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56 incredible things to do in NYC in April

56 incredible things to do in NYC in April
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Doc Searls

Dynamite things to do

Prospect Park 150th Anniversary Weekend; Prospect Park; Apr 1, 2; free
Brooklyn’s beloved backyard gets a Goliath birthday send-up, just in time for spring. The celebration opens with Lola Star’s Ice Disco on Friday 31, then features barbecues, a Smorgasburg meal, baseball games, bird-watching sessions and more for the rest of the weekend. And did we mention the frolicking dogs?

MoCCA Arts Festival; Metropolitan West; Apr 1, 2; $5 per day
This excellent comics 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 iconic Wonder Woman artist Cliff Chiang and Gotham Academy creator Becky Cloonan.  

The Photography Show; Pier 94; Apr 1, 2, $30 per day
More than 100 galleries descend upon Pier 94 for the 37th edition of this expo. Peruse pieces from the 19th century through present day, head to talks like “When Is Documentary Photo Art?” and “Vision and Justice” with industry luminaries, and find something special for your home. And #nofilter required.

An Idle Afternoon with Passerbuys, Sand & Such and RUDAS; Canal Street Market; Apr 2, installation is ongoing; free
Passerbuys (a fashion blog spotlighting awesome women in NYC) teams with Canal Street Market to create an installation all about the hygge life with West Elm. Rest on a Casper mattress, sip delicious tea from the Primary Essentials, and relax to music provided by Sonos. Experts from the Ritualist are also offering skin consultations and acupressure to ensure your mug is stress-free (R.S.V.P. here). Be on the lookout for more events happening at this calming nirvana, and follow Passerbuys on Instagram (@passerbuys) for upcoming news on readings, talks and panels.

Graeme of Thrones Highline Ballroom; Apr 4 at 8pm; tickets start at $73
When avid Game of Thrones fan Graeme sets off to recreate George R.R. Martin’s fantasy series without an HBO budget, the result is a downright silly journey through the Seven Kingdoms. Fans will want to catch this outrageous parody on the New York stop of its North American tour. With a tagline like “see it before the inevitable lawsuit,” you know it has got to be good for a few laughs.

Decades Collide - 80's vs. 90's: Biz Markie Irving Plaza; Apr 8 at 9pm; tickets start at $14
Bust out your neon windbreaker and Guess jeans and get ready to get down at this pop and old school hip-hop dance party featuring none other than Biz Markie. Get ready to sing along—you know you still remember the lyrics to “Just a Friend.”

Alec Baldwin Brooklyn Academy of Music; Apr 9 at 6pm; tickets start at $30
The latest installment of Unbound, BAM’s book launch series with Greenlight Bookstore, features none other than Alec Baldwin discussing his new memoir Nevertheless. Like his book, the Q&A will most likely delve into his personal life, struggle with addiction and fearless dedication to his work.

Cuisine and Confessions Skirball Center For The Performing Arts; Apr 11–16; tickets start at $190
The circus and culinary world collide in this acrobatics show by Montreal-based company Les 7 Doigts de la Main—or The 7 Fingers, in English. Both foodies and thespians will be intrigued by the combination of parkour-inspired stunts, elaborate choreography and a la carte tastings at the end of the performance. 

Holi in the City; Stage 48; Apr 15; $20, VIP $35
Wear white and brace yourself for four stories of rainbow delight as Holi, the Hindu festival of colors, hits NYC. Dance in kaleidoscopic ecstasy with hundreds of strangers while you get covered in tinted powders, and enjoy hors d’oeuvres, a cash bar and live music. There’s no more cheerful way to usher in springtime. 

Sakura Matsuri: Cherry Blossom Festival; Brooklyn Botanic Garden; Apr 29, 30; Adults $30, students and seniors $25
Your feed is going to blow up with shots of this weekend-long bash that celebrates Japanese culture—so why miss out on the fun? To celebrate the end of Hanami (read: the season of Japanese flower porn), Brooklyn Botanic Garden unveils cherry blossoms at their picturesque peak for two glorious days. But that’s only part of the draw. There’s also a Japanese tea room, an art gallery and a mini flea market hawking loot such as mouthwatering Raaka chocolates, wall scrolls and silk wraps. Stay for the jam-packed schedule of entertainment, which includes taiko drummers, cosplay actors, samurai sword masters, J-rock bands, stand-up comics and dance parties.

