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What to do in New York

Culture guide

Major cultural holidays are celebrated with parades and festivals . The city takes these, especially the parades, very seriously. Almost every large ethnic group in the city holds an annual get-together, often using Fifth Avenue as the main drag. The events are often political or religious in origin, though now are just as much an excuse for music, food and dance.

Whatever your flavor, chances are your stay will coincide with at least one such celebration. For more details and exact dates, phone 1-800/NYC-VISIT, or go to www.nycvisit.com . Also, look at listings in New York magazine's "CUE" section, the New Yorker magazine's "Goings on About Town," the Village Voice 's "Cheap Thrills," or the weekly "Obsessive guide to impulsive entertainment," in Time Out New York magazine.

JANUARY
Chinese New Year and Parade
First full moon between Jan 21 and Feb 19
A noisy, colorful occasion celebrated from noon to sunset around Mott St. Though dragons still dance in the street, firecrackers no longer chase away evil spirits because former Mayor Giuliani banned them for most events. The chances of getting a meal anywhere in Chinatown at this time are slim; tel 212/431-9740.
Winter Antiques Show
Mid-Jan
This is the foremost American antiques show in the country, at the Seventh Regiment Armory, Park Ave and 67th St tel 212/777-5218.

FEBRUARY
Twenty-four-Hour Marriage Marathon
Valentine's Day
Get hitched or watch while more than fifty couples take the plunge 110 stories and 1377ft above Manhattan on the Observation Deck of the Empire State Building tel 212/323-2340.
Empire State Building Run Up Foot Race
Mid-Feb
Sponsored by the New York Road Runners Club, contenders race up the 1575 steps of this New York City landmark tel 212/423-2229, www.nyrrc.org .

MARCH
St Patrick's Day Parade
March 17
Celebrating an impromptu march through the streets by Irish militiamen on St Patrick's Day in 1762, this has become a draw for every Irish band and organization in the US and Ireland. Usually starting just before noon, it heads up 5th Ave between 44th and 86th sts tel 212/484-1222.
Greek Independence Day Parade
Late March
Not as long or as boozy as St Pat's, more a patriotic nod to the old country from floats of pseudo-classically dressed Hellenes. When Independence Day falls in the Orthodox Lent, the parade is shifted to April or May. It usually kicks off from 62nd St and 5th Ave to 79th St tel 718/204-6500.
The Circus Animal Walk
Late March to early April
At midnight the animals from Ringling Brothers' Barnum & Bailey Circus march from their point of arrival to Madison Square Garden prior to opening of circus; tel 212/465-6741 for tickets or 212/302-1700 for information.

APRIL
Easter Parade
Easter Sun
From Central Park down to Rockefeller Center on 50th St, New Yorkers dress up in outrageous Easter bonnets. 10am-5pm. There's also an Eggstravaganza, a children's festival including an egg-rolling contest in Central Park, on the Great Lawn.
New Directors, New Films
Early April
Lincoln Center and MoMA have presented this popular two-week film festival for more than 25 years, showcasing films of overlooked or emerging filmmakers tel 212/875-5638, www.filmlinc.com .

MAY
Ukrainian Festival
Mid-May
This extravaganza fills a weekend on E 7th St between 2nd and 3rd aves with marvelous Ukrainian costumes, folk music and dance, plus authentic foods. At the Ukrainian Museum (12th St and 2nd Ave) there's a special exhibition of pysanky - traditional hand-painted eggs tel 212/674-1615.
Martin Luther King Jr Parade
Mid-May
Celebrating Dr King's contribution to civil rights, the parade covers 5th Ave from 66th to 86th sts. It also pays tribute to African-Americans who have served in the US military tel 212/374-5176.
Ninth Avenue International Food Festival
Mid-May
The festival closes down 9th Ave between 37th and 57th sts for the weekend and offers tantalizing food, delicious scents, colorful crafts and great deals tel 212/484-1222.
Fleet Week
End of May
The annual welcome of sailors from the US, Canada, Mexico the UK, among others, held at the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum; activities and events tel 212/245-0072.

JUNE
Museum Mile Festival
First Tues evening
On 5th Ave from 82nd St to 105th St. Museums, including the Museum of the City of New York, Jewish Museum, Guggenheim, the Met and others are open free 6-9pm tel 212/606-2296, www.museummile.org .
Puerto Rican Day Parade
Second Sun
The largest of several Puerto Rican celebrations in the city, seven hours of bands and baton-twirling from 44th to 86th sts on 5th Ave, then east to 3rd Ave tel 718/401-0404, www.nationalpuertoricanparade.org .
Lower East Side Jewish Spring Festival
Check the Jewish Weekly for date and location
Kosher foods, Yiddish and Hebrew folk singing and guided tours of the Jewish Lower East Side.
Mermaid Parade
First Sat after June 21
At this hilarious event, participants dress like mermaids and King Neptune and saunter down the Coney Island boardwalk, after which everyone throws fruit into the sea. If you're around - don't miss it tel 718/392-1267, www.coneyislandusa.com .
Lesbian and Gay Pride Week
Late June
The world's biggest Pride event kicks off with a rally and ends with a parade, street fair and dance tel 212/807-7433, www.nycpride.org .
Washington Square Music Festival
Late June to early July
A series of free Tues night classical, jazz and big-band concerts at this outdoor venue tel 212/431-1088.

