A city of firsts, a place where things begin and thrive, and then become fashionable everywhere. From arts and fashion to music and food, the world relies on New York for inspiration. With our flights to New York you can start exploring straight away.
For first timers, Manhattan will seem like the busiest and brightest place in the world, packed with things to do in New York and places to see. But once you’ve seen the iconic sights and ticked off Times Square and Central Park, perhaps venture out into Manhattan’s less iconic areas. Explore the distinct neighbourhoods of Greenwich Village or Tribeca. Browse boutiques in the Meatpacking District or rummage through flea markets in Chelsea. Then visit Harlem, home to great jazz clubs and soul food. Escape Manhattan and you’ll find other areas similarly teeming with artists, musicians and foodies. Brooklyn has many exciting restaurants and bars, especially Williamsburg’s hip pop-up bars. Coney Island’s fun fair and boardwalk cafés excite the child in all of us. And Yankee Stadium and the Bronx Zoo bring millions of visitors each month. Don’t be afraid to indulge your curiosity and head off the tourist trail, as you are sure to find something new and exciting.
Festivals in The City That Never Sleeps
New York is the most culturally diverse city on the planet, so you would expect some fantastic festivals on offer. And you will not be disappointed. Celebrating the best of the Big Apple’s multiculturalism – The Afropunk Festival brings alternative black music to Brooklyn’s streets on 27 and 28 August. Ice Cube, TV on the Radio and Janelle Monae headline the festivities. Then, from 2 to 4 September (Labor Day weekend in the USA) fans of dance music will be heading to Randall’s Island Park for the Electric Zoo Festival. Featuring some of the best names in electronic dance music, including Tiesto and Bassnectar, this is perfect for a weekend in Manhattan.
New York in August brings summer heatwaves and glorious sunshine, so leave the air conditioning behind and experience outdoor events all over the city. From Central Park to Coney Island’s beaches, you’ll find something fun for your evening’s al fresco escapades.
On the 1 August, British rockers Garbage play at the brilliant SummerStage in Central Park. Tickets are sure to go quickly for this, as it will be a great show in the warm summer, evening sun. Check out Shirley Manson and the gang’s electronic pop stylings on this one-off show.
It’s your last chance to see the Radio City MusicHall presented New York Spectacular on 7 August, which follows a family’s unforgettable day out in the eponymous city. Starring the cherished Radio City Rockettes, this is one show not to be missed.
Go back in time to an All American Drive-In for a selection of classic films. Head to Historic Richmond Town in Staten Island on the 8 to 13 August to experience a nostalgic treat for all the family – drive in, sit back and enjoy.
Last chance to see the fantastic Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum, which finishes 14 August. With over 170 exhibits discussing the disparity between hand-made haute couture and machine-made ready-to-wear garments, this is not to be missed.
The brilliant New York Fringe Festival has its 20th anniversary this year, so you should expect an exceptional line-up of plays, solo shows, comedy and more. Taking place from 12 to 28 August in venues all over Greenwich Village, you will laugh, cry and see the comedy stars of the future.
Head uptown to Pier 97 in Chelsea to enjoy Hudson River Park’s Blues BBQ on 20 August. This is a new location for the barbecue since outgrowing its former home, so expect some of the city’s best soul food alongside some of its best blues musicians.
The Brooklyn Comedy Festival has become a big name in the worldwide comedy circuit. From 22 to 28 August you can see up-and-coming comedians alongside established names at various venues across Brooklyn. Go and see the next generation of comedy stars.
For 40 years, the streets of southern Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach have come alive for the Brighton Jubilee, and 2016 is no different. Taking place on the 28 August, with street vendors serving fantastic food, great bands and a lot of revellers – 125,000 last year –this is a party not to be missed.
The biggest event in US tennis has its opening night on the 29 August through to 11 September. Venture to New Jersey’s USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center to see if Novak Djokovic and Flavia Pennetta can defend their titles. Book early to avoid disappointment.
Why not go and see a Broadway show? It is your last chance to see The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time which ends its celebrated Broadway run on 4 September. Visit the Ethel Barrymore Theater on 31 August to see this multiple award-winning play, based on Mark Haddon’s brilliant thought-provoking book.
Find out what's on in New York this September
Daytime temperatures are balmy, carnivals are in full swing and the mood is upbeat as New York welcomes September. From fashion to film and festivals of every kind, the city is a hive of activity – beginning with the festivities of the Labor Day weekend.
Book tickets for Electric Zoo, which takes place on 2, 3 and 4 September. This electronic dance-music festival brings top acts and 150,000 fans to Randall’s Island Park each Labor Day Weekend.
Soak up the sights of the annual West Indian-American Day Carnival on 5 September. This colourful Brooklyn carnival invites you to celebrate the sounds and style of the Caribbean through colourful costumes, reggae, calypso music and traditional cuisine. Expect big crowds for this larger than life celebration.
