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The Best Time to Visit New York City

Category Guide

|by ShowTickets Editors |


Discover the best times of the year to plan a vacation to the greatest city in the world

The best time to visit NYC really depends on the purpose of your visit. Unlike some destinations, New York does not have a clear “peak season” which means that prices hold pretty steady year-round (you’ll be hard pressed to find hotels for less than $200 per night any time of year, for example). The closest thing the city has to an “off period” is in January and February, when the weather is at its coldest and hotel occupancy dips briefly in between the craze that is New Year’s Eve and the energy that comes with the longer days and warmer weather of spring. To help you determine when to go to New York, we have outlined the draws and drawbacks of each of the seasons below

Cherry blossoms at Brooklyn Botanic Garden (Photo: Sugarhiccuphiccup/Flickr CC)

Cherry blossoms at Brooklyn Botanic Garden (Photo: Sugarhiccuphiccup/Flickr CC)

January-March
January through March are the closest months New York City has to an off season. It is the only time of year when hotel occupancy rates dip below 90 percent, which means that visitors have a better chance of scoring lower rates on hotel rooms. January and February are also two of the quietest months on Broadway, making it a good time to nab tickets at below market prices. In March, new shows begin to open on Broadway for the spring season and ticket prices start to pick up again. There is a reason for the slowdown, of course, and that is the icy New York winter. January is the coldest month of the year, with temperatures ranging from 23 degrees F on the low end to 36 degrees F on the high end and it’s not much better in February. Things start to thaw slightly in March, but not by much – expect temperatures between 32 to 48 degrees F. During this time of year, the city celebrates events such as Valentine’s Day (almost every restaurant rolls out some kind of Valentine’s Day menu), St. Patrick’s Day, Fashion Week and the Westminster Dog Show.

April-May
Spring in New York brings warmer (if unpredictable) weather and lots of rain. Temperatures range from 42 degrees on the low end to 68 degrees F on the high end. It’s also when flowers start to emerge from their long winter slumber – most notably, the cherry blossoms, which start to bloom in April and are celebrated en force at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. May brings a great deal of energy and excitement to the city, as the sun begins to shine more, the air gets warmer and restaurants start spreading their tables onto the sidewalk. May also brings Cinco de Mayo – the Mexican holiday that New Yorkers love to celebrate with margaritas, opening day for the Mets and the Yankees, the Tribeca Film Festival and the beginning of the Broadway awards season, which runs until June. Broadway shows that have been nominated for a Tony Award will experience a slow creep in ticket prices, but it’s still worth it to book that show you’ve been dying to see now because if it wins a Tony, you can bet you’ll be paying much, much more to see it (if you can get tickets at all). Toward the end of the month, Memorial Day kicks off the unofficial beginning of summer, when beaches open.

June-August
Summer in New York feels like one big party. Free activities abound, from outdoor movie screenings to Shakespeare in the Park to kayaking on the Hudson. Expect plenty of sunshine and temperatures that average around 80 degrees F, though it isn’t unheard of for temperatures to climb into the 90s (102 degrees F is the highest temperature on record). The city feels hot and muggy, driving locals who can afford it to their beach houses in the Hamptons over the weekend. Most New Yorkers flee the city for at least a couple of days in August. The Broadway awards season culminates with the prestigious Tony Awards in June and if you haven’t already bought tickets to the winning shows, you can expect to pay top dollar to see them (if you can get tickets at all). It seems like every other weekend there is some kind of festival or parade taking place, between the Feast of San Genaro, the Pride Parade, Independence Day, the 4 Knots Festival, the National Puerto Rican Day Parade and the Coney Island Mermaid Parade (to name a few). You’d be wise to book your summer trip at least three months in advance to lock in rates and spaces at hotels and shows. Note, however, that some restaurants don’t allow you to book farther than one month in advance.

Sept-Oct
Labor Day marks the end of the summer season in New York and brings a renewed sense of focus and purpose to the city, which buzzes with back to school specials and, for many businesses, a return to normal business hours from the reduced “summer Friday hours” some companies enjoy. Summer events such as movie screenings and Shakespeare in the Park go into hibernation until the following year and temperatures start to cool down – expect 60 to 70 degree F weather in September and anywhere from 50 to 60 degree F weather in October. Fall brings a whole host of new shows to Broadway. It also happens to be a quieter season on the Great White Way, which means that there are deals to be had and the seats that you want will likely be available. Late September ushers in the beer-laden Oktoberfest and October brings with it crisper weather and fall foliage, which can be enjoyed in a myriad of ways, both in and outside the city limits. And, of course, October goes out with a bang each year as New Yorkers big and small don costumes and the city pulls out all of the stops to celebrate Halloween with the Halloween parade.

November-December
The holiday period from November to December is one of the most magical seasons in New York. The city is ablaze with holiday lights, stores put out their best window displays, restaurants unveil their holiday menus and seasonal shows such as the Radio City Christmas Spectacular and the Nutcracker dazzle locals and visitors alike. (But, the good new is that now the Rockettes perform year-round — check them out in the dazzling New York Spectacular!) Broadway typically sees new shows open and quite a bit of buzz circulates about what’s hot and what’s not in regard to the new shows on the block. If you want to see a show during this period it is advisable to book early as tickets tend to sell out and prices are at a premium. Notable events during this season are many, from the New York Marathon and Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in November to Christmas, Hannukah, Qwanza and New Year’s in December. November weather starts to get chilly (anywhere from the 40s to the 50s degrees F) and by December temperatures have dipped into the 30s and 40s degrees F.

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