Inspirational New York: Top cultural and sporting events- and how to go alternative

There’s so much going on in the city that never sleeps that it’s almost impossible to keep a tick list of ‘must do’s’ in New York.

The tourist sights are well known, of course, from the Statue of Liberty to the Empire State Building. But what about the annual celebrations, local events, and hidden gems which many people miss out on?
The good news if you’re moving to live in New York is you’ll have a whole heap of time to plan your schedule.
Here we look at some of the top cultural attractions in the Big Apple – and some alternative suggestions for those who want to get under the skin of their new home….


Seasonal celebrations NYC style

This is a city which swelters in the summer and snows in the winter; so, every season feels different, and every season has an iconic celebration.

The great thing about living there, of course, is you don’t have to choose which one to do. It’s all yours.
Christmas in New York begins with the lighting of the famous Rockefeller Christmas Tree and ends with the legendary ‘ball drop’ in Times Square on New Year’s Eve. But there are dozens of events in between – including the Radio City Christmas Spectacular if you can get a ticket.

For a summer spectacle it’s hard to beat the 4th of July celebrations. Top of the list is Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest. That’s an ‘only in America’ experience for the uninitiated, for sure.

Then, of course, there’s Thanksgiving in November, not least the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, featuring giant balloons bobbing their way past skyscrapers and streets packed with onlookers and marching bands. If you stay long enough, you’ll get to see Santa Claus, too.


Or go alternative 

If you can’t pack into Times Square on New Year’s Eve, the do it like a local and join the New Year’s Eve Bike Ride from Brooklyn to Central Park instead. There’s even a free dance party and fireworks when you get there. Skaters are welcome, too…
New York at christmas


A show on Broadway 

Nothing says New York like watching a musical on Broadway. It’s the heartbeat of musical theatre with the biggest stars in the world.
If you’re holding out for the ultimate performance, then The Tony Awards are presented once a year, normally in June. The ceremony includes all the glitz and glamour you’d expect, with performances from top shows. Expect to pay big for a ticket, though…


Or go alternative 

If you’re on a budget then not all shows in the Big Apple have to break the bank. In fact, visit Broadway in Bryant Park in July and August and you don’t need to pay at all. The festival features hour-long concerts at midday, performed by cast members from Broadway’s most popular musicals. 

Also, look out for NYC Broadway Week in January and September when ticket prices for Broadway shows are 2 for 1. 
Shakespeare in the Park, staged outdoors each summer in Delacorte Theater, Central Park, is another gem.


US Tennis Open

New Yorkers love their sport and there’s a vast array of sporting events to visit, including the Giants and Jets American Football teams, Yankees and Mets baseball and Knicks and Liberty basketball teams.

If there’s one event that sums up New York on a global stage, however, it’s the US Tennis Open at the Billy Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, between August and September.
It’s a tournament for the people and, unlike Wimbledon, tickets go on sale to all-comers in June, so there’s a real chance of you sitting on Arthur Ashe court watching the greatest tennis players in the world.

Or go alternative 

If you want to recreate the off-court summer experience of the US Open then why not try horse racing? Belmont Park, an iconic venue east of the city on Long Island, hosts top class races, including the legendary Grade 1 Belmont Stakes.

There’s a vast picnic area and often live music events, too.
Tennis court


The Governors Ball  

This is a summer music festival which feels a bit different – one with a New York heart.

All types of music meld with food, art, experiences, surprise performances and community events in a heady atmosphere.

The 2022 version included four stages and more than 70 acts at Citi Field in Queens, although Gov Ball has also been held on Randall Island and Governors Island in the past, too.

Or go alternative 

Not all festivals are about the music. The feast of San Gennaro, an 11-day annual Italian festival in September, is more famous for its food! Almost a million people visit Little Italy to join the celebrations, which include parades, food stalls and a cannoli-eating competition. A statue of San Gennaro, the patron saint of Naples, is famously carried through the streets.

The Tribeca Film festival in April is another ‘must see’, and Pride Week in June is one of the biggest LGBTQ+ parties in the world