This month, hope swells in the heart of every New Yorker: spring is on the way! It’s a false hope, though, as aside from the springing forward of the clocks on 8th March, there’s little other evidence of a change in seasons. However, while the weather remains chilly and gray, the city shifts to more giddy pursuits: new plays and films, eye-popping art, vigorous public drinking (with bagpipe accompaniment), and plenty of flowers.
Frigid New York
A cold-weather version of summer’s Fringe Festival, Frigid New York brings together more than 30 theater groups to mount new plays. Artists keep 100% of the box office take, and tickets are rarely more than $15.
When: until Mar 8
Where: The Kraine Theater (85 E 4th St); Under St Marks (94 St Marks Pl)
More info: horsetrade.info
Larry David's Fish in the Dark
Comedian Larry David, star of the excruciatingly awkward TV show Curb Your Enthusiasm, takes to the stage for the first time since (he claims) eighth grade – in nothing less than a self-penned Broadway production of what may be the most anticipated show this spring. The play is full of his trademark cheery outlook – which is to say, it revolves around a death in a family. Also in the cast: Rita Wilson and Rosie Perez.
When: Mar 5–Jun 7
Where: Cort Theater (138 W 48th St)
More info: fishinthedark.com
The Armory Show
The city’s largest art fair is also a major stop on the international circuit. It’s worth going for the art, of course, but your fellow attendees, all creatively clothed and fluent in artspeak, are a spectacle in themselves. This year has a special focus on artists from the Middle East, North Africa and the greater Mediterranean (FYI: that’s 'MENAM'). Jordanian artist Lawrence Abu Hamdan has produced a sound installation specifically for the show, as well as a limited edition design for 5000 potato-chip packets, to be distributed free to fair attendees.
When: Mar 5–8
Where: Piers 92 & 94 (12th Ave between 52nd and 55th St)
More info: thearmoryshow.com
Björk retrospective at MoMA
The always surprising Icelandic singer and artist gets a massive retrospective of more than two decades of music, videos, and even clothing (the swan dress!) at the Museum of Modern Art. Plan ahead: you’ll need a special timed ticket to enter one section of the show, Songlines, which is an interactive tour through Björk’s albums.
When: Mar 8–Jun 7
St Patrick’s Day Parade
In this annual bacchanal, bars sling green beer from breakfast time onwards, and the Irish-for-a-day are often passed out on the subway long before the official shindig starts at 3pm. Running much as it has since 1762, the parade is serious business: there are no pretty floats or big balloons – just seemingly every police officer, firefighter, and bagpipe player in the city marching on foot. (Notably, this is the first year an openly LGBT group will be permitted to march.)
If you prefer to honor the Irish in a quieter way, take a Big Onion walking tour of historic 'Little Ireland' on the Lower East Side, then visit the Irish Hunger Memorial; finish off with an impeccable Irish coffee at the lower Manhattan cocktail bar The Dead Rabbit.
When: Parade: Mar 17, from 3pm; Big Onion tours: Mar 14–15
Where: Parade: Fifth Ave from 44th St to 79th St
More info: nycstpatricksparade.org
'After Midnight: Indian Modernism to Contemporary India'
This ambitious show takes over much of the Queens Museum, examining two recent periods of art in India: that which emerged post-1947 independence; and work relating to the era of globalization, from 1997 to the present day. It’s a rare chance to see such a full range of modern work, framed in its historical context.
When: Mar 8–Jun 28
This is the last month to hit the ice in the city. Bryant Park’s festive Winter Village (wintervillage.org) has a mid-size rink in the center, but the best bet in Manhattan is still the roomy Wollman Rink, in Central Park. (Rockefeller Center’s postage-stamp patch is better for spectating.) If you prefer a local scene, try two new venues in Brooklyn: Lakeside Center (lakesidebrooklyn.com) at Prospect Park and the renovated McCarren Rink, in Williamsburg.
When: all rinks open until mid-Mar
New Directors/New Films festival
This excellent annual festival, curated by and screened at the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the Museum of Modern Art, has a particularly strong international slant, giving many films from other countries their debut in the United States. Directors are often on hand to talk at screenings as well. The lineup mixes documentary, comedy and drama. This year look out for, among many others, a Ukrainian film about deaf-mute high-school students; a portrait of Christmas tree vendors in New York City; and the acclaimed Theeb, which tells the story of WWI in the Middle East – well known from Lawrence of Arabia – from the Jordanian perspective.
When: Mar 18–29
More info: newdirectors.org
Fun with flowers
While spring takes its sweet time arriving, head north to the Bronx to warm up in the New York Botanical Garden's enormous glass conservatory, for its annual Orchid Show. This year’s theme: chandeliers. Near the end of the month, get your spring fix at the Flower Show at Macy’s, when the department store fills its ground floor with creative floral installations.
When: Orchid Show: until Apr 19; Flower Show: Mar 22–Apr 4
Affordable Art Fair
This sensibly named annual expo is a nice counterpoint to the hifalutin’ Armory Show earlier in the month. If you don’t care quite so much about art-world hobnobbing and just want to buy something neat for your living room (a pretty good souvenir of your NYC trip, right?), this is one of the better places to look. You can browse thousands of works, more than half of which are priced under $5000. Even the admission price is a relatively reasonable $18 (online).
When: March 25–29
Where: Metropolitan Pavilion (125 W 18th St)
More info: affordableartfair.com
Take your pick of throwbacks this month. Neil Diamond plays the Barclays Center, performing songs from his new album, which returns to the smooth-pop sound that made him famous. Meanwhile, masters of quirk-rock They Might Be Giants play the third of four monthly retrospective shows at the Music Hall of Williamsburg; this one will focus on their 1990 album, Flood.
When: Neil Diamond: Mar 26; They Might Be Giants: Mar 29