New York City is known for its bustle, its glam, its excitement, and…its flowers? That’s right — in springtime, our concrete jungle becomes a hotspot for garden enthusiasts. Is one of the city’s best bloom-spotting attractions in your backyard? Read on to find out!
Brooklyn Botanic Garden
If you’ve never been to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden in spring, you’re missing out. As the weather warms, the garden boasts no less than 17 varieties of blooming cherry blossoms. Those blooms aren’t the only draw; visitors can find and enjoy the sights and smells of exotic and domestic flowers alike in the garden’s plant collections and specialty gardens. If you’re looking for a dash of culture with your springtime flowers, check out the Steinhardt Conservatory! This horticultural center encompasses the C.V. Starr Bonsai Museum, an aquatic plant house, an art gallery, and three climate-themed plant pavilions.
Central Park Conservatory
If you’re a fan of European formal gardens, the Central Park Conservatory is a must-see. This quiet, six-acre corner of the Park boasts three sections adhering to the English, French, and Italian styles of formal gardening, respectively. It’s a peaceful haven for flower enthusiasts who want to enjoy a meditative moment of admiration. Wilder blooms can also be spotted along Central Park’s less-formal walking trails and green spaces.
Queens Botanical Garden
What’s spring without a little fun? New flowers pop up and bloom near-daily in this 39-acre plot, making the Queens Botanical Garden a prime weekend destination for nature-loving families. The garden hosts several events to celebrate new blooms throughout the season, including its family-centric Arbor Day Festival. This high-energy event offers kids the chance to do arts and crafts, visit a petting zoo, play in a bouncy castle, and more! Adults can enjoy a quieter spring season by walking through the Queen’s Botanical Garden’s arboretum, visiting its art gallery, or exploring its rose, herb, perennial, and bee gardens.
New York Botanical Garden
Want a tech-friendly take on flower-spotting? The New York Botanical Garden has you covered. If you love azaleas, daffodils, roses, or cherry trees and don’t want to miss seeing any or all in peak blossom, check out the NYBG’s plant trackers! These trackers offer flower enthusiasts a quick glimpse of how far into bloom these springtime staples are from the comfort of their homes. Don’t cap your visit to peak season, though. NYBG hosts a series of events to highlight its plants, including an indoors orchard show!
Wave Hill might be small, but its snowdrop populations are unparalleled. This 28-acre park is a quintessential New York garden spot tucked away in the Bronx; it has wildflower greens, woodland paths, and lovely vistas.
Narrows Botanical Garden
Founded in the mid-nineties by two Bay Ridge residents, the Narrows Botanical Garden is living proof that local engagement can make positivity bloom within a community. The garden is home to several tree groves, a butterfly garden, a turtle sanctuary, and flocks of birds. Interestingly, the Narrows only includes plants native to New York. Today, the park is still maintained by Bay Ridge residents. It has a delightful view of the Bay and the Statue of Liberty.
The High Line
Springtime isn’t only for delicate flowers. The Highline encompasses a collection of hardy New England perennials, shrubs, and trees. Its Lilafee Barrenwort — a tough plant with rich, spring-blooming purple flowers — is particularly beautiful this time of year. The most exciting time for the High Line, however, is its annual spring cutback. Unlike other gardens, landscapers for the High Line allow winter-dried stalks to remain in place as habitat for native wildlife. In the spring, the High Line invites hundreds of local volunteers to join their gardeners in cutting back plants by hand to allow for compost and new growth. It’s an experience that garden enthusiasts won’t want to miss!
So, what are you waiting for? Shake off that winter chill and get hopping; there’s a ton to enjoy at these NYC gardens!
Want more insights about New York’s hidden treasures? Check out our post on NYC’s Most Overlooked Landmarks!
The snow is finally melting and that means one thing across New York City: a multitude of great springtime festivals that cater to every interest. As we look for more reasons to spend time outside, there’s no shortage of great events to plan those longer days around. Here are just a few of the offerings at hand for the warmer months ahead.
Frieze New York
While NYC’s many art museums are generally open year-round, Frieze New York is a weekend-long festival that offers the chance to see high art while simultaneously enjoying the spring weather, a rare opportunity. While it’s primarily a showcase for collectors and dealers, this tented art fair on Randall’s Island welcomes art lovers of every stripe to enjoy the thousands of works on display. More than a simple market, the Frieze Fair features site-specific and groundbreaking new works. For NYC’s rapidly evolving art scene, nothing less will do.
9th Avenue Food Festival
Stretching all the way from 42nd to 57th Street (Times Square-area to Columbus Circle-area, roughly), this long-running food fest has enough room for the best tastes from around the globe. From French Crepes to Indian Curry to South America Pupusas, New York’s international character perhaps sees its best representation in Ninth Avenue’s bustling yearly fair. If the good isn’t enough to entice you, there are vendors and games to keep you around even after you fill up on the goods.
