How to Find Festivals and Special Events in New York
They call it the city that never sleeps for good reason! There’s always something fun going on in New York City, including special events and festivals you can’t get anywhere else. Explore your options online beforehand, or be spontaneous: just head to the city and start talking to locals, scouring the papers or simply exploring on your own to see what special attractions New York has in store for you.
Searching for Events Online
Decide what kind of event or festival you’re looking for.New York City is home to hundreds of different, specialized festivals and major events. Food and drink, music, fashion, comics and robotics are a few of the fun options available. There’s a good chance that an event pertaining to your interests, especially general ones like music or movies, will be available when you’re in New York.
- If you’d rather see a specialized or more specific event or festival, try to plan your trip around it. Even if you don’t have the luxury of planning, look up relevant options when you visit; spontaneous events and festivals happen all the time!
Do a targeted search to explore your possibilities.Now that you have a general idea of what event you’d like to attend, head to your Internet search engine. Look up “Italian food festival in New York” or “modern art exhibitions in New York.” If more specific search queries don’t turn up any results, try something more general, like “foreign food festivals” instead of Italian food.
- If you’re doing research before leaving for your trip, tack on a general time frame as well. Look up “Wine festival in New York in September” or “Hockey festival in New York in 2020.”
Check out New York event websites for a more specific approach.Visit the “events” tab on sites like Time Out New York, NYCgo, and Eventbrite to conduct specific searches or simply peruse options to get an idea of what’s out there.
Bookmark any events you like the sound of and continue looking.Don’t just book the first event you find--there could be even better ones lying in wait! Give yourself ten or fifteen minutes to browse and see which events really stand out to you.
Read reviews and articles about the event.Many recurring events and festivals will have reviews and articles written about them online in New York-centric publications. They can help you pinpoint what events will be must-sees and which ones don’t live up to the hype.
- Reviews of music festivals, for example, can clue you into who’s playing or has played in the past, the genre of music and kind of people who tend to go (retirees? High schoolers?), and the quality of the venue--information that event pages sometimes won’t provide.
Download a few New York City event apps.Convenient, easy and comprehensive, some apps are geared towards certain genres of festivals, like theater or fashion, while others gather all different kinds in one place. The advantage of using an app is that you can take the information along with you once you leave for New York and can easily access it right on the street.
- Check out apps from NYCgo and Time Out, as well as NY Art Beat and Goings On: The New Yorker.
Buy tickets online to save money and time.Some ticketed events, festivals and shows sell passes online before the event, sometimes for a lower price. Look for ticket on your event’s official website, if it has one, or check out ticketing sites like Ticketmaster or StubHub. Make sure you’re buying tickets from an accredited website.
- Call your event organizers if you have any doubts about a website selling tickets. They’ll likely want to know if a scam site is advertising tickets for their event!
Look out for scam sites.Proceed with caution when you come across fishy-looking websites with names or discounts that sound too good to be true, like a free Broadway show. Browse the website to see if it seems legitimate: make sure it has a contact page with information listed (and not just a form to fill out), and that the language, grammar and phrasing of the site are sound.
Finding Events when You’re in the City
Tune in to local TV and radio stations for an inside look at attractions.Events and festivals will often be advertised on TV or on the radio, either through commercials or through news segments at the event. If you don’t feel like reading or doing online research about an event, this can be an easier alternative, although there’s no guarantee that a city station will mention an attraction you’re interested in.
Check out newspapers for an up-to-date, trustworthy guide.New York magazines and newspapers offer large sections dedicated to local events and attractions. Pick up a copy at a newsstand to see what’s coming up; weekend or Sunday editions have especially robust events sections. Festivals and attractions are usually only featured, at the earliest, about a week beforehand, so be flexible!
Head to a TKTS booth for day-of discounts for art events.These bright-red street side ticket counters are run by the Theatre Development Fund and offer great deals to shows on and off-Broadway as well as general arts events. There are three booths in the city, in Times Square, South Street Seaport and Downtown Brooklyn. You may have to wait in a long line, but with some patience and luck, you could score Broadway tickets at half their original price.
Visit a New York tourist agency.You’ll find these agencies scattered around town and especially around tourist hubs like Times Square. Stop in and inquire about special events taking place in the city, and the agents will be happy to give you information. You can also look up tourist agency phone numbers online beforehand and call them up from home.
Talk to New Yorkers or tourists.If you’re staying at a hotel, ask the concierge or front desk staff for recommendations, or ask a friendly waiter or cab driver what festivals or exhibitions are in town. You could even ask fellow tourists or New Yorkers you meet along the way. Be polite and don’t take up too much of their time.
- Say, for example, “I’m only in town for the weekend and was wondering if there are any music festivals going on. Have you heard of anything?”
Look for event flyers and posters around the city.Fun public events pop up all the time in New York, and you may not find them unless you wander a bit. You may also see poster or billboard advertisements for events you hadn’t heard of yet. You’re in one of the most exciting cities in the world, so don’t be afraid to explore!
Video: How to Find Festivals and Special Events in New York
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