May is one of the absolute best months to be a New Yorker. The sun is once again starting to shine, but the smell of hot garbage and the sticky sweat of the summer subway is still avoidable. Take advantage of some of the prettiest weeks in NYC by taking your pick of the city’s jam-packed social calendar this month. From film festivals to outdoor art shows to parades down the streets, these are the coolest events happening in New York this May.
MONDAY, MAY 1st – SUNDAY, MAY 7th
FILM | NYC Independent Film Festival
📅 Tuesday, May 2nd – Sunday, May 7th
For the first week of May, New York City will host its eighth annual indie film fest. Throughout the week, theaters around the city will screen short films, feature films, music videos, and animated works from independent filmmakers around the world. Passes for all seven days of the festival start at $200 and single-day passes run for $35.
ART | Costume Institute Opening
📅 Thursday, May 4th – Monday, September 4th
This year’s much-anticipated exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute features Japanese fashion designer Rei Kawakubo and her work for Comme des Garçons. The exhibit will showcase about 120 of Kawakubo’s pieces, dating back to her first runway collection in Paris in 1981. The designs are organized by themes, including Kawakubo’s examinations of East/West, male/female, and past/present.
📍 1000 5th Ave, New York, NY, USA, +1 212 535 7710
MUSIC | Cinco de Mayo at El Vez
📅 Friday, May 5th
Celebrate Cinco de Mayo at this FiDi Mexican spot, complete with the nine-piece all-woman band, Mariachi Flor de Toloache. Plus, El Vez will be serving up food and drink specials all day in honor of the Mexican-American holiday.
📍 259 Vesey St, New York, NY, USA, +1 212 233 2500
EVENT | Festival of Colors
📅 Saturday, May 6th
Partake in the spring Festival of Colors on Governor’s Island. On Saturday, people of all ages who are wearing white will take over the park. For those unfamiliar with the festival of Holi, it involves throwing colored pigments and celebrating the arrival of spring and the official end of winter.
MONDAY, MAY 8th – SUNDAY, MAY 14th
BEER | Five Boro Craft Beer Fest
📅 Friday, May 12th
Craft beer fans can partake in an all-you-can-drink tasting of more than 100 brewers from around the country at the fourth annual Five Boro Craft Beer Fest. Tickets start at $70 but will get guests unlimited tastings (and a take-home glass) from Evil Twin Brewing, Southern Tier Brewing Co., and Brooklyn Brewery.
BROADWAY | Anastasia on Broadway
Celebrate simpler times during the opening weeks of Anastasia on Broadway. The all-new musical features many of the iconic tracks from the beloved ‘90s movie plus some all-new tunes. But perhaps most noteworthy is that the creators of the show took the story of Anastasia the movie and made it more historically accurate for the stage. So this time, instead of having the baddie be Rasputin, it’s actually a Soviet officer.
📍 235 W 44th St, New York, NY, USA, +1 212 239 6200
EVENT | Japan Day @ Central Park
📅 Sunday, May 14th
Celebrate New York City’s Japanese community with this all-day festival in Central Park. Japan Day kicks off with a four-mile (6.4-kilometer) mini-run, followed by cultural performances and, of course, plenty of Japanese delicacies to keep everybody fueled throughout the day.
MONDAY, MAY 15th – SUNDAY, MAY 21st
FOOD | Ethnic Festival in East Harlem
📅 Saturday, May 20th
East Harlem will host the 25th annual Ethnic Festival celebrating the neighborhood’s longstanding diversity. The event will have over 50 food vendors representing all different types of cuisine, plus an art fair that will document Harlem’s growth since the 18th century.
FILM | Bad Film Fest
📅 Friday, May 19th – Sunday, May 21st
To be good, sometimes you have to be so completely unafraid of being bad. The Fifth Annual Bad Film Fest will host screenings all around the city, honoring the good, bad and the just plain bizarre parts of modern cinema. The festival aims to explore the arbitrary nature of “bad” and prove that taste is all just a matter of opinion.
FOOD | Madison Square Eats
📅 Saturday, May 13th – Friday, June 9th
New Yorkers who work around NoMad know all too well when Madison Square Eats starts up every year. The outdoor food fest brings together some of the best restaurants from across the city to create what could be likened to a high-class country fair for Manhattanites.
MUSIC | Real Estate at Brooklyn Steel
📅 Sunday, May 21st
Brooklyn’s most-anticipated new music venue burst onto the stage last month with a killer lineup for its first couple of weeks. If you couldn’t snag a ticket to one of the indie/rock/alt shows at the start of May (including Goldfrapp, Father John Misty, and Mitski—just to name a few), try to get into this one.
MONDAY, MAY 22nd – SUNDAY, MAY 28th
FILM | Philip K. Dick Science Fiction Film Festival
📅 Thursday, May 25th – Tuesday, May 30th
Celebrate all things science fiction. This five-day festival is in honor of Philip K. Dick, the author behind many dystopian classics such as The Man in the High Castle. It takes place at theaters and cinemas across the city, hosting events and screenings exploring the many new ways that today’s filmmakers are adapting science fiction—including a few virtual reality experiences.
📍 Multiple locations in New York, NY, USA
THEATRE | Shakespeare in the Park
📅 Tuesday, May 23rd – Sunday, June 18th
No summer in New York City can officially start until the actors have gathered at the Shakespeare Stage in Central Park. This year’s first production from Shakespeare in the Park is Julius Caesar—acutely timed in a tense political climate. For those trying to get free tickets: remember to queue up early, enter the online raffle or head to the box office downtown.
📍 Delacorte Theater, 81 Central Park West, New York, NY, USA, +1 212 539 8500
EVENT | The Loisaida Festival
📅 Sunday, May 28th
Honor the Lower East Side’s beginnings as a neighborhood for immigrants. The annual festival will celebrate the immigrant experience that was once inseparable from the Lower East Side’s tenement buildings. The day’s events will include food stalls, live entertainment and arts and crafts vendors, all aiming to promote and protect the Latin American culture of the Lower East Side neighborhood.
ART | Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit
📅 Saturday, May 27th – Monday, May 29th
Washington Square Park goes back to its roots on Memorial Day Weekend. Years back, the park was where artists like Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning sold their artwork before they became famous. Today, the outdoor art fest pays tribute to artists who sell their work directly on the streets, with an ever-changing lineup of artists, including painters, photographers, and jewelry designers.
MONDAY, MAY 29th – WEDNESDAY, MAY 31st
EVENT | Bay Ridge Memorial Day Parade
📅 Monday, May 29th
Although some people may lament the loss of “old New York,” the spirit of the city is alive and well in Bay Ridge. The Kings County Memorial Day Parade will celebrate its 150th anniversary in Brooklyn this year. Trek down for a fantastic display, including a 21-gun salute by the U.S. Army at Fort Hamilton.
MUSEUM | Fleet Week at the Intrepid Museum
📅 Monday, May 29th
Fleet Week comes but once a year. Celebrate with the sailors at the Memorial Day Ceremony aboard the USS Intrepid. The annual ceremony includes an unfurling of a 100-foot (30.5-meter) American flag and a fly-over by U.S. military aircraft for those who want to remember the day with the armed forces.