Here Are 25 Lovely Things to Do This Spring in New York

Those are flowers.
Those are flowers.
Photo Credit: gigi_nyc via Compfight cc

We're all guilty of trying to will spring to get here already, but when the season finally begins in earnest we'll already be daydreaming about trips to the beach in July. Between figuring out which jacket to wear (the light one? the lightest one? no jacket at all?), make room for these interesting events happening this spring in New York — some are familiar traditions, while others will happen for the first time in 2015. All are worthy reasons to leave your apartment — and bring the light jacket and an umbrella. It's still spring, after all.

March 22: Go to the Macy's Flower Show Between March 22 and April 4, beautiful, ornate flower arrangements overtake the ground floor of Macy's in Herald Square, an annual spring tradition for the past 41 years. You can check out the schedule of events — like floral-arranging demonstrations and Paint Nite, presented by the Whitney Museum of American Art — or you can just wander the ground floor and smell the flowers.

March 29: Gorge on Mac and Cheese Ahhh, springtime — the flowers are in bloom, the temperatures are rising, and the mac and cheese is bubbling away on the stove. Or something like that. Anyway, a mac-and-cheese-tasting competition can hardly make the changing of the seasons worse, can it? On March 29, Time Out New York hosts the Mac Daddy, with six chefs vying to win the title for best mac and cheese. Sign up for a one-hour time slot between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. at the Openhouse Gallery in the section of town just above Little Italy. Eat, drink, vote.

April 1: Tour the Brooklyn Botanic Garden The city may have been blanketed in snow recently, which we admit is both bogus and sad, but the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is already seeing spring flowers. Like, honest to God, brightly colored blossoms, guaranteed to dissipate that seasonal affective disorder before you brutally murder your housemates. Go on garden-wide guided walks starting on April 1, or visit any day but Monday (it's closed).

April 3: Look at Cars That You as a New Yorker Won't Actually Own Lovers of shiny new cars or women posing next to shiny new cars can catch a glimpse of both at the annual New York International Auto Show at the Jacob Javits Convention Center. From April 3 through 12, the century-old automotive exhibition will unveil new models in the industry, from a 2016 Hyundai Tucson with a tailgate that opens automatically when the driver approaches to a dramatic Nissan Maxima and a rear-wheel-drive Cadillac sedan. While you might not ever own a car as a New York City resident, it's still fun to look, right?

Here Are 25 Lovely Things to Do This Spring in New York
Easter Parade and Easter Bonnet Festival. Photo: Phil Kline/NYC.gov

April 5: Hop to the Easter Parade and Bonnet Festival You can make like Judy Garland and head to the annual Easter Parade, the only New York event that would rival any royal wedding in the silly-hat department. One of the city's oldest traditions, the parade began in the 1870s. If you feel like putting on your Sunday best, the parade runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., on Fifth Avenue from 49th to 5th streets.

April 8: See the Dance Theatre of Harlem After almost a year of touring the United States and abroad, the Dance Theatre of Harlem will be returning home for only four performances at the New York City Center. You can expect perennial favorites like renowned choreographer Robert Garland's Return, which is set to music by James Brown and Aretha Franklin, and the late dancer Ulysses Dove's Dancing on the Front Porch of Heaven, once characterized by Princess Christina of Sweden as a "Mass for our time." New performances include Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux made by New York City Ballet co-founder George Balanchine, and award-winning choreographer Darrell Grand Moultrie's Vessels, which showcases a "highly aerobic stream of steps" that are "deliberate" and "exuberant." Check out the programs on April 8, 10, and 11 (afternoon and evening).

Eat these. It's a sign of spring.
Eat these. It's a sign of spring.

Mid-April: Eat Harvested Fiddleheads New Englanders and residents of Appalachia have known and jealously guarded the secret of fiddleheads for years. The young sprouts of ferns, with their vaguely insect-like appearance, taste a little like asparagus. But they're better! If only because they're only around in the spring. Any fancy food market should stock them, so follow the bearded, ear-gauged crowds to the nearest Whole Foods and pick some up. Garlic, butter, and a sauté pan, that's all you need.

April 11: Welcome Back the Long Island City Flea Back for a third year, this underrated flea market is "curated with the diversity and spirit of Queens in mind." Choose from art, baked goods ("fresh fruit buckle cakes"), handmade jewelry, photography, and more.

