You don’t have to practice Hinduism to participate in New York City’s Holi celebrations. New Yorkers of all backgrounds come together at events across the city to brighten up spring with colored powder and positive vibes. Make your life a little more colorful with our guide to celebrating Holi in New York City.
A few basic components are present in Holi celebrations around the world
Holi festivities are instantly recognizable by the multi-colored powders participants shower upon one another. At all Holi events, attendees throw this powder and, with permission, rub it on each others’ faces. In order to make the colors pop more, it’s customary to wear white clothing during these festivals.
The color-throwing tradition is based on a Hindu legend
Krishna, the eighth incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu, is behind the holiday’s chief tradition. Legend has it that the dark-skinned Krishna wanted to have the same complexion as his fair-skinned playmate Radha. Known for being mischievous in his youth, Krishna achieved this by applying color to Radha’s face.
Each powder color used during Holi has its own meaning
While it’s easy to assume there is little order to rainbow-hued Holi festivals, each color of powder actually carries special significance. Blue represents Krishna, and red is the color of purity and love. Green denotes new beginnings, and yellow is a nod to tradition, symbolizing the turmeric that was historically used in Holi celebrations.
During Holi, strict social rules can be loosened
In Indian and Hindu societies, age, gender, and caste are a few factors that determine one’s social position. During Holi, however, this hierarchy and the social rules it prescribes are loosened as all Hindus come together to celebrate the coming of spring.
Holi Phagwa falls on two dates in March but is celebrated for up to several months afterward
Per the Hindu calendar, Holi takes place each March for roughly 24 hours. In New York City, however, celebrations have been known to happen throughout the month and even as late as May.
Holi Hai on Governors Island
The most popular Holi event in New York City appropriately takes place on the Play Lawn at Governors Island. Each May, the “happiest festival of New York” returns with free yoga, Sufi and Punjabi entertainment, food vendors, and, of course, environmentally safe colored powders.
Festival of Colors: Holi NYC
Celebrate Holi the Brooklyn way at Festival of Colors, an annual spring arts and music event in trendy Bushwick. Art from painters and graphic designers, live DJ performances, and traditional powders make life in Brooklyn even more colorful.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.