The best time to visit New York City is in December when the city is lit up with holiday lights and decorations. You'll find elaborate light displays wherever you look, festive food and drink menus at restaurants, and themed activities every day of the week. While it's more crowded, it's also fun to be part of the holiday cheer. Everyone is in a good mood and ready to make the most of the city. The weather is cold but not as freezing as January and February.
If good weather is your priority, then fall is the best time to visit New York City. The weather is mild, and the leaves are changing. Walking down a street turns into a nature walk. July and August bring sweltering heat even though the city is less crowded. In the summer, there are free outdoor activities like movie screenings and kayaking.
Use this guide to determine what New York City offers every month of the year. You'll never run out of things to do regardless of when you are visiting.
Popular Events and Festivals
New York City has a constant flow of special events and festivals. There is something for everybody: design, food, music, theater, etc. The city is so big you can find diverse events happening on the same day in different neighborhoods. For example, in September there is Labor Day weekend, fashion week on the west side of Manhattan and downtown and the United Nations General Assembly in Midtown East. If you want to avoid the crowds you can simply head in the opposite direction. For a complete list of what's happening check out New York City's official guide.
Three-day weekends and other public holidays are a good time to visit New York City as the locals leave, and the city has more room for visitors. It's often easier to find a reservation at a popular restaurant, and the subways are emptier.
The Weather in New York City
New York City summers are hot and humid with temperatures reaching as high as 90 degrees. Most of the city is covered in pavement, which absorbs the heat making it feel even muggier. There are public pools and boating options, both great ways to cool off.
Many locals believe fall is the prettiest time to visit New York City. The leaves change color and fall to the street, making the city feel more naturally beautiful. Central Park is a great place to head during the fall; you'll see plants of every color.
The winter can be very cold in New York City with average temperatures ranging from the 40s as a high and 20s as a low. When it snows the streets get covered in piles of slush making it harder to walk around. Waterproof boots this time of year are essential. The flip side is New York City bars and restaurants really know how to get cozy; you'll find fireplaces burning at many spots.
In the spring, the city comes alive. Flowers bloom on every street and the city has many festivals including the Cherry Blossom Festival in Brooklyn, which is officially called Sakura Matsuri. Temperatures hover in the 50s and 60s making it pleasant to walk around and see the sights.
January is the coldest month in New York City but also the cheapest. While the holiday lights are still up, there are bargains inside most stores after the holiday season has passed. Hotels are also cheaper, which means you'll have a great place to stay while you explore these events:
- Winter Jazzfest: The world's best musicians come to New York City and play over 100 sets at diverse venues including speakeasy bars, churches, and iconic concert halls.
- NYC Must-See Week: To entice New Yorkers outdoors every January the city's best attractions, museums, tours, and theaters offer two-for-one admission for one week only.
- NYC Broadway Week: This week lets you purchase two-for-one tickets to some of New York City's best productions. It's a great chance to see hits from The Lion King to Kinky Boots without breaking the bank.
- NYC Restaurant Week: Twice a year New York City's finest restaurants make their menus more affordable with three-course prix-fixe lunches and dinners. There are over 400 restaurants participating so come hungry.
February continues to be cold, but special events warm the hearts of both locals and tourists, especially those who like fashion and Broadway shows:
- Lunar New Year Parade & Festival: Across New York City Chinese communities celebrate their New Year with dancing dragons, martial artists, and colorful parades. The best places to head are Chinatown, Flushing, Queens, and Sunset Park. However, it's important to note that the Lunar New Year sometimes falls in January.
- New York Fashion Week (Fall/Winter): If you've always wanted to watch models in elaborate designs walking the catwalk here is your chance. In addition to the main event, there are smaller pop-up parties and runways taking place all over the city.
- NYC Off-Broadway Week: This month is a chance for off-Broadway stars to shine. For one week each year, productions offer two-for-one tickets to their jaw-dropping spectacles.
