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45 fantastic things to do in NYC in April

Written by
Jennifer Picht

Dynamite things to do

Pillow Fight NYC Washington Square Park; Apr 2; free 
Forget all your stress and adult worries as you (softly) pummel strangers. At New York’s  annual International Pillow Fight Day, the flash mob—which has attracted over 5,000 participants—turns Washington Square Park into the city’s bedroom, and the only rules to this favorite slumber-party activity are to not hit hard, avoid smashing cameras and leave weapons of the feather variety at home (down pillows create a mess). After the fun is over, donate your cushion to Dare2B, which provides care and shelter for homeless children in the city. 

MoCCA Arts Festival Ink48; Apr 2–3; $5 per day
This excellent comic and cartooning festival welcomes more than 300 publishers—major and minor—to display their wares. Hear a lineup of expert cartoonists, illustrators and creators, including the Diary of a Teenage Girl creator Phoebe Gloeckner, Lumberjanes artist Noelle Stevenson and more discuss their creative process and the future of their craft.

Brooklyn Folk Festival St. Ann’s Church; Apr 8–10; $20–$25, three-day pass $80
Transport yourself to a land of fiddles and banjos with three days of performances from bands with names like Happy Valley Pals playing bluegrass, Balkan music and plenty o’ jugs. If you feel like jamming out yourself, take a workshop to learn how to play your first few chords on the strings, or show your strength during the Banjo Toss contest.

Tribeca Film Festival various locations; Apr 12–24; various prices
Looking to go from average moviegoer to hard-core cinephile? A ticket to Robert De Niro’s spectacular, showing buzzworthy premieres, under-the-radar docs and breakout indies, will do the trick. A 12-day Hub Pass ($550) gives you unfettered access to virtual reality experiences, storyscapes and star speakers such as Tina Fey and Tom Hanks, but ticket prices for essential screenings ($20) and several Tribeca Talks ($40) are thankfully a lot more budget-friendly.

Sakura Matsuri: Cherry Blossom Festival Brooklyn Botanic Garden; Apr 30–May 1; $25
Never mind the fact that it happens every year—New Yorkers still get cherry-blossom fever during Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s swoonworthy festival. The two-day fair marks the end of Hanami (the Japanese seasonal tradition of blossom appreciation) and includes a cosplay fashion show, bands playing traditional tunes, dance performances and, of course, all those pink-and-white petals.

Holi Hai Dag Hammarskjold Plaza; Apr 30; $67–$127
This seventh annual family-friendly event by dance group NYC Bhangra gives you a chance to paint your friends. Along with free colors, there are performances of traditional Indian dance and music, plus the chance to learn a few bhangra moves during interactive sessions.

Hilarious comedy shows

Fly, You Fools! Peoples Improv Theater; Apr 1, 8, 15, 22; $15
The irreverent goons behind Hold Onto Your Butts and the director of the Harry Potter parody 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; Apr 5; $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.

Thug Passion The Creek and the Cave; Apr 7, 14, 21, 28; free
Hosts Shalewa Sharpe and Courtney Fearrington bring together a night of heavy drinking and raw, unpredictable open-mic stand-up sets, all in honor of Tupac. 

Amazeballs: An Experimental Magic and Comedy Show The Creek and the Cave; Apr 21; 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.

Late Night wth Lani The PIT Loft; Apr 6, 20; $5
Hostess with the most-est Lani Harms is taking on the late-night scene with a "talk show" chock full of sketch, improv, insane characters and pretty much whatever else she wants. The show winds up with an improv set based on an interview with a special guest comedian. Mike Kelton, Casey Jost, Keisha Zollar and other improv darlings have showed up in the past.

Can’t-miss LGBT events

Troupe429 Mayfair New York Times Square; Apr 2; 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.  

Furball NYC 12 Year Anniversary Santos Party House; Apr 2; $15, at the door $20
Joe Fiore's dance for the husky, hirsute set and those who love them has been happening for a decade now—so long that more than a few people who identified as twinks when it started now qualify as bears. Join over 500 men as they shed, sweat and spin all over Santos' spacious dance floor. 

