Coming up with a condensed list of New York highlights for each month of the year is a little bit like trying to see the city in a day – you know that you're most definitely missing something. But here's my best (highly subjective) attempt to compile the most interesting annual events in the city that never sleeps.
JanuaryNew Yorkers stay warm indoors at the theater, concerts or museums – or head to the Caribbean. But those still in town take advantage of New York Restaurant Week to dine at some of the city's best (and priciest) restaurants for a discounted prix-fixe dinner or lunch – just make sure you reserve your top choices far in advance.
FebruaryWhen the best options are between fashion, dogs or lions, you know it's the dead of winter in New York.
• Though you have to be invited to see the actual fashion shows at New York Fashion Week, it's still fun to hang around Bryant Park and watch the fashionistas arrive and depart.
• You can also ogle the pampered show canines at the annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show at Madison Square Garden.
• Or watch the dancing lions and other colorful floats in the Chinese New Year Parade, held in the largest Chinatown in the country (free).
MarchThough the air's still nippy, New Yorkers take to the street to celebrate.
• Head to a pub to toast the Irish after catching the bands and bagpipe players marching up Fifth Avenue in the St. Patrick's Day Parade (free).
• Don your best Easter bonnet for the often outrageous Annual Easter Parade and Easter Bonnet Festival (free).
April The Tribeca Film Festival, started in 2002 by Robert De Niro, features screenings of films from around the world, including many premieres. Best of all, the directors or stars are usually there for Q&As following the showings.
May As the warm weather (hopefully) starts in spring, so do the street fairs. Nearly every weekend from May through September brings festivals all over the city, with their offerings of freshly grilled corn on the cob, handmade jewelry and very cheap socks (for whatever reason, a summer fair staple). One that breaks the standard street fair mold is the Ninth Avenue International Food Festival in May, which sells grub from local restaurants in addition to the ubiquitous elephant ears.
Also this month
• Join 30,000 others biking around the city's five boroughs (from Lower Manhattan through the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island) in the New York City Five Boro Bike Tour.
• See and smell one of the largest cherry blossom displays outside of Japan at the Sakura Matsuri festival held at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, which also features more than 60 colorful Japanese-themed events and performances.
June Though a New York summer can be brutally hot and many locals head out of town on the weekends, summer in the city can be a great time to experience a little culture – at no cost.
•Central Park SummerStage has a mixture of free and definitely-not-free concerts, films and readings amidst the splendor of New York's largest green space; Celebrate Brooklyn! features a more low-key lineup with fewer crowds across the East River at the Prospect Park Bandshell. Both run from June through September.
• The River to River Festival brings music and dance events downtown to the South Street Seaport, Battery Park and the World Financial Center from June through September (free).