When to go to New York?

The best periods to discover New York

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You’re not sure when to go to New York and you want to find the best time to visit the city? No worries, I'll explain everything you need to know about the weather in New York and the events that can influence your visit in this article.

As far as activities and events are concerned, the city has no shortage of them – and this all year long! So all you have to do is choose a period according to your desires… and to your budget too! Each season has its advantages and disadvantages and everything will depend on what you want to see or do in New York! By the way, if you still don't know what to do in New York, I wrote a complete article on the subject.

WHEN TO GO TO NEW YORK? IN AUTUMN, TO SEE NEW YORK IN COLOURS

best time to go to new york

Autumn is perhaps the best time to plan a trip to New York. Why? Because the temperatures are a little cooler then, and you can leisurely stroll the streets of the city and soak up the New York atmosphere without suffering from the summer heat.

It is my favourite time of year to go to New York. I love the colours of the trees in Central Park and the atmosphere in the city at this time of year. The leaves of the trees change colours to gold, orange and red and the sight is just... magnificent.

You'll get to really see it if you go visiting Central Park (by bike or on foot) or if you go to Greenwich and Tribeca.

You'll never be bored during this period in New York! This season is full of all kinds of festivities.

First of all, there is Halloween on 31 October. And Halloween in New York is taken very seriously – everyone plays along!

Shops and cafes are decorated, and so are houses. Restaurants even have special menus for the occasion, and the icing on the cake: there is a parade!

In November you can also enjoy another parade – the Thanksgiving Day parade (the fourth Thursday of the month).

This is definitely another of the country's not-to-be-missed celebrations! And to top it all off, the next day is Black Friday – amazing sales will be awaiting for you!

In-between these two parades, you can take part in the New York City Marathon (42 km) which takes place on the first Sunday of November. Seeing that it passes through all 5 boroughs of New York, it will be a good way to further discover the city – you'll just need a good pair of lungs!

I've been thinking about signing up for a while… Well, I’ll think about it next year!

The season also marks the renewal of museum exhibitions, Broadway shows and the resumption of the NBA (basketball) and NHL (ice hockey) championships. Don’t forget to make a note of all this in your programme of activities!

As a rule, if you don't know when to go to New York and have flexibility in terms of your holiday periods, I highly recommend the months of September and October.

IN WINTER, TO SEE NEW YORK UNDER THE SNOW

new york in winter

Well, alright, in winter the temperatures are low – very low even – but New York under the snow is just MAGICAL! Softly blanketed by winter’s snow, New York makes for breathtaking landscapes.

Just take a walk in Central Park and you'll see it for yourself. It looks like a little winter resort! New Yorkers go sledding and even cross-country skiing. And let’s not forget the big skating rink, of course! 

Naturally, you need to be prepared if you want to go to New York during the winter – the temperatures are just freezing! They often drop below 0°C, as such do bring warm clothes  and super comfy shoes, so you can make the most of your stay here (and don't forget to bring gloves, a scarf and a hat!).

For a better view of New York under the snow, take a ride on the Roosevelt Island Tramway!

This cable car has been connecting Manhattan to the small island of Roosevelt Island since 1976, with an original crossing over the East River (76m above the river).

To take this short 3-minute trip over 1 km, go to the corner of 60th Street and 2nd Avenue (trip costs $2.50 each way).

The cable car runs every 10 minutes from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday) and until 3:30 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.

During your stay, why not take advantage of clear blue skies to take some great photos from one of the city's various observatories: the Top of the Rock, the One World Trade Center or the Empire State Building? You'll have a sublime panoramic view of New York (with a good chance of snow if you go in December/January).

If you go to New York in winter, you will be able to enjoy the end of year celebrations and the many animations and illuminations in the city.

Of course, the first thing to do is to go see the gigantic Christmas tree raised in front of Rockefeller Center. With its thin mantle of snow, this pine tree of more than 30 metres (the tallest in the world, it would seem!) is an incredible spectacle in itself! It lights up every evening from 5:30 p.m. to midnight.

While you're there, take the opportunity to go ice skating in the temporary rink located just a bit under the pine tree. 

Afterwards, stroll the streets and admire the decorated windows of department stores such as Bloomingdale's, Macy's and Barneys. Their Christmas decorations truly compete with each other in terms of competitiveness and creativity.

Book a guided tour of Brooklyn – in the Dyker Heights neighbourhood to be more precise. The residents of this neighbourhood take decorating their homes at Christmas very seriously… and it works like a charm!

After these magical sights, take a stroll through the Christmas markets (they start to set up at the end of November), in which you can find everything you need whether it be food, crafts products and fun. You can go to the Bank of America Winter Village in Bryant Park (the park in the heart of Midtown), the Columbus Circle Holiday Market on the southwest corner of Central Park, or the Union Square Holiday Market. Their decorations are just beautiful,and the Christmas atmosphere is guaranteed!