Brooklyn Folk Festival; St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church; Apr 28, 29 30; $35, three-day pass $85
Transport yourself to a land of fiddles and banjos with three days of performances from bands with names like Feral Foster, Bill & Belles 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.

Daffodil Celebrate and Wine Weekend; New York Botanical Garden; Apr 29, 30; $38, all-garden pass $28
We all know spring is the season for garden parties, and it’s hard to think of a lush green space more perfect for a booze-filled afternoon than the New York Botanical Garden. Take in the fairy-tale–like scenery of 300,000 freshly planted daffodil bulbs while sipping glasses of New York and out-of-state wine from your souvenir chalice and listening to folk-rock band Milton’s tunes. And don’t stop there: Your ticket grants entry to all of the NYBG’s 250 acres, including the Perennial Garden, with its colorful tulips and pansies, as well as the Native Plant Garden, which is filled with wildflowers and ferns.  

Hilarious comedy shows

Betches Who Brunch Highline Ballroom; Apr 1 at 12:30pm; tickets start at $73
The millennial humor site Betches is bringing its signature brand of snark to seven cities across the U.S. on April Fool’s Day. If you love brunch, Clueless and all things #basic, come prepared to slurp down some mimosas and laugh your ass off.

Comedy at Stonewall; The Stonewall Inn; Apr 1; $5, at the door $10, plus two-drink minimum
The always delightful Chrissie Mayr hosts this monthly showcase of stellar queer and queer-appealing comics at the historic Stonewall. Get down to killer sets from Chewy May, Kaytlin Bailey, Kendra Cunningham, Oscar Aydin and Rich Kiamco. 

Stand Up and Take Your Clothes Off Kraine Theater; Apr 2; $10, at the door $15
This epic meeting of the comedic and ecdysiast arts challenges stand-up comics to try their hands at cheeky strip-tease, while their burlesque buddies take the mic and bare it all with comedy. Watch as hosts Kerry Feehan and Jilliane Gill welcome Tiny D, Fem Appeal, Sweet Lorraine, Vada James and Ginger Twist to work it on stage at this benefit for the American Civil Liberties Union. 

Comics as a Force for Social Change; Greenlight Bookstore; Apr 3; free
Illustrator John Jennings, writer Damian Duffy and author Thi Bui explore how comics can inspire social change by giving underrepresented communities a voice and shaking up cultural norms in this free discussion in Fort Greene.

Punderdome 3000; Littlefield; Apr 4; $8–$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 wordplay. Winners are determined by the Human Clap-O-Meter and go home with a Mystery Box prize.

Hidden Fences; Littlefield; Apr 14; $8, at the door $10
First, it was a verbal gaff at the Golden Globes. Then, it became a viral meme lampooning white Hollywood's incapability of comprehending that multiple films could exist starring black actors. Now, it's a riotous play by Jordan Temple, mashing up the plots of Hidden Figures and Fences and taking on all the hypocrisy of Black History Month in 2017. Get ready for some vicious satire. 

Ali Wong; The Town Hall; Apr 28, 29; $45
With the verbal fury of Nicki Minaj and the fearless attitude of Joan Rivers, Wong made her name with her 2016 Netflix special Baby Cobra, which she performed seven months pregnant, taking on menstruation, Sheryl Sandberg and sex with Asian men. Now, the Fresh Off the Boat scribe and American Housewife co-star attacks the Town Hall for two sets of merciless stand-up. Catch her now before she’s selling out arenas.

Katina and Becky Have It All; Peoples Improv Theater; Apr 4; $7
Any great buddy comedy requires two epic leads. Witness greatness as Becky Yamamoto and Katina Corrao each take the stage with their respective solo shows, "Funky Cold Katina" and "My So Called Loif." 

Can’t-miss LGBT events

Latrice Royale: Life Goes On; Laurie Beechman Theatre; ongoing; $24, VIP $44, plus $20 minimum
Learn how to endure our grim New World order with dignity from the queen of grace herself: Latrice Royale. The RuPaul’s Drag Race favorite and jazz goddess brings more songs and more love to her new show. 

