Secret NYC Dates To Save In Your Calendar
Never have a "Maybe next year" moment again.
1st: Kick off the year with the Coney Island Polar Bear Plunge, an event where you plunge into the freezing waters at Coney Island with tons of other people! Participation is free, though donations are strongly encouraged. Check out their CauseVox website for more info. Or at the stroke of midnight, participate in a 4 mile run with the New York Road Runners beneath fireworks.
12-18th: The Winter JazzFest showcases 100+ groups and over 500 musicians at 17 different venues. On the official website, you can purchase individual tickets or marathon tickets for day passes.
17th: NYC Restaurant Week runs from this date until Feb. 12, 2023, and then returns sometime in July/August. Enjoy multiple-course meals at an affordable, prix-fixe rate at upscale restaurants around the city. Also on this day and until Feb. 12 is NYC Must-See Week where attraction, tour, museum, and performing arts tickets are sold 2-for-1. This is is the same week as Broadway Week, Off-Broadway Week, and Hotel Week, which discounts 23% off hotel stays in the city.
20th-29th: The Winter Show at Park Avenue Armory is an art, antiques, and design fair held within a historic National Guard armory building now converted into an alternative arts space.
There’s no set date, but it’s a kind of yearly tradition to have a massive snowball fight the day it heavily snows in Washington Square Park. Fore reference, the 2022 date was on the 29th. When snowfall starts or a winter storm has passed, check social media or a do a quick internet search to see when people start the fight.
2nd: Grand Central Terminal’s birthday sometimes allows limited public access to its catwalk, located behind the famous arched windows. Sign up for the mailing list to receive updates, as the event is not guaranteed to happen every year.
10th-15th: New York Fashion Week happens on this week (for 2023) and again in September. Tickets can be purchased on the NYFW website for VIP experiences or you can attend a smaller label fashion show by purchasing tickets through Eventbrite.
1st: IHOP celebrates National Pancake Day by serving a free stack of buttermilk pancakes for each guest. They'll also accept donations that will be given to local charities.
Late March: The cherry blossoms start blooming around this time to early April, and run until mid-May. View the blossoms at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Central Park, Hunters Point South Park, or Sakura Park.
16th: The exact date varies each year, but the Pillow Fight at Washington Square Park typically happens around the first half of the month. It’s not a widely announced event so keep tabs by Googling the event at the end of March or checking the NYC Parties and Events Facebook page. It typically lasts for two hours and all you have to do is bring a pillow and be careful of where you swing!
Early May: Brooklyn Mirage opens for the season, and if you’re anything like me, you’ve been waiting for this all year and dread the closing show in October.
1st: This was the 2022 date for The People’s Ball, a free gala hosted by The Brooklyn Public Library where guests are encouraged to wear expressive, creative outfits that match their personal style. Make sure to RSVP in advance to secure entry.
7th: The TD Five Boro Bike Tour opens a car-free bike route through all five boroughs, starting in Manhattan and ending in Staten Island. Registration opens on Jan. 11, 2023 and is open to cyclists of all levels.
Manhattanhenge (when the sunset falls in between Manhattan's east-west streets) will occur on May 29, 2023 (half sun) and May 30, 2023 (full sun).
7th-18th: The Tribeca Film Festival showcases new films, talks, and special appearances from celebrities. You can purchase individual or multiple movie ticket bundles as well as passes to opening and closing night galas. Movies are viewed at a variety of cinemas around Lower Manhattan.
13th: Usually held on the second Tuesday of the month, the Museum Mile Festival allows free entry to many museums along 5th Avenue including the Met, the Guggenheim, and the Cooper-Hewitt. This event takes place between 6-9 PM during extended evening hours.
Late June: One of the city’s most celebrated holidays, the NYC Pride Parade, typically starts on 26th St and 5th Ave and then ends on 23rd St and 7th Ave. Besides getting to deck out in your best rainbow outfit, one of the best parts is the unofficial after party held in Washington Square Park. Expect the entire park to be packed like a club, random people selling Jell-O shots and bottles of vodka, multiple musicians and bands performing at once (as usual), shenanigans happening in the fountain, and the NYPD doing absolutely nothing about it.
