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56 incredible things to do in NYC in May

Jennifer P

Dynamite things to do 

WOW Festival; Apollo Theater; May 4–7; Tickets start at $41 
Calling all fierce females: It’s time to celebrate the power of ladies at the Women of the World festival. This year’s lineup includes a tribute concert honoring jazz vocalist Abbey Lincoln, a teen summit hosted by Harlem native Gabourey Sidibe and a night of storytelling with The Moth.

Night of 1000 Stevies; Irving Plaza; May 5 at 9pm; Tickets start at $52 
Hordes of Stevie Nicks devotees descend on Union Square every year for this enormous fan event. Costumes are encouraged, so bust out the curly blond wigs, sequined dresses and fringed leather jackets and prepare to spend all night singing along to covers of “Landslide” and “Stop Draggin' My Heart Around.”

Astor Blaster Silent Disco; Astor Place Cube; May 5; free
Don't forget the Alamo—the official name of the Astor Place "Cube"—as it turns 50. Celebrate with a free silent dance party. You'll don wireless headphones (provided on a first come, first serve basis) to get down to three live DJs—or pop on your own headset and dance to the beat of your own drummer before the party continues with specials at local bars.

HUMP! Film Festival; Cinema Village; May 5–May 11; $25 
Dan Savage’s artist-driven indie-porn fest hits NYC with a new batch of wild, five-minute-or-less picks made by filmmakers with no porn experience. Films like “It's Fucking Complicated” and “I'm Not Poly But My Boyfriends Are” push you outside of your comfort zone, but it’s worth it: Featured films embrace free gender expression and a diversity of body types, races and sexual orientations. Prepare for a full-service film experience. 

Frieze Art; Randalls Island Park; May 5–May 7; various prices
Art lovers flock to Randalls Island Park for this dreamy display of works from over 100 international galleries—and the view of Manhattan ain’t bad either. Take the ferry or the bus over to the island (buy advance tickets online if you can), and plan to spend some serious time immersing yourself in the imaginative projects found both indoors and out. 

Holi Hai; Governors Island; May 6; Free–$140
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.

Gotham Girls Roller Derby; John Jay College of Criminal Justice; May 6; $24.95–$30
Haven’t roller skated since elementary school? Well, watch the badasses from Gotham Roller Derby remind you how it’s done! Check the full schedule at and show up for some incredible—and aggressive—athleticism courtesy of the Manhattan Mayhem, Bronx Gridlock, Queens of Pain and Brooklyn Bombshells.

Summer Kickoff Yacht Party; Pier 40; May 11; $39–$49
Summer is coming a little early to New York City Harbor this year as Time Out New York teams up with Hornblower Cruises & Events to throw an epic celebration on the Hudson! Wear your flippy-floppies and get psyched for this three-hour party cruise, which includes an open bar (drink up!), delicious hors d’oeuvres and killer local DJs playing across the yacht’s four floors. Let's not forget about the stunning views of the New York skyline—oh, and did we mention three hours of unlimited booze? 

E.T. - The Extra-Terrestrial in Concert; David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center; May 12, 13; Tickets start at $94
When E.T. says goodbye for the last time, the music swells and our hearts break right along with Elliot’s. Get swept away in John Williams’s incredible score when the New York Philharmonic performs it for a live screening of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.

The Edgar Allan Poe Festival; St. John’s Lutheran Church; May 12–27; Tickets start at $16
Flickering candlelight, ghostly mist, spooky tales: The Edgar Allan Poe Festival has all the makes of a terrifically terrifying evening. Catch readings of some of the master of horror’s best works, including “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “The Black Cat,” plus short stories by newer (but no less scary) authors.

Mad. Sq. Eats; General Worth Square; opens May 13; free to attend
Twice a year, this outdoor food fest brings buzzworthy bites from the city’s best restaurants to Worth Square in the Flatiron District. Best eats include Roberta’s sensational pizza, MeltKraft grilled cheese sandwiches and cheesesteaks by the Truffleist. The one-stop shop for the tastiest grub in town will be available every day until June 9, so make sure to wear your stretchy pants. 

Global Day of Discovery; Renaissance New York Midtown Hotel; May 17; various prices 
Visiting New York and want a crash-course on how to experience the city like a local? Renaissance Hotel can help! The global lifestyle company is hosting special events at all of its locations on May 17 to inspire guests to go out and explore the best of what each city has to offer. But before you do that, enjoy the stylish programming Renaissance New York Midtown has planned during this special event. Since New York is one of the top fashion capitals of the world, Renaissance invites guests to sip craft beverages and preview creations from local designers Andreeva and Saunder. There will also be a special guest appearance by Christian Siriano. Let this fashionable affair inspire you to pick out the perfect outfit before you go out and hit the town!

