Pride in the summer, Broadway shows in the fall, the Rockefeller Christmas tree in the winter, the Cherry Blossom Festival in the spring – there's always a reason to visit New York City. Whether you're looking to nab a deal, go ice skating in Central Park or avoid the crowds, here's our guide to the best times to visit New York City.
Best time for enjoying the holidays
The holiday season is pretty magical in New York City. There aren’t snow-capped mountains or wooden ski lodges, but when the fairy lights illuminate the Rockefeller Tree, there’s a mixture of goodwill and retail madness. The stores are packed. Hotel prices sky-rocket to those summertime prices and won’t come down until after the New Year.
If you don’t mind a possible winter blizzard, you will be able to score some deals during those long and cold winter months.
Best time for Broadway shows
When the heat breaks, the crowds lighten a bit and New Yorkers are ready for “sweater weather”. Hotel prices dip a bit from the summer’s peak, but don’t expect incredible deals.
The weather is a little unpredictable so it’s time to head indoors to visit places like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Brooklyn Academy of Music, The Guggenheim Museum and of course, Broadway shows. Take a stroll through Central Park and witness the beautiful hues of fall sweep through the city.
Best time for outdoor events
There’s nothing like summertime in New York City. It’s hot and sticky and in some parts of the city a cool breeze is hard to come by. But the city is also alive with a host of festivals, parties and events throughout the five boroughs. There’s the Mermaid Parade in Brooklyn, the Puerto Rico Day Parade and the Pride Parade in Manhattan, and the US Open in Queens.
Hotel prices are at their highest and the streets are filled 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 your energy for another night on the town.
Best time for budget travelers
Springtime is another great time to try to snag some deals. The summer crowds have yet to descend and the weather is pretty pleasant during this time of year. The Cherry Blossom Festival is the unofficial kickoff to the season and in late May the Navy arrives in town for Fleet Week.
The winter doldrums arrive following the buildup 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.
Key events: New Year’s Day Swim, No Pants Subway Ride, Winter Jazzfest.
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.
Key events: Lunar (Chinese) New Year Festival, New York Fashion Week, Winter Restaurant Week.
After months of freezing temperatures and thick winter coats, the odd warm spring day appears and everyone rejoices – though it’s usually followed by a week of subzero drear as winter lingers on.
Key events: St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Asia Week, Macy's Flower Week.
Spring finally appears: optimistic alfresco joints have a sprinkling of street-side chairs as the city squares overflow with bright tulips and blossom-covered trees.
Key events: Tribeca Film Festival, New York International Auto Show, Easter Parade and Bonnet Festival, Cherry Blossom Festival.
April showers bring May flowers in the form of brilliant bursts of blossoms adorning trees all around the city. The weather is warm and mild without the unpleasant humidity of summer.
Key events: TD Bank Five Boro Bike Tour, Fleet Week, The 9th Avenue International Food Festival, Shakespeare in the Park, Bronx Week.
Summer’s definitely here and locals crawl out of their office cubicles to relax in the city’s green spaces. Parades roll down the busiest streets and portable movie screens are strung up in several parks.
Key events: SummerStage, Bryant Park Summer Film Festival, Puerto Rico Day Parade, NYC Pride, Mermaid Parade, River to River Festival, Governors Ball Music Festival.
As the city swelters, locals flee to beachside escapes on Long Island. It’s a busy month for tourism, however, as holidaying North Americans and Europeans fill the city.
Key events: Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest, July Fourth Fireworks, MoMA Warmup.
Thick waves of summer heat slide between 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.
Key events: Summer Streets, US Open, AFROPUNK NYC, Harlem Week, Hong Kong Dragon Boat.
Labor Day officially marks the end of the Hamptons' share-house season as the blistering heat of summer fades to more tolerable levels. As locals return to work, the cultural calendar ramps up.
Key events: Electric Zoo, Feast of San Gennaro, West Indian American Day Carnival & Parade, Armory Show.
Brilliant bursts of color fill the trees as temperatures cool and alfresco cafes finally shutter their windows. Along with May, October is one of the most pleasant and scenic months to visit NYC.
Key events: BAM's Next Wave Festival, Comic Con, Blessing of the Animals, Open House New York, Village Halloween Parade.
As the leaves tumble, light jackets are replaced by wool and down. A headliner marathon is tucked into the final days of pre-hibernation weather; then families gather to give thanks.
Key events: New York Comedy Festival, New York City Marathon, Thanksgiving Day Parade.
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 elaborate worlds within their storefront windows.
Key events: Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony, New Year’s Eve, Lighting of "The World's Largest Menorah".