Holi 2012: Phagwah Parade, Rang Barse cruise and Holi Hai events

  • Photograph: Eric Harvey Brown

    Phagwah Parade

  • Photograph: Eric Harvey Brown

    Phagwah Parade

  • Photograph: Eric Harvey Brown

    Phagwah Parade

  • Photograph: Eric Harvey Brown

    Phagwah Parade

  • Photograph: Lorenzo de Guia/Leo Armamento

    Rang Barse Holi celebration

    Rang Barse Holi celebration

  • Photograph: Lorenzo de Guia/Leo Armamento

    Rang Barse Holi celebration

    Rang Barse Holi celebration

  • Photograph: Lorenzo de Guia/Leo Armamento

    Rang Barse Holi celebration

    Rang Barse Holi celebration

  • Photograph: Lorenzo de Guia/Leo Armamento

    Rang Barse Holi celebration

    Rang Barse Holi celebration

  • Photograph: Lorenzo de Guia/Leo Armamento

    Rang Barse Holi celebration

    Rang Barse Holi celebration

  • Photograph: Hideki Aono

    Holi Hai

  • Photograph: Hideki Aono

    Holi Hai

Photograph: Eric Harvey Brown

Phagwah Parade

St. Patrick's Day may have its (lucky? drunken?) charms, but we're looking forward to the riot of color that accompanies Hindu spring festival Holi, which began on March 8. New York takes a little longer to get into the spirit, with events spread out over the next three weekends, although there are always these top Indian restaurants if you want to get a taste right now. The exuberant festivities (we're celebrating the triumph of good over evil) include traditional South Asian music, dancing and playing with powdered dyes—symbolizing the return of color in spring after the drudgery of winter. Think of it like J'ouvert (daybreak)—the celebration that begins the West Indian--American Day Parade on Labor day—but at a more civilized hour.

Phagwah Parade
Join tens of thousands of revelers at one of the biggest Holi celebrations in North America. The Indo-Caribbean community of this Queens 'hood comes out in full force with traditional instruments like tassa and dholak drums, as well as flags, for this boisterous celebration. The procession turns off Liberty Avenue at 125th Street to Smokey Oval Park (125th St at Atlantic Ave), where the dye throwing will begin once the parade ends at 2pm. Vishnu Mahadeo, president of the Richmond Hill Economic Development Council, recommends leaving your coat at home (to save on dry-cleaning bills) and wearing lots of layers to keep warm instead (it is early March, after all). Top off your ensemble with a white tee to help the colors stand out. Don't be shy: Mahadeo says most people will be happy to share their colors with you. Parade begins at Liberty Ave at 133rd St, Jamaica, Queens. Mar 11 noon--6pm; free.

Rang Barse cruise
Escape the wanton drunkenness of St. Patrick's Day, at least for a few hours, on this 500-person boat party on the Hudson River. Your ticket gets you a buffet of Indian food and soft drinks, but you'll have to shell out for booze from the cash bar. The afternoon begins with performances and a few dance tips from Dhoonya Dance (dhoonyadance.com) and Bollywood Axion (bollywoodaxion.com), before moving to the top deck, where blue, pink, red, orange, yellow and green powders will be laid out for your throwing pleasure. Departs from South Street Seaport, Pier 16, Fulton St at South St (646-226-6557, ingroupevents.com). Mar 17 noon--3:30pm; $80.

Holi Hai
This third annual family-friendly event by the dance group NYC Bhangra welcomes other cultures into the fold this year to show how it celebrates spring. However, there will still be plenty of traditional Indian and Bollywood dance performances on the main stage among the 15-plus acts. You'll even get the chance to learn a few bhangra moves during interactive sessions. While free colored powder will be available, it won't be as much of a crazed free-for-all like the Phagwah Parade. Dag Hammarskjld Plaza, 47th St between First and Second Aves (212-372-8001, holinyc.com). Mar 25 noon--5pm; free.