Today’s weather has us all buzzing with spring fever and the ability to get outside and enjoy the city. Although the season doesn’t officially begin for 3 more weeks, the weather forecast has several days of spring in store for us already. With spring comes seasonal concerts, film festivals, art fairs, and countless other cultural events. In anticipation of the start of spring, I’ve compiled the best arts, music, culture, and design events, from those that are currently underway to those happening up until the summer solstice. Many of these events are free and open to the public, but you’ll want to purchase tickets for the others sooner rather than later. Please let me know if there is anything I should add to this list.
Avant Music Festival
2/20 – 3/5, various times
The Avant Music Festival is a platform for contemporary American composers to experiment with long-form concerts, giving them the freedom to program a full night of their own music with no constraint on duration, scope, or aesthetics. The $50 festival pass will get you into all 5 festival events, but there are free and lower-cost options for individual events.
New York International Children’s Film Festival
2/26 – 3/20, various times
$13 per movie
This family-friendly film festival showcases the best new films for ages 3-18 at venues throughout the city. The program includes 100 new films from all over the world in the genres of animation, live action, documentary, and experimental film. Festival passes are available for $450 or you can purchase $13 tickets to individual screenings.
The Orchid Show: Orchidelirium
2/27 – 4/17
$20 (adults) – Members get in free
Learn about the history of orchid collecting and the New York Botanical Garden’s rescue efforts against a backdrop of thousands of orchids. The 14th annual Orchid Show will be accompanied by dance peformances, poetry readings, orchid care demonstrations, and more. Orchid Evenings make for a great date night, as your ticket will come with this year’s signature cocktail, the Ginger Vanilla Fusion, inspired by the Vanilla planifolia orchid. Members can access The Orchid Show for free; non-members can get tickets for $20. Students, seniors, and children will receive discounted tickets.
Queens World Film Festival
3/15 – 3/20, various times
$12 (single program) / $130 (full festival pass)
The Queens World Film Festival turns six this year, and is returning to the Museum of Moving Image with more than 80 films. Screenings will be accompanied by Q&As, networking opportunities, and other thematic programming. The QWFF will screen narrative films, documentaries, LGBTQ films, and animated features. View the full film lineup and the festival schedule on the QWFF website. You can also buy festival passes and single program tickets through the site.
New York City Saint Patrick’s Day Parade
Free to the public
This annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration will travel along 5th Avenue between 44th and 79th Streets, ending at the American Irish Historical Society. To avoid the crowds, stand north of 66th Street, as most revellers will gather toward the southern end of the parade route.
New York International Auto Show
3/25 – 4/3
$7 kids / $16 adults
The New York International Auto Show is known for showcasing the most cutting-edge designs and extraordinary innovations from the world’s automakers. Nearly 1,000 new vehicles and futuristic concept cars will be on display, and attendees can purchase tickets to tours by automotive experts through the auto show’s website.
Affordable Art Fair
3/30 – 4/3, various times
$10 (students & seniors) – $70 (private view)
The Affordable Art Fair provides a friendly atmosphere where you can find thousands of original paintings, prints, sculptures, and photographs ranging from $100 – $10,000. The fair is perfect for those who are just starting art collections and connoiseurs alike. Admission tickets are on sale now.
New York Antiquarian Book Fair
4/7 – 4/10, various times
$10 (students) – $40 (run of show)
Over 200 American and international dealers will bring a vast selection of rare books, maps, manuscripts, and ephemera. Since the book fair is officially sanctioned by the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America, attendees can count on the authenticity of all items available for purchase. You’ll find first editions as well as books on art, medicine, literature, photography, and more. Tickets are available only at the door.
Brooklyn Folk Festival
4/8 – 4/10, various times
$25 (partial day) – $85 (3-Day pass)
This 3-day festival includes 30 bands as well as workshops, jam sessions, and a family-friendly square dance. Enjoy the best of string-band music, folk, blues, bluegrass, and traditional Irish and Balkan music at the historic St. Ann’s Church in Brooklyn Heights. Admission price includes access to all concerts, workshops, and activities – get your tickets through the Brooklyn Folk Festival website.
