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44 incredible things to do in NYC in May

Written by
Jennifer Picht

Dynamite things to do 

Frieze Art Fair Randall’s Island Park; May 5–8; various prices
One of the city’s most-hyped alfresco attractions returns to Randalls Island Park, where tens of thousands wander through innovative works from elite galleries around the globe. Expect highly Instagrammable public works, hands-on DIY projects and plenty of chances for some arty interaction, like last year’s rides in a rowboat made of salvaged materials and sessions in massage chairs mounted on giant paintings. 

America's Cup, Brookfield Place Plaza; May 7–8; free 
Legendary international sailing competition—America’s Cup—sails into the New York Harbor for the first time in nearly 100 years. Check out The Event Village at Brookfield place, where you can not only watch the race in real time, but partake in various forms of entertainment, food vendors and sponsored activities. 

Barkfest 2016, Hudson River Park, Pier 97; May 22; $40, VIP $55 
This too cute to be true festival allows you to party with your pup—"Coachella" style. That's right, Pier 97 will be transformed into a spectacular for dogs and their owners filled with interactive games, cool tech demos at the "Innovation Pawvillion," delicious grub and a beer garden. And, of course, live music you can shake your tail to. You can expect appearances by internet-famous pups @MarnieTheDog and @TunaMeltsMyHeart, as well. 

Japan Day, Central Park; May 8; free 
At Japan Day in Central Park, try your hand at origami, slurp up some tonkotsu ramen or nosh Hello Panda chocolate, get your face painted Kabuki-style and enjoy fantastic stage performances at Rumsey Playfield. 

Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit, Washington Square Park; May 28–30, Jun 4, 5; free 
This city tradition feels fresh every spring when artists following in the footsteps of Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning set up shop in the park. Hundreds of exhibitors, from NYU students to artists who remember the Village as a creative enclave, display their paintings, sculptures, photography, jewelry and woodcraft.

Hilarious comedy shows 

Fly, You Fools!, Peoples Improv Theater; May 13; $15 
The irreverent goons behind Hold Onto Your Butts and the director of the Harry Potterparody show Puffs present this "shot-for-shot" reenactment of the gloriously dramatic The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Expect wigs to fly as this four-person crew plays the roles of a nine-man fellowship, sentient astral evil and Elven princess with admirable, hilarious dedication.

Punderdome 3000, Littlefield, May 3; $8, at the door $10
Jo Firestone and her Rodney Dangerfield impersonator father, Fred, host this beloved competition, in which the first 18 individuals or duos to sign up at the door attempt to pun-up each other's spontaneously produced word-play. Winners are determined by a "human clap-o-meter" and go home with a kitchen appliance.

Commedienne Project, The Standing Room, May 11; $10
Sharp-tongued stand-ups Katie Hannigan and Corinne Fisher challenged themselves to produce hilarious stand-up that didn't revolve around sex, and the results were surprisingly hilarious. Now, they welcome other ladies to take the test, and even ring the bell if a guest's material slips into prurient territory. 

That Time of the Month, The PIT Loft; May 21; $5
Some of the funniest and most ferocious women in the NYC comedy scene gather for this brutally honest, DGAF late-night variety show with hosts Liisa Hill Murray and Meghan Ross leading the charge. 

Amazeballs: An Experimental Magic and Comedy Show, The Creek and the Cave; 10pm; free 
Open your brain to mind reader Eric Dittelman (America's Got Talent) and some of the best magicians in town. Comics try out new material while also working on their slight of hand at this monthly celebration of the unknown.

Can't-miss LGBT events 

Lesbo-a-GoGo, The Stonewall Inn; through Dec, free 
Gay ladies pack the upstairs dance floor at Stonewall for this Friday night party featuring cheap drinks with visiting guests rotating on the decks.

Homotown, Henrietta Hudson; ongoing; free 
Head to Henrietta Hudson every Thursday for a seemingly endless happy hour ('til midnight, seriously) and chill jams from veteran DJ Tikka Masala, who will keep you grinning all night with motown, soul and beloved hip-hop classics. 

Nasty Drew and that Harder Boy, Laurie Beechman Theatre at the West Bank Café; through May 15; $22, plus $20 minimum
Relive the pulpy glory of teen mystery novels at this self-aware comedy and cabaret show, which sets sexy burlesque stars Nasty Canasta and Chris Harder off to search for FiFi Dubois' family jewels. You'll be left speechless after seeing this insane mystery act, which features skin, satire and magic from a host of performers including Fancy Feast, Honey Davenport and Mr. Gorgeous. 

Q-Train Sycamore; May 5; free 
Ditmas Park's ever-growing queer populace is invited to mix and mingle at this monthly shindig. Play dirty bingo with host Ariel Speedwagon and dance to jams by everyone from Tina Turner to Fergie as DJ GoGo Gadget and drag boss Ariel Italic take over the dancefloor. 