Sederlicious; Hudson Terrace; Apr 1; $15–$20
You've heard the exodus story a thousand times and already have your coconut macaroons stashed in your pantry, so why is this night different from any other night? Head to Hebro's wild and raucous party for gay Jews and the boys who love them, and you might find yourself adding a sexy story to your personal Passover narrative. There's no better place to meet a b'shert to bring to the Seder table. 

Queer Art Organics; Dixon Place; Apr 11; free
Local performance poet Aimee Herman welcomes some of the city's loveliest LGBTQ writers and performers to try out their latest work at this monthly showcase. This month's edition features stirring readings from Rebecca Perez, Kyle Daileda, and Heather Hudgins.

80s Roller Disco; various locations; Apr 8; $160, Long Island guests $75
Head on a special trip to the old-timey United Skates of America roller rink in Long Island, where you'll get to dance and skate to ’80s jams, dine on pizza and enjoy an open bar. Meet at 45th St and Tenth Ave to hop on the bus ride. 

Off the Binary; Bluestockings; 2pm; free
Bluestockings welcomes people who identify outside of traditional gender norms to share feelings, questions and beliefs and meet new friends. 

Delicious food and drink opportunities

Smorgasburg; Apr 1; Free
After hibernating indoors for the winter, Smorgasburg is finally moving the party outdoors with the opening of the Kent St location on Saturday, and Prospect Park on Sunday. As the king of food festivals, there will be more than 100 vendors in total, and past participants have included Kimchi Smoke doling out pork belly in glazed donut, mocha cardamom fudgesicles from Whimsy and Spics and frozen cheesecake pops from Ruby Zaar Baked. The market will be open from 11am-6pm every weekend.  

Hester Street Fair; April 15; Free
It’s the opening day for the Lower East Side market that combines food and flair in the community-driven spectacle. First-time entrepreneurs and established vendors like Macaron Parlour, Melt Bakery and Cheeky Sandwich have strutted their stuff for its weekly Saturday market. 

The Bloody Mary Festival; April 9; $55
This year's Bloody Mary Festival features Brooklyn vendors like Insa, Catfish and A&E Supply Co, offering their tricked-out versions of the tomato-juice cocktail for attendees to sample and eventually vote on for the People’s Choice Award. There will also be a panel of industry judges picking their favorite Brooklyn-based Bloody. True to form, a bagel bar and cheese station will be included in the price of admission to soak up all that booze. 

Bacon and Beer Classic; April 29-30, $69-$139
The multi-city event lets guests nosh creative twists on bacon-infused eats while gulping down some brews. This year, get the swiney strips from purveyors like NYC-based restaurants likes Blue Smoke, Bareburger and Salt & Bone. And while the creations themselves have yet to be announced, last year’s included bacon banh mi in a deep-fried bun, maple bacon bourbon ice cream and Cinn-Bun-Bacon. 

NYC Hot Sauce Expo; April 22-23, $10 general admission, BBQ Platter $40, super VIP $100
Get ready to get all hot and bothered this month for the NYC Hot Sauce Expo. Try different varieties of the spicy sauce from 45 vendors throughout the country and around the world, including New Zealand and Belize. Wash the flames down with craft beer and spicy food. During the event, winners of the Hot Sauce Hall of Fame as well as the Bloody Mary mix down competition are crowned.

Epic concerts and shows  

Stanley Clarke Blue Note; Apr 1–6; bar $30, table $45
Virtuoso bassist Stanley Clarke is a master of the instrument in just about any jazz genre: from bebop gigs assisting the likes of Dexter Gordon and Horace Silver to his own fusion work of arena rock proportions. He settles into a residency here with his Stanley Clarke Band to celebrate the release of a new album.

Xiu Xiu + Dreamcrusher Brooklyn Night Bazaar; Apr 6; $13
Two cutting edge artists of the electronic avant-garde pair here for a night of experimental noise: Jamie Stewart's bleak pop deconstructionism as Xiu Xiu and Luwayne Glass's self-described "queer nihilist revolt music" as Dreamcrusher. 

