Like Christmas, Easter in the United States is celebrated in both religious and secular ways. In many communities, the Christian aspect of the holiday—honored by Passion Plays and church services—is combined with visits from the Easter Bunny, parades, and hunting for candy-filled eggs.
When Is Easter?
The exact date of Easter is dependent on the lunar calendar. It falls on the first Sunday after the full moon that follows the vernal equinox, which places it sometime between late March and mid-April each year.
- Easter 2020: April 12
- Easter 2021: April 4
- Easter 2022: April 17
Easter is one of the most important dates on the Christian calendar, so you can expect nearly every church in the country to be holding special services throughout Holy Week. Catholic churches typically offer the widest range of celebrations, traditionally starting on Palm Sunday (the Sunday before Easter) and holding services on Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
Some churches have even become famous for their Easter services. St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City, Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., and St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans are known for having packed pews and extravagant vigils on this day.
Religion aside, the United States celebrates Easter with egg hunts and rolls, parades, and visits from the Easter Bunny. One of the most well-known secular Easter event in the country is the annual White House Easter Egg Roll, a tradition that started during the era of President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1878. Other noteworthy Easter events around the U.S. include the Easter Parade and Bonnet Festival in New York City and the Union Street Spring Celebration and Easter Parade in San Francisco.
City-by-City Event Roundup
Discover religious and secular Easter happenings, from midnight masses to mimosa brunches, in some of the major U.S. cities.
- Easter in New York City: The most famous Easter event in NYC (and one of the most famous in the country) is the Easter Parade and Bonnet Festival, where thousands of people gather in elaborate costumes and hats to march along Fifth Avenue from 49th to 57th Streets. Anyone is welcome to join in on the procession, but you can also watch from St. Patrick's Cathedral, which has itself been known to host a memorable Easter mass.
- Easter in Los Angeles: Los Angeles holds a massive egg hunt at Pershing Square in Downtown, as well as a traditional Blessing of Animals (featuring the domesticated dogs, cats, and rabbits of the area) on Olvera Street, LA's Little Mexico. The Pacific Ocean offers opportunities for boozy brunch cruises, too.
- Easter in New Orleans: Easter in New Orleans might not be quite as bustling as Mardi Gras, but the holiday spirit remains the same. The annual Historic French Quarter Parade is packed with colorful costumes and live music as it makes its way through Jackson Square, skirting St. Louis Cathedral, which holds services throughout the day.
- Easter in Chicago: Chicago has the sixth most Easter observers in the country, according to WalletHub, which explains why there are so many events surrounding this holiday in the Windy City. A medieval-themed Easter egg hunt (featuring 25,000 eggs!) is held at Maggie Daley Park and Lincoln Park Zoo puts on an activity-packed Egg-Stravaganza that sells out every year.
- Easter in Orlando: Home to Walt Disney World and Universal Studios, Orlando is a mecca for holiday revelers of all ages. Each amusement park will offer Easter Bunny meet-and-greets, on-theme parades, a plethora of brunch buffets, and egg hunts. In addition, Disney World's Epcot holds its annual International Flower & Garden Festival all month long, including kid-friendly Easter activities aplenty.