Top Things to Do in New York in May

With springtime coming into bloom, the weather in NYC is delightful in May. The month is jam-packed with events as New Yorkers are ready to be outside after the winter and celebrate with festivals, street fairs, boat rides and yes, even dancing in the streets. In fact, May has so many things to do, we could not resist listing a few more than just ten events to enjoy. Also, our tour schedule is in full bloom in May with more than 8 free guided tours offered every day. Here are our choices for things to do during May in New York City.

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Dance Parade May 21 at 1 pm  Parade route starts at Broadway and 22nd Street.

One in one of the most popular and carefree spring events in NYC. Each stretch of the route emphasizes different global music.  The parade continues through Union Square down to Eighth Street and Salsa, Tango and Waltz over to the East Village.  At Astor Place,  the parade stops for demonstrations of hula, stilt and break dance then continue along St. Marks Place to Tompkins Square Park where you can join in the free DanceFest.

If you can’t make it to the Parade you’ve got lots of other chances to shake your booty at the free, weekly Brooklyn Bridge Park Dance Parties  with djs and live performances of different genres of music like Electro Soul, Classic Soul Funk, African Dance Party, Electro-Jamz and Gypsy Punk. FREE.



 Ninth Avenue Food Festival  May 14 and May 15, Noon to 5:00 pm. Ninth Avenue between 42nd-57th Sts.

Food New YorkFor decades, this festival draws thousands of locals and visitors to try the best of the best Manhattan food, on the cheap, all along one street.  The prices of food vary but are affordable. The range of food is unbelievable. You can virtually taste the world within just 15 blocks! It can get quite crowded, so not for the claustrophobic. But an absolute must event for foodies. You’ll find an alphabet of authentic cuisines of Argentinian, Brazilian, Cajun, Chinese, Cuban, Dominican, Ethiopian, French, German, Greek, Haitian, Indian, Indonesian, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Mexican, Moroccan, Pakistani, Polish, Puerto Rican, Peruvian, Senegalese, Sicilian, Southern, Spanish, Thai, Trinidadian, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese food – and more! FREE plus cost of food. Check out some photos here.



Taste of TriBeCa  May 21 11:30 am to 3:00 pm, Greenwich St. and Duane St.

This festival is a chance for people who love fine dining and want to sample food from the top restaurants in TriBeCa.  But it will cost you – a ticket that gets you 6 samplings from restaurants of your choice cost $40 in advance or $45 on the day of the event. Just some of the restaurants represented are world famous Bouley, Chanterelle, Tribeca Grill and more.

TIP: If you want to dine at New York’s top restaurants for an incredibly low price, check our post on Restaurant Week, a bi-annual event, occurring for 3 weeks each summer and 3 weeks each early winter.



Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit  May 28-30 12pm-6pm. University Place from E. 13th St to W. 3rd St.

This is a free sidewalk exhibit and a laid-back way to peruse some of the works of fine artists and craft artisans from around the world. It’s a great place to purchase wonderful artworks at very affordable prices.  The type of art shown includes Mixed Media,  Oils & Acrylic and Watercolor paintings, Photography, Sculpture, Jewelry, Metal Work, Ceramics, Glass Mixed Media, Fiber and Wood. You are sure to find something unique among the many art forms displayed. The show is a sidewalk show and artists set up their tables along University Place, starting at East 13th Street and continuing south along the east side of Washington Square Park to West 3rd Street. The event is right smack in the middle of Greenwich Village, so why not join us on one of our walking tours of the Village?


Spring Crafts on Columbus  April 30-May 1, May 7-8, May 14-15. 10 am- 6 pm.  Columbus Avenue from 77th to 81st Street.

