With Spring in full bloom, May is a wonderful time to visit New York City – and, as always, this year there’s the temptation of some great events to attend as well.
Pleasant temperatures, the calm before the summer tourism storm, and a packed roster of shows and events help make the month of May one of the very best periods to be hanging out in the Big Apple. If you’re coming to New York over the coming weeks and would like to know what’s going on during your stay, we’ve picked out 10 of the best events set to take place across the city’s streets, parks, museums, stadiums and entertainment venues.
For one captivating day each May, the streets of New York become the scene of a kaleidoscopic dance parade. Held every year for almost two decades with the express purpose of celebrating the diversity of dance, the event sees visitors pour onto sidewalks to watch wide-eyed as colourful floats and costumed dancers weave their way along the streets, with no cars in sight. With over ten thousand dancers participating, each float showcases a wide variety of dance styles from around the globe, while DJs, live music, dance lessons, and mouth-watering street food add to the magic of the occasion.
Across New York / 20 May 2023
Ninth Avenue International Food Festival
In the eyes – and mouths – of many, New York’s culinary scene is unrivalled anywhere in the world. Each year, the city’s famously diverse foodie landscape is celebrated at a weekend-long festival along Manhattan’s Ninth Avenue. From 42nd Street to 57th Street, traffic is shut down and the sidewalks give way to local vendors serving up everything from snacks and drinks to full meals and desserts, spanning every style, ethnicity and flavours you can imagine. Crowds flock here in their droves to enjoy the atmosphere, listen to live music and – of course – tuck into some seriously good food.
9th Avenue (42nd-57th Streets) / 20-21 May 2023
First held back in 1982, Fleet Week was established to promote and honour those who serve – and have served – in the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. Over the course of a full week, events and activities take place across the city, including the traditional Parade of Ships which kicks off the week, Navy diving demonstrations at Times Square, and plenty more. Another major highlight is the chance to see the large naval vessels that dock on the Hudson River, with visitors invited to step aboard for guided tours, or simply admire them from nearby piers.
Venues across NYC / 24-30 May 2023
Frieze New York
One of the world’s largest and most prestigious art fairs, Frieze comes to New York this May for four days of showcasing ultra high-quality contemporary art pieces in front of a captivated audience of art lovers, collectors, buyers and global media. From paintings to sculptures to interactive art, the full range of mediums will be represented at the high profile event, with a large number of pieces available to purchase for those keen to take a special souvenir home with them.
The Shed, Hudson Yards / 17-21 May 2023
NYC Margarita Rumble
Some of New York’s most popular restaurants go head to head in a bid to claim the title of best margarita in town at this fun-packed annual competition at Brooklyn’s Dobbin Street events venue. But who gets to judge? That could be you, as attendees are invited to name their favourite tequila-based cocktail, with the restaurant with the most votes declared the winner. Up to fifteen margarita tastings are included with each entrance ticket while live music adds to the atmosphere.
Dobbin Street, Brooklyn / Through 13 May 2023
Memorial Day Parade
May means Memorial Day across the US, and there are few better places to celebrate this cherished occasion than in NYC. Taking place on the streets of Brooklyn, the event sees thousands assemble to remember the nation’s fallen soldiers and honour today’s serving troops. The highlight of the day is the legendary parade which sees various marching bands from the New York Police and Fire Departments, as well as Brooklyn high schools, file along the streets playing instruments and resplendent in eye-catching garb.
78th Street and Third Avenue, Brooklyn / 29 May 2023
New York has a large Japanese community and each year its members gather in the vast green environs of Central Park for the purpose of promoting a deeper understanding of Japanese culture. Visitors can look forward to a whole range of Japanese-themed goings-on, including live music, theatre performances, traditional dance, free samples of authentic Japanese cuisine, and plenty of family-friendly activities too. There’ll also be a parade featuring Japanese sword fighting, traditional folk dance, martial arts, animation, and more.
Central Park / 13 May 2023
Mother’s Day Good Music Festival
Held on the day of the US calendar set aside to celebrate mums everywhere, this R&B music festival features a star-studded line-up of performers. Notable names to have performed in recent years include international power-house Ashanti, who boasts over 15 million records sold worldwide and a Grammy to her name, as well as other notable R&B artists such as Monica, Joe, Avant, and Raheem Devaughn. In addition to the very latest hits, there’s also the chance to enjoy retro classics, from soulful tearjerkers by the likes of Boyz II Men, to the slick tunes of Charlie Wilson and tender love songs from KEM.
Barclays Center, Brooklyn / 13-14 May 2023
New York Empire State Tattoo Expo
The tattoo industry has burgeoned in recent years, with body art growing dramatically in popularity, in the US and beyond. This three-day convention is for anyone and everyone who shares a passion for tattoos, the history behind the indelible skin ink, and how the trends and artistic techniques that drive it have evolved down the years. Along with the chance to meet and engage some of the world’s finest tattoo artists, and admire examples of their work, there’ll even be opportunities to get ‘inked’ yourself live at the show.
The New York Midtown Hilton / 12-14 May 2023
Banksy in New York: An Unauthorized Exhibition
In October 2013, the enigmatic (and anonymous) British artist Banksy began a one-month show on the streets of New York. Each day, he produced one street art piece in a different part of the city, even providing an audio-guide available on a toll-free number for each work created. Featuring over 80 original works, this tribute exhibition relives one of the most memorable periods in the city’s rich art history, describing the itinerary followed by Banksy through the Big Apple and reproducing some of the artist’s most iconic works including Girl with Balloon, Gangsta Rat, Toxic Mary and many others.
378 Broadway / Through 14 May 2023
By Paul Joseph