No matter which season you’re travelling to New York City, there is always a reason to celebrate here in the Big Apple. There are a multitude of cultural, athletic, artistic, and fun events that take place in New York City throughout the year. While some travellers come to the city specifically for well-known occasions, there’s always so much to do in the city that you may happen upon them by chance. Below are a few of the top events which draw both locals and travellers to the heart of city.

Ninth Avenue International Festival

This multi-cultural event held in Hell’s Kitchen in May of each year features delicacies that hail from Brazil, Morocco, Greece, Ukraine, Senegal, Italy, and Thailand. Local restaurants and outdoor vendors ply their specialties, served in small portions, on the streets to the accompaniment of live music and dancing. Sample foods from all over the world at this 15-block gastronomic event!

Shakespeare in the Park

This free program is a yearly highlight of the summer season, with classic historical plays and musicals performed under the stars on warm summer nights in Central Park. Famous actors have performed on the stage in years past, making an evening here a memorable event. Tickets require a rather lengthy wait in line, but where else in the world can one experience such a delight?

Museum Mile Festival

It’s a car-free street party from the Metropolitan Museum of Art at the south end to El Museo del Barrio at the north end of the mile in June of each year! Nine of the best museums in the United States offer free admission with street performers, live music, and activities for the children on the usually traffic-filled avenue. Visit as many museums as possible and get a crash course in art, history, and culture while partaking in the festivities in the streets!

Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks

It’s a feast for the eyes and ears when fireworks light up the skyline over New York City on Independence Day each year to the accompaniment of music by New York Pops orchestra. Millions gather along the waterfront of the East River to witness an incredible pyrotechnic display. Celebrity performers and guest stars grace the stage for unforgettable shows during this phenomenal event!

The U.S. Open

One of the four Grand Slam tennis events is held at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Complex at the end of August each year. Thousands of spectators come to watch the greatest players in the sport battling it out on the courts. When it comes to tickets to this hot event, tickets to the event are less expensive for the first week of the event, with tickets for the final week costing more money and requiring advance booking!

New York Film Festival

This annual event draws celebrities and cineastes from all over the world to view some of the world’s most evocative cinema. Since early 1963, New York City has been the place to check out cutting-edge and inventive productions before they become big hits. Films from the Avant-Garde series may be of particular interest to adventurous theatre lovers.

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

This yearly extravaganza features massive helium-filled balloons of beloved cartoon characters, including Snoopy, SpongeBob, and Garfield, along a 4 km route. The spectacular balloons are accompanied by clowns, floats, marching bands, pop stars, and performances by the cast of Broadway shows atop the floats. The parade travels from Central Park West through central Manhattan to Macy’s at 34th Street. With the parade commencing at 9AM, try to secure your spot on the sidewalk by 8AM or earlier. If time permits, visit 77th street the night before the parade where hundreds of visitors gather to watch as the balloons are inflated!

The New York City Marathon

Many consider this the pinnacle of marathons, the one that athletes from around the world work so hard to qualify for. It travels through five boroughs, extending from Staten Island to Central Park, and offers a course filled with sights, sounds, and excitement. Millions gather on the first Sunday in November each year to watch and cheer on the thousands of talented athletes!

Rockefeller Centre Tree Lighting

The city embraces the beginning of the Christmas season as the enormous fir tree at Rockefeller Centre, adorned with over 25,000 lights, is lit for the holidays. Bring the family along to witness this magical event as live entertainment, featuring famous performers, fills the venue. Even if you miss the grand tree lighting ceremony, the beautiful lights remain on until New Year’s Day!

Hanukkah Celebrations

With a large Jewish population in the New York City area, the celebration of Hanukkah is a large celebration. At Fifth Avenue and 59th Street, a 9 m menorah is lit on the first night of the holiday and each night for the following seven nights. On the first and final nights steaming-hot latkes are handed out at sunset, while live music plays as the electric candles are lit. The date the holiday begins is in accordance with the Hebrew calendar and changes each year.

New Year’s Eve Celebrations

Perhaps the most famous of all events in New York City are the New Year’s Eve celebrations in Times Square! Each year at midnight a 485 kg crystal ball drops from a skyscraper from the area between Broadway and Seventh Avenue. Millions of people from all over the world pack into the square to watch this famous event. Stages are set up in Times Square where celebrities and pop stars entertain the crowds waiting for the ball to drop. Dress warmly and get there before noon to secure a spot to watch the momentous event!

There are other events in the city on this eve of new beginnings, including a midnight run around Central Park, watching the lovely fireworks over Central Park or attending the moving New Year’s Eve Concert at St. John the Divine, which features new and classic pieces from top local composers.

New York City is a renowned for hosting events and activities 365 days a year.  There is always something exciting happening in the city. If you’re planning your dream vacation check out what is happening during your visit to experience the thrill and excitement of everything the big city has to offer!

Which event are you looking forward to the most in NYC?