While the weather may get a little temperamental, don’t let that keep you from all the amazing things to do in New York City in April.
Take your sports back outdoors
Whether it’s tennis on the clay courts of Prospect Park, jogging alongside the blooming trees around Central Park’s reservoir or hiking in Queens’ Forest Park, warmer weather means it’s time to take your recreation back outdoors. The city’s parks have tons of free events and classes for all skill levels. nycgovparks.org
Stomp and holler at the Brooklyn Folk Festival
Immerse yourself in Americana, from bluegrass to jug bands, banjo and string bands, as well as the folk music of the world at the Brooklyn Folk Festival. More than three dozen acts will perform during the three-day festival at St. Ann’s Church, plus screenings, dancing and the first-ever fiddle contest (no soul wagering, please). April 6-8, $25 and up, brooklynfolkfest.com
The most fun fight of the year
It’s all the fun of a sleepover with none of the awkward late-night confessions when Pillow Fight NYC returns to Washington Square Park. It’s free to join, and you can really get into the event by either wearing pajamas or dressing for the annual theme: Space Ponies. You can BYO pillow (soft and feather-free) or donate $5 to the Mattress Firm Foster Kids program and pick one up at the Mattress Firm in NoHo. April 7, 3-5 p.m.
See the cherry trees bloom
There’s no better place in the city to see cherry trees than Brooklyn Botanic Garden, where over 200 of them line its Cherry Esplanade and dot the gorgeous landscape of its Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden. The first blooms have officially been sighted — you can keep track via the garden’s Cherrywatch — and it all culminates with the annual Japanese cultural extravaganza Sakura Matsuri on April 28-29.
Be there for Broadway’s biggest season
Some of the most anticipated shows of recent history are coming to Broadway this season. Tina Fey takes the writing helm again for the Mean Girls musical opening April 8; the award-winning stagecraft and original London main cast of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child will be unveiled in April 22; and disco queen Donna Summer gets the jukebox musical treatment starting April 23.
Help build a space station
The largest fan-run convention of Lego enthusiasts Brick Fest Live comes to the New York Hall of Science, with giant sculptures including a 7-foot-tall Woody from Toy Story, a Brick Pit with more than 100,000 pieces and a space station where visitors can help build a spaceship. April 7-8, free with museum admission, nysci.org
Honor brunch’s best cocktail
The Bloody Mary Festival is two and a half hours of tasting your way through some of the best takes on the cocktail from bars and restaurants around the city at Grand Prospect Hall in Brooklyn. There’ll be food, too, plus live music and entertainment. April 8, $50, thebloodymaryfest.com
Peek into every room of the Beer Mansion
Brooklyn Brewery will once again convert the Williamsburg’s Weylin into a multi-room funhouse for its second annual Beer Mansion. First and foremost a showcase of beers, with six craft brewers featured, Beer Mansion is an immersive experience with themed rooms — this year it’s The Speakeasy, The Arcade, The Show and The Bazaar — plus live entertainment and food by local restaurants. April 13-14, $65-$120
Hear from the people fighting for change
Artists have been among the first and strongest figures in the ongoing culture war against the neo-Nazism, misogyny and other social problems that have surfaced with the election of Donald Trump. Hear from them first-hand and hone your own plan to Resist and Reimagine, the theme of this year’s PEN World Voices Festival that brings together 165 creative people including The Daily Show’s Hasan Minhaj, LGBTQ activist Chelsea Manning and Hillary Clinton. April 16-22, free-$35, various locations, worldvoices.pen.org
Rejuvenate during Spa Week
Have you spring cleaned your body? Give yourself the same attention you give your apartment to get it ready for the new season during Spa Week, when treatments like a chemical-free Jet-3D Peel or laser hair removal are offered for just $50 at some of the best salons in the city. There’s no limit on the number of sessions you can sign up for, making it a great value for spa addicts and an easy intro for newbies. April 16-22, spaweek.com
Go behind the scenes of Sweetbitter
The most anticipated new show of the spring for foodies is Sweetbitter, the Starz adaptation of Stephanie Danler’s novel about coming of age on New York’s food scene, from a high-end Manhattan to a Williamsburg bodega. Meet the author alongside the creative team behind the series including showrunner Stuart Zicherman at an intimate panel at the William Vale Hotel, with cocktails to start and schmoozing after the talks, which include sneak peeks of the show, concludes. April 18, 6:30-9 p.m., free with RSVP, eventbrite.com
See the stars at the Tribeca Film Festival
New York City’s biggest event dedicated to movies, the Tribeca Film Festival, brings hundreds of the most essential narratives of our time — not to mention the A-list people who make them — to the city’s theaters. Catch Steven Spielberg talking about Schindler’s List, a masterclass with Alec Baldwin, panels with John Legend and Sarah Jessica Parker, plus the festival-within-the-festival virtual reality and video game arcades. April 18-29, tribecafilm.com
Taste the hottest food festival
Dubbed a “two-day tribute to all things spicy,” the New York Hot Sauce Expo will feature unlimited samples by over 50 craft hot sauce makers from around the world. While that may test your tastebuds, it’s nothing compared to the competitors who’ll take to the Stage of Doom for competitions each day, including a Guinness Book of World Records attempt. There’ll be plenty of food to try your sauces on, plus beer and cocktails. April 21-22, $10-$100, eventbrite.com
Meet the celebrities of the chili world
It’s worth the trek to Staten Island for Historic Richmond Town’s annual NYC Chili Cookoff. The official New York state cookoff event of the International Chili Society, this is where you’ll find unlimited chili tastings by some of the East Coast’s best cooks accompanied by live entertainment and some very serious judging. April 21, noon-4 p.m., $15 adults, $8 kids
Crown the king of brisket
Could a Brit upset the smoked meat game at this year’s Brisket King? Be part of the barbecue-loving crowd to decide the winner among local favorites including Fatty Cue and Hill Country as well as imports from Toronto, Memphis and beyond vying for glory, plus lots of beer, cider and spirits. April 25, 6-9:30 p.m., 110 Kent Ave., Brooklyn, $75-$1,000, brisketking.com
Grab tickets to Harry Potter: A History of Magic
How J.K. Rowling built the wizarding world is the subject of a new exhibit, Harry Potter: A History of Magic, coming to the New-York Historical Society this fall. Be among the first to see it by getting tickets early; they're on sale now for members, with the general public presale opening April 26.
Eat the World’s Fare
A food festival with ambitions to be the World’s Fair of food is coming to Citi Field this month. Appropriately titled World’s Fare, the event has the backing of chef Claus Meyer (so you can be sure it’s legit) with over 50 food vendors lined up from around the city, plus an international beer garden, live music, a sumo demonstration and more. April 28-29, $19-$199
Explore coffee’s local history
If you think New York just drinks coffee, let the Brooklyn Historical Society’s panel of experts, business owners and thinkers illumate you at Roasted: The History of Coffee in NYC. Hear about the Gillies Coffee Company, founded in 1840, and how Brooklyn Roasting Company is changing the game and more of the city’s “caffeinated history.” April 26, 6:30 p.m., $10, brooklynhistory.org