Get a head start on the weekend with an energetic jazz performance at the Highline Ballroom; then take that energy (and a pillow) to the massive annual pillow fight in Washington Square Park. If comics and cartoons are your thing, don’t miss the MoCCA Arts Festival. For foodies, there’s a celebration of Park Slope’s Fifth Avenue in Brooklyn. Or, get out of the city and head to the 39th Annual American Crossword Puzzle Tournament.
AFAR Local is our weekly insider guide to the best of what's happening in cities around the U.S.
March 31 | Jazz
Hiromi: The Trio Project
Catch mega-talented Japanese pianist and composer Hiromi Uehara perform with her acclaimed Trio Project, made up of her, drummer Simon Phillips, and contrabass guitarist Anthony Jackson. They will perform numbers from her energetic new album, Alive, with some characteristic improvisational riffs. Although her sound is broadly tagged as jazz, Hiromi shies away from labels, saying that her music has elements of classical music, rock, and jazz, but she doesn’t want to give it a name.
8 p.m. & 10:30 p.m. | Highline Ballroom, 431 West 16th St., New York | (212) 414-5994 | From $35 | website
April 2 | Celebration
Pillow fight NYC
Did you know that the first Saturday of April is International Pillow Fight Day? Join thousands of people in hundreds of countries who are letting loose and having a good old-fashioned pillow fight. New York’s pillow fight, held in Washington Square Park by Urban Playground Movement and Newmindspace, is also a charity event. People are encouraged to donate to Dare2B, an organization devoted to eliminating child poverty and homelessness in New York City. Even the pillows are donated to the homeless and people in need at the end of the event. Post-fight, after-party at Bar 13 ($10).
3–6 p.m. | Washington Square Park, New York | Free | website
April 1–3 | Escape the city
American Crossword Puzzle Tournament
Crossword puzzles are taken to the extreme in Stamford, Connecticut, this weekend at the 39th Annual American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. Hosted by New York Times crossword editor Will Shortz, the godfather of puzzling, this is the oldest and biggest crossword competition in the world. Find out who has what it takes to win the $7,000 grand prize, and participate in the open puzzle market, where you’ll find the newest in puzzle games. Don’t miss Crossworders Got Talent, the tournament’s live play on the famous variety show. Take the weekend to explore Stamford outside the competition grounds. It’s a fun little waterfront city to visit with attractions like the boardwalk at Cummings Park and the nostalgic Harbor Point Trolley, or performances at the stately Palace Theater. Check out local favorite farm-to-table restaurant Napa and Co and dine from their ever-changing seasonal menu.
Stamford Marriott, 243 Tresser Blvd., Stamford, CT | From $20 | website
April 2–3 | Comic art festival
MoCCA Arts Festival
The annual Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art (MoCCA) Arts Festival, one of the final events of Comic and Cartoon Art Week, is a veritable playground for comic artists and enthusiasts. There will be artist panels and conversations ranging from “Making Comics for Young Readers” to a Q&A with Rebecca Sugar, the first woman to create a series for Cartoon Network. There will also be dozens of book signings, artist and publisher booths, and an awards ceremony.
11 a.m.–6 p.m. | Metropolitan West, 639 W. 46th St., New York | From $5 | website
April 6 | Food
Taste of Fifth
Brooklyn has become New York City’s premier food destination, as celebrated by the annual Taste of Fifth festival, which focuses on the restaurants and bars Park Slope’s Fifth Avenue. Featuring nearly 50 favorite eateries like Bogota Latin Bistro, Culture frozen yogurt, and Brooklyn Bavarian Biergarten, a ticket includes complimentary beer and wine. Proceeds go to support a number of local charities and public schools. There will also be a speakeasy with vodka on ice and jazz, a roaming magician, a photo booth, a performance from Spoke the Hub and MS 51 Jazz Band, a live DJ, dancing, and a silent auction.
6:30–9:30 p.m. | The Grand Prospect Hall, 263 Prospect Ave., Brooklyn | $55 | 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.