Coming up this week in New York, get your jazz on at the Blue Note Jazz Festival, explore the vast world of African arts, watch people race to eat inhuman amounts of hot dogs, and check out a new restaurant in Brooklyn. Or head to Bristol, Rhode Island, to participate in the nation’s oldest Independence Day celebration.
AFAR Local is our weekly insider guide to the best of what’s happening in cities around the U.S.
June 30 | Music festival
Blue Note Jazz Festival
It’s your last chance to catch the Blue Note Jazz Festival, which has been taking place in 10 venues around the city (with over 100 events) for the past month. Closing night venues include The Blue Note, B.B. King Blues Club & Grill, and Subrosa, with performances by the Joshua Redman Quartet, Maxi Priest, and Gonzalo Grau. You can find great jazz every night of the week in New York City, but there’s something fun about knowing you’re taking part in a bigger event.
Times and locations vary | From $20 | website
July 1–4 | Art and music festival
International African Arts Festival
There is no shortage of events in NYC this holiday weekend, but the 45th annual International African Arts Festival in Commodore Barry Park is one you definitely shouldn’t miss. What began as a PTA block party fundraiser has grown into a huge yearly bash with some 75,000 attendees and dozens of events during four days. There will be musical and dance performances by the likes of Kankouran West African Dance Company, Tony Lee’s Gospel Ensemble, Wunmi, and Sonia Sanchez, as well as an African Marketplace with dozens of artisans and small businesses selling handcrafted jewelry, art, and more. A food court will offer a range of African, Caribbean, and Latin food to fuel you through the days.
Times vary | Commodore Barry Park, Navy St. btw. Flushing and Park Aves., Brooklyn | $5 | website
July 2–4 | Escape the city
Bristol, Rhode Island
If you’re itching for a quaint, Americana-filled Independence Day celebration, then take advantage of the long weekend and make the 200-mile trip to Bristol, Rhode Island, home of the country’s oldest Fourth of July celebration. There’s the Military, Civic, and Firemen’s Parade, live music, a drum and bugle corps competition, carnival, and—of course—fireworks (note that the fireworks are on July 3 and the parade is July 4). Also check out the Bow Tie and Big Hat Bristol Derby Ball, which will feature hors d’oeuvres, dinner, cocktails, dancing, and folks dressed up in derby attire. For a simple but satisfying meal, don’t miss the burger at Aidan’s Pub.
Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Competition
Yes, you could simply watch the Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks along the East River, but for a quintessential Independence Day in New York head to Coney Island for the annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Competition. Place bets on whether world record holder Joey Chestnut will come out ahead of the 2015 champion Matt Stonie, or whether this year’s title will go to an unknown. Most of all, revel in watching grown men and women—many of whom have devoted their lives to competitive eating—down as many as 69 hot dogs and buns (the record) in 10 minutes.
10 a.m. | Nathan’s Hot Dogs, 1310 Surf Ave., Brooklyn | Free | website
Now open | Restaurant
Crown Heights continues its rise as a hip Brooklyn neighborhood with the opening of BKW restaurant last week. Brian Leventhal and John Stires of Williamsburg’s popular Brooklyn Winery are the masterminds behind the new American restaurant, which will, of course, feature many of their wines. Michael Gordon, who has cooked previously at hot spots like Bouley and the Mandarin Oriental, is the executive chef, and Adam Cornelius, who has done time at Tribeca Grill and Momofuku Noodle Bar, will helm the front of the house as general manager. Expect dishes like root beer glazed pork ribs with heirloom baked beans, and smoked bacon with burnt yogurt, roasted broccoli, Greek yogurt, and maple candy.
BKW, 747 Franklin Ave., Brooklyn | 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.