2016 Cultural Festivals and Events in the New York Area
By Melissa A. Kay

2016 Cultural Festivals and Events in the New York Area

April 8, 2016   |   Where-To Guides  

Part of what makes New York City great is that it is a melting pot of cultures and ethnicities. Almost every week it seems as if another cultural group is taking to the streets to celebrate. Check out this list of 2016's list of cultural events in NYC and get to celebrating!

Cultural Festivals in April

Tartan Day Parade
April 9, 2:00PM
Begins on W. 45th St. up Sixth Ave. to 55th St., Manhattan

Celebrate Scottish-American heritage and pride as you march or observe the participants. Sponsors include Barbour, Carnegie Hall, The Algonquin Hotel, and more. There will be marching bagpipe bands, Scottish dress, dancers, and even dogs to see! 

Greek Independence Day Parade
April 10, 1:45PM
Fifth Avenue from 64th to 79th St., Manhattan

Celebrate the 195th anniversary of Hellenic Independence by attending the Greek Independence Day Parade. There will be marching bands, dancers, food, and fun. Perhaps your family would care to volunteer with the parade this year. 

Persian Parade
April 17, 12:00PM
Madison Avenue bet. 38th and 26th Streets, Manhattan

Join over 160,000 people celebrating Persian Pride on the streets on New York. Folks come together within a sea of green, white, and red blankets to honor diversity and culture of a rich tradition. The parade marks the Persian New Year, rebirth, and renewal.

Sakura Matsuri – Cherry Blossom Festival
April 30 – May 1, 10:00AM – 6:00PM
Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 100 Washington Ave., Brooklyn
718-623-7200

Celebrate Japanese culture at the 35th anniversary of Sakura Matsuri, BBG’s annual cherry blossom festival. There are over 60 events and performances to celebrate Japanese culture and the rite of spring. The cherry blossoms are a site to see and the entertainment is unique and uplifting. The weather helps viewers enjoy all the nature around BBG.

Cultural Festivals in May

Irish Dance Festival
May 1, 1:00PM – 7:00PM
Riverside Park South, Pier 1 at W. 68th St., Manhattan

Come enjoy the 15th annual Irish Dance Festival where Irish eyes will be smiling as the feet do the moving. The outdoor celebration will involve traditional Irish dance from professionals as well as students. There will be live music as well as workshops for visitors.

Cinco de Mayo Dog Fiesta!
May 5, 6:30PM
Unleashed by Petco, 31 2nd Ave., Manhattan

Why should the humans have all the fun? Doggies can celebrate Cinco de Mayo too, over at Petco. There will be a piñata just for dogs filled with tasty canine treats, dog-friendly margaritas, a dog costume contest, and more! Bring your own pooch or see the others in the fiesta. 

Viva! Latino Film Festival NYC Int’l.
May 5-8
244 5th Ave., Manhattan
646-504-2090

Come see films from emerging and established Latino filmmakers from the U.S., Mexico, and Latin America. Films range from short films documentaries, music videos, animation, and more, so there is something for everyone to enjoy. This is a great opportunity to learn about Latin culture and filmmaking. This will be the 2nd annual festival, so make it a part of your yearly entertainment for years to come! 

The UWS Celebrates Israel
May 10-15
JCC Manhattan, 334 Amsterdam at 76th St.

Celebrate the rich history, culture, and entertainment of Israel on Manhattan’s vibrant Upper West Side. There will be lots of live music, fairs, and delicious traditional Israeli food to enjoy with the family. The festival is in conjunction with UJA Federation of New York. Anyone is welcome to participate in this cultural experience.

RELATED: Check out more of NYC's Historical Locations

Cultural Events in June

New York City’s Multicultural Festival
June 4, 10:00AM – 6:00PM
Jackie Robinson Park (bandshell), 85 Bradhurst Ave., Manhattan

Come and join in on the “Largest Celebration of Cultural Diversity in Harlem.” Since NYC is the most culturally-diverse city in the world, it’s time to celebrate our differences and the ways we live together in harmony. There will be food, dance, music, and art to enjoy. The fun lasts from morning till evening, so drop by whenever you can. 