Vulture Festival; Milk Studios; May 20–21; Tickets start at $68
The annual pop culture extravaganza is back, and you won’t want to miss any of the panels, discussions or fan events on this year’s stacked lineup. Catch a conversation with Aziz Ansari, a cooking demo from chef Jose Andres and Chelsea Handler and a live recording of the 2 Dope Queens podcast, among other events.

BeautyCon 2017; Brooklyn Cruise Terminal; May 20; $49–$249
If you shop at Sephora just as much as you do at your local bodega, spend hours watching beauty gurus on YouTube and know the difference between contouring and strobing, Beautycon is your motherland. (Welcome home, fellow beauty junkie!) And after the success of the first-ever pamper fest in 2015, the selfie nirvana keeps coming back to NYC for a full-day of glamorous fun. Explore interactive booths featuring new and unique cosmetic, skin-care and hair-care brands, celebrity meet and greets and empowering panels that discuss themes such as entrepreneurship, social media and how the beauty industry is changing for the better. You’ll walk away with free beauty swag, too, of course! 

Hilarious comedy shows 

BeerProv; Highline Ballroom; May 2; $15, at the door $20
This improv show calls on the audience to provide sketch suggestions and eliminate players after each performance. Improvisers compete between sips of beer, with the last remaining comedian getting to drink from the BeerProv Mug of Champions. BeerProv is an equal opportunity drinking event, so cast and audience members will have plenty to down by the end of the night. 

Hari Kondabolu Carolines on Broadway; May 4–May 7; $32
After appearances on ConanJimmy Kimmel and pretty much every podcast you’ve ever listened to, the Queens native hits Carolines for four nights of brutally genius political comedy. You can expect attacks on the NRA, the Academy Awards and just about every member of the new presidential cabinet at Kondabolu’s razor-sharp night of roasts.

BoogieManja The Pit Loft; May 5; $7  
Actors, writers and improv alumns from UCB, Magnet Theater, PIT and more make up the many comedy troupes of BoogieManja. At each edition, two teams come together to deliver an hour of top-notch sketch comedy.

X Plus One; Peoples Improv Theater; May 22; $7
Take part in a totally improvised 1940s-style sci-fi radio show, complete with war rockets, jet packs and plenty of blimps as the X Plus One crew performs and records their podcast live. Whether you're down for the square-jawed superheroes of the war years or just want to witness a thrilling podcast come together live, you're in for a wild night. 

The Human Citizen Comedy Show; Art Café; May 13; $8
Ben Totushek and Koshin Egal host this twice-monthly showcase, which brings a stellar lineup of comedians from all over NYC under one roof. This week’s edition features Jeffrey Joseph, Joel Walchowski, Thiago Macklin Lima and Aimee Rose Ranger.

Happy Place Comedy; Q.E.D.; May 18; $6
Sue Funke and Katie Compa welcome both established and up-and-coming comics to the stage at this monthly show. The April installment features the comedic stylings of Myka Fox, Garry Hannon, Lauren Vino, Darin Patterson, Selena Coppock and Scotland Green.

Can't-miss LGBT events 

LezCab: Queer Cuts; Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater; May 1; $15 in advance. $20 at the door
Cabaret isn't just for gay guys, people; it's also for gay chicks! Queer women take turns performing hits from popular Broadway musicals in this ongoing series. Prepare to bow down to these badass ladies with sick pipes! 

Bedlam; Paddles; May 5; $20
Every month, this hardcore fetish party takes over Chelsea for uncensored physical expression that defies the "family friendly" mandates issued on NYC in recent decades. With sex educators and trained performers on hand, guests can explore their most deviant desires with gear, cages and plenty of rope, and play safely with fire, wax and more. Leave your inhibitions at coat check. 

RuPaul’s Drag Race Viewing Party; The Gateway; Ongoing; free
Join your three goddesses for a viewing of the Olympic-level gay series, with plenty of sharp-tongued commentary along the way. After the episode, gag to jaw-dropping performances from Surburbia, Havokk and Harajuku (plus special guests), and get down to jams from DJs Kristine Barrilli and Dario Magenta. 

Kink Thursdays; The Eagle; Ongoing; free
Bears, wolves, and otters, oh my! This multi-room bar and club has every caniform you can cruise your way into. You’re guaranteed to find a furry partner at this bondage party, where your wildest fantasies and fetishes come to life. A strict dress code of leather, rubber, belts, and jocks is enforced on the second floor, but the rest of the club is open to any piece of clothing (or lack there of). 

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

Delicious food and drink opportunities 

Chocolate Fest; 92Y; May 7; $35
Sample chocolate-laced food at this sweet 92Y event that features purveyors like Raaka Chocolate, Stick with Me and Chocolate Moderne with Lucy’s Whey providing cocoa goodies, alone with ‘choctails’ and an appearance by Megan Giller (Chocolate Noise) discussing her upcoming book about American craft chocolate.   