An exciting discount from the MTA/LIRR are Getaway Packages that provide streamlined service to destinations such as Jones Beach. MTA Away/LIRR Escorted Tours host wine tours and more. This is a great option to get your commute secured without a car. Check the websites here and here at the beginning of the month. Tickets are limited.
Look out for announcements of once-a-year access to the Rockefeller Gardens rooftop for a dining experience. Previous hosts for the event, Radio Park and 620 Loft & Gardens, are otherwise not open to the public.
14th: Bastille Day, a national holiday in France, is celebrated with a French performing arts festival in Central Park, a French rave at Avant Gardner, screenings, petanque, and more. On 60th Street, you can explore market stalls and sample French cuisine.
End of the month: Look out for tickets to the Color Run, an easy 5K family-friendly run at Citi Field where participants wear white and are doused head to toe in colored powder.
For three weekends this month, the Summer Streets program opens up miles of car-free streets to pedestrians and cyclists for an uninterrupted journey. Rest stops and entertainment are offered along the way. Keep a look out for updates by nyc.gov and NYCgo.com.
Check out the MoMA PS1 Summer Fridays when the museum hosts DJ events in the courtyard. Free with museum admission, these concerts can get very packed, much like an outdoor club.
5th: This is the 2023 date for the Lights Over America Sky Lantern Festival where thousands of lanterns are released by participants into the sky. Tickets are $95/adult. But this isn’t your only chance to experience this festival — several similar events are hosted throughout the summer, so keep a look out online and through Eventbrite.
3rd: National Cinema Day calls for $3 movie tickets at participating theaters, including AMC and Regal locations.
16th: Around this time, the Amazing Maize maze opens at Queens County Farm Museum. It's a 3-acre corn maze shaped like a ram head that runs until the end of October.
17th: This was the 2022 date for the Smithsonian’s Museum Day, where participating museums allow free entry. Some museums inside the city included Bartow-Pell Mansion and the Intrepid Sea, Air, & Space Museum. Museums outside of the city are also included.
21-24: The dates for the 50th Anniversary of the Adirondack Balloon Festival in 2023. Buy tickets in advance to either watch the balloons or ride in tethered/untethered balloons! For anyone trying to visit Cappadocia without a flight across the world, this is your stop.
24-25th: This was the 2022 date for the Water Lantern Festival held at Liberty State Park in New Jersey. Each ticket, ranging between $25-$40, provides entry, a floating lantern and marker, and a drawstring bag. Personalize your lantern with a message or drawing and release them onto the water among other lanterns.
29th: This day includes two important events! National Coffee Day includes a lot of free coffee from participating cafes. Some popular places include About Time, Barnes & Nobles, Dunkin, Gregory’s, and Panera. For more information on free food and other items, follow @nyc_forfree on Instagram. Also on this day is the Mid-Autumn Festival for 2023. Take part in this Chinese holiday by grabbing mooncakes and lighting a lantern.
Late Sept: Take a free lantern making workshop with Morningside Lights and walk with your lantern at the outdoor procession between Morningside Park to Columbia University.
12th: This is the 2023 date for Diwali, the festival of lights, which represents triumph of light over darkness, and good over evil. Near this date, Times Square will host a celebration with dance and music performances. On November 3, fireworks were displayed over the Hudson River, hosted by All American Diwali.
21st-23rd: Exact dates vary each year, but Open House New York is one of the most exciting times for locals who want to experience the city in a rare kind of way. Their mission is to provide free public access to over a hundred places through either self-guided, guided, or virtual tours. Tours could be of newly constructed residential buildings, small galleries, city projects in development, lobbies of historical towers, and more. It’s a great way to learn about the history, construction, or planning about a particular place that may notnormally be open to the public otherwise.
27th: This was the 2022 date for the Halloween Pumpkin Flotilla in the Harlem Meer. A flotilla of lit jack-o’lanterns are guided through the water by a kayak, and you can even volunteer your own pumpkin for the ride. The event is free and weather permitting.
Sometime in the first week, the famous NYC Marathon runs through all five boroughs starting at 8 am and is the largest marathon in the world. Watch runners along the route or stop by just to read the signs people make.
Throughout the month until the 29th, the NYE Wishing Wall will be up for you to write your wish as part of the confetti on New Year’s Eve. Drop by between 11 am-8 pm in Times Square along Broadway between 46th and 47th St. You can also submit your wish digitally through Twitter or Instagram using #ConfettiWish.