Classic spring events

We've got a dozen of the best ways to party and get cultured (or just tan) this season.

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  • Photograph: Robert Benson

    New York Botanical Garden Orchid Show

    New York Botanical Garden Orchid Show

  • Photograph: Daniel S. Burnstein

  • Photograph: Lela Scott MacNeil

  • Photograph: Robin Souma

    The Imperial Court of New York's Empress XXV Pepperica Swirl and Emperor XX...

  • Photograph: Rebecca Bullene

  • Photograph: Jake Walters

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Fleet Week

Photograph: Robert Benson

New York Botanical Garden Orchid Show

New York Botanical Garden Orchid Show

Whitney Biennial
This iteration of the Whitney's contemporary-art survey has some serious dance up its sleeve: The lineup is a bit of a mystery at the moment, but expect contributions from British choreographers Sarah Michelson (Thu 1--Mar 11) and Michael Clark (Mar 29--Apr 8), as well as a screening of Charles Atlas's film Ocean (Apr 11--14). Whitney Museum of American Art, 945 Madison Ave at 75th St (212-570-3600, whitney.org). Thu 1--May 27. $18; seniors, adults 19--25 and students $12; ages 18 and under free.

"The Orchid Show: Patrick Blanc's Vertical Gardens"
The New York Botanical Garden celebrates the tenth anniversary of its annual exotic-flower showcase with an installation by French artist Patrick Blanc, who (along with garden staff) will build living floral walls in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. New York Botanical Garden, 2900 Southern Blvd between Bedford Park Blvd and Mosholu Pkwy, Bronx (718-817-8700, nybg.org). Mar 3--Apr 22; $8--$20.

Night of a Thousand Gowns
The Imperial Court of New York's annual fund-raiser is one of the season's most jaw-dropping spectacles: Expect to see lots of sequins, feathers, precious metals and anything else that can be incorporated into a glamorous look. Honorary chairs in attendance will include actor Rose McGowan, morning-radio staple Elvis Duran and Olympic ice queen Johnny Weir. Raunchy comedian Lisa Lampanelli headlines the evening, and proceeds benefit New Alternatives and PFLAG NYC. Marriott Marquis, 1535 Broadway at 45th St (icny.org). Mar 31 6pm--midnight; $125--$1,000.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden
This spring, the 52-acre living museum will unveil its new 20,000-square-foot visitors' center: The eco-friendly structure, designed by New York architecture firm Weiss/Manfredi, features a leaf-shaped living roof planted with roughly 100 species of flora, intended to blend in with the bucolic landscape. Don't miss Hanami, one of the season's most anticipated events, when the garden's more than 200 cherry trees bloom. 900 Washington Ave between President and Carroll Sts, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn (718-623-7200, bbg.org). Visitors' center: Opens May 16. Hanami: Apr 1--29.

Yankees and Mets opening days
Consider calling in sick for the Yankees' home opener against the formidable Los Angeles Angels, who snagged the off-season's highest-profile free agent in Albert Pujols. Fans eager to see a game can visit Citi Field eight days earlier for the Mets' first game, against the Atlanta Braves. The Amazin's didn't make many off-season moves, but the team may benefit from one change: the new, smaller dimensions of the stadium's outfield, which will ideally send a few more home runs into the stands. Yankee Stadium, 1 E 161st St between Jerome and River Aves, Bronx (newyork.yankees.mlb.com). Opening day: Apr 13 at 1:05pm; $15--$300 * Citi Field, Roosevelt Ave at 126th St, Flushing, Queens (mets.com). Opening day: Apr 5 at 1:10pm; $30--$325.

Bike Month NYC
Each year, the Parks Department, Transportation Alternatives, and several biking businesses and nonprofits collaborate to make May the most cycling-friendly time of year. The celebration starts with the New Amsterdam Bike Show (Apr 28, 29) and continues with pedal-powered events like the Brooklyn Bike Jumble (May 19), the TD Five Boro Bike Tour (May 6) and the Bike Brooklyn Beer Blitz (date TBA). On the latter, a history-focused tour features a stop at a Williamsburg bar mid-jaunt. Locations and times vary; visit bikemonthnyc.org for details.

"Toms Saraceno on the Roof: Cloud City"
The Met's Cantor Roof Garden transforms into a habitable space—sort of—as the Argentine artist constructs a series of interconnected, room-size pods that visitors can explore, with Central Park and the city skyline in the background. Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Ave at 82nd St (212-535-7710, metmuseum.org). May 1--Nov 4.

Rooftop Films
Now in its 16th year, this alfresco series will bring more than 200 films to locations throughout the city. Besides curating smart indie docs, shorts and features, Rooftop's organizers have a talent for procuring unique venues—past screenings have taken place on the roofs of Brooklyn Grange and Brooklyn Technical High School. To top it off, performances by buzzworthy music acts (Hospitality and Janka Nabay appeared in 2011) precede the feature. Locations, times and prices vary; visit rooftopfilms.com for more info. Begins May 11.

Night of a Thousand Stevies: Dreams Unwind
This annual salute to Ms. Nicks, launched in 1991 by Chi Chi Valenti and Johnny Dynell, is the world's largest such gathering, with hundreds of Stevie acolytes donning their finest leather and lace. Highline Ballroom, 431 W 16th St between Ninth and Tenth Aves (212-414-5994, highlineballroom.com). May 11 at 9pm; $25.

Fleet Week New York
Hello, sailors! Members of the Navy, Marines and Coast Guards will congregate in the city during this celebration of the sea services, giving plenty of New Yorkers the opportunity to gawk at ladies and gents in uniform. Locations vary; visit fleetweeknewyork.com for details. May 23--30.

Governors Island
This oasis in the center of New York Harbor will be closed on Fridays to build new parks and public spaces. But for the first time, the Trust for Governors Island will introduce extended hours on Saturdays (until 11pm), so you'll have plenty of time to explore the traffic-free grounds. Expect a familiar mix of quirky art installations, gratis bike rides and festivals celebrating everything from poetry to vintage Volkswagens. Governors Island (212-440-2202, govisland.com). Opens May 25.

The High Line
Spring is the best time to visit the elevated park: Lush plants and flora (such as Aurora Dogwood, Allegheny Serviceberry, Young Lady Smoketree) come to life after winter dormancy, and you can relax sans puffy coat on the verdant lawn at 23rd Street. From Washington St at Gansevoort St to Tenth Ave at 30th St (thehighline.org). Daily 7am--7pm.

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