63 amazing things to do in NYC in May
Things to do
In the Mood Series: Spring Fling Central Park Zoo; May 4 at 6pm; $45
Find out how the lions, tigers, bears and other residents of the Central Park Zoo get down and dirty during this adults-only tour. Spring is the season of the birds and the bees, after all.
The Other Art Fair Brooklyn Expo Center; May 4-6; $7–$30
Discover the next big thing at this biannual fest in Greenpoint. The third edition features works from 130 up-and-coming and independent artists, curated for collectors and fans with varying budgets.
Frieze Art Fair Randall’s Island Park; May 4-6; $48, tours $18–$23, additional ticket options available
Art lovers flock to Randall’s Island Park for this dreamy display of works from 200 international galleries—and the view of Manhattan ain’t bad either. Take the ferry or the bus over to the island (buy advance tickets online if you can), and plan to spend some serious time immersing yourself in the imaginative projects found both indoors and out.
Night of a Thousand Stevies Irving Plaza; May 4 at 9pm; tickets start at $77.
Don your best black lace and velvet look and prepare to bow down and worship at the altar of Stevie Nicks. Musicians, drag queens and fans come from all over the country to attend this “Starbright”-themed blowout honoring the queen of rock and roll.
Jackson Galaxy’s Cat Camp Penn Plaza Pavilion; May 5-6; $25–$100
No, this isn’t a wilderness retreat that teaches cats how to tie knots, hike and start fires (but we totally call dibs on that idea). Instead, it’s a weekend of talks, shopping and meet and greets where like-minded kitty lovers can revel in all things meow. Animal Planet cat behaviorist Jackson Galaxy teaches you how to better treat your beloved furball and, of course, expect plenty of adorable kitties up for adoption.
Sacred Sites Open House Weekend at various locations; May 4-5; free
Even if you’re not a godly guy or gal, New York Landmarks Conservancy offers a great chance to take a peek at the art and architecture of houses of worship across all five boroughs with its annual Sacred Sites Open House Weekend. This year’s activities are organized around the theme “Sacred Sounds and Settings.” Check out guided tours, concerts, organ demonstrations and more, all for free. Righteous.
New York at Its Core: The Archaeology Museum of the City of New York; May 8 at 6:30pm; $15
Gross as it might seem, garbage is one of the most valuable sources of clues about New York City’s history. Discover what rubbish can teach us about the city’s past, present and future at this panel with leading archaeologists.
Summer Kickoff Yacht Party Hornblower Cruises; May 10; $39–$49
Summer is coming a little early to New York City Harbor this year as Time Out New York teams up with Hornblower Cruises & Events to throw an epic celebration on the Hudson! Wear your flippy-floppies and get psyched for this three-hour party cruise, which includes an open bar (drink up!), delicious hors d’oeuvres and killer local DJs playing across the yacht’s four floors. Let’s not forget about the stunning views of the New York skyline—oh, and did we mention three hours of unlimited booze?
Holi Hai Festival of Color Governors Island; May 12; free-$84
Governors Island hosts the Holi Hai Festival of Color in May. If you’re not familiar, Holi Hai is a party celebrating the coming of spring through live music and dancing, while guests throw rainbow-hued powders all over each other. That’s right: Everyone gets tye-dyed!
BUST Craftacular Factory Floor at Industry City; May 12; free-$85
BUST—a kick-ass feminist magazine—returns to Brooklyn with another action-packed indie shopaganza. In addition to stellar shopping vendors and craft cocktails, the event features classes on herbalism, macrame, embroidery, DJing, tarot symbolism and more. You’ll walk out with new skills and awesome items from local vendors (and probably some cool swag, too).
Japan Day Central Park; May 13; free
Make the most of a sunny afternoon in Central Park at the annual Japan Day, an all-day celebration of Japanese culture that unfolds under trees in full bloom. The party starts with a 5K run at 8am. If that’s a little early for you, hit the activity tents and live stage, which get going at 9:30am. Past events have offered Kabuki-style face painting, Japanese taiko drumming, lessons in calligraphy and origami, karate and musical performances and, of course, mouthwatering ramen, okonomiyaki and other traditional Japanese bites. Gotta try ’em all!
Mother’s Day Terrarium Making Luludi Living Art; May 13 at noon; $185 for two people
Spend Mother’s Day sipping champagne while you help your mom design her own succulent garden. At the end of the class, she’ll get to take home her new terrarium, an aromatherapy candle, artisan chocolates and other goodies.