Celebrate Isreal Parade
Sunday, June 5, 11am-4pm
Fifth Avenue between 57th and 74th Streets, Manhattan

Bands, floats, and performers march up Fifth Avenue for the annual parade supporting the democratic state of Israel and celebrating Jewish heritage around the world. This year will feature performances from the Broadway produciton of Fiddler on the Roof.

14th Annual Drums Along the Hudson
June 12, 11:00AM - 6:00PM
218th St. and Indian Rd., Inwood Hill Park, Manhattan

It’s time to celebrate a Multicultural Celebration and Native American Festival. NYC Parks and Lotus Music and Dance are bringing this spectacular festival to life for the 14th year. Dancers of Native American, Japanese, Brazilian, Flamenco, and Korean backgrounds will entertain along with drummers from around the globe. See culture, art, and nature along with some great food to eat and music to hear!

National Puerto Rican Day Parade 
Sunday, June 12, 11am-5pm
Fifth Avenue between 44th and 79th Streets, Manhattan 

The annual parade celebrates Puerto Rican culture, heritrage, and its contribution to the United States.

Swedish Midsummer Festival

June 19, 5:00PM – 8:00PM
Robert F. Wagner Park, Battery Park City, Manhattan

Celebrate some Swedish heritage and tradition in Battery Park. Families are welcome for a picnic in the grass, decorating of the midsummer pole, flower wreath-making, dancing, games, and authentic fiddle music. Sponsors include IKEA of Brooklyn, Volvo Cars of North America, and Swedbank, among others. The festival will go on rain or shine, so be sure to make plans to enjoy the day no matter what!

Cultural Events in July

International African Arts Festival
July 1-3, 10:00AM – 7:00PM
Fulton St. from Malcom X Blvd. to Marcus Garvey Blvd., Manhattan
718-638-6700

This special festival was formerly called the African Street Festival which began in 1971 as a small block party. It’s now a huge celebration for African culture. There will be over 400 vendor booths for crafts, clothing, art, books, and more. African-American and Caribbean food will be available to enjoy along with lots of music, storytelling and other entertainment the whole family can enjoy.

French Street Fair
Exact dates to come
E. 60th St. from 5th Ave. to Lexington Ave., Manhattan

Ooh la la! Celebrate Bastille Day and our close relationship with our French allies in NYC with the family. There will be cancan dancers, mimes, and music along with fabulous food like crepes, eclairs, and cheese and wine (for the adults of course). There’s even a special kids’ corner with activities geared towards the little ones.

Annual Grand Mid-Summer Pow Wow
July 29-31
Queens County Farm Museum
73-50 Little Neck Pkwy., Floral Park, Queens
718-347-FARM

Come to the 52nd celebration of The Thunderbird American Indian Dancers at NYC’s oldest and largest pow wow! There will be lots of traditional clothing, dancing, bon fires, music, and more. Over 40 Indian nations will be represented in the apple orchard on the farm grounds. There will also be arts and crafts, jewelry, and delicious food to eat.

RELATED: Check out our Calendar for more fun events near you

Cultural Events in August

Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival
Saturday-Sunday, August 6-7
Flushing Meadows Park, Queens 

Watch as teams from around the world compete in this traditional Chinese summer event. Along with the racing boats, multicultural artists and traditional music and dance from around the globe. The good court offers many different cusines to sample. 

Harlem Week
August 6-27
Location TBA

Although the event is called Harlem Week, the festivities span close to a month long to celebrate local culture and history. There will be plenty of live performances, tributes, films, music, and more. Step into the street fair, the sports games, or the special children’s festival, all in Harlem. Harlem is amazing and the celebration proves it so!

Fiesta in America
August 13-14
Meadowlands Expo Center, Secaucus, NJ

Fiesta in America is the largest gathering of Asians on the East Coast. For the past 17 years, the expo has celebrated Filipinos and their culture. Come visit the trade pavilion, tempting food court, the special children’s area, and see the various performances celebrating the Filipino culture.