This Art Show takes place on the sidewalk next to the American Museum of Natural History where 100 artisans exhibit and sell their own work features. Its free to stroll through the vendor tables and see some amazing pieces of jewelry, photography, paintings, sculpture, designer wearables, ceramics and children’s toys. Speaking of children, if you are with kids, why not visit the Museum, which is one of the most entertaining things to do with kids in NYC. If you decide to stop by and see the famous dinosaur bones, see our post on ways to save money on admission.



Lower East Side Festival of the Arts May 27-29 various locations and times.

This three-day arts event prides itself on offering performances for free and in this way contribute to the preservation and progression of innovation and creativity in dance, theater, film, music, comedy and art that are being created right now by NYC’s emerging artists. Though the exact schedule of performances has not been posted yet (as of March 2016), you can expect a similar schedule to that of 2015’s which included a Street Fair which includes food and goods sold by local merchants, and performances by local poets, musicians and performance artists. There will likely be a children’s program performed for and by students from local schools and a Film Festival running all afternoon and evening. FREE.


Kids Spring Fling May 14 11am- 2pm Lincoln Center Plaza, Columbus Avenue and 63rd Street.

A free fun-filled day of performances, crafts, and activities designed for kids across the plazas of Lincoln Centers. There will be sing-alongs, lessons, and short films.


Ethnic Festival  May 21 11am to 5 pm. 104th Street between Second and Third Avenue.

At this 23rd Annual East Harlem  festival there will be an outdoor stage with a large variety of multi-cultural entertainment, over 50 independent, local vendors and exhibitors on the street, and other activities going on throughout the day for all age groups. This year’s theme of “Empowering East Harlem” will be experienced through various featured activities found in our “Power Stations.” Activities for young children pony rides in a local community garden, face painting and a clown. For young adults and teens there will be a basketball tournament and fashion show. If you are in the neighborhood, maybe you’d like to join us on a Harlem tour or use our self-guided map to discover the area.



Fleet Week  May 25-31 various locations throughout the city.

Wondering why there are so many sailors in white are walking around New York during the last week of May? Because it’s the 28th annual Fleet Week, when thousands of sailors, marines and coast guardsmen from U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard ships dock in New York City. While our men and women in white frolic in the city, the rest of us have an opportunity to see the latest capabilities of today’s Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard Team.  Fleet Week includes public tours of many of the participating ships, and dozens of military demonstrations. The opening event is the Parade of Ships, a flotilla of visiting vessels and tall ships that cruise along the Hudson River. Many of the activities occur at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.

TIP: If you aren’t here during Fleet Week but want to visit the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, here’s our post on how to get deals, promo codes and discounts on tickets.



10th Annual Earth Day Rockaway  May 7th 12pm-4pm  RISE Center, 58-03 Rockaway Beach Blvd (B59th St).

This day of fun for the whole family and kids of all ages offers free activities and programs that are intended to raise awareness of the natural resources along the Rockaway shoreline. This year’s event will include live music and food along with activities like kite-making, recycling Olympics, mock dolphin rescue, plantings, composting, face painting, water testing, raptor demonstration, firehouse safety obstacle course, and art-related booths to learn how to appreciate and conserve the earth’s resources.



New York African Film Festival May 4-10, various locations.

This film fest showcases films that explore the realities of Africa and the African Diaspora. IN addition to films, there will be other visual and performing artists present and presentations by critics, scholars and master chefs. Visit their website  for details of film schedule and locations.

Viva! Latino Film Festival May 5-8 Anthology Film Archives 32 Second Avenue at 2nd St.

One of the emerging Latino international film festivals whose mission is to showcase works of both new and established Latino filmmakers in the U.S., Mexico and Latin America. Screenings will include feature films, documentaries, and music videos. Most are in English and those in Spanish will have subtitles. A perfect way to spend Cinco De Mayo (May 5th).

SoHo International Film Festival May 5-12 at Village East Cinema 189 2nd Avenue at 12th St.

As its name indicates, this festival is a celebration of filmmakers from around the globe. Over 40 films will be shown during this week and awards given out in a variety of categories. Tickets start at $15.