New York’s iconic parades, street festivals and musical events are spread over the city throughout the year. The two premier parades are held on St Patrick’s Day and Thanksgiving Day, while the New York Caribbean Carnival attracts over two million spectators.
Chinese New Year
The Chinese New Year celebrations and parades take place in January or February, depending on the lunar calendar. The traditional route winds along Mott, Canal and Bayard Streets in Chinatown, featuring huge dragons, mythical creatures, lion and unicorn dancers, elaborate floats, acrobats, street performers and more. All-day cultural performances end with firecrackers and a firework display at night.
St Patrick’s Day Parade
Every March, the Irish patron saint St Patrick is honored with one of the world’s most famous parades. Its route runs from 44th Street to 5th Avenue and on to 86th Street, staring at 11:00 a.m. and ending around 2.30 p.m. More than 150,000 traditional Irish-American bands, organizations and clubs march wearing green to pay tribute to the old country. Two million spectators enjoy the festivities at Irish pubs all over the city.
Easter Bonnet Parade
This impromptu Easter event is unlike other New York parades as it’s totally unorganized. Taking place on closed-off 5th Avenue between 49th and 57th streets and around St Patrick’s Cathedral, it’s a fun mix of thousands of locals sporting Easter bonnets and costumes. Expect a plethora of various colored bunnies and pets.
Labor Day Weekend and Carnival
For four days in early September, New York goes crazy with the biggest parade of all, the West Indian American Day Carnival. Thousands of costumed people, steel bands, magnificent floats and elaborately-dressed dancers entertain two million-plus spectators along Brooklyn’s Eastern parkway.
October is the time for Italian-Americans to celebrate their culture, with over 35,000 taking part in this spectacular 5th Avenue parade. Bands, 100 groups, floats, extravagant costumes and a mega-street party atmosphere attracts over a million visitors, while local Italian restaurants put on special meals.
Village Halloween Parade
Giant puppets are the centerpiece of this Halloween Parade, which takes place on the evening of October 31. Beginning on 6th Avenue and heading north to 23rd Street, it’s a funfest of costumes, families and children.
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
New York welcomes November with the spectacular Thanksgiving Day Parade beginning at 77th Street and winding its way past Central Park down to the flagship Macy’s in Herald Square. Visitors should book hotels way in advance to get the best views of the hot air balloon floats.
Times Square New Years Eve
There is nowhere better on earth to ring in the New Year than the iconic Times Square Ball Drop. A tradition since 1907, at least one million people flock to see the celebritites and guest performers while another billion watch from TV.