See the best mascots in professional sports at Citi Field.
See the best mascots in professional sports at Citi Field.

April 13: Meet the Mets Attention, New York City transplants from California, the Midwest, the world! If you've been burned by the hypocrisy of your home congregation, there is a welcoming community in Queens who will embrace you with open arms — and Shake Shack. They worship men with godlike beards, and while they can't promise eternal salvation, they should at least finish above the Marlins. So even if you'd had to joke that "the Ny Mets are my favorite squadron!" as a way to deflect attention from your utter lack of baseball knowledge, this year you should fully convert to United Church of the Mets. And remember, the best thing in the world is the train to the game. The home opener is Monday, April 13, against the Phillies (a 1:10 start, so make a day of it), and on April 24, the Mets go to the Bronx, where the team that's forced to deal with A-Rod will play them in a three-game series.

Mid-April: Return to the Sheep Meadow This sward in Central Park is indisputably the best picnic area in the city, ringed as it is with stunning skyline views. From 11 a.m. to dusk you'll be able to spread a blanket, avoid the crowds and the noise (it's a designated quiet zone), and soak in the sunshine, assuming this winter ever ends.

More events are on the next page.  

In Transit
In Transit
Tribecafilm.com

April 15–26: See a movie at the Tribeca Film Festival We're less than a month away from New York's biggest film festival, which again offers a variety of promising new films — narrative, documentary, and shorts — at theaters across the city. Premiering at Tribeca this year is Pamela Romanowsky's crime thriller The Adderall Diaries, starring James Franco, Ed Harris, and Amber Heard. And the docs program is again a buffet of true stories on fascinating topics: Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon, about the humor magazine; Fastball about just that, the science of the pitch; In Transit, about the long train ride from Chicago to Seattle; and Tom Swift and His Electric Rifle, about the baffling use of Tasers by more than 17,000 police departments in America.

April Sometime: Take in a New Notorious B.I.G. Mural Slated to begin in mid-April, if all the permits permit, artist Danielle Mastrion will decorate the walls of the Key Foods in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, where a young Christopher Wallace once worked. After all, Brooklyn, New York City, is where they paint murals of Biggie. Meantime, you can see Mastrion's Beastie Boys murals around the city.

April Sometime: Attend the Cherry Blossom Festival April is approaching, which means the beginning of magical cherry blossom season. For just a few weeks, the city is transformed by these purple-pink buds, sprouting from the tops of trees like giant clouds of cotton candy. Make sure to check in periodically with the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's website — they'll be updating a "CherryWatch Blossom Status Map" so you can plan your visit when the blossoms are in full bloom.

April 11: Find a Date on the High Line The High Line is hosting a spring-themed matchmaking event called "In Search Of" on April 11, so that you can shake off that lonely winter and find a new "spring fling or BFF." (Or, presumably, just somebody to bang.) The event will feature professional matchmaker Amy Van Doran, DJs, food, and, thankfully, booze. (Cash bar.) You have to RSVP though, so get to it.

Mid-April: Dine al Fresco, Sans Parka You might have seen hearty young people doing their best to enjoy brunch at Five Leaves in Williamsburg, wearing hats, coats, and scarves while dinging on the sidewalk (anything for a table). If you're not that hungry, rest assured there's a great weekend brunch coming soon, where you'll be able to dine on the sidewalk in Williamsburg or at Cafe Mogador in the East Village, or in Queens or anywhere else in the city without being cold. Just remember to get your hungover self out of bed early.

A smoker on April 20, 2014, at Washington Square Park (see more photos)
A smoker on April 20, 2014, at Washington Square Park (see more photos)
Photo: Jenna Pope

April 20 or May 2: Get a Contact High So, April 20, or 4/20, has become a tired punchline at this point, but that won't stop activists from gathering — traditionally at Washington Square Park — to bring awareness to their cause and to maybe, probably, smoke pot. (Read this report on the city's updated marijuana rules.) And again this year, the city's marijuana activists are planning a NYC Cannabis Parade for May 2, and are still raising money. (See photos from the 2014 parade.)

Late April: Eat outside after dark. Your favorite food trucks/carts/McCarren Park empanada-slingers stay out longer into the evening because "evening" is no longer synonymous with "frozen urban hellscape" or "dangerous levels of exposure."