Calling all fashionistas… New York Fashion Week takes over the catwalks from 8 to 15 September. Whilst front row seats might be reserved for the fashion elite, there are plenty of events scheduled which will give the style-conscious and fashion forward their fix – the perfect inspiration for a Fifth Avenue shopping spree.
Each September, New York City continues its tradition of remembering and honouring the victims of the World Trade Center attacks. On 11 SeptemberTribute in Light will illuminate the New York city sky to mark the 15th anniversary of 911. Visible from a 60-mile radius on a clear night, this poignant art installation echoes the shape and orientation of the Twin Towers.
The Coney Island Film Festival screens nearly 100 innovative short films from 16 to 18 September. Soak up the friendly atmosphere in the heart of the boardwalk, at 1208 Surf Avenue, Brooklyn. Book early to avoid disappointment as many nights sell out.
See German-American marching bands, floats, dancers and walkers in traditional costumes in the Steuben Parade on Fifth Avenue on 17 September. Then enjoy German beer, food and live music at the Rumsey Playfield in Central Park for the Steuben Parade Oktoberfest.
New York’s museums open their doors for free on 24 September, courtesy of Museum Day Live – get a free ticket for two people and visit one of the city’s 95 participating museums. You can download your free ticket from 1 August, so it’s worth planning ahead.
Come rain or shine, one of the city’s biggest and best street fairs – the 42nd Annual Atlantic Antic takes over Brooklyn on 25 September. Atlantic Avenue fills with multiple stages playing host to jazz, rock, R&B and more, storytelling and pony rides occupy the kids and cuisine from every corner of the globe satisfies all tastes.
Find out what's on in New York this October
October, of course, means Halloween, and NYC shows how it’s done – with fancy dress parties, parades and fright-filled attractions. Trekkies and superhero fans descend on the city for the New York Comic Con. While the festival fun includes multicultural carnivals, autumn crafts and delights for foodies.
Browse hundreds of stalls and watch artisans at work during the Autumn Crafts Festival on 1 and 2(and8 and9)October. Peruse a huge array of handmade pieces while enjoying live entertainment at this al fresco festival in the grounds of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.
Then it’s superhero costumes at the ready, as the New York Comic Con turns the Javits Center into a sci-fi spectacular from 6 to 9 October. Carrie Fisher, John Cusack and Stan Lee are among the many stars lined up to appear, alongside the usual host of exhibits devoted to all things comic book- and fantasy-related.
Hundreds of floats and thousands of marchers from all over the world will transform Fifth Avenue into a street party, for the Colombus Day Parade on 10 October. Join over half a million spectators lining the streets for this vibrant celebration of Italian-American culture.
Then don’t miss the city’s biggest culinary foodie fundraiser, the New York City Wine & Food Festival (NYCWFF) from 13 to 16 October at venues across NYC. This star-studded event unites America’s favourite television chefs and other famous personalities with world-renowned producers of food and wine, in a superb showcase of culinary talent.
Take in a colourful puppet parade and soak up the carnival atmosphere during the Marco Polo Festival on 15October. Celebrating the special relationship between the Chinese and Italian-American communities of New York’s Chinatown and Little Italy, this annual festival also features live music and dance performances.
Get unparalleled access to some of New York’s most important buildings, during Open House New York on 15 and 16 October. Hundreds of locations across the city will be opening their doors during the weekend, with tours and talks giving a unique insight into these remarkable feats of design.
Who says pets can’t join in with the Halloween fun? A plethora of pooches, in amazingly creative fancy dress, will be strutting their stuff through Manhattan during the Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade on 22 October. You’d be barking mad to miss it.
Then catch the toast of independent TV talent at the NewYork Television Festival, from 24 to 29 October. Red carpet premieres and panel talks by a host of stars and industry professionals feature in this flagship event in the independent television calendar.
Weird and wonderful fancy dress is the order of the day at the Village Halloween Parade on 31 October. Soak up the party atmosphere as 6th Avenue fills with hundreds of puppets, dancers, bands and more for this electrifying annual event. Please note, fancy dress is compulsory.
New York’s premier haunted haunted house attraction returns throughout October (open 6pm – 1am on Halloween). Enter the Blood Manor if you dare, and prepare to encounter seriously gruesome zombies, horrifying ghouls and a whole lot of gore. Be warned, this is not for pre-teens or the faint-hearted…
If New York is the Big Apple, then its core has to be Midtown, where you will find the essential city experience. Home to the iconic Empire State Building, grandiose Chrysler Building and Grand Central Station’s majestic architecture, this is Manhattan as you imagine it. Stay at the luxury InterContinental New York, with panoramic views of the bright lights of bustling Times Square. Shopping options are in great supply with Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s on the doorstep, and you can find some great bargains at Century 21. Don’t miss out on MoMA, where you can also eat fantastic gourmet cuisine at The Modern.
