This abundance of seasonal activity means it’s hard to decide when to plan your trip. So whether you’re looking to nab a deal, go ice skating in Central Park, avoid the crowds or join them, here’s our guide to the best times to visit New York.
December to February is a holiday season like no other
During the holiday season, New York City glows. Instead of snow-capped mountains or wooden ski lodges, visitors can enjoy the magnificent Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree – plus a mixture of goodwill and retail madness. It's true that hotel prices skyrocket to summertime levels right around the holidays, but if you don’t mind risking a winter blizzard, there are deals to score during the long, cold winter months of January and February.
September to November, for cultural events and openings
After Labor Day, New Yorkers return to the city en masse, and the city is abuzz with events, Broadway openings, and new art exhibitions. As the season progresses and “sweater weather” sets in, the air gets crisper and the leaves start to turn. This is when New York’s parks are a beautiful showcase for foliage. Hotel prices might dip a bit from the summer’s peak – but don’t expect incredible deals.
June to September, for enjoying the outdoors
There’s nothing like summertime in New York City. While the weather often gets hot and sticky, the city also comes alive with a host of festivals, parties and events throughout the five boroughs. There’s the Mermaid Parade in Coney Island, the Puerto Rican Day Parade and the Pride March in Manhattan, and the US Open in Queens. This is also the time to check out the local beach scene.
Granted, hotel prices are at their highest as the streets fill with tourists from all over the globe. If the humidity becomes a little too much, you can always take a day trip to recharge and renew – before heading out for another night on the town.
March to May is a great time for budget travelers
Springtime is another great time to try to score hotel deals. The summer crowds have yet to descend, and the weather is generally pleasant this time of year (but there are no guarantees). Broadway perks up again as shows open in advance of the June Tony Awards. Cherry trees start blooming in April, a spectacle you can enjoy at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, on Roosevelt Island and throughout Central Park. In late May, uniformed sailors fan out on the town as Navy vessels dock on the Hudson for Fleet Week.
January abounds with wintry pleasures
The winter doldrums arrive after the frenzy of Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Despite the long nights, New Yorkers take advantage of the frosty weather, with outdoor ice skating and weekend ski trips to the Catskills.
In February, expect fashion and (lunar) New Year fireworks
The odd blizzard and below-freezing temperatures make February a good time to stay indoors nursing a drink or a warm meal at a cozy bar or bistro. Models sashay down runways for New York Fashion Week, while (most years) Lunar New Year celebrations make the city’s Chinatowns (there are many!) the places to be.
March sees continued cold temperatures
After months of freezing temperatures and thick winter coats, the odd warm spring day appears and everyone rejoices – though that’s usually followed by another week of subzero dreariness as winter lingers on. Wearing green is essential on St Patrick’s Day when a huge parade makes its way through Midtown.
April is cherry blossom season
Spring finally arrives, and the city’s new outdoor dining program officially opens for the season. Tree pits, window boxes, squares and parks abound with bright tulips and blossom-covered trees.
May brings flowers
The colorful displays continue, with brilliant bursts of blossoms adorning trees all over the city. The weather is warm and mild, usually without the unpleasant humidity of summer – May is perhaps the best month for New York City weather. Young sailors alight in the city for Fleet Week.
June ushers in summer fun
Summer is definitely here by June, and New Yorkers crawl out of their office cubicles or WFH setups to lie out in the city’s green spaces. Parades roll down the busiest streets and portable movie screens are strung up in several parks. SummerStage offers exciting programming after dark in Central Park all season long.
July means sizzling beach days
As the city swelters, locals escape to Long Island – or to beaches just a subway ride away. Still, it’s a busy month for tourism, as vacationing North Americans and Europeans fill the city. The Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks dazzle, while Shakespeare in the Park serves up some drama – for free.
August delivers sweltering temperatures
Thick waves of summer heat generally set in between the skyscrapers as everyone heads to the seashore or gulps cool blasts of air-conditioning. Myriad outdoor events and attractions add life to the languid urban heat. The US Open kicks off at the end of the month.
In September, everyone is back in town
As summer ends and school starts, everyone is finally back in town and the temperatures return to reasonable levels. Revelers dance down Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn in the West Indian American Day Parade, and festival-goers eat up sausage and peppers at Little Italy’s Feast of San Gennaro. The cultural calendar ramps up, with new productions, performances, exhibitions, and much more.
October is cooler and packed with cultural events
Brilliant bursts of color fill the trees as temperatures cool, ushering in one of the most pleasant and scenic months to visit NYC. Cultural delights continue, Comic Con invades the Javits Center and normally private sites open their doors for one weekend only during Open House New York. The Village Halloween Parade closes out the month with a creative bang.
November is for runners and giant balloons
As the leaves tumble, light jackets are replaced by wool and down. The headliner NYC marathon is tucked into the final days of pre-hibernation weather before families gather to give thanks – and perhaps watch the giant balloons pass by at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
December closes the year with holiday magic
Winter’s definitely here – but there’s plenty of holiday cheer to warm the spirit. Fairy lights adorn most buildings, and Fifth Ave department stores (as well as Macy’s) create festive, elaborate tableaux within their storefront windows. You don’t have to look far to find a concert or religious service packed with holiday tunes.