101 things to do in the spring in New York City

Warm weather is back, along with your will to go outdoors and explore NYC. Lucky for you, we've rounded up the best things to do in the spring.

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  • Photograph: Jolie Ruben

    101 things to do in the spring in New York City 2013

    1. Chow down at Smorgasburg

  • Photograph: Jonathan Aprea

    101 things to do in the spring in New York City 2013

    2. Picnic in Brooklyn Bridge Park, Pier 5

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    101 things to do in the spring in New York City 2013

    3. Mingle with mixologists at the Manhattan Cocktail Classic

    Pictured: Opening night gala 2012

  • Photograph: courtesy the Metropolitan Museum of Art

    101 things to do in the spring in New York City 2013

    4. See rock-star fashion at the Met’s “PUNK: Chaos to Couture”

    Pictured: Sid Vicious, 1977

  • Photograph: Giga Shane

    101 things to do in the spring in New York City 2013

    5. Shop, dance and eat at the Brooklyn Night Bazaar

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson, Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nels

    101 things to do in the spring in New York City 2013

    6. Stop and smell the cherry blossoms at Hanami

  • Time Out

    101 things to do in the spring in New York City 2013

    7. Hang out and dine on the High Line

  • Photograph: Travis Magee, courtesy Creative Time and MTA Arts for Transit

    101 things to do in the spring in New York City 2013

    8. Celebrate Grand Central’s Centennial with the herd

    Pictured: Nick Cave, HEARD•NY

  • Photograph: Eric Harvey Brown

    101 things to do in the spring in New York City 2013

    9. Paint the town at the Phagwah Parade and Festival of Colors: Holi NYC

    Pictured: Phagwah Parade in Richmond Hills, Queens

  • Photograph: Daniel Krieger

    101 things to do in the spring in New York City 2013

    10. Hit this season's hot restaurant opening: Ivan Ramen

    Pictured: Shio Ramen with hanjuku tamago topping at Ivan Ramen

Photograph: Jolie Ruben

101 things to do in the spring in New York City 2013

1. Chow down at Smorgasburg

Is that a balmy breeze we feel? A blossom we see on that tree? If you’re looking for things to do in the spring, check out our packed list of events and happenings to thaw you out, whether you want to attend the season's best festivals like Sakura Matsuri, browse the wares at Hester Street Fair or find an outdoor volleyball court to spike a ball in honor of Top Gun Day. We hope our list of things to do in the spring keeps you busy from March onward, whether you find yourself in the throes of April showers or May flowers.


RECOMMENDED: Spring in New York guide


1

Chow down at Smorgasburg

  • Critics choice
  • Free

The venerable epicurean extravaganza returns the weekend of April 6, spending Saturdays in Williamsburg's East River State Park (enter at North 7th Street) and Sundays in Brooklyn Bridge Park at the walled-in, open-air Tobacco Warehouse through the summer. The 2013 iteration features returning vendors such as comfort-food maestro Buttermilk Channel, offering its beloved fried chicken and cheddar waffles. Welcome newbies like Vermont’s Rockville Market Farm, peddling breakfast gorditas ($5) with farm-made sausage, eggs, butternut-squash hot sauce and Shelburne Farms cheddar wrapped in a double tortilla; they’ll also be hawking farm-fresh eggs by the carton ($5 for a dozen). Last year saw the debut of Smorgasbar, an all-weather outdoor bar within the market, and though the beercentric watering hole won’t open until May or June, expect an expansion of offerings from breweries beyond Kings County. Visit smorgasburg.com for more information.

  1. Various venues 26 New Dock St, at Water St
  2. Sat Apr 6 - Sun Nov 24
More info
2

Picnic in Brooklyn Bridge Park, Pier 5

  • Critics choice
  • Free

This new five-acre development opened in December, and we’re predicting that its Picnic Peninsula will be one of this season’s hottest hangs, with its views of lower Manhattan, reclaimed-wood tables and 22 barbecue grills (no permit required). It also boasts two tetherball poles at its northern end—a backyard pastime that’s overdue for a kickball- or cornhole-like resurgence. The quay’s other draws include fishing stations and three 200,000-square-foot synthetic-turf fields suitable for soccer, lacrosse, cricket, rugby, Ultimate Frisbee and more. Spring permits for the sports grounds are all taken, so join a group such as BBP’s soccer league (Wed 7–11pm; Wed 6–May 29; $130) if you want to get cleats on the green. You can apply now for a summer permit (June–Aug; $25) at https://nyceventpermits.nyc.gov/bbp; fall permits (Sept–Nov; $25) will be available starting May 1.

  1. Enter at Furman and Joralemon Sts, Brooklyn Heights
More info
3

Mingle with mixologists at the The Manhattan Cocktail Classic

  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

For serious connoisseurs, this annual festival is an opportunity to pay homage to Manhattan’s preeminent cocktail culture—and revel in five days of merry, mixology-fueled debauchery. The close to a hundred events range from scholarly lectures and conferences to parties and bar crawls that don’t lend themselves to retention of information. The crown jewel of the fest is the opening-night gala, held at the grand New York Public Library’s Stephen A. Schwarzman Building. Though details for the ball are still under lock and key, in 2012 it featured mountains of oysters, ’20s-style burlesque dancers and more than 30,000 hand-stirred cocktails. Tickets sold out in just a few hours last year; be at the ready when they go on sale March 15 at noon. Visit manhattancocktailclassic.com for more information.

