The top New York Festivals you should know

From street-shuttering parades to eye-catching art fairs, here are the New York festivals to keep on your radar
Governors Ball 2015
Photograph: Courtesy Dominick Mastrangelo
By Jennifer Picht and Time Out New York contributors |
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One of the best things to in NYC is attend one of the many New York Festivals taking place at monumental New York attractions such as NYC Parks and other popular landmarks. Whether you’re interested in sipping some hot cocoa at an awesome winter carnival or basking in the sun during an alfresco food, art or music festival, we decided to round up all the noteworthy fetes you need to know about. Start planning ahead and make sure you don’t miss these amazing events that make Gotham great.

Top festivals and fairs

Bars, Beer bars

NYC Craft Beer Festival 2016

There's nothing like a cold one on a hot day—and you'll find plenty of them at this 75-brewery bacchanal offering unlimited samples of 150 rare and seasonal brews, ciders and meads from American and international brewers.

Bars, Cocktail bars

The Bloody Mary Festival

Trick out your brunch-time cocktailing at this afternoon fest hosted by the tomato-and-vodka obsessed Bloody Mary Liberation Party. Sample six inventive pours from Kings County watering holes such as Iron Station, Catfish and Skylark Bar while getting down to beats by the hip shaking jazz band Sabor and The Afro Latineers.

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Things to do

Tribeca Film Festival

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. Some passes—priced as high as $1,250—give you unfettered access to all the events and talks but ticket prices for essential screenings ($10 matinee, $21 evening/weekend) are thankfully a lot more budget-friendly.

Jackson Lynch
Photograph: Courtesy Eli Smith
Things to do

Brooklyn Folk Festival

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.

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Things to do, Festivals

Sakura Matsuri: Cherry Blossom Festival

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.

Things to do, Festivals

Holi Hai

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.

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five boro craft beer fest
Photograph: Lauren Sokol
Bars, Beer bars

Five Boro Craft Beer Fest

This all-you-can-drink tasting includes more than 100 event-exclusive small-batch beers by 33 New York breweries such as Gun Hill Brewing Co., Finback Brewery and Grimm Artisanal Ales, plus a performance by a live band. Sip unlimited two-ounce pours and pick the brains of craft brewers, then choose your favorite suds from the home-brew contest and take home a glass.

Things to do, Festivals

Coney Island Mermaid Parade

After spending nearly a year getting sequins and glitter out of their bedsheets, NYC’s mermaids and seamen are ready to undo all their hard work. Join a packed crowd on Coney Island’s streets for an epic procession of wild floats, barely clad revelers and beachside celebrating. Now in its 35th year, the world’s largest arts parade welcomes partyers of all ages to rejoice in kitsch, camp and craft, but those who are serious about their scales can register to win iconic titles, including best sea creature, best motorized float, King Neptune and Queen Mermaid.

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Atlantic Antic 2013
Photograph: Alex Strada

Atlantic Antic

More than 500 food and craft vendors and 15 stages will close down a busy Brooklyn artery for Atlantic Antic, which is usually held in September. Spanning ten blocks and cutting through four neighborhoods, it's billed as NYC’s largest street fair, so there’s more to see than stands hawking pashminas and MozzArepas. The eclectic musical lineup brings together diverse local talent and you can graze on grub from a delicious variety of artisanal vendors—washed down some fab locally brewed ale, of course. Check for announcements at atlanticave.org.

David Remnick and Jonathan Franzen at the New Yorker Festival
Photograph: Courtesy The New Yorker

The New Yorker Festival

The New Yorker sends its finest staffers around town to talk with fascinating figures in literature, film, TV, music, theatre, tech, activism and beyond in October. Preview upcoming shows and films, hear concerts from star acts, one-on-one interviews with celebrities and enjoy panel discussions with some of the most talented folks in media. Just be sure to do your research before taking the mic during the Q&A section.

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