Downtown AKA Lower Manhattan is a melting pot of culture, cutting-edge style and multicultural indulgences. Visit the East Village, where student-friendly cafés and elegant cocktail lounges co-exist peacefully. West Village is a great area for bars, as it surrounds the NYU campus – have a beer in a dive bar along McDougal Street. Go further west to Greenwich Village where cool bookshops and laidback restaurants await the more relaxed crowd. Or enjoy the urgent vibrancy and fantastic food of Chinatown, and browse the imitation-designer goods on sale. Eat traditional pizza or meatballs in Little Italy, before going south toward the Financial District’s flashy bars.
Whilst technically Lower Manhattan, these areas are at the bottom of the island and deserve more explanation. The Lower East Side is a chic and fashionable area with a long history. You can find the legendary Katz’s Delicatessen here, a classic Jewish deli offering towering pastrami sandwiches. A welcome newcomer to the neighbourhood is The Ludlow, a charmingly original boutique hotel. Then, head east toward the recently-developed cultural hub of the Seaport District, where red brick warehouses house enlightening museums and historic artefacts. Once in the Financial District, make time to gaze in awe at the One World Trade Centre. It is a fitting tribute to the pride and resilience of New York.
The perfect spot for a luxury break in NYC. Known from the 60s to the 80s as artistic havens, Soho and Tribeca are now stylish, up-market districts showcasing haute couture brands such as Chanel and Prada. Soho’s cast iron industrial façades have become iconic, with many bars and chic restaurants taking the place of artist galleries long since moved to Chelsea. Tribeca is currently home to New York’s rich and famous, such as Robert De Niro – who also founded the area’s eponymous film festival. The luxurious Trump Soho is ideally placed for exploring the area, with a chance for some celeb spotting too.
Cobblestone streets, converted brick warehouses and a colourful, eclectic atmosphere is what to expect in the Meatpacking District – a centre of New York nightlife. On the west side of Manhattan, the district has been a hub of fashion and culture since the deluxe Gansevoort Hotel took root in 2004. More recently, creative trendsetters live and work alongside the admittedly diminished market businesses, creating a buzzing, friendly community. Visitors to the area will enjoy the wide variety of quality bars and cafés, and the High Line Park (formally an elevated train line) is a definite must-see.
Uptown Manhattan consists of the beautiful Central Park, Upper East Side and Upper West Side, with stark contrasts between the two sides. Central Park may be the most celebrated park in the world, with iconic ice skating in the winter months. The Upper East Side is full of great museums and galleries, like the Guggenheim, and of course Fifth Avenue. But for a quintessential Manhattan experience, head over to the Upper West Side. The Natural History Museum, the Theater District, and iconic brownstone architecture can be found here. For a cheaper option, Days Inn Hotel, on Broadway, is only a few minutes’ walk away from Central Park.
Harlem begins with the student area of Columbia University, where Ivy leaguers while away their time in the cool bars and cafés. Then onto Harlem proper, whose streets were made famous by the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s. Slowly becoming gentrified, the bars, restaurants and shops are definitely changing with the times. For example, the Red Rooster Harlem is a perennially packed soul food joint, where chef Marcus Samuelsson focusses on contemporary comfort food. And don’t miss out on a trip to the Apollo Theater. This 80-year old concert hall has roots deep in jazz and soul music, and where Ella Fitzgerald serenaded crowds in the 30s.
Brooklyn is the new fashionable place to go out and be seen, but be aware it is a very large borough, city-size in itself. Hang out with the hipsters in Williamsburg and Prospect Park, or go to Coney Island to try out the gritty funfair. Marvel at the Brooklyn Bridge and the alluring Manhattan skyline in Downtown, or be amongst the art crowd in Red Hook. For a great night out, head to Radegast Hall & Biergarten in Williamsburg, an Austrian-inspired raucous venue with plenty of beer and cool people. Afterwards, saunter back to Downtown’s stylish boutique Aloft Brooklyn to sleep it off.
The sprawling, suburban area north of Harlem known as The Bronx is the only borough of New York on the US mainland. The Grand Concourse in the South Bronx is home to Yankee Stadium and is where hip hop music was born. In season, take in a game of baseball and afterwards relax in a homey restaurant, which sells delicious soul food. North of Grand Concourse in Fordham, you can find the world-famous Bronx Zoo, which is a great trip for all the family, and over the road, the New York Botanical Gardens. The Bronx is a great place to visit in the autumn, with the leafy parks undergoing a colourful foliage change.
Six useful apps for visiting New York
High Life Magazine
From tracking down sample sales to suggestions for activities based on the weather, make the most of your time in NYC with these must-have apps.