New York City Guide: experience live events in the Big Apple
They call it the city that never sleeps and why would you ever want to when there’s this much to do in New York City?
Only in New York! From some of the best-known sports teams in the world to the gleaming lights of Broadway to seeing the biggest stars on stage (or at the bodega), there’s something for everyone.
With nearly 20 million people in its metropolitan area, New York City is not only the most-populous metropolis in the United States, but one of the biggest in the world. The skyscrapers, the yellow taxis, the subway — its look is legendary thanks to the hundreds of television shows and films produced there. The best way to live like a true New Yorker? Catching a show or a game at the ballpark.
Got a New York minute? Perfect. That’s just enough time to browse our events guide, with the top tickets to the biggest events in New York City.
What’s happening in New York in 2019
- Sports: US Open Tennis Championships, Monster Jam, WWE Raw
- Concerts: Billy Joel, Jonas Brothers, Shawn Mendes
- Festivals: Afropunk Festival, Electric Zoo, The Governors Ball
- Theatre and Comedy: The Book of Mormon, Pretty Woman: The Musical, Hannah Gadsby
Things to know about New York City
While New York City’s history stretches back hundreds of years, with the Lenape Native American indigenous people occupying it long before Europeans arrived, its modern form took shape in 1898 with the consolidation of Manhattan, Brooklyn and the outlying areas. Coming into the 20th Century, its port was important both for trade as well as the entry point for thousands of immigrants coming to the States.
In 1925, New York overtook London as the world’s most-populous city and its signature skyline began to take shape in the subsequent decade. Despite periods of economic hardship during the Great Depression and crime during the 1970s and 80s, its resilient citizens established itself as the world’s cultural, financial and media capital in the 20th Century — from Broadway to Wall Street, Times Square to Madison Square Garden, the fashions of SoHo to the LGBTQ community around Stonewall.
Coming into the 21st Century, New York City’s resilience was tested by the September 11 terrorist — and it rose above it to be more powerful and popular than ever. Nearly 60 million tourist visit the city annually in 2016, attracted by its postcard-perfect landmarks and seemingly limitless selection of events across music and festivals, sports, theatre and comedy.
Among the largest events that happen in New York City annually are:
- US Open Tennis Championships
- New York Marathon
- Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
- New York City Pride March
- St. Patrick's Day Parade
- The Met Gala
- Tribeca Film Festival
- Governors Ball
- New York Fashion Week
- Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting
- New Year’s Eve in Times Square
- New York International Fringe Festival
Sports in New York City
New York City is a hub for North American sports, with the headquarters for the National Football League (NFL), National Hockey League (NHL), National Basketball Association (NBA), Major League Baseball (MLB), National Women's Hockey League (NWHL) and Major League Soccer (MLS) all based there. Want to catch a game while you’re in town? The city boasts nine franchises, with more than one team in each of the country's four biggest major professional sports leagues.
The city is often referred to as the Capital of Baseball, with two MLB teams playing there: the New York Yankees, based at Yankees Stadium in the Bronx, and the New York Mets, who play at Citi Field in Queens. Though the sport has been overtaken in national popularity by American football and the NFL, it remains the top choice amongst New Yorkers. The Yankees have also notably played in 40 World Series and won 27.
The rivalry between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox is legendary, and has shaped relations between the two cities for generations. Not to throw you a curveball, but don’t bother eating before heading to a Yankees or Mets game. Experiencing America’s national pastime wouldn’t be complete without grabbing a beer, a New York pretzel and a ballpark frank (translation: hot dog).
Hoping to make your time in New York a slam dunk? The city is also home court for two NBA teams: the New York Knicks, playing at the legendary Madison Square Garden venue, and Brooklyn Nets who shoot hoops at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
If NFL football is what you’re after, the New York Giants and New York Jets conveniently both play in the same arena, MetLife Stadium, which hosted the Super Bowl XLVIII in 2014. Additionally, the metropolis has three hockey teams: the New York Rangers (Madison Square Garden), New York Islanders (Barclays Center, Nassau Coliseum) and New Jersey Devils (Prudential Center).
Missing a taste of the UK? New York is now home to two Major League Soccer (read: football) teams, the New York Red Bulls (playing at Red Bull Arena) and New York City FC (Yankees Stadium). Additionally, the city also has internationally famous annual sports events including the New York Marathon, the world’s largest, and the US Open Grand Slam tennis tournament.
Music and festivals in New York City
New York is undoubtedly the capital of the world’s music industry, with many of the largest record labels headquartered and the biggest artists originating there. Its artistic scene is as diverse as the population that calls it home. The city is also proudly the birthplace of hip hop and rap, which has overtaken rock as the most popular genre.
Local musicians created salsa, boogaloo, New York punk rock and US new wave, though they are also relevant in virtually every genre — from pop rock to to Irish folk tunes to disco at Studio 54. Among the hugest stars that call the Big Apple home are Lady Gaga, Lana Del Rey, Taylor Swift, Beyonce and Jay-Z, A$AP Rocky, Cyndi Lauper and innumerable others.
For fans of live music, New York City hosts some of the world’s most renowned venues including Madison Square Garden, Barclays Center, Lincoln Center for Performing Arts, Carnegie Hall, Radio City Music Hall (hint: go see the Rockettes around the holidays) and Bowery Ballroom. The West Village, East Village and parts of Brooklyn also still have a great selection of local bars with performers.
While New York City doesn’t have the space to host many sprawling festivals, the most prominent is the Governors Ball on Randall’s Island. The three-day event attracts around 150,000 fans annually and features rock, pop, hip-hop, folk, indie and electronic music. Not feeling the festivals? Head to Broadway for a musical!
Theatre and comedy shows in New York
One of the reasons so many people ‘heart’ New York is Broadway. Alongside London’s West End, it is considered the highest calibre of theatre in the English-speaking world and helped to cement the city’s star role on the global stage.
Fans of the performing arts will be spoiled with choice; Broadway represents 41 professional theatres, each with over 500 seats each. Most of these are located in New York’s Theater District in Midtown Manhattan, with the largest including the Gershwin Theatre, Broadway Theatre, New Amsterdam Theatre, Palace Theatre and Minskoff Theatre. Pro tip: take the subway and grab dinner in the East Village, SoHo or Chinatown beforehand as most of the restaurants around New York Times are crowded tourist traps.
See our full guide to Broadway shows here.
Among the longest-running Broadway plays that you can still catch on stage are The Phantom of the Opera, Chicago, The Lion King, Cats, Wicked and The Book of Mormon. Additionally, there is a thriving Off-Broadway performing arts scene that has birthed massive musicals including Hair, Little Shop of Horrors, Rent, Avenue Q and Hamilton.