This is a great week to get cultured in New York. Discover new music and local composers at the Queens New Music Festival, learn about the Romaniote Jews at the Greek Jewish Festival, dress up in your best fairytale-inspired outfits at Grimm’s Fairy Tale Spring Ball, or wait in line to catch the start of the Shakespeare in the Park season. Or, for a European getaway without the jetlag, hop on a short flight to Montreal.
AFAR Local is our weekly insider guide to the best of what's happening in cities around the U.S.
May 19–22 | Music
Queens New Music Festival
Started by the composers’ collective Random Access Music in 2012, the Queens New Music Festival is an annual highlight of the city's music scene. Featuring eight performances and a sound installation by Hans Tammen, the mission of the festival is to celebrate and promote new music in Queens by showcasing local artists. The festival kicks off with a performance by marimbist Makoto Nakura and pianist Barbara Podgurski. Other feature performances include new ensemble group Exceptet and the drum stylings of Iktus Percussion.
Times vary | The Secret Theatre Main Stage, 44-02 23rd St., Long Island City, Queens | From $15 | website
May 21 | Spring ball
Grimm’s Fairy Tale Spring Ball
For something a little different, check out the biennial Dances of Vice Spring Ball, a German celebration of spring which this year is inspired by Grimm's Fairy Tales. Guests are encouraged to dress in elaborate outfits and costumes drawn from the stories of our childhoods, from Snow White and Little Red Riding Hood to Hansel and Gretel and Cinderella. Let your imagination take the lead. In addition to people watching, dancing, and generally reveling, there will also be a full menu of traditional Bavarian and German food in the biergarten.
8 p.m. | Grand Prospect Hall, 263 Prospect Ave., Brooklyn | From $25 | website
May 21–22 | Escape the city
Now that the frost is finally thawing from the deep Canadian winter, it’s time to visit the cosmopolitan, French-influenced city of Montreal. Just a 90-minute flight from New York, Montreal feels like a European escape without the jetlag. Read up on the 12 must-do experiences in Montreal to give you an overview, as well as our suggestions on what to do if you only have three days in the city. Be sure to indulge in poutine, a local specialty of French fries topped with cheese curds and gravy, and tour beautiful, historic Old Montreal. Check out our list of the best hotels in Montreal to get some ideas on where to stay.
Greek Jewish Festival
Join the only festival of its kind in the world, hosted by the Kehila Kedosha Janina, the sole Romaniote synagogue in the western hemisphere. Romaniote Jews have a rich history in Greece, dating back over 2,000 years to the time of—you guessed it—the Roman Empire. The family-friendly festival will offer delectable and authentic kosher Greek foods, traditional dances, live music, a market, and special activities for kids. It takes place on the block where the landmark synagogue has been since 1927.
12–6 p.m. | Broome St. between Allen St. and Eldridge St. | Free | website
May 24 | Public theater
Shakespeare in the Park
Waiting in line in Central Park to score free tickets to one of the incredible annual Shakespeare in the Park performances is a New York rite of passage. The fest’s spring and summer season begins this week with The Taming of the Shrew. Tony-nominated director Phyllida Lloyd is putting her own spin on Shakespeare’s classic comedy with an all-female cast that is sure to shine. The free tickets are distributed every performance day at noon, but the line begins as early as 6 a.m., when the park officially opens. There are also smaller lotteries at The Public Theater at Astor Place on performance days.
8 p.m. | Delacorte Theater, 81 Central Park West | Free | 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.