India Parade
August 21 until 6:00PM
E. 38th St. down Madison Ave. to E. 27th St., Manhattan

Celebrate India’s vast culture and heritage right here in New York. The parade will feature floats, music, and dancing in traditional garb. At the end of the parade, visitors can enjoy Indian food at one of the many booths set up as well as cultural programs for all ages.

40th Annual Brighton Jubilee
Sunday, August 28, 10am-5pm
Brighton Beach, Brookyln  

A Brooklyn tradition that celebrates the borough's diversity, this multi-block festival features entertainment, live music, kid rides, delicious food booths, and local merchandise. 

Cultural Events in September

Brazilian Day

September 4
W. 46th St., Little Brazil, Manhattan

Come join the festival and outdoor concerts celebrating Brazil’s Independence Day, right here in NYC’s Little Brazil area. There will be lots of traditional food to eat along with lively dancing, music, and celebration for all ages. The costumes will delight and the festivities will go on all day long.

1776 Peace Conference House Celebration

September 17(rain date, Sept. 18)
Conference House Assn., 298 Satterlee St., Staten Island

Celebrate American history and culture with the family in Staten Island. See re-enactments of historical moments, take a house tour, and dabble in crafting of years ago. There will be colonial-style dancing and food as well as special activities for the kids. This is both educational and entertaining!

The Great Irish Fair
Saturday-Sunday, Sep. 17-18, 7am-5pm
Coney Island, Brooklyn  

Celebrate Irish culture with costumed children performing folk dance, vendors selling Irish goods and foods, several stages performing contemporary and traditional Irish music, and exhibitions of Irish sporting traditions.  

32nd Annual Medieval Festival

Sep. 18, 11:30AM – 6:00PM
Fort Tyron Park, Riverside Dr. to Broadway, W. 192 St. to Dyckman St., Manhattan

Go back to Medieval Times at this annual festival sure to delight kids and adults of all ages. See performers in period dress, along with magic acts, dancing, juggling, and even jousting on horseback. There will be delicious food and crafts to enjoy.

Cultural Events in October

New York Renaissance Faire
October 3, 10:00AM – 7:00PM
600 Rte. 17A, Tuxedo Park, NY
845-351-5171

Take a step back in time to Elizabethan England for 16th century-style games, rides, crafts, music, dance, and tasty food. See knights in shining armor and old time costumes the kids will marvel at. Shop in the artisan market to take some of the fun home with you!

Columbus Day Parade
October 10
Fifth Ave. from 47th to 72nd St., Manhattan

Celebrate Columbus’ journey to finding America along with thousands of visitors and parade participants. There will be over 100 bands and floats, with tons of entertainment to enjoy. This parade is the world’s largest celebration of Italian-American culture and your kids will be thrilled to be part of the spectacular.

43rd Annual Village Halloween Parade
October 31, 7:00PM
Sixth Ave. at Canal St., Manhattan

Come dressed in costume for the huge NYC annual Halloween Parade. There will be lots of revelers, bands, music, dancing, and more to celebrate the holiday. If trick-or-treating is not for you, a parade may be just what will make Halloween different this year. The kids will have a spook-tacular time!

RELATED: Take our quiz to find out the perfect NYC activity for your family

Cultural Events in November

90th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
November 24, (time TBA)
Central Park W. and 6th Ave., Manhattan

Celebrate the joy of Thanksgiving by taking the kids to see the parade in person. The floats and balloons are larger than life and the bands, music, and dancing can’t be beat. There will be celebrities and other famous folks participating in the parade and thousands of viewers lining the streets.

Cultural Events in December

Columbus Circle Holiday Market
November 29 – December 24
Columbus Cir. 59th St. and Central Park., Manhattan

Come to one of the world’s most elegant places to shop this holiday season. See tons of jewelry, art, home goods, and food from local artisans and more than 100 vendors. There will be holiday music and good cheer. Happy holidays and a joyous new year to you and yours!

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