Wicked Mothers: A Dark Celebration of Mother’s Day Q.E.D.; May 13 at 2pm; $10
No shade to your momma, but not all mothers throughout history were nice ladies. Marie Carter, Scottish guide of the spooky tour company Boroughs of the Dead, hosts this macabre Mother’s Day lecture on murderers, schemers and sociopaths who were also moms.
Pop-up Magazine David Geffen Hall; May 21; $36–$79
This live talent showcase invites authors, comedians, scientists and others to present researched stories on a wide range of interesting topics. May’s edition features actor and comedian Franchesca Ramsey, actor Joy Bryant, artist and author Leanne Shapton, Editor and Emmy-Award winning filmmaker Davy Rothbart and more.
Breakout Artist Comedy Series: Catherine Cohen Carolines on Broadway; May 1; $16.50
Gay men adore her. Women comics live to work with her. And we give you just one minute before you’re melting the god-given stage presence of Catherine Cohen. Every month, the musical comedy maven fuses self-deprecation and raw confidence into her shows Cabernet Cabaret and It’s A Guy Thing. Now, Cohen invites new fans to worship at her altar at this night of catchy original songs, upsetting characters and sweet social commentary. She’s joined at the piano by her ride-or-die musical companion Henry Koperski.
Not the One: A Love Story Theaterlab; May 4; $20
The always-charming Mindy Raf continues her victory lap with her frank solo show, at which the stand up takes on topics of coming out, gender binaries and modern love with witty asides, hilarious stories and songs.
Apologies From Men: The Concert Sid Gold’s Request Room; May 9; $10
“Amazon Reviews: The Musical!” creator Lauren Maul presents the apologies of Louis C.K., Kevin Spacey, Mario Batali and others overtop of a peppy musical score in this biting—and hilarious—satire.
Two Fake Blondes Present Character Karaoke Peoples Improv Theater; May 10; $8
The fearless, always-funny duo of Eliza Kingsbury and Jewel Elizabeth wrangle some of their favorite comedians to show up as original characters, who then face off in karaoke battles of your choosing at this wild night of musical comedy.
Mo’nique’s Mother’s Day Comedy Special Apollo Theater; May 12; $63–$134
For this special appearance, the Oscar winner returns to the legendary Apollo Theater, where she made history as the first female host of Showtime at the Apollo. She delivers nasty, uproarious stand-up along with confessional stories of her career and family as only she can, along with her touring buddy and Atlanta vet Tone-X.
Free Puppies: A Stand Up Comedy Shoe For People Who Like Puppies The Lantern Comedy Club; May 13; free
At this undeniably chipper show, some of our favorite comics wreak dark havoc over a range of topics (including puppies). This month, host Laurel Cummings invites Nick Kocher, Courtney Davis, Mark Benjamin, Aminah Imani, Jax Dell’Osso and Francis Ellis to the mic.
My First Time: A Stand Up and Storytelling Show Q.E.D.; May 16; $10
First times: we’ve all had ’em. Some were better than others, but most make great comedy fodder. Hear host Angela Cobb and a slew of guest comics joke about the life milestone society’s most obsessed with at Astoria’s intimate comedy club.
STEVIE Our Wicked Lady; May 29; free
Very campy hexes abound at this redoubtable night of free comedy, consecrated in honor of supreme witch Stevie Nicks. Hosts Drew Anderson, Sam Taggart and Marcia Belsky summon their funniest friends to join in— with guests Rob Haze, Alison Leiby, Martin Urbano, Lorelei Ramirez and Amanda Schectman hitting the stage at this month’s edition. Worship your new dark overlords!
Queer Film Theory 101 House of Wax; May 7; free
Queer stand-ups, writers and performers gather at the Alamo to discuss the formative movies that inspired their sexual and artistic development. We expect a lot of dishing on Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman and Prince Eric from The Little Mermaid. This month, host Michael Foulk welcomes Bobby Hankinson, Isabella Torchia and Dewayne Perkins to share clips and memories.
Fuerzafest Julia de Burgos Cultural Center; May 8-20; free–$20
Now in its third year, this festival of LGBT Latinx culture in NYC takes over the heart of El Barrio neighborhood for 13 days of films, theatrical performances, art and community building. Check fuerzafest.com for dates and times.
