The Best of NYC’s Upcoming Art, Design, and Music Events

There’s a reason New York is known as the city that never sleeps – there are always concerts, film festivals, art fairs, and countless other events happening around the city. Spring and summer are especially jam-packed with events, with the nice weather drawing people from across the boroughs outside. Mark your calendars for the below NYC events; these are the best art, design, and music happenings that have already been announced for the coming months.  Please let me know if anything should be added to this list:



Governor's Ball NYC Music Festival - Photo courtesy of
Governor’s Ball NYC Music Festival – Photo courtesy of

Whether you’re into folk, jazz, hip hop, or all of the above, there will be plenty of live music for you to enjoy this spring and summer.

Brooklyn Folk Festival
April 17 – April 19
Brooklyn Heights

The Brooklyn Folk Festival will feature the best in old-time string-band music, folk, blues, songwriters, jug band, bluegrass, traditional Irish and Balkan music, and much more! A 3-day pass is $80 and individual day passes are $35. You can buy tickets through the Brooklyn Folk Festival website.

Harlem Jazz Shrines
May 4 – 9

The Harlem Jazz Shrines Fes­ti­val is an annual event cel­e­brat­ing the clas­sic clubs and venues that made Harlem the Jazz Mecca and high­light­ing today’s top and emerg­ing tal­ent. Festival tickets are $10 and up, but admission is free to certain events. Tickets are sold through the Apollo Theater.

Bayou ‘n Brooklyn Cajun Zydeco Music Festival
May 8 – 10
Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn

This festival is bringing top Louisiana talent together with local bands for a weekend of dancing, community jam sessions, and jambalaya. Tickets for the festival can be purchased online or at the door. Day passes are $20 – $30, and a 3-day pass is $50.

Wayne Shorter Festival
May 14 – 16
Columbus Circle, Manhattan

At 81, Wayne Shorter is ever-present, remaining one of the most transformative figures in music. May 14-16, he will celebrate his career in Rose Theater, and musicians who he has influenced will pay tribute to him in The Appel Room and Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola. You can purchase tickets to individual events through

NYC Popfest

May 28-31
Lower East Side/Brooklyn

NYC Popfest is a 4 day indiepop music festival across multiple venues in New York City. A 4-day festival pass will get you into all shows and afterparties and costs $70. Tickets can be purchased for individual shows as well. See the NYC Popfest website for more information.

NY Funny Songs Fest
May 28 – 30

NY Funny Songs Fest is a fast growing indie festival created by the comedy musicians of NYC. Events include classes, parties, shows, panels and more. Information about the schedule, venue, and ticket sales are coming soon to the festival website.

Governor’s Ball NYC Music Festival
June 5 – 7
Randall’s Island Park, NYC

This three-day, multi-stage music festival on Randall’s Island features an array of genres and styles of music, including rock, electronic, hip-hop, indie, americana, pop, folk, and more. This year’s headliners include Drake, Bjork, and Florence and the Machine. Day passes are $105 and 3-day passes are $260. Tickets usually sell out, so get yours as soon as possible.

Northside Festival
June 8 – 14
North Brooklyn

Northside is a discovery festival with programming broken into three major components over the course of a week: Music, Innovation and Film.  You can buy badges based on what type of events you wish to attend, or purchase a premium badge for $275 for access to all events.

Women of the World Festival
June 11 – 14

The Apollo’s festival weekend highlights groundbreaking politically-conscious female artists, activists, and leaders from around the world. The festival will include performances,  interactive workshops, lectures by industry leaders, dynamic artist conversations, film screenings, mingling sessions, and late-night jam sessions. You can buy tickets to individual events – see the Apollo Theater website for more information.

Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival
July 11
Williamsburg, Brooklyn

The Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival is New York City’s largest Hip-Hop cultural event that showcases the positive aspects of Hip-Hop culture by highlighting Hip-Hop’s legacy as an agent of artistic progression, community building and social change. This year’s headliner is Common, and tickets are on sale now.

Red Hook Festival
June 4 – 6
Red Hook, Brooklyn

Featuring live music and dance on the beautiful Brooklyn waterfront, this festival is free and open to the public. Activities include free kayak rides in the New York Harbor, face-painting, a Red Hook trivia contest, and more. See the Dance Theater Etcetera website for a full schedule of events.



Arts & Design

Tribeca Film Festival - Photo courtesy of
Tribeca Film Festival – Photo courtesy of

Learn more about the New York City film, art, and design scenes at these upcoming events:

 Tribeca Film Festival
April 15 – 26
Tribeca, Manhattan

This annual Spring festival line-up includes a variety of independent films including documentaries, narrative features and shorts, as well as a program of family-friendly films. Tickets are on sale now – day passes are $40 and spring passes are $300. You can also purchase tickets to individual screenings and events.