The Whisky Extravaganza; Prince George Ballroom; May 10; $150
The dark spirit takes center stage for this national event that showcases 100 different Scottish and international whiskies. A dinner buffet will also be served in the Prince George Ballroom, and imported cigars will also be handed out at the end of the event. 

Food Book Fair; Ace Hotel; May 11-May 14; $5-125
Bookworms and foodies combine forces to celebrate cuisine in the written form during the weekend-long festival in the Ace Hotel. From Thursday to Sunday, guests can listen to lectures or attend workshops about writing and publishing in the food world, networking with literary speed dating, as well as, of course, tastings. Featured speakers include April Bloomfield (The Spotted Pig), Mario Batali (Babbo) and Ken Friedman (White Gold Butchers). 

CoffeeCon; Metropolitan Pavilion; May 13; $15 
Get hyped for the first-ever CoffeeCon in NYC with tastings, seminars led by the experts and hands-on brewing labs. Exhibitors at the Metropolitan Pavilion include big name, NYC-based shops like Birch Coffee, Blue Bottle Coffee, Cafe Grumpy and Toby’s Estate. Seminars include classes on proper bean grinding, the secrets behind Turkish coffee and at-home espresso-making. 

NYC Vegetarian Food Festival; Metropolitan Pavilion; May 20-21; $30 Sunday general admission, Sunday and Saturday general admission $50, VIP $75
The seventh annual event celebrates all things non-meat with vegan and vegetarian writers, chefs and personalities, cooking demos, kids’ activities (face painting, scavenger hunts, animal yoga) and food vendors.

Epic concerts and shows 

Ron Carter Quartet; Blue Note; May 2–7; $30–$45
The bass icon celebrates his 80th birthday by playing with a variety of side-people, from guitarist Bill Frissell in a duo to a quintet that includes trumpeter Roy Hargrove, saxist Javon Jackson and more.

Ty Segall; Warsaw; May 17–19; $25
The California wildman brings his distorted-guitar shredding and glam-pop anthems to Brooklyn for three nights of garage rock raucousness.

Laura Marling; Brooklyn Steel; May 20; $25
Inventive songwriter Laura Marling returns with a big soulful sound on her sixth album, Semper Femina.

The xx; Forest Hills Stadium; May 19, 20; $45
The British band supports its sunny, new third studio album, I See You, with these blowout stadium shows.

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds Kings Theatre; May 26, 27; $79.50
Cave & co. airs its stark new album, Skeleton Tree, a project written in the aftermath of the passing of the singer's 15-year old son.

Major movie premieres 

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2The original Guardians was one of the most purely enjoyable blockbusters in years. Let's hope this sequel can keep the party going. Everyone from the first movie is back—the raccoon, the tree, the big angry guy, the green woman and Chris Pratt—and writer-director James Gunn has promised stronger female characters. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 opens May 5.

King Arthur: Legend of the SwordGuy Ritchie takes on the myth of Camelot in his own signature way, via Cockney accents, lots of protracted boasting and hyperactive camera moves. He’s even found room for a wife-beater t-shirt and a knit cap—in medieval England. The movie is sure to be a mix of visual grandeur and everyday bloke-ness. Or, to put it another way: All you Game of Thrones fans will love it. King Arthur: Legend of the Sword opens May 12.

Amy Schumer says she pestered Goldie Hawn for years to star in this roadtrip comedy, in which a woman takes her mom on a holiday to South America after being dumped by her boyfriend. The dirty trailer includes an already-classic spit take; we’re hoping that’s not the best joke. Snatched opens May 12.

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail
Why did all the big bankers get off after the housing bubble burst in 2008? It’s a rage-making question but, as it happens, one company was indeed targeted—a family-run Chinese-American firm that became a scapegoat in the wake of larger criminality. Documentary director Steve James (Hoop Dreams) explores with a sense of humor. Abacus: Small Enough to Jail opens May 19.

Alien: Covenant
Fanboys are geeking out over the return of director Ridley Scott to his signature series. (Didn’t they learn anything after his dull-as-dirt Prometheus?) Adding immeasurably to the plus column is Inherent Vice’s scrappy Katherine Waterston, playing a hard-as-nails space jockey in a sweaty T-shirt, à la Sigourney Weaver. Alien: Covenant opens May 19.

Marvelous theater 

Pacific Overtures Classic Stage Company; through May 27
In 1976, Stephen Sondheim and Jon Weidman chose a highly unlikely subject for their new musical: the “opening” of Japan in 1853 by American naval forces. Now an edited, 90-minute chamber versions open at Classic Stage.

Derren Brown: Secret Atlantic Theatre Company; through June 4
How’s this for a pre-summer treat? The English mentalist and illusionist wows audiences with his act for a limited run.