Macy’s Flower Show
March 25 – April 8
Nothing says spring like flowers, and nothing says NYC like Macy’s, so what better way to celebrate the season by enjoying the best of both? Macy’s isn’t just the host of the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade down 5th Avenue, but their cherished flower show festoons the aisles of their landmark Herald Square location with a spectacular array of fresh flower arrangements from floor to ceiling. This parade-worthy display is only up for two weeks, so hop on the train and pay them a visit-no purchase necessary.
Bloody Mary Festival
For 5 years running, this celebration has drawn the crowds looking for the most creative takes on breakfast’s favorite cocktail. Featuring live music, food tastings and more, this event promises the best brunch of the spring. This year’s event will host 17 masters of the Mary at Park Slope’s regal Grand Prospect Hall, so feel free to dress in your Sunday best as you sip the finest vodka-and-tomato juice cocktails the city has to offer.
Easter Parade and Bonnet Festival
Since the 1870s, New Yorkers have shown off their finest at this Easter celebration where too much decoration is almost never enough. This solemn holiday celebration has morphed over the years into a colorful display of creativity with bonnets with every color and ornamentation imaginable, even with live animals festooning some of the more outlandish designs. Centering (naturally) around St. Patrick’s Cathedral on 5th Avenue and 50th Street, the festival is just part of a larger parade that runs up to 57th Street. Even if you can’t make it into Mass, getting to the church is enough to take part in or simply witness the festivities.
Though both meteorologists and the groundhog agreed spring would come early this year, after a brief warm spell New York City is experiencing an unseasonably chilly early April. Still the flowers are blooming and the sun is out — the temperature, surely, is not far behind. And even a brisk 50-something degrees is fine enough for New Yorkers to get out of the house and start enjoying longer days, brighter skies and fresh-aired adventures.
For Brooklynites, there are an abundance of events right in the borough that either celebrate the season or compliment it. Here’s a sample of some of the most notable events taking place in various Brooklyn neighborhoods.
Cherry Blossom Festival at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens
The brilliant pink and white trees known as cherry blossoms bloom in New York in April every year. There is perhaps no better place to view this spectacle than the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, its 52 acres located just east of Prospect Park touching Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Crown Heights and Prospect Heights in length.
2016 marks the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens’ 35th anniversary of the festival, called Sakura Matsuri for its celebration of traditional and contemporary Japanese culture. The festival takes place on Saturday April 30 and Sunday May 1, offering 60 events and performances. Tickets cost $25 for adults and are free for children under 12.
Cherry blossom trees change at different rates by the day, so you can check them out at BBG and elsewhere during surrounding dates. To track bloom process, simply check out the website here.
Hot Sauce Festival at the Brooklyn Expo Center
The weather might not be hot just yet, but that doesn’t mean you mouth can’t be. Hot sauce enthusiasts flock from near and far for the Hot Sauce Festival, held at the Brooklyn Expo Center in Greenpoint, Brooklyn on April 24th and 25th.
Dozens of local vendors participate in numerous categories, including Louisiana style, chipotle, fruit-based, jalapeno, habanero, all-natural, chicken wings, spicy salsa, and even best label art. Attendants can sample a wide variety if their taste buds can handle it. General admission is $10, while $55 can get you five beers and a lunch platter and $100 can get you an all-access pass.
If lovers of spice miss this one and are willing to wait out the summer, the Brooklyn Botanical Garden’s annual Chili Pepper Festival is right around the corner on October 1.
Pop Music Festival
If you’re not into BBQ or cherry blossoms, music is a near-universal attraction. There are, of course, hundreds of music events during any given season in the city that never sleeps — one needs only throw a stone at the nearest bar. For those specifically interested in indie pop, the Pop Music Festival may be the springtime event for you.
Also hosted at several Manhattan venues, Brooklyn locations include Baby’s All Right, the Knitting Factory and Littlefield, where a stellar lineup of up-and-coming bands will rock out from the afternoon to the evening, followed by after parties into the wee hours of the morning.
Who knows? Your next favorite band may be there, prepping your next warm weather jam.
The Brooklyn Flea
There’s nothing quite like an open-air flea market. After months of stuffy indoor fleas, the Brooklyn Flea gets some fresh oxygen: starting in early April, the popular flea market celebrates its ninth outdoor season.
You can find the Brooklyn Flea in various neighborhoods across the Brooklyn borough. The Fort Green Flea is open every Saturday, and the DUMBO Flea every Sunday. An offshoot of the Brooklyn Flea called Smorgasburg occurs every Saturday in Williamsburg and Sunday in Prospect Park, featuring culinary vendors of all flavors.
This Brooklyn event may require a long subway ride south, but it makes up for distance in nautical nonsense. Coney Island’s annual Mermaid Parade takes place on June 18th, at the tail end of the season (the summer solstice is June 20).
Began in 1983, the Mermaid Parade honors the early 20th century Coney Island parades: like Mardi Gras, but with flippers. Floats, groups, and individuals are showcased in the parade, and even onlookers get in on the action by dressing as close to marine life as their closets and budgets will allow.
Even better, admission is free! Just be prepared to swim through some fishy crowds, and possibly get a little wet and glittery in the process.
Featured image: Katie Killary via Flickr