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The Best Things to Do in NYC in May

March 16, 2018 - by City Guide News Desk
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They say April showers bring May flowers, which makes the merry month of May a terrific time to be in New York City. Mother's Day, Fleet Week and its special festivities at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, and the unofficial kick-off of summer on Memorial Day are also among the highlights. Read on for the best things to do in NYC in May.

Things to Do in New York in May: Exhibits

(5/2-5/5) Frieze Art Fair. Head over to Randall’s Island Park this spring to experience the contemporary art world in an alfresco environment. Interact with public installations, sit in on “Frieze Talks,” enjoy the Frieze Art Fair’s Reading Room, and of course, lay your eyes on some of the most talked about artwork in the city. friezenewyork.com

(5/2-5/5) Art New York  at Pier 92/94, an important exhibition facility for the arts that annually attracts over 150,000 collectors. Art New York will offer both noteworthy and fresh works by important artists from the modern, post-war, and pop eras, and feature paintings, photography, prints, drawings, design, and sculpture. 

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Play It Loud

(4/8-10/1) Play It Loud: Instruments of Rock n Roll at the Metropolitan Museum of Art . One of the most important artistic movements of the twentieth century, early rock musicians were attracted to the wail of the electric guitar and the distortion of early amplifiers-Jimmy Hendrix, Eddie Van Halen, Joan Jett, Prince, are just a few outstanding examples. The instruments used in rock and roll had a profound impact on this art form that forever changed music. The exhibition is co-organized with the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and will present approximately 130 instruments alongside posters and costumes. #MetRockandRoll

T. Rex The Ultimate Predator American Museum of Natural History

(Now-8/9/2020) T. rex: The Ultimate Predator opens at the American Museum of Natural History. Visitors will encounter a massive, life-sized model of a T. rex with patches of feathers—which, as scientists now know, were likely present on nearly all non-avian dinosaurs (all dinosaurs other than birds)—as well as reconstructions of a fluffy T. rex hatchling and a four-year-old juvenile T. rex; a “roar mixer” where visitors can imagine what T. rex might have sounded like by blending sounds from other animals; a shadow theater where a floor projection of an adult T. rex skeleton will come to life; and a magnetic wall where visitors will be tasked with placing various tyrannosaur family members in the correct time period. They will also encounter a life-sized animation of T. rex in the Cretaceous and explore real data from fossil specimens, CT scans, and microscope images at a tabletop Investigation Station. In collaboration with HTC VIVE, the Museum will present V. rex (working title) as its first interactive, multi-player virtual reality experience. Visitors will team up to build a T. rex skeleton bone by bone and then watch as it comes to life in what is now Montana, as it was 66 million years ago.

Frida Kahlo

Nickolas Muray (American, born Hungary, 1892–1965). Frida in New York, 1946? printed 2006. Carbon pigment print, image: 14 x 11 in. (35.6 x 27.9 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Emily Winthrop Miles Fund, 2010.80. Photo by Nickolas Muray, © Nickolas Muray Photo Archive. (Photo: Brooklyn Museum.)

(Now-5/12) Final weeks! Mexican painter Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) lived and worked in a manner which challenged the political, social, and sexual norms of her era. Kahlo held her national identity dear and used traditional Mexican dress as a fixture of her public persona. Her large body of self-portraits created a mythos of self (some say she invented the selfie). New at the Brooklyn Museum is Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving, a lush exhibition that shows off Kahlo’s art, in addition to personal artifacts like her cosmetics, letters, jewelry, and clothing. Additional context is provided by items from the museum’s Arts of the Americas collection, including Aztec sculptures, ceramics made in Guadalajara in the early 20th century, and an ancient Colima dog sculpture of a Xoloitzcuintli, a Mexican hairless dog that Kahlo had an affinity for. Advance tickets are available here.

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JRR Tolkien Bilbo comes to the Huts of the Raft-elves,

(Now-5/12) Final weeks! “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.” With these words Oxford professor J.R.R. Tolkien ignited a spark that's burned for generations of readers. From the children’s classic The Hobbit to the epic The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien’s tales of hobbits and elves, dwarves and wizards have introduced millions to Middle-earth, a world that Tolkien populated with creatures, languages, and histories. Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth at the Morgan Library & Museum is the most extensive public display of original Tolkien material in decades, stocked with family photographs and memorabilia, maps, draft manuscripts, and Tolkien’s original illustrations. 