New Order Radio City Music Hall; Apr 13; $55.50–$95.50
The seminal English postpunk outfit spawned from Joy Division plays Radio City in support of its latest album, Music Complete, which ranges from wistful airs to thumping disco,

Benjamin Clementine Carnegie Hall; Apr 13; $30
Songman Benjamin Clementine has led a meteoric ascent: from homeless busker to internationally acclaimed phenom. He brings his captivating voice and emotive piano to a special Carnegie Hall gig where—fingers crossed—he may debut brand-new tunes from the follow-up to his 2015 Mercury-Prize-winning debut, At Least For Now.

The Decemberists +Julien Baker Brooklyn Steel; Apr 17–19; $45
Quaintly antiquarian indie stars the Decemberists present their nerd-core stylings at Brooklyn Steel's inaugural show, a massive new industrial-chic venue opening in Williamsburg. Julien Baker airs her quietly resilient lyrics and spare guitar chords in the opening set. 

Major movie and theater premieres

Colossal
Talk about a sledgehammer metaphor: When aimless party girl Gloria (Anne Hathaway) slips from casual drinker into full-blown alcoholic, her fractured psyche somehow conjures a thousand-foot lizard in South Korea that destroys anything it touches. That's the starting premise for this determinedly bizarre, psychologically inquisitive and—in the end—rather wonderful black comedy. Colossal opens Apr 7.

Graduation
Bound for Cambridge University on a full scholarship, a Romanian teen only needs to pass her high-school final exams, a mere formality. But when her concentration is suddenly bobbled by an incident beyond her control, her dad intercedes in the grading system, plying regents with favors. Filmmaker Cristian Mungiu’s latest has plenty of ethical compromise to go around. Graduation opens Apr 7.

The Fate of the Furious
Not even the death of a leading cast member can put the brakes on this hot-rod action series (we'll all be watching Fast 50 in our retirement homes and Vin Diesel will look exactly the same). This time, the gang heads to NYC, Iceland and Havana, with Straight Outta Compton director F. Gary Gray calling the shots. The Fate of the Furious opens Apr 14.

The Lost City of Z
Photographed by genius cinematographer Darius Khondji (Seven), James Gray’s latest is a magnificent, leisurely paced take on Amazonian adventure, loaded with natural catastrophes, mutinous colleagues and tons of excitement for old-school movie snobs who secretly love Raiders of the Lost Ark. It’s as epic as films come. The Lost City of Z opens Apr 14.

The Circle
Emma Watson joins a mysterious internet company co-founded by Tom Hanks and Patton Oswalt—those two guys alone should give any new employee pause. The original novel comes from Dave Eggers, but we’re even more excited by the presence of writer-director James Ponsoldt, adapting the book and spending the capital he earned on The End of the Tour on another literary (and timely) project. The Circle opens Apr 28.

Fantastic dance performances  

The Joffrey Ballet: Romeo & Juliet at the David H. Koch Theater; Mar 29–Apr 2; $50–$155
Having ditched New York for Chicago in 1995, the Joffrey leaps back into our arms with Krzysztof Pastor’s account of Shakespeare’s teen-lust tragedy, the venerable ballet company's first NYC performance in more than two decades. 

Centre National de Danse Contemporaine-Angers at the Joyce Theater; Apr 4–9; $26–$46
After an acclaimed 2015 presentation of works by Merce Cunningham, France's CNDC returns to the Joyce with another program of the late avant-garde dance master's works, guided by artistic director and longtime Cunningham apostle Robert Swinston 

Scottish Ballet at the Joyce Theater; Apr 11–16; $26–$56
Founded 60 years ago, Scotland's national dance company finally makes its New York debut with a bill that includes Bryan Arias's Motion of Displacement and Christopher Bruce's Ten Poems (set to poetry by Dylan Thomas, read by Richard Burton).

New York City Ballet at the David H. Koch Theater; April 18–May 28; $30–$175
NYCB's spring season at Lincoln Center begins with two programs of short works by George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins (Apr 18–23), then moves on to its centerpiece: The Here/Now Festival, 10 shows that comprises 43 recent ballets by 22 choreographers.

Okwui Okpokwasili: Poor People’s TV Room at New York Live Arts; Apr 19–29; $15–$35
In a dance-theater work created with director-designer Peter Born, the striking Okpokwasili investigates cultural narratives, mythmaking and collective amnesia about women's resistance movements in Nigeria.