Señor Frogs’ Froggy Style BrunchSeñor Frogs; Apr 3, 10, 17, 24; free
Considering the fact that Drag is in season year-round, there's never a bad time to embrace total Times Square-tackiness and watching some crazy, cackling queens perform at Senor Frogs'. With acts from Suggah Pie Koko, Epiphany, Bootsie LeFaris and more, this brunch promises to be outrageous. 

Isaac Oliver Sits Down Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater; Apr 13; $20 plus $12 minimum
If David Sedaris and Fran Lebowitz had a baby who wrote about subways, theater patrons and blow jobs, he might be a lot like Isaac Oliver. The hilarious and poignant comic essayist is also a deft deliverer of his own work; at Joe's Pub he shares new work as well as pieces from his compulsively readable debut collection, Intimacy Idiot.

Nightgowns Bizarre; Apr 14; $10 suggested donation
Brooklyn alt-drag star Sasha Velour presents a new group of arty, intelligent acts every second Thursday for this thinking-queen's drag show.  

Major movie and theater premieres

Everybody Wants Some!!
It’s 1980. Summer comes to a close as a gang of college baseball players assemble at their Texas university to break in the team—and, of course, to break as many rules as possible. A beautiful, hilarious, deeply relaxed film about male bonding, Richard Linklater’s latest is glorious, ranking right up there with his masterpieces Dazed and Confused and BoyhoodEverybody Wants Some!! opens on April 1.

Director Jean-Marc Vallée has done wonders with actors of late—he’s responsible for capping off the McConaissance with Dallas Buyers Club and giving Reese Witherspoon a challenging role in Wild. His latest stars Jake Gyllenhaal as a grieving widower who gives his life a total rethink, post-catastrophe. Demolition opens on April 8.

Hardcore Henry
A revolution in action cinema that works despite its utter silliness, Ilya Naishuller’s supercharged, wholly first-person coup achieves a near-experimental bliss—you won’t know how it was executed, nor will you care. The idea comes from video games: You're Henry, a mute cyborg suffering from a complete memory wipe. As you make your brutal way through hundreds of unlucky henchmen, the carnage flies (and the GoPro cinematographer gets a workout). But if action movies are meant to be stunning, Hardcore Henry can proudly take its place among the giants. Even better, it lets you stand with them.Hardcore Henry opens on April 8.

The Jungle Book
There are two adaptations of Rudyard Kipling’s beloved novel on their way, and while the second one (due in 2017) might be a little darker, this one's got the star wattage. Iron Man director Jon Favreau helms a motion-capture cartoon on an epic scale, with voices provided by the likes of Bill Murray (perfectly cast as Baloo), Ben Kingsley, Christopher Walken and Scarlett Johansson. The Jungle Book opens on April 15.

The Huntsman: Winter’s War
Were you clamoring for a sequel to 2012’s Snow White and the Huntsman? Us neither, and K-Stew fans should stay at home: She doesn’t return. Still, back is the villainous Charlize Theron—compensation enough, frankly—and Emily Blunt joins the cast along with Jessica Chastain. That’s a decent trade-off in our book. The Huntsman: Winter’s War opens on April 22.

Delicious food and drink opportunities

Bacon and Beer Classic Citi Field; April 22-23; GA $69, VIP $129
Winter’s over and it’s time to break those resolutions—what better way than a no-holds-barred blowout featuring 30 bacon-stuffed dishes and more than 100 craft brews? For three hours, stuff your face with porcine plates from restaurants like Bareburger and Tres Carnes while guzzling beers and ciders from breweries both local (Gun Hill Brewing Co., Original Sin Hard Cider) and national (Anchor Brewing in California, Harpoon Brewery in Vermont).

Chocolate Fest 2016 92 Y; April 10; $35
Smother yourself in sweet chocolate at this annual, walk-around tasting hosted by 92 Y. Sample decadent bites from homegrown favorites (Raaka Chocolate in Red Hook, Stick with Me Sweets in Nolita), as well as far-flung imports like the Grenada Chocolate Company and Boston's FIXX Chocolates. Also on offer will be lush chocolate-wine pairings from the likes of Gotham Wines and Liquors and Guittard Chocolate. 