GAYme Show! Caveat; May 11; $8
Comedians Dave Mizzoni and Matt Rogers will be the first to tell you the definitive T on Demi Lovato’s vocal range, Gwen Stefani’s political affiliations and which Jennifer reigns supreme: Holliday, Hudson or Lopez. They magnanimously share their wisdom with the straight men of the world at this subversive and ridiculous competition, which forces bro comics to face off on gay trivia. Stay out of their line of fire.
GayTrippers NYC: South Jersey Wine Trail; May 12; 8:30am; $119
Hop on the bus and join the merry gentlemen of GayTrippers for this vineyard tour. You’ll sample over 18 wines at three vineyards, enjoy a complimentary lunch and even gag to drag queen Terra Hyman on your rides. Pickup is at 4th St and Ave A at 8:30am and at 45th St and Tenth Ave at 9am.
Bad Behavior House of Yes; May 13; free
The welcoming, consent-affirming vibe of the massive Bushwick party-playpen House of Yes makes it a gem for queer revelers on any given night, but you can count on this monthly throwdown for unabashed rainbow delirium. Flip your wig as pole dancers, burlesque divas and drag artists reign from cages, rafters and ropes, all while DJs like Le Tigre’s JD Samson and the PAT party staple Amber Valentine keep the dance floor going wild. Needless to say, sequins and glitter are encouraged.
Queerball UCBEast; May 14; $9–$12
Tim Dunn, gay comedy’s burgeoning papa bear, welcomes LGBTQ performers from across the spectrum to his magical kingdom of funny delights. Witness musical comedy, stand-up, contortionism, improv and drag, and, if you’re feeling brave, join Dunn onstage for a wild time of your own. On March 23, Dunn welcomes his favorite cohort of goons for a “Best of Queerball” greatest hits edition.
Fire Island Underwear Party Cherry Grove Beach; May 18, May 25; $20
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in Fire Island will be at the Underwear Party. The gold standard of the island and the start to any wild weekend, this lit tradition from Daniel Nardicio guarantees a wild, nasty time for all involved.
Chris Harder’s Big Back Door Slipper Room; May 21; $15–$25
Every month, the legendary Slipper Room plays host to burlesque’s cheekiest, sweetest male star as he zips himself out of ever-more spectacular bodysuits. Look out for a wild cast of guests, and brace yourself if you get called onstage for a game of “Now That’s a Mouthful!”
Food and drink
Taste of the Lower East Side Metropolitan Pavilion; May 3; $195
Is there any reason not to go to this neighborhood bash that will have bites from Bar Goto, Russ & Daughters and Veselka?
Mad. Sq. Eats General Worth Square; starts May 5; free to attend
Twice a year, this outdoor food fest brings buzzworthy bites from the city’s best restaurants to Worth Square in the Flatiron District. Highlights include Roberta’s sensational pizza, MeltKraft grilled cheese sandwiches and cheesesteaks by the Truffleist.
BrunchCon Brooklyn Expo Center; May 20; $45-$85
Every millennial’s favorite meal is getting its own festival. Cure your hangover (or make it worse) with an open Bloody Mary bar, mimosa pong and of course food samples from 30 food vendors.
CoffeeCon Villain; May 19, 20; $20-$50
Learn roasting techniques, join a tasting class or just drink lots and lots of coffee in this java-filled emporium with well-known vendors like Birch, Joe and Cafe Grumpy dispensing their beans.
Ninth Ave International Food Festival Hell’s Kitchen; May 19, 20; Prices vary per vendor
This long-running, 15-block-long outdoor street festival is back for the 45th year hosting global eats mainly sourced from the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood.
NYC Vegetarian Food Festival Metropolitan Pavilion; May 19, 20, $30 general admission, VIP $75
No meat allowed at this weekend-long fair promoting plant-based dishes, sustainable cooking techniques and pro-animal activism.
No Age Brooklyn Bazaar; May 2; $15
It’s been five years since No Age released its last album, An Object, and the band seems to have grown in the intervening time. The new album on Drag City, Snares Like a Haircut, takes the band’s noise rock in more propulsive, anthemic directions, which is sure to make for an invigorating gig.
Car Seat Headrest Market Hotel; May 8; $25
If you’re wondering about the name, Will Toledo recorded his first tunes in the back of the family car for privacy. He’s since come a long way, having just released his third collection of poignant melodies on the prestigious indie arbiter Matador Records, Twin Fantasy. It’s a breathtakingly ambitious efforts with rough-hewn anthems that recall peak-era Built to Spill or Modest Mouse.