Sakura Matsuri 2015
April 25 – 26
Brooklyn Botanic Garden

This festival will celebrate traditional and contemporary Japanese culture with events such as taiko drumming, a cosplay fashion show, kabuki dance performances, and more. Tickets are $25 for each day, and can be purchased through the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

Columbia University Film Festival 2015
May 1 – 7
Morningside Heights, Manhattan

The Columbia University Film Festival (CUFF) is the annual premiere of thesis short films, feature screenplays and teleplays created by graduate MFA students from Columbia University School of the Arts Film Program. The schedule and tickets will be available on the CUFF website soon.

May 8 – 19
various locations

NYCxDESIGN brings together all the disciplines of design, commerce, culture, education, and entertainment with a full, varied program, including exhibitions, installations, trade shows, talks, launches and open studios. Most events are free to enter, but ticketing information can be found through individual venues. Visit the NYCxDESIGN website for a schedule of events.

May 14 – 21
East Village, Manhattan

SohoFilmFest celebrates cutting-edge digital technology while honoring traditional forms of storytelling. Screenings of full-length features, short films, and documentaries will be accompanied by panels and social events. Passes range from $150 to $375 and can be purchased through the SohoFilmFest website.

DanceFest 2015 Dance Parade
May 16
East Village, Manhattan

Tompkins Square Park, the destination of the parade at Avenue A and Saint Marks Place, comes alive with choreographed performances, workshops and social dance – all free to the public. The schedule of DanceFest 2015 will be available in early May 2015.

International Contemporary Furniture Fair
May 16 – May 19
Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan

ICFF is North America’s premiere trade showcase for architecture and fine interior design. The four-day show attracts more than 700 exhibitors from all points of the globe, and includes educational programs for attendees. Registration through the ICFF website is required to attend.

Lower East Side Festival of the Arts
May 23 – 25
Lower East Side, Manhattan

This multicultural celebration of theater, music, dance, comedy, film and art is free for everyone to attend. A full schedule of events is available on the Theater for the New City website.

Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit
May 23 – 25 and May 30 – 31
Washington Square Village, Manhattan

This biannual art exhibit showcases fine artists and craft artisans from around the New York metropolitan area, the nation and the world. Attendees include art lovers, tourists, faculty and students from the area’s many schools, and professionals such as interior designers. Find out more about this free exhibit at the WSOAE website.

Uptown Arts Stroll
May 28 – June 30
Washington Heights and Inwood, Manhattan

The Uptown Arts stroll will feature open studios, art exhibitions, concerts, literary events, and performances throughout Northern Manhattan from West 155th Street to West 220th Street. Check for more information in the coming weeks.

2015 Brooklyn Film Festival
May 29 – June 7
various locations in Brooklyn

The Brooklyn Film Festival (BFF), is an international, competitive festival that seeks to advance public interest in films and the independent production of films. Single program tickets are $13 for the general public and $10 for students and senior citizens. Full festival passes are $100. You can buy tickets through the festival website.

Museum Mile Festival
June 9
Upper East Side, Manhattan

The Museum Mile Festival is billed by festival organizers as New York’s biggest block party. Stretching along Fifth Avenue between 82nd and 105th, the streets are closed off to cars with the aim of letting people experience the many museums along this stretch of road including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Design Museum, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum — with FREE admission to all.

Human Rights Watch Film Festival
June 11 – 21
various locations, Manhattan

The Human Rights Watch Film Festival encourages filmmakers around the world to address human rights subject matter in their work and presents films from both new and established international filmmakers. Check the festival website in the coming weeks for a schedule and details on purchasing tickets.

NYC Tattoo Convention
June 12 – 14
Chelsea, Manhattan

The best tattoo artists from around the world will gather to show off their work at the Metropolitan Pavillion. Day passes are $25 and 3-day passes are $65, available through the convention website.

River to River
dates to be announced
various locations, lower Manhattan

The River to River arts festival provides a way to experience the waterfronts, parks, plazas, hotels, historic landmarks, temporarily vacant office spaces, and other sites in downtown Manhattan. Dates and more information will be announced later this month.


Health & Fitness

TD Five Boro Bike Tour - Photo courtesy of
TD Five Boro Bike Tour – Photo courtesy of

Get in shape for the season with these runs, walks, and cycling events:

Pin Down Bladder Cancer Spring Fling 5K & 10K
April 18
Roosevelt Island, NYC

Kick off spring at the Pin Down Bladder Cancer Spring Fling on Roosevelt Island! This fast flat race is a great tune-up for the season that will raise funds to support programs and organizations that conduct and/or promote bladder cancer research, diagnosis and treatment. Sign up through the New York City Runs website – registration is $40.

Verrazano Festival of Races 5K & 10K

April 19
Bay Ridge, Brooklyn

Run along the super flat and scenic running path that hugs the southern edge of Brooklyn. You’ll run under the Verrazano Bridge and see the Manhattan skyline from across the harbor. Online registration is closed, but you may be able to contact to sign up.

