There's a new book in town that will help ease your FOMO: An Almanac of New York City for the Year 2022 by Susan Gail Johnson is essentially a Bible of events in NYC listed by the day.
The little planner, which came out on September 14, lists indoor and outdoor cultural activities, sporting events, foodie happenings and literary events in the five boroughs and includes historical nuggets and quotes from notable New Yorkers (from Edith Wharton to Lin-Manuel Miranda), a monthly "sky watch" forecast of lunar eclipses, supermoons and other celestial phenomena and a monthly horoscope for the city. It also contains small ink drawings of NYC's resident rats and pigeons in amusing situations as well as iconic scenes like sailors coming in for Fleet Week and children sledding down a park hill in the wintertime. Needless to say, it packs a lot into its tiny pages.
You can turn to any page and you'll get an idea of what to do on a specific day, from exhibits at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to a New York Knicks game and who they're playing against.
We asked Johnson for her top five picks for what to do in NYC in 2022. Drawing from her Almanac, she picked the following days as her must-do events:
- January 23, 2022: Carnegie Hall is presenting a performance of Penelope that is a collaboration between André Previn and Tom Stoppard, featuring soprano Renée Fleming, the Emerson String Quartet, pianist Simone Dinnerstein, and Uma Thurman as narrator. "That’s some big star power!"
- February 10, 2022: The Music Man with Sutton Foster and Hugh Jackman open at the Winter Garden. "It is the Broadway show I’m most anticipating."
- February 22 (at MSG) and March 1, 2022 (at Barclay’s Center): Elton John is playing his farewell tour at MSG and Barclay's Center. "How can you miss that?"
- May 5, 2022: The Metropolitan Museum of Art opens the second half of the fashion exhibition In America. "This time it will be presented in the period rooms of the American Wing—it’s always fun to see a museum use its gallery space in a non-traditional way."
- June 18, 2022: the Coney Island Mermaid Parade and Ball—"since it was canceled this year, I’m expecting this one to be extra big and extra fun."
"I’m also excited about the Juneteenth Festival in East New York and Brownsville (June 17–19). The organizers gave me a big, wholehearted 'Yes' when I asked if it would happen in 2022," she says.
You might've already guessed that the book reinvents the Farmer's Almanac, which has helped countless people plan their harvest since 1818, for a New York City life. It has some of the same trappings—weather predictions and sky events—but instead of articles on natural remedies and the best days to do various outdoor activities, it's useful information on living and having fun here in NYC.
"The Almanac is a few things—it’s a calendar, it’s a guidebook, it’s a planner, a “to-do” list, but mostly it’s a love letter to NYC," Johnson says. "As it was coming together last spring it was a real moment of hope that the end of the pandemic was coming. We wanted it to be a celebration of this city and the vast creativity you can find here."
Johnson, who has been a long-time resident of NYC, worked at the Museum of the City of New York and by the time she left, she was the Director of Publications there, having worked on more than 30 exhibitions on many different topics—everything from bicycling to basketball, Jackie Robinson, the Gilded Age, the Croton Aqueduct, graffiti in the 1980s, even Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery. She was also Project Director for "New York at Its Core," the museum’s permanent exhibition exploring New York City history from Henry Hudson’s voyage in 1609 through Superstorm Sandy and beyond.
Her experience at MCNY definitely helped with finding interesting and quirky moments in NYC history to include in the Almanac.
"I found it really surprising how much of what people said about the city in the past still felt true today, even though the city itself has changed so much over the years," she says about the quotes she pulled for the Almanac.
In 1774, for example, John Adams complained that New Yorkers talk too loud and too fast. In 1923, the New York Times described "oldsters dancing on the asphalt" during block parties, and in 1938, a writer named A.J. Liebling talked about how some streets have their own mayors.
"It’s like the true essence of the city, its soul—or maybe its people—stays the same even though almost everything else changes," Johnson says.
Of course, with the pandemic still raging on and some events getting canceled, putting together a listing of things to do in the future is tricky work (we would know). Luckily, as she reached out to different organizations, they all told her they'd definitely be back in 2022.
"So I did my best to include only events that the organizers assured me were going to happen," she tells us. "There’s always a chance that things will change, so folks should double-check before they head out the door, but there is just so much going on in NYC at any one time that I was able to include lots of events. I also tried to be broad—everything from museum exhibition openings to musical performances, and street fairs—and to find events throughout the five boroughs, so that helped."
Leafing through the Almanac feels hopeful that NYC will be back to its full glory next year. Johnson says it's a "reminder of just how resilient NYC is despite all of the challenges the city has faced – from the fiscal crisis of the 1970s to 9/11, Superstorm Sandy, and now the pandemic."
"As the legendary urbanist and New Yorker Jane Jacobs wrote, “lively, diverse, intense cities contain the seeds of their own regeneration,'" she says. "The Almanac is proof that New York City definitely contains lots and lots of seeds."
Need some tips on creating the best possible time in NYC? Here's what Johnson recommends:
- Wear comfortable (but stylish) shoes, bring a jacket (even in the summer some places are over-air-conditioned), and make sure your bag is not too heavy (or you’ll get very grumpy, very fast).
- Look up one or two pit stops in the neighborhood where you are going – like a coffee shop, or an ice cream place, or a cozy bar – before you head out. That way you’re prepared when you inevitably get tired or cranky and need a pick-me-up.
- Never try to go to more than two museums in a single day. Museum fatigue is real!
- Make a plan for the day, but don’t forget to leave time for spontaneous encounters and events. Don’t schedule yourself down to the very minute or you might miss that interesting Washington Square street performer or that quiet little bookshop.
- Bring a copy of the Almanac (and proof of vaccination) with you! You can use it as a place to write down your memories and impressions, as well as find new things to do.
You can find An Almanac of New York City for the Year 2022 by Susan Gail Johnson at bookshop.org.