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New York May 5–11: Kentucky Derby Party, Beetle House & Improv TED Talks

The best of what to do in and around New York this week.

For Mother's Day, treat your mom (or yourself!) to a live musical brunch celebrating Nina Simone or a trip upstate to the enchanting Columbia Valley. Make sure not to miss the opening of quirky, Tim Burton-inspired restaurant Beetle House, the mint julep–fueled Kentucky Derby party at the Bell House, or the laugh-out-loud comedy show in which stand-up comics improvise their own versions of TED Talks.

 AFAR Local is our weekly insider guide to the best of what's happening in cities around the U.S.

May 6 | Restaurant opening
Beetle House
If you’re a Tim Burton fan, then you might want to check out Beetle House, a bar and restaurant officially opening this week that is inspired by Burton’s dark, imaginative movies. Set amongst the Indian restaurants of East 6th Street, this reservation-only theme restaurant (the bar is first come, first served) is from the folks behind the highly successful Will Ferrell–themed Stay Classy bar in the Lower East Side. They claim to have a menu “to die for,” with offerings like Beetle Bread (topped with bruschetta and mozzarella), the Butchers Stew (their take on chili), Edward Burger Hands, and a Headless Horseman cocktail.
4 p.m. to close | Beetle House, 308 E. 6th St., New York | (646) 510-4786 | website

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May 7 | Horse racing
Kentucky Derby Party
Celebrate the 142nd Kentucky Derby with a silly hat and mint juleps at The Bell House in Brooklyn. Enjoy specials like Benedictine and Bacon on Brioche, Burgoo Stew, and Chocolate Julep Pie along with music courtesy of brass ensemble the Hungry March Band. At 6 p.m., gather round one of the two large TVs to watch the race in all its Southern glory. Place your bets on whether undefeated horse Nyquist will grab the prestigious medal, or if another contender like Gun Runner or Mor Spirit will snatch a surprise win.
2 p.m. | The Bell House, 149 7th St., Brooklyn | (718) 643-6510 | From $8 | website

May 7–8 | Escape the city
Columbia County, New York
Columbia County—between the mountainous regions of the Berkshires and the Catskills, and bordered on one side by Massachusetts and on the other by the Hudson River—is the ideal city escape. Head to the adorable town of Hudson and check out the Basilica Farm and Flea Spring Market, which will feature over 60 vendors selling vintage and artisanal goods as well as farm-fresh food—including Mother’s Day treats. On Saturday there will be a pop-up restaurant at the market celebrating ramp season (also known as leek season) in all its trendy glory. With hundreds of historic buildings, dozens of antique shops, and numerous restaurants, shops, and art galleries, Hudson (and the surrounding Columbia County area) has plenty to occupy you for the weekend. For accommodations, check out Thyme in the Country, an eco-friendly bed and breakfast with four beautifully appointed rooms featuring natural fiber bedding.

Thyme in the Country

May 8 | Mother’s Day
Nina Simone Brunch
Whether you are a mom, want something special to do with your mom, or just like eating to the soundtrack of beautiful live music, book ahead for the Mother’s Day Nina Simone brunch at the Highline Ballroom. Powerhouse singer Ramona Renea will perform I Got My Life: A Tribute to the High Priestess of Soul, Nina Simone. Presented in three parts, Renea will examine—through Simone’s songs—the artist’s musical commentary on black female identity, her expression of love through music, and the influence of gospel on her sound. A full brunch menu will be available.
12:30 p.m. | Highline Ballroom, 431 W. 16th St., New York | From $11 | website

May 10 | Comedy
Stand-Ups Improvise TED Talks
Like comedy? Like TED Talks? Then you’ll enjoy watching host and comedian Ryan Stanisz as he challenges fellow stand-up comedians to improvise a TED Talk–style presentation on a topic they may never have heard of. Described as “Whose Line is it Anyway? meets that TED Talk on ‘Leadership,’” the show will feature comedians Kevin Froleiks, Alex Ptak, Anna Roisman, Tyler Richardson, and Katie Hannigan. And at just $5, it’s one of the cheapest ways you can spend a Tuesday night in the big city.
9–10:30 p.m. | Q.E.D., 27-16 23rd Ave., Astoria, Queens | $5 | website

A native New Yorker, Katherine is a freelance food and travel writer who has eaten her way across the globe and is always on the lookout for her next great meal. She is an avid reader, insatiable traveler, sometimes photographer, and mom to an inquisitive toddler.

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