JULY
Independence Day
July 4
The fireworks from Macy's, South Street Seaport and the display over the East River are visible all over Manhattan, but the best place to view them is either from the Seaport, Battery Park, the Esplanade at Brooklyn Heights or from atop almost any building at about 9pm tel 212/484-1222 or 560-4060.
New York City Tap Festival
Mid-July
The weeklong festival features hundreds of tap dancers who perform and give workshops tel 646/230-9564, www.nyctapfestival.com.

AUGUST
Harlem Month
Culminates with Harlem Day on the third Sun
The monthlong celebration of African, Caribbean and Latin culture includes a children's festival, a dance show, a fashion parade, talent contest and other festivities, such as the Black Film Festival and the Taste of Harlem tel 212/862-7200.
Dance Theater of Harlem Street Festival
Usually the second week
A variety of dance performances plus events for children, on 152nd St between Amsterdam and Convent aves tel 212/690-2800.
New York International Fringe Festival
Usually mid-Aug
Cutting-edge performance art, theater, dance, puppetry, etc. at many different venues on the Lower East Side tel 212-420-8877, www.fringeny.com .

SEPTEMBER
West Indian-American Day Parade and Carnival
Labor Day
Brooklyn's largest parade, modeled after the carnivals of Trinidad and Tobago, features music, food and dance. Tel 718/774-8807 or 212/484-1222.
Broadway on Broadway
Sun after Labor Day
Free performances feature songs by casts of virtually every Broadway musical, culminating in a shower of confetti; held in Times Square tel 212/768-1560 or 563-BWAY.
Festival of the Feast of San Gennaro
Ten days in mid-Sept
Boisterous event in honor of the patron saint of Naples, held along Mulberry St. The saint's statue is carried through the streets with donations of dollar bills pinned to his cloak tel 212/764-6330.
African-American Day Parade
Late Sept
Runs from 111th St and Adam Clayton Powell Blvd to 142nd St, then east toward 5th Ave, Harlem tel 212/862-7200.
New York Film Festival
Two weeks late Sept to mid-Oct
One of the world's leading film festivals unreels at Lincoln Center tel 212/875-5610, www.filmlinc.com/nyff/nyff .

OCTOBER
Columbus Day Parade
On or around Oct 12
One of the city's largest binges pays tribute to the city's Italian heritage and commemorates the day America was put on the map; 5th Ave from 44th to 79th sts tel 212/249-2360.
DUMBO Art Under the Bridge Festival
Mid-Oct
More than 700 emerging and professional artists show their work in 250 open galleries. The Parade of Concept (robots, remote-controlled vehicles and floats) kicks off the show in the neighborhood of DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) - in Brooklyn between the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges tel 718/624-3772, www.dumboartscenter.org .
Greenwich Village Halloween Parade
Oct 31
In the 7pm procession on 6th Ave from Spring to 23rd sts you'll see spectacular costumes, wigs and make-up. The music is great and the spirit is wild and gay. Get there early for a good viewing spot tel 212/475-3333 ext 4044, www.halloween-nyc.com .

NOVEMBER
Veteran's Day Parade
Nov 11
The United War Veterans sponsor this annual event on 5th Ave from 39th to 23rd sts tel 212/693-1475.
Fall Antiques Show
Mid-Nov
Foremost American antiques show in the country, at the Seventh Regiment Armory, Park Ave and 67th St tel 212/777-5218.
Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
Thanksgiving Day
New York's most televised parade, with floats, dozens of marching bands from around the country, the Rockettes, and Santa Claus's first appearance of the season. More than two million spectators watch it from 77th St down Central Park W to Columbus Circle, then down Broadway to Herald Square, 9am-noon tel 212/494-4495, www.macysparade.com .

DECEMBER
Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting
Early Dec
The lighting of the tree begins the festivities tel 212/632-3975.
Chanukah Celebrations
Usually in mid-Dec
During the eight nights of this holiday, usually in mid-Dec, a menorah-lighting ceremony takes place at Brooklyn's Grand Army Plaza tel 718/778-6000.
Holiday Windows
Beginning Dec 1
The windows on 5th Ave, especially those of Lord & Taylor and Saks Fifth Avenue, are well worth waiting on their long lines for.
New Year's Eve in Times Square
Dec 31
Some 200,000-plus revelers party in the cold streets tel 212/768-1560, www.timessquarebid.org . There are also fireworks at the South Street Seaport, Central Park and Brooklyn's Prospect Park. More family-oriented, alcohol-free First Nights with dancing, music and food take place throughout the city tel 212/818-1777

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