New York City

The streets of New York alone are stageworthy. With so many people faking it 'til they make it, daily life can take on the feeling of performance—to exhausting, and inspiring, effect. No wonder that the city draws a constant influx of actors, singers, dancers, and musicians from around the globe, all striving for their big break and infusing the city with a crackling creative energy. This fiercely competitive scene produces an unrivaled wealth of culture and art that many New Yorkers cite as the reason they're here, and that millions more are determined to travel for.

Although costly ticket prices can make attending a Broadway show a less common outing for even the most devout theater-loving New Yorkers, that's not true of many other kinds of more affordable performances. Whether the audiences are primarily local or not, it's their discernment that helps drive the arts scene, whether they are flocking to a concert hall to hear a world-class soprano deliver a flawless performance, or crowding into a cramped café to support fledgling writers reading from their own work.

New York has upward of 200 "legitimate" theaters (meaning those with theatrical performances, not movies), and many more ad hoc venues—parks, churches, lofts, galleries, rooftops, even parking lots. The city is also a revolving door of special events: summer jazz, one-act-play marathons, film festivals, and music and dance celebrations from the classical to the avant-garde, to name just a few.

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  • 1. Anthology Film Archives

    East Village

    Dedicated to preserving and exhibiting independent and avant-garde film, the Anthology Film Archives has two screening rooms (seating about 200 and 100, respectively) as well...Read More

  • 2. Film Forum

    West Village

    In addition to premiering new international features and documentaries that are otherwise hard to catch on the big screen, this nonprofit with four theaters hosts...Read More

  • 3. Metrograph

    Lower East Side

    Exclusive premieres and retro screenings, often with celebrity guest speakers, and an ever-changing calendar of both classic and obscure films lure patrons to this boutique...Read More

  • 4. Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) films

    Midtown West

    You'll find a truly engaging and uncommon repertory of American and international film at the Roy and Niuta Titus Theaters 1 and 2, on the...Read More

  • 5. Nitehawk Cinema


    Nitehawk shows first-run and repertory films in three theater spaces with reserved seating and serves a full menu in-theater, as well as popcorn and snacks....Read More

  • 6. Angelika Film Center

    Greenwich Village

    Foreign, independent, and specialty films are screened here. Despite its (six) tunnel-like theaters, small screens, and the occasionally audible subway rumble below, it's usually packed...Read More

  • 7. Film at Lincoln Center

    Upper West Side

    Dedicated to elevating the art of cinema, Film at Lincoln Center presents series devoted to "the best in world cinema,” including silents, documentaries, retrospectives, and...Read More

  • 8. IFC Center

    Greenwich Village

    The IFC Center shows a mix of repertory and first-run independent, art-house, and foreign movies as well as shorts (including cartoons). Despite the modern wire-mesh...Read More

  • 9. Maysles Documentary Center


    Founded by legendary filmmaker Albert Maysles, this snug theater showcases an array of independent documentary films as well as panel discussions. There are also film...Read More

  • 10. Museum of the Moving Image films

    Astoria | Film

    This museum touts two theaters, including both a show palace and an intimate screening room, where classic Hollywood and foreign titles share...Read More

  • 11. The Paris Theatre

    Midtown West

    Across from the Plaza Hotel stands the Paris Theatre—a rare, stately remnant of the single-screen era. Opened in 1948, the historic cinema was purchased by...Read More

  • 12. Sunshine Cinema

    Lower East Side

    Talk about busy: according to a Village Voice article, this storied building, which reportedly dates back to 1844, has served as "a church, an immigrant...Read More

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