Jimena Paz: Yellow at The Chocolate Factory; Apr 21–30; $20
Paz draws on memories of her childhood in Argentina to explore questions of foreignness, memory and authorship in a solo dance performance created in collaboration with Ralph Lemon and Vicky Shick. Performances begin exactly two hours before sundown.

Marvelous theater   

War Paint; Nederland Theatre; ongoing
Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole are two titans of American cosmetics in this diva-licious new musical, from the creators of Grey Gardens. 

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; Lunt-Fontanne Theatre; ongoing
You know it as a classic kids’ book, a great movie and now it’s returned as a candy-colored musical. Christian Borle (Smash) stars as Willy.

Groundhog Day; August Wilson Theatre; ongoing
Got a sense of deja vu? You’re not the only one—the Bill Murray movie has been turned into a musical comedy by the puckish talents behind Matilda.

Hello, Dolly! Shubert Theatre; ongoing 
The divine Bette Midler stars in a revival of the splashy, beloved Jerry Herman musical about a matchmaker who knows how to live and love. 

Six Degrees of Separation; Ethel Barrymore Theater; through July 16
John Guare’s incisive social drama looks at race, privilege and trust in New York City. The cast is headed by formidable TV star Allison Janney.

Spectacular art shows  

“Irving Penn: Centennial” Metropolitan Museum of Art; Apr 15–July 30, suggested donation $25, seniors $17, students $12, members and children under 12 free
One of the giants of 20th-century photography, Irving Penn (1917–2009) was known for his fashion photography, portraits and still life. His stunning large format, black-and-white images of models and celebrities helped to define the look of midcentury America. This retrospective mounted on the occasion of Penn’s 100th birthday features some 200 examples of his work, which remains as indelible now as when he first began to create it more than 60 years ago.

“The Hugo Boss Prize 2016: Anicka Yi” Solomon R Guggenheim Museum; Apr 21–July 5, $25, seniors (65+) and students with valid ID $18, children under 12 free. Sat 5:45–7:45pm pay what you wish. $25, seniors and students with ID $18, members and children under 12 accompanied by an adult free. Sat 5:45–7:45pm pay what you wish
The raw and the cooked is ongoing theme in the work of this year’s recipient of the fashion brand’s annual $100,000 arts award. Anicka Yi’s sculptural installations explore the boundary between biology and technology, often employing such unorthodox materials as tempura fried flowers, peta-dish grown molds and funguses to create futuristic forms that resemble lab experiments gone wrong.

“Carol Rama: Antibodies” The New Museum Of Contemporary Art; Apr 26–Sept 10, $16, seniors $14, students $10, children under 18 free. Thu 7–9pm pay as you wish with a suggested minimum of $2.
Remarkably, Rama, a self-taught Italian artist, lived to the ripe old age of 103, and the energy that sustained her for so long is evident in the aggressively erotic drawings drawings that were her métier. Much of her long career was spent in obscurity, though in the last decade of her life she received major recognition in the form of museum shows and the award of a Golden Lion for lifetime achievement at the 2003 Venice Biennale. This is her her first major survey in the United States. 

“Nari Ward: G.O.A.T., again” Socrates Sculpture Par; Apr 29–Sept 4, free
Six sculptures based on the eponymous animal by this African-American artist are on view in this outdoor installation, the title for which is actually an acronym for “Greatest Of All Time,” a favorite expression of the legendary Muhammed Ali, who used it to describe himself with some frequency. According to the artist, the exhibit—his first solo in an institutional setting—will explore “how hubris creates misplaced expectations in American cultural politics.”

“Louise Lawler: WHY PICTURES NOW” Museum of Modern Art (MoMA); Apr 30–July 30, $25, seniors $18, students $14, children under 16 free. For discounts, order tickets in advance at moma.org. Fri 4–8pm free. Film tickets free with museum admission; screenings-only admission $12, seniors $10, students $8, children under 16 free
Associated with the Pictures Generation, Lawler was also one of the authors of Institutional Critique, a Conceptualist genre that made museums and other constituents of the art establishment the subject of a deconstructive inquiry. In Lawler’s case, that entailed photos of other artist’s works hanging in museums, storage rooms and the home of collectors. Elegant and cooly composed, Lawler’s images demystified the art object by showing how it lives as a commodity and piece of decor. MoMA surveys her career, which spans nearly 40 years.

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