New York City - Activities
• Gray Line offers double-decker bus tours. The traffic congestion makes this tour a bit slow at times. But you may want to take the tour to get the lay of the land and discover what you want to visit later.
• HI Hostel offers some unique tours to people staying there (see Hostels section), such as an interesting Harlem Gospel walking tour - a Sunday morning tour of south Harlem ending with a church experience in a Harlem church. Cost is $7 and the guide is quite knowledgeable. They also often have discount coupons for various activities such as Broadway shows - check at the front desk.
• Big Onion Walking Tours - an inexpensive and engaging way to gain historical perspectives on several neighborhoods
New York is the entertainment capital of the world, and no other city can match the number, range, and quality of its entertainment options. Be sure to check out Time Out New York (available at newsstands all over the city) for the latest listings information.
Theater and Musicals
New York's Broadway is famous for its many shows, especially musicals. You might want to visit TKTS that offers tickets for shows the same night at discounted prices, usually 50% off. TKTS has two offices, one at Times Square with lines often hours long, and a much faster one (sometimes minutes) at South Street Seaport (Corner of John St., just south of Brooklyn Bridge). Note that only cash is accepted at South Street. Show up at opening time for best selection.
New York boasts an enormous amount and variety of theatrical performances. These shows usually fall into one of three categories: Broadway, Off-Broadway, or Off-Off-Broadway. Broadway refers to the shows near Times Square that usually play to theaters of 500 seats or more. These include the major musicals and big-name dramatic works, and are the most popular with visitors. Tickets for Broadway shows can run to US$100 a seat, though discounters like TKTS (above) make cheaper seats available. Off-Broadway indicates performances that are smaller, not located in or near Times Square, and usually of a certain intellectual seriousness. Tickets to Off-Broadway shows tend to range from US$25-50. Off-Off-Broadway refers to those shows that play to very small audiences (less than 100 seats) with actors working without equity. These can be dirt cheap and often very good, but some may be sufficiently avant-garde as to turn off conservative playgoers.
Music and Dance
New York has a wide variety of musical and dance companies, including several that are among the world's most renowned. There are also numerous small companies putting on more idiosyncratic shows every night of the week. The following are just a few of New York's most high-profile music and dance options.
• Carnegie Hall 881 Seventh Avenue. The premier venue for classical music in the United States, Carnegie Hall is famous around the world for its dazzling performances. Playing at Carnegie Hall is, for many classical musicians, the epitome of success. Carnegie Hall houses three different auditoriums, with the Isaac Stern auditorium being the largest venue.
• New York Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center, 155 West 65th Street (at Broadway). One of the premier orchestras in the United States, playing a wide variety of concerts (more than 100) every year to sold-out crowds, the Philharmonic is well-known for its standard-setting performances of the classical canon. The season runs from September to June, and in the summer they play in parks around the city.
• Metropolitan Opera at Metropolitan Opera House in Lincoln Center, 155 West 65th Street (at Broadway). The Met (as it is known) is one of the greatest opera companies in the world. The company performs seven days a week during the season (September to April) and always lands the greatest singers from around the globe. Though you can pay a small fortune to see the Met, you can also land upper-tier seats for as little as $25.
• New York City Opera at New York State Theater in Lincoln Center, 155 West 65th Street (at Broadway). The slightly more accessible and energetic younger sister of the Met, the NYCO is a world-class company that puts on a dynamic range of performances. Plus, tickets can go for as little as $16.
• New York City Ballet at New York State Theater in Lincoln Center, 155 West 65th Street (at Broadway). Founded by George Balanchine, the New York City Ballet is among the world's best dance companies. Their performances of The Nutcracker are enormously popular.
• Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center at Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center, 155 West 65th Street (at Broadway). The Chamber Music Society is the most prestigious chamber music ensemble in the United States, playing in the acoustically impeccable Alice Tully Hall.
• Brooklyn Academy of Music 30 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn. Home to the impressive Brooklyn Philharmonic, BAM is one of the best places in the country to attend cutting-edge new musical and dance performances. The Next Wave Festival every autumn is a much-anticipated event of the New York performance scene.
New York is one of the world's greatest film cities, home to a huge number of theaters playing independent and repertory programs. Many major US studio releases open earlier in New York than elsewhere (especially in the autumn) and can be found at the major Cineplex's (Loew's, United Artists, etc.) around the city. Be advised that, as with everything else in New York, movies are quite popular, and even relatively obscure films at unappealing times of the day can still be sold out. It's best to get tickets in advance whenever possible. As many films premiere in New York, you can often catch a moderated discussion with the director or cast after the show. Sometimes even repertory films will have post-screening discussions or parties. Check listings for details.
Some of the more intriguing New York film options include:
• Film Forum 209 West Houston Street. A stylish theater in Greenwich Village that runs two programs--contemporary independent releases and classic repertory films. While the current releases are almost always interesting and worth seeing, it's the repertory programming schedule that film lovers anticipate eagerly.
• Angelika Film Center 18 West Houston Street at Broadway, 212 995-2000 - Just down the street from Film Forum, the Angelika plays new independent and foreign films, many of which are only screened in New York. The cafe upstairs is something of a hotspot as well.
• Film Society at Lincoln Center Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center, 155 West 65th Street (at Broadway). Though you'll pay more money to see movies here than elsewhere in New York, it's worth it. The Film Society always puts on a terrific repertory program and shows a wide variety of experimental and foreign films. In addition, numerous talks and panels are held here, many featuring bold-named directors, screenwriters, and actors.
• MoMA 11 West 53rd Street. In addition to being the crown jewel of modern art museums, MoMa puts on a terrific repertory program in a nicely renovated theater below the museum. And compared to other New York movie theaters, tickets to films at MoMa are a steal.
• American Museum of the Moving Image 35th Ave and 36th Street, Queens. AMMI contains a museum devoted to, literally, moving images, so visitors will find exhibits on zoetrope's and video games in addition to film and television. They also put on a terrific screening program, with films showing continuously throughout the day.
• Anthology Film Archives 32 Second Avenue (at East 2nd Street) has a varied program of unique films, both repertory and new, most playing for only one or two screenings. Many of the films shown here can't be seen anywhere else (for better or worse). It also plays host to several film festivals yearly.
• New York Film Festival at Lincoln Center. Running in October, the New York Film Festival is one of the country's best, with great films from around the world accompanied by interesting discussions, lectures, and panels. Be advised that tickets usually sell out at least a month in advance.
• Tribeca Film Festival Throughout May the movie theaters of Lower Manhattan are taken over by the Tribeca Film Festival, which puts on a truly enormous amount of screenings and talks. Just a few years old, the Tribeca Film Festival has already secured a prominent place in New York's film calendar
New York City hosts many parades, street festivals and outdoor pageants. The following lists these by date.
• New York's Village Halloween Parade Each Halloween (October 31) at 7 PM, this parade and street pageant attracts 2 million spectators and 50,000 costumed participants along Sixth Avenue between Spring Street and 21st Street. Anyone in a costume is welcome to march; those wishing to should show up between 6 PM and 9 PM at Spring Street and 6th Avenue.
• Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade The morning of each Thanksgiving on Central Park West, this parade attracts many spectators and is broadcast on nationwide television.
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