Samara A.R.T./New York Theatres; through May 7
This bleak but poetic play by Richard Maxwell takes place in an unspecified dystopian landscape. Alt-country singer Steve Earle narrates the semi-mystical action.

The Antipodes Pershing Square Signature Center; through June 4
Annie Baker’s latest play is a fascinating and truly original look at storytelling. A bunch of TV writers sit around trading stories, as they plumb the depths of what makes us spin yarns.

Cagney Westside Theater, through May 28
After a long and successful run, writer and star Robert Creighton’s homage to a Hollywood icon ends Off Broadway. Could a Broadway transfer be in the future?

Fantastic dance performances 

Keigwin + Company: Places Please! at Joe’s Pub; May 4–6; $20–$25
Larry Keigwin and Nicole Wolcott enact a light-hearted backstage look at creative collaboration in a duet presented by Dance Now's Dance-mopolitan Series.

Rocha Dance Theater: Battledress at the Baryshnikov Arts Center; May 12, 13; $20–$25
Choreographer and costume designer Jenny Rocha merges her metiers in an evening-length piece that plays with the perception of women within the protecting and confining structures of armorlike costumes.

Parsons Dance at the Joyce Theater; May 16–28; $26–$66
David Parsons and his company return to the Joyce with mixed bill that includes the New York premiere of Parsons's Hello World, which deploys custom-built flying drones to help illustrate ideas about technology and the future. 

Michelle Boulé: The Monolith at the Chocolate Factory; May 17–27; $20
In her new solo piece, dancer-choreographer Boulé aims to examine and expand our understanding of heroism, feminism, somatics, ritual and mythology.

New York City Ballet at the David H. Koch Theater; through May 28; $30–$175
NYCB's spring season continues with the eclectic Here/Now Festival, 10 shows that comprise 43 recent ballets, then concludes with a week of George Balanchine's bewitching A Midsummer Night's Dream.

DanceAfrica 2017 at BAM Howard Gilman Opera House; May 26–29; $25–$60
The African-diaspora cultural festival celebrates its 40th anniversary with The Healing Light of Rhythm: Tradition and Beyond. Featured performers include the Guinean-American troupe Wula Drum and Dance Ensemble.

Spectacular art on-view 

“Florine Stettheimer: Painting Poetry” The Jewish Museum; May 5–Sept 24, $15, seniors $12, students $7.50, visitors 18 and under free. Sat free. Thu 5–8pm pay what you wish
Born into wealth, Florine Stettheimer (1871–1944), was a supporter and promoter of a circle of New York avant-garde artists during the 1910s and 1920s. Stettheimer was also an artist in her own right whose uniquely surreal and dreamy paintings often featured friends such as Marcel Duchamp, Georgia O'Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz. This show presents 50 examples of her work, including her forays into set design.

“Lynette Yiadom-Boakye: Under-Song For A Cipher” New Museum; May 3–Sept 3, $16, seniors $14, students $10, children under 18 free. Thu 7–9pm pay as you wish with a suggested minimum of $2
A short-lister for the 2013 Turner Prize, British artist Lynette Yiadom-Boakye channels the European tradition of portrait and figure painting through her West African heritage, populating her dark, brooding compositions with subjects of color, who also serve as fictional characters in her short-story writings.

Robert Rauschenberg Museum of Modern Art (MoMA); May 21–Sept 17, $25, seniors $18, students $14, children under 16 free. For discounts, order tickets in advance at Fri 4–8pm free. Film tickets free with museum admission; screenings-only admission $12, seniors $10, students $8, children under 16 free
Like Pablo Picasso, Rauschenberg (1925–2008) was known for his protean output and willingness to experiment outside the box. He was a collagist who used found objects and images in densely packed pictorial compositions and sculptural aggregations that explored the gap between art and life. His work helped to loosen Abstract Expressionism’s aesthetic stranglehold on the New York art scene of the 1950s, and in the bargain, set the stage for Pop Art. His 60-year career is celebrated in this retrospective bringing together some 250 paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, photographs, sound and video recordings.

“With the Eyes of Others: Hungarian Artists of the Sixties and Seventies” Elizabeth Dee Gallery; May 2–Aug 12, free
Among Eastern Bloc countries during the Cold War, Hungary was the most permissive in allowing cutting-edge art but only up to a point. The testing of those limits is recalled in this show of 30 conceptually-oriented artists from that place and time.

Anish Kapoor, Descension Brooklyn Bridge Park, Pier 1; May 3–Sept 10, free
The renowned British sculptor creates an ink-colored water feature for Brooklyn Bridge Park that’s dramatically set against the Manhattan skyline: a furious whirlpool filled with water that’s been dyed to suggest a black hole as it churns around a void in the center of the piece.


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