NYC FC fans outside Yankee Stadium after the team's first win (see more photos)
NYC FC fans outside Yankee Stadium after the team's first win (see more photos)
Jason Speakman

May 10: New York City FC vs. the New York Red Bulls Upsetting the professionally outraged Keith Olbermann isn't too difficult, but that doesn't make the subjects of his ire any less proud of their accomplishments. Recently the bloviating paper-thrower (he still does that), through a series of articulate yet grunt-like noises, seemed to admonish fans of NYC FC for celebrating the new team's first-ever home victory outside Yankee Stadium. Channeling Mike Francesca, Olbermann's anger does seem to signal that soccer matters (again) in New York. On May 10, that new team faces the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey, which is not a baseball field with a soccer pitch crammed into it. It's the first official game of the New York derby, so expect lots of shouting, songs, and, most likely, a game of soccer to also occur.

May 1: We're Getting a New Whitney! Were you wondering what that sleek, white, boxy, spaceship-looking thing at the end of the High Line was? No, it's not another Standard Hotel, but good guess. It's the brand-new Whitney Museum of American Art, the New York institution's third location since its founding in 1930. The building will house the largest museum yet, and is set to cut the ribbon May 1 with a bevy of new exhibitions and opening events...like your parents needed another reason to love the High Line.

Sometime in May: For a brief period of two weeks or so, the subway station is neither too cold nor too hot, and an inexplicable underground breeze materializes out of nowhere.

May 10: Leaves of Three, Let It Be. Inwood Hills Park, home to Manhattan's only stand of old growth forest, is great any time of year. But the rocky ridges and forested slopes are especially great in the spring. The park is hosting a few events in the next few weeks that should be pretty cool, like a kid-focused "upcycle" event on April 12, where youngsters can make art out of garbage. But our money is on the ethnobotany and edible plant hike on May 10. See what you can pick up off the ground in a city park and safely stick in your mouth, and then learn how to grow your own herb garden at home.

Yoko Ono. Cut Piece. 1964. Performed by Yoko Ono in New Works of Yoko Ono, Carnegie Recital Hall, New York, March 21, 1965. Photograph by Minoru Niizuma. © Minoru Niizuma. Courtesy Lenono Photo Archive, New York
Yoko Ono. Cut Piece. 1964. Performed by Yoko Ono in New Works of Yoko Ono, Carnegie Recital Hall, New York, March 21, 1965. Photograph by Minoru Niizuma. © Minoru Niizuma. Courtesy Lenono Photo Archive, New York

May 17: Yoko Gets Hers It's really a testament to how much people love both the Beatles and blaming women for stuff — after a career spanning nearly 50 years, this is MoMA's first exhibition dedicated to the work of Yoko Ono. Better late than never. "Yoko Ono: One Woman Show" opens May 17 and explores the artist's oddball, tongue-in-cheeky body of performance work between 1960 and 1971. Objects, paper, installations, recordings, and films capture her sparse aesthetic and wry wit. See the seminal Cut Piece, where she addresses gender by cutting away her own clothes, or Film No. 4, a poignant comment on class and the shared feature that unifies us: butts.

All Spring: Visit Shake Shack Before Everybody Else This is the window during which you can actually enjoy Shake Shack in Madison Square Park before tourists bombard the place and the fry-stealing squirrel population turns feral.

All Spring: Shop at a Farmers' Market There are nearly 40 New York City farmers' markets that stay open all year long. But who wants to shop outdoors when it's 14 degrees, the snow is blowing sideways, and nothing is in season? The spring thaw gives everyone a chance to pull those canvas bags out of mothballs and once again spend their Saturday or Sunday morning actually enjoying the weekly grocery-shopping experience. Of the more than 65 greenmarkets operated by the environmental nonprofit GrowNYC, 31 close for the season sometime between Thanksgiving and the new year. Well, five of those are scheduled to open again before Memorial Day, and nearly all of them will be up and running by the first day of summer! Ramps are in season literally right this second. Boycott C-Town this weekend!

And if you don't want to leave the apartment...

The Return of Spring TV: Mad Men, Game of Thrones, Veep, Silicon Valley (ALL ON SUNDAY NIGHT); plus Louie, Outlander, Orphan Black, Inside Amy Schumer, and new arrivals Happyish and Younger — yup, April is shaping up nicely.

See also: 50 Things You Do When You're New to New York


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