The Grand Central Terminal Holiday Fair is also well worth a visit. Located indoors, you'll be much warmer there! And visiting the building is a must for any stay in New York.

Finally, if you're in New York on New Year's Eve, don't forget to join the excitement of Times Square as the New Year's Eve countdown begins, and to contemplate the fireworks in Central Park.

To conclude, if you want to enjoy the magic of Christmas and aren’t afraid of the cold, then you can absolutely go to New York during the winter. Even better, flights and accommodation prices are often cheaper at this time of year.

If you don't know when to go to New York and want to go ice skating and enjoy the city's decorations, winter is the perfect time!

WHEN TO GO TO NEW YORK? IN SPRING OF COURSE!

going to new york in springtime

From mid-March onwards, the cold becomes less virulent and the rain less frequent. New Yorkers are back to their outdoor activities, especially as the vegetation starts becoming greener and greener. In April, the cherry trees even begin to bloom in the parks – that’s an amazing sight not to be missed!

However, it is May, with its pleasant temperatures, that is one of the best times to visit the city or to walk in the parks and botanical gardens of NY.

And remember that spring is the off-season, so there will be fewer tourists on the streets and shorter queues at the city's main museums and attractions. Entrance fees will also not be very high – some events will even be free!

Speaking of events, which are the ones not to be missed?

First of all, on 17 March, there is the St. Patrick's Day parade: the descendants of Irish immigrants parade on the 5th Avenue... all colored in green!

Don't miss the Macy’s Flower Show (22 March - 5 April) – head to Macy's in Herald Square to see thousands of flowers from around the world.

The Easter Parade (Easter Sunday), with its extravagant hats and colourful costumes, is another must-see of the season!

Following this, in April you can attend:

  • the Tribeca Film Festival from April 15 to April 26,
  • Earth Day in Union Square (April 19),
  • the Cherry Blossom Festival or Sakura Matsuri at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden in honour of Japanese culture (April 25-26),
  • the Lower East Side Arts Festival (dance performances, film screenings, music, poetry...).

In May, you can board a warship for Fleet Week (May 20 to May 26). The whole week is dedicated to honouring American soldiers and sailors, and also aims to promote the US Navy!

And on 25 May 2020, Memorial Day is held to remember all those who died in military service or in combat in the defence of America.

If you're not sure when to go to New York and want to enjoy the events held during the start of the year, Spring is the perfect time. New York will not be too crowded yet and it will not be nearly as cold as it is in the winter.

GOING TO NEW YORK IN THE SUMMER TO ENJOY THE GOOD WEATHER

best season new york

In summer, the weather is hot in New York, but at least you will have long days ahead of you to make the most of your stay in the city. You'll be able to fully explore the city from every angle. Don’t hesitate to plan a full programme with as many outdoor activities as possible!

Don't forget to take an umbrella with you still, for the season is rather wet. You may be treated to some heavy rainfalls!

Some of the activities you really ought to do include: walking in Central Park and on the High Line, sipping a drink high up on a rooftop, taking a cruise in the NY bay and enjoying the beaches of Coney Island. But there's more to New York than just this!

Summer in New York is all about attending a lot of events. Note that most of the cultural events that take place in summer are free. This is the case of the Bryant Park Summer Film Festival, during which you can watch films on a big screen and in the open air as soon as the sun goes down. There's also Shakespeare in the Park at the Central Park's Delacorte Theater, and the Mostly Mozart Festival at the Lincoln Center and the New York State Theatre. In short, there will be no lack of events, so don't hesitate to download the "NYC Summer Free Events" app to keep up to date!

You can also attend a US OPEN Tennis match at Flushing Meadow or a baseball or soccer game, if you would rather.

But most of all, in the summer, if there is only one date you have to remember, it is of course – the 4th of July, Independence Day. You will finally see the fabulous fireworks display at Macy's shop in person!

WHEN TO GO TO NEW YORK? DURING THE SALES PERIOD!

There's no contest: New York is the ideal city for shopping and therefore taking advantage of the sales. New York is one of the most interesting cities for shopping. First of all, because there is more choice (of shops and styles) and secondly because the prices are super attractive!

Here, brands sell their products cheaper than in Europe, but prices are even lower during the sales period!

What’s more, there are no winter and summer sales like in the UK. In New York, the shops have sales several times a year! The sales take place according to public holidays and religious, cultural and historical celebrations.