(Now-7/10) Implicit Tensions: Mapplethorpe Now at The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Robert Mapplethorpe, one of the most critically acclaimed and controversial American artists of the late 20th century, is represented in great depth in the Guggenheim’s collection. In 1993 the museum received a generous gift of approximately two hundred photographs and unique objects from the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, creating one of the most comprehensive public repositories in the world of this important artist’s work. In 2019, 30 years after the artist’s death, the Guggenheim will celebrate the sustained legacy of his work with a yearlong exhibition in two sequential parts in the museum’s Mapplethorpe Gallery on Tower Level 4.

(Ongoing) Faith and Empire at the Rubin Museum. Religion has influenced and empowered countless political leaders throughout history, and Tibetan Buddhism is no exception. “Faith and Empire: Art and Politics in Tibetan Buddhism” is the first exhibition of its kind to explore Tibetan Buddhism’s dynamic political role in the empires of Asia from the 7th to the early 20th century. Artwork highlights include a set of 8th-century gilt-silver drinking vessels from the Tibetan Empire; an early 13th-century wrathful icon made of silk and ornamented with tiny seed pearls; a 4 ½-foot-tall 680-pound gilt-bronze bodhisattva from the early 15th-century Ming court; and a 19th-century 8-feet-wide Mongolian depiction of the final battle against the heretics and nonbelievers. The exhibition is arranged chronologically, beginning with the Tibetan Empire in the 7th century, and includes sections on the Tangut kingdom of Xixia, the Mongol Empire, the Chinese Ming dynasty, the rule of the Dalai Lamas, and the Manchu Qing dynasty.

(Now-7/28) Made in New York City: The Business of Folk Art at the American Folk Art Museum. See around 100 works by 18th, 19th, and early 20th-century self-taught artists that highlight the history of of New York City as a financial capital. The exhibition is curated by Elizabeth V. Warren, author of Red and White Quilts: Infinite Variety, The Perfect Game: America Looks at Baseball, and Young America: A Folk Art History, among other books. Made in New York City will tell its story from two perspectives: "The Art of Business" focuses on the people and places that were part of the city's thrumming commercial life. "The Business of Art" highlights the products of the artists, artisans, and manufacturers—the commercial signs, store figures, and early advertising images that they made. The exhibition will draw on the collections of a number of New York City museums.

(Permanent) The Jim Henson Exhibition at the Museum of the Moving Image celebrates the life and legacy of the famed Muppet creator, exploring both his prolific career and the enduring effect his work has on pop culture to this day. Visitors will learn more about the creation of such beloved works as The Muppet ShowSesame StreetFraggle Rock, The Dark Crystal, and Labryinth, as well as discover the cutting-edge experimental works Henson made throughout his career.Corduroy Don Freeman Museum of the City of New York

(Now-6/23) A City for Corduroy: Don Freeman's New York, now open at the Museum of the City of New York, presents the gamut of Freeman’s New York work, from his lively and humane depictions of ordinary New Yorkers and the city in the 1930s, to his illustrated scenes of the Broadway backstage, to his children’s books inspired by the city, including not just the beloved children's Corduroy  books but also Pet of the Met and Hattie the Backstage Bat. The exhibition features drawings, paintings, publications, and prints, as well as the artist’s original studies and sketches of Corduroy and other characters. 

Things to Do in NYC in May: Comedy

(5/2-5/4)  Samuel J. Comroe at Gotham Comedy Club. 

(5/21) Eddie Izzard at the Beacon Theatre. 

(5/30-6/1) Godfrey at Gotham Comedy Club. 

Things to Do in New York in May: Kids 

 

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(Ongoing) Kids of all ages will want to check out the brand new Gulliver's Gate, a $40 million extravaganza that allows visitors to travel the globe without leaving Times Square. Latin America, Asia, the Middle East, Russia, and Europe are all here in incredibly detailed miniature. And don’t let that word “miniature” fool you—Gulliver’s Gate feels like it covers acres, stretching a full city block with the wonders of the world.

(ongoing) Aspiring scientists and astronauts will want to explore the New York Hall of Science in Queens, brimming with interactive exhibits (plus an outdoor playground).

For more kids activities, check out our sister site nymetroparents.com!

Things to Do in NYC: Music & Nightlife

Bjork Cornucopia

(5/6, 5/9, 5/12, 5/16, 5/22, 5/25, 5/28, 6/1) Bjork: Cornucopia at the new Hudson Yards venue The Shed.

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(5/1) Joan Baez at the Beacon Theatre. 