  1. Various locations
  2. Fri May 9 - Tue May 13
More info
4

See rock-star fashion at the Met’s “PUNK: Chaos to Couture”

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

For its much-anticipated annual exhibit, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute examines the place where sneering, spitting rebellion meets high fashion. Around 100 spiky, shredded, safety-pinned designs will be on display, including artifacts from the punk-rock scene and the haute outfits inspired by them. The aesthetic of each of the Institute’s seven galleries will be framed around the aesthetic of icons like Sid Vicious, Richard Hell (see him read Mar 14) and Debbie Harry. The exhibit will include pieces by more than 30 fashion designers, including John Galliano, Helmut Lang and Gianni Versace. And did we mention that fashion photog Nick Knight (who directed the video for Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way”) is acting as creative consultant, and Gideon Ponte (American Psycho) is overseeing production design?

  1. The Metropolitan Museum of Art 1000 Fifth Ave, at 82nd St, 10028
  2. Thu May 9 - Sun Aug 11
More info
5
101 things to do in the spring in New York City 2013: Brooklyn Night Bazaar

Shop, dance and eat at the Brooklyn Night Bazaar

  • Critics choice
  • Free

For the first time, this beloved holiday market is hosting a spring and summer series featuring more than 100 vendors, live music and a microbrew garden. Make a beeline for jewelry maker Perry Gargano (perrygargano.com), whose intricate gold-and-silver creations ($85–$225) are inspired by the animal kingdom, and Windowfarms (windowfarms.com), creators of vertical indoor gardens ($200–$400) that allow for year-round harvesting of herbs and veggies. The location will be revealed in late April. bkbazaar.com

  1. Location TBA
  2. Fri, Sat 6pm–midnight; May 31 through October
6

Stop and smell the cherry blossoms at Hanami

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

The Japanese have a term for appreciating cherry blossoms from bud and bloom to the blankets of fallen petals that eventually accumulate: hanami. This cycle will be on full view as the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s approximately 220 cherry trees show off their floral display. Tours of the collection—the largest of these trees outside of Japan—as well as of the other Japanese plants on the grounds, will take place at 1pm on Wednesdays and 11am on Saturdays during the show.

  1. Brooklyn Botanic Garden 990 Washington Ave, at President St
  2. Sun Apr 28
More info
7

Hang out and dine on the High Line

  • Critics choice
  • Free

From April 19, visitors to the High Line can fuel their stroll along the design-minded, elevated green space with snacks from an all-star lineup of local vendors. Sweet tooths can cool down with La Newyorkina ice pops or Melt Bakery ice-cream sandwiches, while those hankering for a meal can grab Michoacán-style grub from the Taco Truck. To drink, sip on cups of java from Blue Bottle Coffee or glasses of wine, courtesy of the team behind Terroir, at the Porch (from May 16). Check out the High Line's largest ever art installation, Broken Bridge II, a 37-foot sculpture by by West African artist El Anatsui which is on view now. Tuesday night stargazing returns May 7.

  1. Washington St, (at Gansevoort St)
More info
8

Celebrate Grand Central’s Centennial with the herd

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Some people are happy with just a day dedicated to celebrating their birth; others stretch the revelry out over a weekend or even a week! Grand Central goes one step further with a whole year of programming to celebrate its 100th. Our pick of the spring festivities is artist Nick Cave’s free performance installation HEARD•NY (Mar 25–31, 11am, 2pm). Sixty dancers from the Ailey School dressed in tandem horse costumes will meander through the terminal as if it were a sunny field, sporadically coming together to perform choreographed pieces accompanied by live harpists. Also make sure to catch the exhibit “Grand by Design: A Centennial Celebration of Grand Central Terminal” before it closes on March 15, check out “On Time” (Mar 6–July 7) featuring works by a dozen contemporary artists in the New York Transit Museum Annex, and peruse classic railroad cars at the Grand Centennial Parade of Trains Weekend (tracks 34–37; May 11–12).

  1. 42nd St to 44th St, (between Vanderbilt and Lexington Aves)
More info
9
101 things to do in the spring in New York City 2013: Phagwah Parade in Richmond Hills, Queens

Paint the town at the Phagwah Parade and Festival of Colors: Holi NYC

  • Critics choice

Missed out on a snowball fight this winter? There’s still a chance to clobber your friends with a faceful—only this time with brightly hued gulal powder. Since 1990, New Yorkers have been celebrating the Hindu spring festival of Holi in Richmond Hill, Queens, with the Phagwah Parade (richmondhilledc.org; Apr 7 noon; free). Beginning on Liberty Avenue at 133rd Street, a procession of revelers, musicians and floats will head north for paint-pummeling in Smokey Oval Park (125th St at Atlantic Ave; free). The Brooklyn-based Festival of Colors (Location TBA; festivalofcolors.org; Apr 6 noon; $15, advance $12.50) drew more than 1,200 people last year, so prepare for an almighty mess as you color-bomb your pals and dance into the evening to DJs and live bands.

10
101 things to do in the spring in New York City 2013: Shio Ramen with hanjuku tamago topping at Ivan Ramen

Hit this season's hot restaurant opening: Ivan Ramen

  • Critics choice

Buzzy impresario Ivan Orkin—a Long Island native famed for opening two of Tokyo’s best ramen-ya—brings his acclaimed bowls to the U.S. for the first time. The toque will employ his chewy, custom-made rye and wheat noodles—previewed last year at mobbed pop-up dinners in Momofuku Noodle Bar and the Breslin—in tweaked versions of the Japanese comfort-food staple. A blended chicken-and-dashi shio (salt broth) ramen comes with a soft egg and pork belly, while a Tonkotsu Triple Garlic Mazemen dish combines raw, pickled and roasted garlic with pork soup, pork fat and bacon. Check out more new restaurants in NYC for spring.

  1. 25 Clinton St between E Houston and Stanton Sts
  2. Opens in April


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