Classic Memorial Day Activities in NYC

As Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer in NYC, it is observed with barbecues, block parties, and other low-key yet festive gatherings throughout public parks and closed-off streets. Consult our guide to the best events throughout the five boroughs, and plan your holiday weekend.

Memorial Day Parades

All boroughs but Manhattan host a Memorial Day parade, with the Brooklyn parade now entering its 153rd year. Veterans, military personnel serving active duty, state senators, and military musicians are among the individuals that march down central thoroughfares such as Queens’ Northern Boulevard and Brooklyn’s Fourth Avenue.

Family Fun Day Festival

The Family Fun Day Festival is Governor’s Island’s answer to Memorial Day. Events focusing on music, crafting events, treats, workshops and more pop up around the 172-acre isle’s parks and playgrounds. You can pair them with another classic Memorial Day weekend experience: taking the scenic boat ride from South Ferry.

Fleet Week

The Intrepid’s Memorial Day homage comes in the form of Fleet Week, spanning five days that include Memorial Day, in which thousands of Marines and other servicepeople descend upon Midtown West. Tours of the vessel itself are offered every day of the celebration, including demonstrations and activities, along with a weekend cocktail party in Bryant Park.

Memorial Day Concert

The Annual Free Memorial Day Concert sees the musicians of the New York Philharmonic performing some of classical music’s most beloved works in the massive Cathedral of St. John the Divine and the adjacent Pulpit Green, where the cathedral events are also projected to viewers outside.

Barbecues and block parties

New Yorkers throw barbecues all throughout the city, so wander through Central Park, Riverside Park, Prospect Park, and other famous greens to see if you find one. Alternatively, dine out at a venue like Hometown Bar-B-Que in Red Hook, Hill Country Barbecue in the Flatiron district, or Dinosaur Bar-B-Que in Harlem.

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