Troupe429 Mayfair New York Times Square; 10pm; free 
Head to the Mayfair's underground every first Saturday of the month for a relaxed night of crowd-pleasing jams from your favorite divas and queens from the past and present. While Britney, Christina, Left Eye and Aaliyah play all night, revisit classic N64 games (GoldenEye, anyone?), snag cheap drink specials and whiskey tastings, and even play some sloppy beer pong.  

Major movie and theater premieres 

Captain America: Civil War; hits theaters May 6
Chris Evans is the secret weapon in the onscreen Marvel army—his Captain America has evolved into a character of real conscience, and he’s marked the franchise’s best moments. We have high hopes for this reportedly dark sequel.

Money Monster; hits theaters May 13
TV finance adviser George Clooney is kidnapped by an irate viewer in Jodie Foster's satirical thriller.

Love & Friendship; hits theaters May 13
The cattier, comic side of Jane Austen emerges in a total return to form for director Whit Stillman (Metropolitan). Kate Beckinsale excels as the movie's high-born 18th-century schemer, anchoring a spin on classic literature that's fresh and deliciously rotten at the same time.

The Nice Guys; hits theaters May 20
We’re stoked for this ultraviolent—and probably ultrafunny—private-eye thriller, set in 1970s L.A. and starring a panicky Ryan Gosling and a hard-as-nails Russell Crowe as partners. Need more convincing? The screenwriter (and director) is legendary wordsmith Shane Black, once of Lethal Weapon and more lately of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.

Song of Lahore; hits theaters May 20
Pakistani classical musicians travel to New York to perform with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.

Delicious food and drink opportunities 

Food Book Fair The Wythe Hotel; 5/1-5/2; Free-$175
This Brooklyn eating-and-reading festival returns to the Wythe Hotel with a curriculum of panel discussions, cooking demos and literary dinners. Get schooled during hands-on workshops on a variety of topics ranging from cocktail making to food writing, or relax and peruse selections from the fair’s popular “Foodieodicals,” an indie food magazine festival.

NYC Vegetarian Food Festival Metropolitan Pavilion; 5/7-5/8; $32.23
This annual celebration of meat-free living spotlights small plates and samples from vegetarian restaurants and food companies, with cooking demonstrations and information tables to help you go green. Dr. Michael Gregor, author of 2015’s How to Not Die, a best-selling guide to superfoods, will give the keynote address.

NYC Burger Week Various locations; 5/1-5/7; $30-$45
In this burger-loving town, it takes a whole week of events to give the favorite patty its due. Ground beef gurus Schweid & Sons, supplier of many a top patty joint, are behind this weeklong series of beef-and-bun events that includes a beer-soaked burger brunch and a bourbon-and-burgers dinner.

Harlem EatUp! Festival Various locations; 5/20-5/22; $80-$155
Now in its second year, this celebration of Harlem’s vibrant food scene boasts an event-packed schedule featuring dinners served by star chefs and a main stage in Morningside Park hosting chef demos and live music. Emeril Lagasse, Andy Ricker, Jacques Torres and Carla Hall are just a few of the big-ticket toques who'll plate their distinctive fare during the festival. 

Taste of Tribeca Various locations; $45, $55 day-of
Tribeca’s outdoor walk-around tasting returns for its whopping 22nd year, bringing together the nabe's top restaurants to once again serve a feast-worthy spread of bites. Bouley, Landmarc, Nobu Next Door and many other eateries will peddle their wares for a good cause: ticket sales benefit local schools P.S. 150 and P.S. 234.

Awesome shows and concerts 

Pearl Jam, Madison Square Garden; May 1, 2; $85
The Seattle grunge legends take over the massive MSG stage for two nights. Over this tour, the guys have been running through classics spanning their extensive catalogue, newer material like "Mind Your Manners" off its latest record, Lightning Bolt, and even the occasional Jimi Hendrix cover (their Tampa setlist featured a rendition of "Little Wing").

Justin Bieber, Barclays Center; May 4, 5; $50.50–$126
As of late, love-to-hate, hate-to-love popstar Justin Bieber has veered from his early days as a teeny bopper idol into gritty R&B with Purpose, an album which features production from Diplo and Skrillrex. It's a surprising sonic shift, and a far more successful transformation than his visual rebranding via new dreadlocks. 

Mykki Blanco, Market Hotel; May 5; $15, at the door $17
With last year's noisy collaboration disc Mykki Blanco Presents C-ORE, a new imprint Dog Food, and a debut studio album in the works, it appears vicious wordsmith Mykki Blanco has forgone her previous plans to abandon music for journalism—a fact for which we're thankful. She gigs here at fittingly underground digs: the recently re-opened Bushwick DIY space, Market Hotel.

Mac DeMarco, Webster Hall; May 15, 16; $30
Consummately goofy indie king Mac DeMarco has garnered a cult following with his impish antics—for evidence, just check out his recently inaugurated Mac DeMarco Fan Club, run by none other than his mom, Agnes. Expect some tunes from last summer's mini album of love songs at this Webster Hall gig as he returns home to New York.