March tends to warm up, making the city alive with activity. It just might be rainy, though, so pack your sturdiest umbrella to fight off the wind and rain while you enjoy these events:
- St. Patrick’s Day Parade: This parade that marches down Fifth Avenue was first held in 1762. Organized by the archbishop of New York, it's still going strong. Dress in green and get ready for Irish music, dancing, and other Celtic traditions.
- Macy’s Flower Show: What a better way to celebrate the coming of spring than heading to the Macy's Annual Flower Show. All over the department store you'll see impressive displays made entirely of exotic and colorful flowers.
- Big East Tournament: Ten schools head to Madison Square Garden to compete for the Big East Men's Basketball Championship. It's truly March Madness at this annual sporting event.
April is the month when spring finally hits New York City. Everyone is outside enjoying the sunshine and the blooming flowers, but be sure to pack a jacket as it can still be a little chilly. Events you should check out this month include the following:
- Mets and Yankees Season Openers: Calling all baseball fans! April is when the Mets and Yankees open their seasons at their iconic stadiums. New York City makes it easy to reach both of them by public transportation so leave the car at home.
- Tribeca Film Festival: Robert De Niro's film festival is one of the best in the world. Actors from all over the globe head to this beautiful neighborhood to debut their latest work. Be prepared for lots of celebrity sightings.
- Cherry Blossom Festival: Walking amongst the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's 220 cherry trees can feel like a dream with pink, fluffy flowers everywhere. The entire family will love concerts, dance performances, and other cultural celebrations.
Many New Yorkers say May is perfect for enjoying all the city has to offer. The sunshine is out, the weather is warm, and it's before summer, so the crowds haven't descended upon the city yet. This means you'll have plenty of room to enjoy these great events:
- TD Five Boro Bike Tour: For one day New York City shuts down its main streets so 32,000 cyclists from around the world can ride to all five boroughs, taking in the city's best views. Sign up early to participate or simply head to the side of the route to cheer on the riders.
- Frieze New York: For this art festival Randall Island gets transformed into an artist heaven. An outdoor sculpture park is created, and a tent full of masterpieces is set up on the green space.
- May is the start of many programs that last throughout the summer. Highlights include SummerStage, a free performance series in Central Park, and Summer on the Hudson , a festival that brings wellness activities, movies, kids' shows, kite-flying, concerts, and other fun events to Riverside Park.
In June, summer has officially arrived in the city, but it's not too hot yet. Many festivals bring people outdoors into the sunshine, as do special events that take place all across the city:
- Museum Mile Festival: For a few days the country's best museums located in the Upper East Side (including the Metropolitan Museum of Art) open their doors to the public for free. On the street is a full-blown block party with food, music, and lots of activities for kids.
- Big Apple Barbecue Block Party: The country's top barbecue chefs take over New York City's Madison Square Park and cook their specialities on the street. Live music and lots of beer are also available.
- Pride Week: Every year the city celebrates its gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender communities with a festival just for them. It culminates with a parade at the site of the Stonewall Riots of 1969.
- NY Philharmonic Concerts in the Parks: Pack a picnic, grab a blanket, and enjoy some of the city's greatest music under the stars. The New York Philharmonic does a free concert in all five boroughs including Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx and the Great Lawn in Central Park.
July is going to be hot, but you can get your mind off the heat with fun activities and programs. From celebrations of the birth of the United States to Broadway shows in public parks, there are plenty of great events worth discovering in July:
- Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks: There is no better place to be for the Fourth of July than New York City. The best firework show in town is the Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks. You can even see them surround the Statue of Liberty.
- Broadway in Bryant Park: Why see Broadway shows in an indoor theater in the summer when you can head to the park? Set up a picnic at lunchtime in Bryant Park and watch the stars entertain you for an hour.
- Summer at Lincoln Center: New York CIty's legendary music establishment invites its greatest performers to entertain you under the stars. One night there is a swing dance party. The next, a family show or a Mozart concert.
