a view of Brooklyn Bridge Park (www.brooklynbridgepark.org); indie movies on city rooftops (www.rooftopfilms.com); and classics screened every Monday night in Midtown’s Bryant Park (www.bryantpark.org).

Celebrate Brooklyn!. Celebrate Brooklyn! is one of the city’s most popular free outdoor performing arts festivals, and the place to catch excellent live music in the great Brooklyn outdoors. The artists and ensembles reflect the borough’s diversity, ranging from internationally acclaimed performers to up-and-coming musicians. The lineup also includes kids' shows, movies with live music, ballet, and more. Performances are rain or shine and free (suggested donation of $5), with the exception of ticketed benefit concerts, which directly support the festival. There are usually about 2,000 chairs, but many people think the best seats are on the lawn, so come early and bring a blanket. Local restaurants set up food and drink stands. Prospect Park Bandshell, 9th St. and Prospect Park W entrance, Park Slope, Brooklyn, New York, 11215. www.bricartsmedia.org/performing-arts/celebrate-brooklyn. Free.

Midsummer Night Swing. If you're in town, don't miss the Midsummer Night Swing festival, an outdoor music and dance party in Lincoln Center Plaza that occurs from late June to mid-July. Take lessons with pros or just strut your natural moves on the dance floor. Damrosch Park, 60 Lincoln Center Plaza, Upper West Side, New York, New York, 10023. www.midsummernightswing.org. $17–$20 or buy a pass.

Museum Mile Festival. For one day every June, thousands of locals and visitors celebrate the Museum Mile Festival when museums along 5th Avenue from 82nd Street to 105th Street open their doors for free from 6 pm to 9 pm. There's also dancing and entertainment along the street. Upper East Side, New York, New York. www.museummilefestival.org.

Summer Streets. Over the first three Saturdays in August, you can join hundreds of thousands of locals to let loose on nearly 7 miles of pedestrianized arterials for Summer Streets. From the Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park, along Park Avenue and connecting streets, New Yorkers hit the car-free streets to run, zipline, dance, experience art, or just ramble along the city's streets in a new way—all for free. New York, New York. www.nyc.gov/summerstreets.

Other popular summer festivals and events include Coney Island's Mermaid Parade, the New York International Fringe Festival, SummerStage, and Shakespeare in the Park.

Fall

Brooklyn Book Festival. The Brooklyn Book Festival is a huge, (mostly) free public event with an array of established and emerging authors, readings, panels, discussions, parties, games, and signings—all held in clubs, parks, theaters, and libraries across Brooklyn at the end of September. New York, New York. www.brooklynbookfestival.org.

Feast of San Gennaro. Every fall, thousands of locals and visitors flock to Little Italy for the multiday Feast of San Gennaro in mid-September. This festival is a mix of religion, food, colorful parades, and live entertainment. Don’t miss the cannoli-eating competition at the beginning of the festival. Little Italy, New York, New York. www.sangennaro.nyc.

New York City Marathon. Even if you're not joining the more than 50,000 runners taking a 26.2-mile tour through New York’s five boroughs on the first Sunday in November, you’ll want to experience the electric atmosphere and the very best of New York with the 2 million spectators who come out to watch and cheer. New York, New York. www.tcsnycmarathon.org.

Other top fall events include the Village Halloween Parade, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and the Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting Ceremony.

Winter

New York Botanical Holiday Train Show. The New York Botanical Garden’s Holiday Train Show is one of the city’s top seasonal attractions, especially for families. It runs from the mid-November through mid-January, and you’ll find electric trains, more than 150 miniature replicas of city landmarks (made out of twigs and bark), and magical landscapes—all housed in a conservatory, so winter weather can’t dampen your spirits. 2900 Southern Blvd., Belmont, Bronx, New York, 10458. 718/817–8700 ; www.nybg.org. $20–$25 .

To ring in the Lunar New Year in January or February (the date varies), the streets of Chinatown give way to food vendors hawking traditional eats, colorful costumes and decorations, and a major parade of elaborate floats, marching bands, and dragon troupes running from Little Italy through Chinatown and Lower Manhattan. Festivities also take place in Sunset Park in Brooklyn and in the Flushing neighborhood of Queens (www.betterchinatown.com).

For five days each January, Winter Jazzfest NYC (www.winterjazzfest.com), happens at venues around the city. You can also sign up for a local event like the Coney Island Polar Bear Plunge each New Year's Day (and every Sunday at 1 pm, November–April) or the No Pants Subway Ride in January (www.improveverywhere.com).

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