Anohni: Hopelessness, Park Avenue Armory; Mar 18, 19; $50
Formerly known as Antony Hegarty of Antony and the Johnsons, soulful singing enigma Anohni presents an audio-visual interpretation of her darkly captivating new album, Hopelessness, as part of the Red Bull Academy Festival at the Park Avenue Armory's spacious drill hall. 

Marvelous theater performances 

Paramour, Lyric Theatre; through Dec; $55–$145 
Cirque du Soleil unveils its first actual Broadway musical–with plenty of acrobatics and spectacle, of course.

A Streetcar Named Desire, St. Ann's Warehouse; through Jun; $55–$90
X-Files icon Gillian Anderson ventures into Tennessee Williams territory in the great drama about brutality and illusion.

The Crucible, Walter Kerr Theatre; through July; $42–$149
Arthur Miller’s powerful retelling of the 1692 Salem witch trials gets a thrillingly modern makeover from Ivo van Hove.

The Effect, Barrow Street Theatre; through Dec; $79.50–$99.50 
Two subjects in a drug research trial don’t know if they’re falling in love or just have too much dopamine on the brain.

She Loves Me, Studio 54; through July; $52–$147 
You will fall head over heels for Laura Benanti and Zachary Levi in this old-fashioned musical rom-com set in a perfume store.

Spectacular art shows 

“Moholy-Nagy: Future Present,” Solomon R Guggenheim Museum; May 27–Sept 7; $25
A key innovator in the fields of kinetic sculpture and cameraless photography, Moholy-Nagy (1895–1946) was one of the giants of 20th-century modernism, who pioneered the use of ephemeral materials like plastics. The Hungarian-born artist was an instructor at the legendary Bauhaus in Germany before he eventually moved to Chicago to continue his teaching. This retrospective is his first in 50 years.

Andra Ursuta, “Alps," New Museum of Contemporary art; through June 19; $16
Darkly ironic, the work of this Romanian artist is no stranger to controversy. She once created a life cast of herself sprawled on the floor as if she’d been run over by a steam roller. What’s more, the figure was covered in white waxy blobs that evoked semen from bukkake porn. This piece is one example of her feminist brand of Grand Guignol on view in this survey of old and new work.  

Nicole Eisenman, “Al-ugh-ories," New Museum of Contemporary art; May 5–June 26; $16
Eisenman won a MacArthur Foundation “Genius Award” in 2015 and this two-decade retrospective of makes a good case for why. On view are figurative paintings offering a bold blend of autobiography, fiction, queer aesthetics, feminism and pop culture rolled into a style that uses Realism, Surrealism and Expressionism to contemplate the human condition.   

“Tom Sachs: Boombox Retrospective, 1999-2016," Brooklyn Museum; through Aug 14; $16
Mixing funky swagger with crowd-pleasing populism, Sachs’s sculptures and installations transform ordinary object into art works that riff on a whole panoply of popular culture references. In this show, he zeroes in on that icon of street culture, the boom box in a series created over the last 17 years. They’re brought together here in the Brooklyn Museum’s glass entryway. 

“Rodney McMillian: Landscape Paintings,” MoMA PS1; through Aug 29; suggested donation $10
Second-hand bed sheets bought at thrift stores form the substrate for these paintings by McMillian, a Los Angeles artist whose work might be described as a form of social abstraction. The works here have be left unstreteched to sag on the wall under the weight of effluvial pours of paint that sometimes run of the surface onto the floor. Resembling bodily fluids left to harden, the pigment serves as a metaphor for sexual intimacy and the questions of identity that surround it. 

Killer dance performances 

New York City Ballet Spring 2016 David H. Koch Theater (at Lincoln Center), through May 29; $30–$170
The company's spring season includes 10 ballets by cofounder George Balanchine and four by Jerome Robbins, including a diptych of Dances at a Gathering and West Side Story Suite (May 11–15).  The season concludes with a weeklong run of Balanchine's magical, full-length A Midsummer Night's Dream (May 24–29).

Flamenco Vivo Carlota SantanaVoces de Andalucia BAM Fisher, May 3–8; $25–$59
Now over 30 years old, the company continues to promote flamenco dance and music in its return to BAM. The program includes three new works (inspired by Pablo Picasso and Federico García Lorca), as well as Angeles II, choreographed and performed by Ángel Muñoz.

American Ballet Theatre Spring 2016 Metropolitan Opera House, May 9–July 2; $20–$225
The company returns for its spring season. ABT resident choreographer Alexei Ratmasnky dominates the lineup with two triple bills of repertory pieces (May 17-23) and two full-length works in June. Other highlights of the season include two ballets by Frederick Ashton, Sylvia (May 9–14) and La fille mal gardée (May 24–30). 

Cuba Festival Joyce Theater; May 10–12; $20–$50
The Joyce welcomes three Cuban companies in a two-week celebration of the island's contemporary dance scene. Malpaso Dance Company (May 10–12) offers three pieces, including one by artistic director Osne Delgado; DanzAbierta's Showroom (May 14–17) combines modern dance and metatheatrical storytelling; and Compañía Irene Rodríguez (May 19–22) gives a Cuban spin to classical Spanish flamenco.

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