Power Trip Elsewhere; May 9, 10; $18–$20
If you’re missing the precision fury of mid-’80s Metallica—sans the ballads—look no further than Power Trip. The Dallas crew plays alongside Sheer Mag, an anarchic, defiant outfit with incisive politics and arena-sized aspirations.
Deerhunter Elsewhere and LPR; May 15, May 16; $25
Renowned for occasionally outlandish live shows (singer Bradford Cox once performed four bars of “My Sharona” continuously for an hour), Deerhunter plays warped pop-rock filtered through a haze of reverb and dissonance, with Cox’s warm, often distorted vocals bouncing off angular guitar lines. Hopefully we’ll hear from the band’s upcoming Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared? LP.
Alex Zhang Hungtai & Gabriel Ferrandini Park Church Co-op; May 17; $12–$15
Zhang once made music as Dirty Beaches, a decidedly lo-fi punk act shrouded in mystery and reverb. He’s since retired the project in favor of focusing his attention on improvisational styles like free jazz, using saxophone, synthesizers, percussion and piano to create swelling, often feral compositions. He’s joined by free jazz drummer Ferrandini at this show.
Hop Along Brooklyn Steel May 30; $20–$25
Frontwoman Frances Quinlan’s agile vocal gymnastics are this Philly outfit’s most notable characteristic, along with the singer’s distinctive over-the-bar poetry. Expect to hear songs from the new album, Bark Your Head Off, Dog, which features more emotive indie rock that’s both heartrending and positively thrilling.
Diablo Cody’s trademark sarcasm is maturing into anxiety, exhaustion and wisdom—she’s becoming a voice for the ages. Tully, a major movie about motherhood, has all of that, plus Charlize Theron being hilarious. It’s Jason Reitman most impressive film since Young Adult, which makes sense. May 4
Michael Mayer’s adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s immortal tragedy is a little heavy on the prestige trappings. But all will be forgiven when you see Lady Bird’s Saoirse Ronan scorch this movie’s final 10 minutes with an emotional breakdown that launches her Nina into the echelon of all-time greats. May 11
We’re betting that the hot-and-bothered misadventures of a book club will be superior to their latest choice of reading, Fifty Shades of Grey. The film’s cast of comedy vets gives us hope: Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen and Mary Steenburgen turn the pages breathlessly. May 18
New director, same deranged, sweary, ultraviolent mayhem. Ryan Reynolds’s zero-fucks-giving superhero, Wade Wilson, is back, even if his follow-up hasn’t picked the most exciting of titles. Do not, under any circumstances, take your parents. May 18
Solo: A Star Wars Story
Ever wondered how Han first met Chewie, what kind of mileage the Falcon had when he bought it, or how he fell out with Lando? This Star Wars spinoff should provide some answers. Alden Ehrenreich, unknown for the moment, fills the biggest shoes in Hollywood. May 25
A.I.M at the Joyce Theater; May 1–6; $26–$56
Kyle Abraham’s modern-dance company performs two mixed bills that include three works by rising star Abraham himself: a reprise of 2017’s Drive and the world premieres of Meditation and the solo piece INDY.
Meg Stuart/Damaged Goods: Until Our Hearts Stop at the Skirball Center; May 4, 5; $40
Stuart dives into the tangled mess of human sexuality and intimacy in an orgiastic work for six dancers and an onstage jazz trio. (Be warned: The performance includes extensive nudity.)
La MaMa Moves! Dance Festival at La Mama Experimental Theatre; May 10–June 3; $20
Downtown performance mainstay La MaMa runs riot with dance in its annual festival, devoting two of its performance spaces to a diverse range of choreographers and performers.
American Ballet Theatre at the Metropolitan Opera House; May 14–July 7; $22–$250
The venerable company returns to the Met for an eight-week run that includes three works by artist in residence Alexei Ratmansky–Firebird, Harlequinade and Whipped Cream—alongside classics like Giselle and Swan Lake.
Parson Dance at the Joyce Theater; May 15–27; $51–$66
David Parsons and his company return to the Joyce with a mixed bill that comprises four pieces by Parsons himself (including company favorite Caught) as well as the company premiere of Trey McIntyre’s Ma Maison, set to music by the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.