NYC Hot Sauce Expo Brooklyn Expo Center; April 23-24; $10-$100
Fire up your taste buds at this fourth-annual, two-day celebration of zest and spice. Opt for $10 general admission tickets to try limitless samples from artisanal sauce producers such as Brooklyn's A&B American Style, Houston's Big Daddy Assburn and Mexico's El Yucatero. An extra $45 gets you five craft beer tickets (you'll probably need 'em), a bottle of High River Sauces and a BBQ Sandwich Platter. Need more heat? A hundred-buck Super VIP Ticket is an all-access pass complete with an open bar, VIP lounge area and several swanky giveaways. 

NYC Craft Distillers Festival Bowery Hotel; April 2; $95-$150
Head to the Bowery Hotel for this pre-Prohibition booze bacchanal, highlighting new, speakeasy-style spirits from more than 20 producers, including Black Dirt's bonded applejack, Catskill's Defiant Rye and Gristmill's rough-and-ready moonshine. Between sips, get down Gatsby-style to live jazz tunes from Emily Asher's Garden Party, as well as burlesque performances from the likes of dancer Ida Blue.

A Taste of Fifth 2016 Grand Prospect Hall; April 6; $55
Park Slope is the focus of this food-filled block party convening this year at iconic neighborhood events space Grand Prospect Hall. Snack your way through tastings from local vendors such as L'Albero dei Gelati, Bricolage and of course, Grand Prospect's brew-soaked offshoot the Brooklyn Bavarian Biergarten. Twenty dollars of every ticket will be donated to a charity of your choosing—participating organizations include the Brooklyn Arts Exchange, Park Slope Civic Council and Public School 321.

Awesome shows and concerts

Frankie Cosmos + Eskimeaux Shea Stadium; Apr 1, 2; $14, at the door $16
Local indie-pop stand-out Frankie Cosmos celebrates a new album with a two-night run at Shea Stadium.

Jonathan Richman The Bell House; Apr 1; $20
Perennially great songman pays a visit to Brooklyn—it’ll be worth the trip to hear him play “Springtime in New York” just as the season turns.

Weezer Rough Trade; Apr 1; free with album purchase
The nerd-rock power-pop band plays a few intimate shows to promote its latest self-titled effort, dubbed The White Album.

Bleached Music Hall of Williamsburg; Apr 11; $15
The Los Angeles garage-pop outfit tours behind its sophomore effort, the bubblegummy, hard-driving Welcome to the Worms.

Bryson Tiller Radio City Music Hall; Apr 21, 22; $45–$125
The fast-rising R&B singer—who just released his debut album, T R A P S O U L, in October—plays his biggest NYC shows yet, hitting town for two nights at Radio City.

Marvelous theater performances

Fully Committed Lyceum Theatre; previews begin Apr 1; $75–$145
Ever wondered about those brave souls who handle the reservation line at impossible-to-book restaurants? Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family) lets you inside his insane world for this manic one-man show. This was a hit in 1999—we’ll see if it’s still funny in the age of Open Table.

The Father Samuel J Friedman Theatre; Opening Apr 14; $70–$150
Easily one of the top stage actors of his generation, the great Frank Langella stars in this new French drama about a patriarch who may be losing his mind. Either that, or his children are trying to drive him crazy.

Paramour Lyric Theatre; previews begin Apr 16; $55–$145
Cirque du Soleil has had plenty of engagements in and around New York, but this is the first time the global phenomenon has tried to plant a show on the Broadway landscape. We shall see if this eye-popping mix of cabaret, acrobatics and design will fly on the Great White Way.

American Psycho Gerald Schoenfeld; opening Apr 20; $69–$148
If you loved the 80s, you will murder to get a ticket to this musical about a preppie serial killer and his fabulous Wall Street lifestyle. Duncan Sheik (Spring Awakening) scores the retro beat for this sinister thrill-ride.

Waitress Brooks Atkinson Theatre; opening Apr 24; $69–$159
Take one hit-making songwriter (Sara Bareilles), add a beloved Broadway star (Jessie Mueller), stir in one of the hottest directors now (Diane Paulus) and you may have the recipe for Broadway’s next big musical. It’s a story of a woman who waits, but also cooks up her own dreams.