Alley Pond Striders 5-Mile Challenge
April 26
Alley Pond Park – Queens, NY

The Alley Pond Striders 5-Mile Challenge offers splits at every mile, a souvenir T-shirt, and a post-race awards ceremony. Trophies will go to the top three men and women overall. The race costs $25, and you can register online or in person the day of the event.

Harbor Fitness Race for Autism
April 26
Bay Ridge, Brooklyn

The Harbor Fitness Race for Autism is a 5K run/walk that raises money to help combat Autism. The race will begin in front of Harbor Fitness at 92nd St. & 4th Avenue, and runners will run through the historic Fort Hamilton Army Base, then finish back by the gym. Register in advance for $30, or sign up for $35 on the day of the race.

TD Five Boro Bike Tour
May 3
The TD Five Boro Bike Tour is the world’s biggest charitable bike ride; proceeds fund Bike New York’s free bike education programs. Regular registration is sold out, but you can still sign up to ride on behalf of one of the bike tour’s charity partners.

Long Island City Bike Parade
June 6
Long Island City, Queens

Repair & decorate your bike, and then join the Long Island City Bike Parade at Socrates Sculpture Park. This family-friendly event is free, and no RSVP is required.


Literature, Culture, Etc.

Coney Island Mermaid Parade - Photo courtesy of
Coney Island Mermaid Parade – Photo courtesy of

From book fairs to zine fests and garden parties to mermaid parades, there’s something for everyone among these miscellaneous cultural events:

Rainbow Book Fair

April 18
Midtown, Manhattan

Once a year approximately 1500 people get together in New York City to mingle, get to know each other, enrich, broaden, and even extend their lives through the amazing medium of LGBT books. Rainbow Book Fair is open to the public with book discounts and giveaways. Visit the book fair website for more information.

Brooklyn Zine Fest
April 25 – 26
Brooklyn Heights

This fourth annual event will feature more than 150 writers, artists, & publishers from the five boroughs and beyond, including a Student Section showcasing the next generation of zine makers. Admission is free, and the publications for sale will cost between $1 and $10.

Bicycle Expo
May 1 – 2
South Street Seaport, Manhattan

On the two days prior to the TD Five Boro Bike Tour, more than 60,000 cyclists roll through to meet, greet, & talk shop with one another and 100+ exhibitors. You’ll find merch sales, product demos, giveaways, panels, contests, and entertainment at the Expo. The event is free and open to the public, and no RSVP is necessary.

Mother’s Day Weekend Garden Party
May 9 – 10
Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Kids can make an afternoon of crafting Mother’s Day cards, watching a bubble show, or adding to giant chalk drawings. The young at heart can perfect their croquet game, enjoy a special brunch, and view a dance performance on the Conservatory Lawn. Gather everyone together to purchase offerings from visiting food trucks, with beer and wine available for adults to toast the occasion. Tickets are $30 for adults and $15 for children – purchase tickets through the New York Botanic Garden website.

FCA Manhattan Cup Fishing Tournament
May 15
Chelsea Piers, Manhattan

The FCA Manhattan Cup has become the premier inshore fishing tournament in the Northeast and the largest catch-and-release charity tournament. The Fishermen’s Conservation Association raises money for Autism, Cystic Fibrosis, Inner City Kids and the Wounded Warrior Project. Registration is $2000 – $3200 for a team of four.

World Science Festival
May 27 – 31
various locations, NYC

The 2015 Festival will feature more than fifty engaging events of all types, where the world’s top scientists discuss big ideas, a special series of events celebrating the 100th anniversary of Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity, youth and family offerings like Cool Jobs and apprenticeships, and perennial favorites like Stargazing and the Flame Challenge, in which scientists attempt to answer big questions for an audience of eleven-year-olds. Check the WSF website as the festival approaches for more information.

Book Expo America
May 27 – May 29
Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan

BookExpo America (BEA) is the #1 book and author event that offers the book industry access to new titles, authors, and education about the publishing industry. Early bird registration ranges from $125 to $367, depending on which category you belong to. Check out the badge pricing web page for more info.

Arab-American & North African Cultural Street Festival
June 13
East Village, Manhattan

Celebrate Arab-American culture, listen to great music, eat delicious food, and do a little shopping at this 13th-annual street festival. Vendors and performers will be listed on the Network of Arab-American Professionals website.

Queens Book Festival
June 20
CitiField, Queens, NY

The Festival will have nonstop panel discussions on multiple stages, book signings, and an abundant diversity of entertainment, activities, artists, and more than 200 exhibitors and booksellers.

Mermaid Parade
June 20
Coney Island

The Mermaid Parade is the largest art parade in the nation. A celebration of ancient mythology and honky-tonk rituals of the seaside, it showcases over 1,500 creative individuals from all over the five boroughs and beyond, opening the summer with incredible art, entrepreneurial spirit and community pride. The parade is free to attend, or you can register to walk for $25.

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