New York is a widely diverse state in terms of landscapes, activities, festivals, and events. Its music festivals, in particular, draw fans from across the country, whether it's to hear jazz, bluegrass, or rock. And while many think of New York City as synonymous with the state as a whole, get out of the Big Apple and you'll find yourself in beautiful countryside. As such, if you're into your local produce and craft brews, you certainly won't want to miss the state's seasonal beer or harvest festivals.
When it comes to a family vacation, there are numerous regular festivals and events which cater to audiences of all ages. In the cities, join the crowds at farmers' markets, music festivals, and craft fairs, and get out into the country to experience the best New York food and drink events. There are must-see events in New York for every interest; the trick is knowing where to look.
Running over two weeks at the end of August and start of September, the State Fair combines agricultural and crafts shows with music, entertainment, and fairground attractions enjoyable for all of your family. The 1 million annual visitors can't be wrong, so make plans to join them and see what the fuss is all about.
Museum Mile Festival
Billed as New York's biggest block party, this annual event every June brings an uptown stretch of Fifth Avenue to a standstill — literally, as it is temporarily converted into a pedestrian street. The museums on this stretch offer free entry for the day, with added street performances, dancing, and art activities for younger visitors.
Hudson Valley Balloon Festival
Held annually at the beginning of July, the balloon festival features a program of events across the weekend. Arrive early to enjoy the spectacle of dozens of balloons all taking to the sky at the same time. There are also kid-friendly activities, evening flights, and food and drink stalls.
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Best Outdoor Events in New York
New York's diverse, picturesque landscapes provide the perfect backdrop for festivals and events of all types, from huge agricultural shows pulling in thousands of visitors, to smaller music festivals with a laid-back vibe. In New York City, the warmer summer weekends bring food festivals, kids' events, and markets to the streets.
The Great New York State Fair
Undoubtedly New York's biggest fair, the State Fair celebrates the region's agriculture and craft heritage. A day might not be enough to experience the myriad of different attractions, from honey-making competitions to live music and monster trucks.
This massive dance music festival is held annually over Labor Day weekend on Randall's Island (which is part of the borough of Manhattan) in the East River. Pull on your most glamorous club wear, grab some glow sticks, and get ready to party hard until late in the night. Be sure to buy tickets in advance.
Rochester Lilac Festival
Timed to coincide with the flowering of the lilac bushes in May, Rochester's annual festival draws crowds of over 500,000. The festival kicks off with a parade and also features a fun run, live music, and craft beer tastings.
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Best Music Events in New York
For many, must-see events in New York mean only one thing: music festivals. You can expect both huge outdoor rock and pop festivals featuring top-selling artists as well as intimate traditional music festivals set in rural locations. Music events don't just take place in the summer, either; whatever time of year you visit, you can seek out some great live musical entertainment.
Binghamton Jazz Festival
One of the largest jazz festivals in the U.S., Binghamton comes to life at the beginning of July with outdoor music performances, concerts featuring well-known artists, fireworks displays, and a whole host of other related arts and crafts activities.
The Great New York State Fair
New York's enormous state fair is as much about entertainment and having fun as it is about the cows and pigs. Across the two weeks of the fair, there are live music performances throughout the day, and well into the night, too, if you'd like to keep the party going.
Governor's Ball Music Festival
This pop and rock festival takes place on Randall's Island in New York City each June and attracts some of the biggest names in the business. Make a weekend of it with a three-day ticket (be sure to plan in advance), which will give you plenty of time to enjoy the music as well as take in the rest of the festival attractions, including art, food, and drink.
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