Tribeca Film Festival
4/13 – 4/24, various times
$10 (matinee) – $1,250 (Hudson Pass)
The Tribeca Film Festival returns for its 15th year of spotlighting local indie features, documentaries, and foreign films. See the latest from up-and-coming filmmakers and renowned talent alike. Tickets go on sale tomorrow, and you’ll be able to buy tickets to individual screenings and events. The $1,250 Hudson Pass is on sale now, and will grant you access to all screenings, talks, panels, and public events.
9/11 Memorial 5k Run/Walk & Community Day
The 4th annual 9/11 5k will begin at Pier 26 and will follow along Battery Park City, with One World Trade Center in view the whole time. Following the run/walk, there will be food trucks, music, and family activities on Greenwich Street. Register online to reserve your spot – discounts are available for students, children, and members of the FDNY, NYPD, PAPD, and U.S. Military. All proceeds will go toward funding the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.
4/30 – 5/1
Celebrate the 35th anniversary of Sakura Matsuri, Brooklyn Botanical Garden’s annual cherry blossom festival. The weekend will offer over 60 events and performances to usher in spring and celebrate Japanese culture. Discounts are available for students and seniors, and members get in free.
Five Boro Bike Tour
On the first Sunday of May, 32,000 cyclists come from around the world to bike all 5 boroughs on streets totally free of cards. NYC roads and bridges will be open only to cyclists over a 40 mile course. Standard and VIP registration for this event is already sold out, but you can still register through one of the ride’s charity partners. Proceeds from the Tour go toward free bicycle safety education programs for NYC kids and adults.
5/3 – 5/17, various times
Admission prices vary
This annual celebration of design elevates established and emerging design practices and increases awareness and appreciation of design by all audiences. NYCxDESIGN includes exhibitions, installations, trade shows, talks, and more across all 5 boroughs of New York City. Events will be listed on the NYCxDesign Website as the 2016 dates approach.
Frieze New York
5/5 – 5/8, various times
$10 (25 and under) – $45 (single day)
Frieze New York brings together the world’s leading galleries, innovative curated selections, and site-specific commissions together with a series of talks and food from NYC under a bespoke structure overlooking the East River in Randall’s Island Park, Manhattan. Tickets will be available onsite, but you can get yours online now.
Mother’s Day Weekend Garden Party
5/9 – 5/10, 10am – 6pm
Bring Mom (and the whole family) to the New York Botanical Garden for live music, games, picknicking, and more. Enjoy a special brunch on the Conservatory Lawn and take in the sights of the NYBG.
Free to the public
The 10th annual Dance Parade starts at Broadway & 21st, travels down University Place, and then along 8th Street and St. Marks Place, terminating at Tompkins Square Park. At the park you’ll find DanceFest – 5 stages of choreographed performances, workshops, and social dance – all free to the public. The 2016 schedule will be published on the Dance Parade website in May.
World Science Festival
6/1 – 6/5, various times
Admission prices vary
The World Science Festival takes science out of the laboratory and into the streets, parks, museums, galleries, and performing arts venues of New York City. A range of discussions, debates, interactive explorations, and performances allows a broad audience to engage with scientific discoveries. Check the festival website as the 2016 dates approach for a schedule of events.
6/3 – 6/5
$105 (single day admission) – $2,000 (Super VIP 3-day)
This 3-day multi-stage music festival on Randall’s Island features music of all genres, drawing festival goers from all over the country each year. 2016 headliners include Kanye West, The Strokes, The Killers, and Beck. Tickets sell out well in advance of the festival, so get yours now.
6/6 – 6/12, various times
$75 – $280
Now in its 7th year, the Northside Festival brings together over 400 bands, 150 speakers, and 100 content creators in venues all over Williamsburg and Greenpoint. Discover your new favorite band, meet fellow tech enthusiasts and innovators, and attend screenings, roundtables, and Q&As. Festival badges are now available through Eventbrite.