While most locals head to the closest beach in August, you'll have the city all to yourself most of the month. However, while it will be oppressively hot in the concrete jungle, sticking around might just be worth it for these events:
- Summer Streets: On three Saturdays in August, sections of Park Avenue are closed to traffic so walkers and bikers can have all the lanes to themselves. It's an amazing feat to be able to journey down one of the city's biggest streets without any cars getting in your way.
- US Open Tennis (through September): In tennis there are four grand slams every year, and the final one is at Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens. Tickets to early matches in August let you walk around the stadium viewing smaller matches on side courts. You might discover the next great star.
In September, everyone in New York City is back at work and school, but the city is still buzzing with activity. The weather is also cooling off, making it enjoyable once again to be outdoors for these great events:
- New York Fashion Week (Spring/Summer): New York Fashion Week returns with designers showing off their spring and summer collections. Celebrities from other industries including film and sports also make an appearance at these shows. Fashion parties last all night long.
- Commemorating 9/11: Every September 11th the city remembers the victims of the World Trade Center attacks. It's a solemn day, but an important one. Religious groups hold events to pray for peace, and the Freedom Tower beams lights around the city.
October is the heart of fall, and New Yorkers relish the changing colors of the leaves in parks across the city. From the New Yorker Festival to Oktoberfest and Halloween celebrations, there are also many fun events and festivals for locals and visitors to enjoy this month:
- Open House New York: This design festival allows you to go behind the scenes of the city's greatest buildings that are normally closed for the public. You can tour private brownstones in Brooklyn and see the mechanics of vast skyscrapers. Sign up early to get a spot.
- New Yorker Festival: This is a three-day festival all about enriching the mind. Leaders in politics, journalism, arts, media, and more hold panels and lectures to teach you something you didn't know.
- Rangers and Islanders Openers: New York City loves its two hockey teams, and October is the start of the season. Get a ticket to an early game where the athletes are fresh and ready to rumble.
- Village Halloween Parade: One of the greatest parades in New York City, this event brings thousands of people to Greenwich Village. The streets are swarmed with elaborate costumes, huge puppets, bands, and party-goers. It's crowded, but that's part of the fun.
- Oktoberfest: New Yorkers love an excuse to party, and they go all out for this German celebration. At venues across the city, you'll find huge pretzels, lederhosen, and pints of beer.
During the month of November, the days get shorter and colder, but New Yorkers concentrate on preparing for Thanksgiving and appreciating all they have to be thankful for. You'll also find a number of great events like marathons and parades in the city this month.
- TCS New York City Marathon: Hailed one of the greatest days of the year, everyone in New York City rallies around the marathon. You'll find spectators cheering on strangers at every mile. At some viewing spots loud speakers blast loud music and vendors serve treats.
- New York Comedy Festival: Comedians from all over the world journey to New York City for this festival. It's where they try out their latest material and crack up audiences with improv nights. There are both small, intimate shows at bars and large-scale events in arenas.
- Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade: Thanksgiving wouldn't be the same without the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Thousands of spectators wake up early to see their favorite balloons and floats journey down the streets of New York City. Don't miss seeing the balloons being blown up the night before.
December is all about the winter holidays in New York City. Every street is lit up with creative light displays, and stores go all out to welcome busy shoppers. It can be cold, but the air is crisp and full of the promise of snow. Check out these great activities to get you in the holiday spirit:
- Holiday Shopping: At four iconic spots in New York City (Union Square, Grand Central Terminal, Bryant Park, and Columbus Circle) local artists and merchants congregate to sell gifts for the holidays. Buy a hot apple cider and walk around to see the treats on display. Also head to Fifth Avenue to see the famous department store windows at Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman.
- Times Square New Year’s Eve: Millions of people from all over the world tune into Times Square to watch the famous crystal ball drop at midnight. While seeing it on television is special, viewing it in person is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Join people from all over the world to bring in the new year. Just don't forget to kiss at midnight!
- New York Road Runners Midnight Run: If crowds and parties aren't your things, head to Central Park to race through Central Park at midnight. Runners wear costumes and carry festive accessories like horns and confetti.