DanceAfrica 2018 at BAM Howard Gilman Opera House; May 25–28; $24–$60
The 41st annual edition of the African-diaspora cultural festival honors the centennial of Nelson Mandela’s birth with a program that includes South Africa’s Ingoma Kwazulu Natal Dance Company and Siwela Sonke Dance Theatre.
Long Day’s Journey Into Night at the BAM Harvey Theater; May 8–27; $35–$125
Eugene O’Neill’s posthumous masterpiece follows the guilt-ridden, drug-ravaged Tyrone clan for one summer day, as secrets bubble up and boil over. This British import production, directed by Richard Eyre, stars Jeremy Irons and Lesley Manville.
Peace for Mary Frances at the New Group; May 8–June 17; $32–$127
The great Lois Smith plays the 90-year-old matriarch of an Armenian-American family riven by internal battles in a debut drama by Lily Thorne. The red-hot Lila Neugebauer (The Wolves) directs the premiere.
Me and My Girl at New York City Center; May 9–13; $35–$135
The invaluable concert-staging series Encores! presents Noel Gay‘s 1937 musical, directed by Warren Carlyle. Christian Borle plays a Cockney chap unexpectedly elevated to earldom; his costars include Laura Michelle Kelly, Harriet Harris and Edward Hibbert.
Time’s Journey Through a Room at A.R.T./New York Theatres; May 10–June 10; $15–$45
Hip Japanese playwright Toshiki Okada explores the aftermath of disaster in a play inspired partly by the Fukushima nuclear accident. Dan Rothenberg directs the U.S. premiere for the Play Company; the English translation is by Aya Ogawa.
Othello at the Delacorte Theater; May 29––June 24; free
Ruben Santiago-Hudson directs the first offering of the Public Theater’s 2018 season of Shakespeare in the Park: the Bard’s fast-paced tragedy of jealousy and misplaced trust. The cast is headed by Chukwudi Iwuji, Corey Stoll and Heather Lind.
“One Hand Clapping” Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; May 4–Oct 31, $25, seniors (65+) and students with valid ID $18, children under 12 free. Sat 5:45–7:45pm pay what you wish. $25, seniors and students with ID $18, members and children under 12 accompanied by an adult free. Sat 5:45–7:45pm pay what you wish
The latest in a series of commissioned-work exhibitions mounted by The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Chinese Art Initiative, “One Hand Clapping” presents five artists—Duan Jianyu, Wong Ping, Lin Yilin, Cao Fei and Samson Young—whose contributions delve into “the ways in which globalization affects our understanding of the future” through a range of mediums, from painting to VR technology.
“Anna Boghiguian: The Loom of History” New Museum; May 2–Aug 19, $16, seniors $14, students $10, children under 18 free. Thu 7–9pm pay as you wish with a suggested minimum of $2
Painting, drawing, writing, collage and sculpture, rendered in raw expressionistic fashion, are all part of the mix in the work of this Armenian-Egyptian artist whose solo exhibition at the New Museum marks her first in the United States. An inveterate traveller, Boghiguian often uses the history of the places she visits to address topics like war and revolution, and her own sense of being an outsider.
“Anselm Kiefer: Uraeus” Rockefeller Center Channel Gardens; May 2–July 22, free
Nietzsche’s notions about the will to power, the death of God and the Übermensch or Superman provide partial inspiration for Kiefer’s Uraeus, his first-ever public art commission in the United States. Standing 20-feet tall, the work features some of the German artist’s signature materials (lead sheeting) and motifs (books, wings) in a paean to classical mythology.
“Diana Al-Hadid: Delirious Matter” Madison Square Park; May 14–Sept 3, free
The sculptures of Syrian-born Brooklyn artist Diana Al-Hadid are known for commenting on history, globalism and the human condition through a haunting mix of fragmentary figuration and abstraction. “Delirious Matter” represents the artist’s first major public art project and comprises six new installations spread out over Madison Square Park.
“Adrian Piper: A Synthesis of Intuitions, 1965–2016” Museum of Modern Art (MoMA); Through July 22, $25, seniors $18, students $14, children under 16 free. For discounts, order tickets in advance at moma.org. Fri 4–8pm free. Film tickets free with museum admission; screenings-only admission $12, seniors $10, students $8, children under 16 free
MoMA mounts the first comprehensive survey of Piper, a hugely influential African-American conceptualist who was one of the first artists to tackle the subjects of gender and race.