Spectacular art shows

“Munch and Expressionism” Neue Galerie New York; through June 13; $20, seniors and students $10

While Edvard Munch’s The Scream is the Mona Lisa of anxiety, this show goes beyond the star power of this centerpiece work to note Munch's role in transforming avant-garde art at the turn of the 20th century.

“Crime Stories: Photography and Foul Play” The Metropolitan Museum of Art; through July 31; Suggested donation $25, seniors $17, students $12, members and children under 12 free
This show is full of gory details, including one image of John Dillinger’s toe-tagged feet as his body lies in the morgue. But the exhibition does reveal the crucial role that photography has historically played in police work.  

Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, “Try to Altar Everything” The Rubin Museum of Art; through Aug 1; $15, seniors and students $10, under 12 free. Fri 6–10pm free
P-Orridge is best known for having himself surgically transformed into someone who is neither male or female. He calls himself pandrogenous, which is one reason why he’s drawn to Hindu mythology, which is filled with similar neither/nor figures. This show explores that interest and others influencing his art.    

"Van Dyck: The Anatomy of Portraiture” The Frick Collection; through June 5; $20, seniors $15, students with ID $10, children under 10 not admitted. Sun 11am–1pm pay what you wish
The 17th-century painter Anthony van Dyck was second only in importance among Flemish artists to Peter-Paul Rubens. Court painter to King Charles I of England, Van Dyck’s flattering portraits of Charles reflected the monarch’s belief in the divine right of kings. While the King would lose his head over the matter during the English Civil War, he lives on in Van Dyck’s gorgeous likenesses of him, which are shown alongside paintings of Charles’s family and courtiers.   

“Edgar Degas: A Strange New Beauty” Museum of Modern Art (MoMA); Mar 26–July 24; $25, seniors $18, students $14, children under 16 free. Fri 4–8pm free 
MoMA’s first-ever monographic exhibition of this Impressionist giant focuses on a graphic technique called monotype, in which a one-of-a-kind painting on a glass or metal plate is printed on paper before the pigment dries. The works here feature the artist’s signature images of ballerinas, theater scenes and landscapes.

Killer dance performances 

Tom Gold Dance: Poetic Episodes Gerald W. Lynch Theater; Apr 5, 6; $25–$50
In this world premiere, the New York neoclassical company, led by former New York City Ballet soloist Gold, explores five poems by U.S. Poet Laureate Charles Simic, including “On the Meadow” and “In the Library.” Performers include six current NYCB members, including principal dancer Anthony Huxley.

Ballet Hispanico Joyce Theater; Apr 5–10; $20–$60
Dedicated to celebrating the creativity of the Hispanic diaspora, Ballet Hispanico marks its 45th anniversary with a Joyce season that includes its signature work, Perdo Ruiz’s ebullient Club Havana (2000), as well as Ramón Oller's Bury Me Standing and the New York premiere of Gustavo Ramírez Sansano’s colorful. The matinee on April 9, En Familia, is aimed at family audiences.

Miami City Ballet David H. Koch Theater; Apr 13–17; $35–$150
The pride of Miami makes its first bow at Lincoln Center with an April 13 gala, featuring works by George Balanchine and Alexei Ratmansky. Two programs alternate on subsequent days: the first includes pieces by  Balanchine, Ratmansky and Twyla Tharp; the second comprises pieces by Balanchine, Justin Peck and Liam Scarlett.

Martha Graham Dance Company New York City Center; Apr 14–18; $35–$95
The venerable modern-dance company 90th-anniversary season includes several Graham classics (including 1936’s Chronicle and 1947’s Night Journey), as well as the premieres of three works commissioned for the company by Marie Chouinard, Mats Ek and Pontus Lidberg. The music is played by the Mannes Orchestra.

Les Fêtes Venitiennes BAM Howard Gilman Opera House; Apr 14, 16, 17; $45–$200
The Scapino Ballet Rotterdam, choreographed by Ed Wubbe, provides the dancing half of this production of André Campra's 1710 opéra-ballet, directed by Robert Carsen. William Christie and his esteemed early-music ensemble, Les Arts Florissants, handle the opera part. The aim is to evoke the carnival atmosphere of Venice through five episode (or “entrées”). 

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