Morrissey

(5/2-5/4, 5/7-11) Morrissey does a residency at the Lunt-Fontaine Theater. Get tickets here.

(5/5) Al Green at Radio City Music Hall. 

(5/8) The Dandy Warhols w/Cosmonauts, The Vacant Lots at Brooklyn Steel. 

(5/13-5/19) The 2019 Harlem Eat Up! Now, in its fifth year, the Festival offers a sampling of Harlem's sights, flavors and sounds. harlemeatup.com

(5/29) The Distillers w/ Starcrawl at Brooklyn Steel. 

(5/31) Bikini Kill at Brooklyn Steel. 

For more LGBT nightlife events, visit our brother site at metrosource.com!

Things To Do in New York in May: Sightseeing

Fleet Week at The Intrepid

(5/22-5/27) It's the 30th Annual Fleet Week in NYC! Festivities will be taking place all week long at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. For additional info, visit fleetweeknewyork.com.

(5/27) Catch the Memorial Day Parade Ceremony aboard the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. Additional Memorial Day parades are held in Brooklyn and Douglaston, Queens.

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(5/1) Starting today, The BEAST Speedboat Ride is back! 

Mother's Day New York Botanical Garden

(5/11-5/12) Mother's Day Weekend Garden Party at the New York Botanical Garden. The most spectacular spring landscape New York City has to offer is the setting for live music, games, picnicking, and more. Make a reservation for a delicious meal with mom at the Hudson Garden Grill.

(5/12) Enjoy Mother's Day Early Brunch, Brunch and Dinner Cruises aboard the Spirit of New York.

grand bazaar nyc

(5/5) Every Sunday on the Upper West Side you can find Grand Bazaar NYC, the city’s largest curated market—and most distinctive! You’ll find local artists and vintage/antique dealers with one-of-a-kind fashion, crafts, collectibles, and handmade jewelry. (There’s also some mighty tasty artisanal treats).  Today is the NYC Home Decor & Furniture Bazaar.

(5/18-5/19) The Ninth Avenue International Food Festival has been a New York favorite since 1973. Closing Ninth Avenue from 42nd Street to 57th Street in Hell’s Kitchen, and filling it with delicacies from Poland, Italy, Spain, Greece, Japan, Thailand, and beyond, the festival provides a great way to nibble your way around the world. There are games and other activities for kids, and live international music and dancing at 55th Street. No entrance fee; the festival runs rain or shine, noon to 5pm.

(5/18-5/19) At the NYC Vegetarian Food Festival, you’ll learn about sustainability, healthy living, and going green. Attendees can sit in on lectures and get cooking tips from big name chefs during the two-day event. nycvegfoodfest.com

Things to Do in New York in May: Ongoing

Yankee Stadium Tours

(ongoing) Baseball season is here! Take a Yankee Stadium Tour

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Part tour, part show, total entertainment! Take THE RIDE!  Plus, Check out the new RIDE DOWNTOWN Experience!

Bring a loved one to take in the breathtaking view at Top of the Rock. 

Visit the sites of Friends, Seinfeld, Trainwreck, Gossip Girl, Sex and the City and many other NYC film sites with On Location Tours. 

Learn more about the fascinating history of New York City's Financial District with Wall Street Walks tours.

Grab a photo with Taylor Swift, One Direction, Lady GaGa and six different James Bonds at Madame Tussauds New York.

Ripley's Believe It or Not! Odditorium brings people of all ages face-to-face with the world's most unbelievable curiosities. With 18,000 square feet of astonishing artifacts and exciting interactive exhibits. Here's a coupon!

Zip up 100 stories in 60 seconds and see New York City atop One World Observatory.

Explore New York City from the best vantage points with Helicopter Flight Services Tours. Choose from four different itineraries.

New York Weather in May

As we said at the top, the April showers have passed, and we’re reaping the benefits as blossoms are everywhere in New York in May. Things are warming up quite nicely, with the average daily high starting off at 66°F (19°C) on May 1 and working its way up to 75°F (24°C) by May 31. Lows at the beginning of May get down to an average of 50°F (10°C), but by the end of the month nights are only getting down to about 60°F (15.5°C). Despite the passing of the April showers, you can still expect to encounter some rain on a visit to New York—in fact, May is a slightly wetter month than April. Look for an average of about 4 inches of rain, and about half the days of the month experience some precipitation. The odds of snow and extreme weather are very low in New York in May, so you won’t need more than a light jacket and maybe an umbrella.


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