Here are the dates of the sales that will take place during this year 2022:

  • Winter sales: Early January 2022
  • Valentine's day sales: 14 February 2022
  • President's day sales (in honour of the various presidents): 21 February 2022
  • Easter sales: between 22 March and 25 April 2022
  • Mother's day sales: 14 May 2022
  • Memorial day weekend sales: 30 May 2022
  • Father's day sales: 19 June 2022
  • July 4th summer sales: 23 June to 5 July 2022
  • Back to school sales: 26 July to 1 August 2022
  • Labor day weekend sales: 5 September 2022
  • Columbus day weekend sales: 10 October 2022
  • Halloween sales: 31 October 2022
  • Veterans day: 11 November 2022
  • Thanksgiving Eve: 24 November 2022
  • Black Friday: 25 November 2022
  • After Thanksgiving weekend sales: 26 and 27 November 2022
  • Cyber Monday: 28 November 2022
  • Boxing day: 26 December 2022

The most interesting sales are during Black Friday, when prices can drop by up to 80%. Note however that not all shops participate in all these sales.

WHERE TO SHOP IN NEW YORK?

The city is full of shops, but the areas that have the most shops are Times Square, West Village, Greenwich Village, Midtown and of course 5th Avenue.

If you want to buy original items, SoHo and Brooklyn are the best places to go.

Want to buy designer clothes? Go to Lord & Taylor on 5th Avenue. Do you prefer big shopping centres? Then head to Bloomingdale's (one shop in Midtown, one in SoHo and there is a Bloomingdale's Outlet on the Upper West Side) or Macy's (11 floors of fashion and accessories in the middle of Herald Square — 151 West 34th Street).

And if you're a fan of factory outlets, check out Woodbury Common Premium Outlets (220 shops just outside New York City — 498 Red Apple Court, Central Valley) or Jersey Gardens Outlet (in New Jersey, right next to Newark Airport — Jersey Gardens, NJ Turnpike Exit 13A, 651 Kapkowski Road Elizabeth, NJ 0720)

GOING TO NEW YORK WHEN AIRFARES ARE CHEAPEST

cheap airline tickets new york

In general, airfares to New York are most attractive in the periods following school and holiday breaks. For example, prices drop in January (after the Christmas and New Year holidays) and in September (after the summer holidays).

You can also find good airfares in November and until mid-December (until 21 December to be precise).

However, as you can guess, prices go up in July and August!

HOW TO FIND A CHEAP AIR TICKET?

First of all, remember to book your airplane ticket well in advance! Up to 8 months before you leave, if you can. This way, you will have more chances to find relatively cheaper flights from the UK.

Secondly, you can consider flying from a provincial city. The price differences can sometimes be significant.

It is also known that statistically flights that leave in the middle of the week cost less than those at the weekend. Take this into consideration when making your reservation.

Also keep in mind that there are three airports in New York: JFK International, La Guardia and Newark. A flight landing at a secondary airport may prove to be cheaper than one landing at the main airport (JFK International).

Another thing to consider is flash sales. Some airlines offer direct flights from Heathrow Airport to New York from £360/person in a round trip. Don’t forget to check the company's website regularly, or subscribe to their newsletters.

You should also know that in addition to British Airways, there are other airlines that fly to New York such as Lufthansa and Finnair. There are also many low cost airlines. 

Don't hesitate to use a price comparator (Skyscanner for example) to compare the prices of all the airlines and make as many simulations as you can.

A SMALL SIMULATION OF AIRFARES TO NEW YORK

We are looking for a relatively cheap flight to New York in September, November and December (direct flights).

 

10 to 17 September (weekday flight)

12 to 19 September (weekend flight)

Price round trip

£470

£410

Flight time (round trip)

7h50 / 6h55

7h50 / 6h55

Airline

British Airways

British Airways

Airport of arrival

Heathrow / Newark

Heathrow / Newark

 

12 to 19 November (weekday flight)

14 to 21 November (weekend flight)

Price round trip

£355

£430

Flight time (round trip)

8h15 / 7h10

8h10 / 6h40

Airline

Lufthansa / United Airlines

Finnair

Airport of arrival

Heathrow / Newark

Heathrow / Newark

 

3 to 10 December (weekday flight)

5 to 12 December (weekend flight)

Price round trip

£430

£470

Flight time (round trip)

8h25 / 6h50

8h25 / 7h10

Airline

FrenchBee + Norwegian

FrenchBee

Airport of arrival

Orly / Newark

CDG / JFK

Note that with the same kind of flights but for dates from December 26 to January 2, you will have to pay 496 euros (£415), which is almost double! Similarly, for a stay in New York from 3 August to 10 August, you may have to pay 518 euros (£434) per person! Flights really are very expensive during the holidays and the festive season.

This is the end of my article on "When to go to New York". Don't hesitate to leave me a little comment if you have a question or if you want to add some information. Thank you for reading and enjoy your stay in New York!

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Amélie
A first trip to New York, and a new favorite city! 30 years old, city dweller and good-plan finder, I share my New York discoveries on this blog to help you visit this magnificent city with me. With each new trip, there are more activities to discover!

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