Things to Do in April in NYC (2020)

This post lists the top things to do in New York in April (updated for 2020), including free, nighttime, as well as family-friendly events and activities. 

 

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TOP 10 EVENTS AND THINGS TO DO IN APRIL

This is our list of the ten best events and things to do in NYC in April. For even more suggestions, see our comprehensive guide to things to do in NYC.  

Several of the items below are already included for free with the purchase of a tourist discount pass.

For tips on the most popular activities in NYC, check out the following posts:


1) Go to a Concert

While there are several excellent arena concerts this month, you may find a better selection of shows in smaller venues. That’s because Madison Square Garden and Barclays Center are busy hosting sporting events (see below).

In addition to big shows, we also list the best small venues, mainly in Williamsburg, where there are lots of great performers this month.

See a full list of April concerts here.

 

For more choices, check out the full list of April concerts.


2) See a Sports Event 

In April, baseball is in full swing! In addition to baseball, there’s basketball, ice hockey, and soccer (or ‘football’ as it is called by the rest of the world!).

See what sports events are on in April here.

 

 

Baseball

Yankee Stadium offers fun and insightful guided tours. Find out more here

Basketball

Ice Hockey

Soccer

See the New York City Football Club play American soccer (what the rest of the world calls football). Get tickets here.

See what other sports events are on in April here.


3) See a Broadway Show

Not to be missed this month is a revival of Plaza Suite, the Neil Simon marriage comedy.

This rendition stars the real-life couple of Matthew Broderick (Ferris Bueller) and Sarah Jessica Parker (Carrie from Sex and the City). Get tickets here.

Another fun show this month is a musical version of Mrs. Doubtfire, based on the movie that starred Robin Williams, starts at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre. Get tickets here.

 

 

Beginning April 14, you can see David Mamet’s classic American Buffalo starring Tony winner Laurence Fishburne and Oscar winner Sam Rockwell. It plays at Circle in the Square. Get tickets here.

For something yet more serious, try Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf starring the superb Laurie Metcalf (Rosanne). It begins on April 9 at the booth theater. Get tickets here.

You can also choose from other shows, several with tickets as low as $10 each

Be sure to read our posts on how to get cheap Broadway tickets and using the TKTS Booth for tickets. We list several ways you can save money on what is sure to be a fun night out. 


4) Look into Getting a Tourist Discount Pass

tourist discount pass offers discounted admission into most of NYC’s popular attractions.

Passes themselves aren’t free, but with some advanced planning, you can create an itinerary where you will end up paying nothing for one or two attractions each day.

 

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There are several different types of passes, so be sure to read our comparison post to learn about how you can save the most money on your trip.


5) Take a Walking Tour with Free Tours by Foot

The spring weather is fine for all of our tours and especially good for tours where you can see lots of green space and nature.

In April, the hundreds of different plant life that the High Line Park carefully curated will be starting to bloom.  

 

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We offer several pay-what-you-wish variations of the High Line Park Walking Tours. You can also use our GPS-enabled audio tour of the High Line.

You may find our post on things to see on the High Line helpful to planning a visit to this must-see sight in NYC.

For a list of all our ours available in April see at our schedule of tours.


6) Sakura Matsuri Cherry Blossom Festival 

This annual festival takes place on April 25 – 26, 2020, at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. There are over 50 events and performances that celebrate traditional and contemporary Japanese culture. 

Learn more about ticket prices and schedule of events on their website

 

 

TIP: If you are considering purchasing a tourist attraction discount pass, then know that the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens is included in the Explorer Pass.

Click here for more ideas of things to do in Brooklyn.


7) Celebrate National Beer Day

While not an official holiday, unfortunately, National Beer Day (April 7) is a perfect time to take a pub crawl in NYC

The holiday is always April 7 because on that date, in 1933, a new federal law went into effect permitting beer to be sold again for the first time since Prohibition began in 1919.

 

 

See our post on NYC pub crawls. There are plenty to choose from!

 If you prefer to go it alone, be sure to read our post on historic New York City bars.

One spot you should definitely check out is McSorley’s Old Ale House. It’s so old that Abraham Lincoln drank there!


8) Tribeca Film Festival 

This event, from April 15-26, 2020, is one of the seminal film festivals in the cinematic world. You will see an incredible range of talent and diversity of movies.

The director, cast, and crew are often on hand for a Q & A session after the screenings.

 

 

Besides film, there are also the ESPN Sports Film Festival, a Family Festival Street Fair, various Tribeca Talks, and free panels for working and aspiring filmmakers. 

A full schedule of film and events is available on their website. While in the area, enjoy our self-guided TriBeCa walking tour.


9) Smorgasburg

In April, NYC’s year-round food festival, Smorgasburg, moves outdoors to its Williamsburg location.

This is the largest outdoor food festival in the country with over 100 food vendors dishing out innovative snacks that attract thousands of people each weekend.

If you would prefer to try delicious food in a smaller environment, try one of our pay-what-you-wish food tours.

 

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Amongst our most popular food tours are our Greenwich Village Food Tour and our Lower East Side Food Tour.

On each tour, you will have a chance to try out some of NYC’s best foods while your guide tells you about the history and culture of the neighborhood you are in.


10) Easter Parade and Easter Bonnet Festival 

In 2020, the Easter Parade will be held on April 12th. Not your typical parade of floats and marching bands, this is a more casual stroll of paraders adorning their best Easter bonnets.

You’ll see some wildly creative bonnets, from flower-covered foot-tall toppers to hats shaped in various designs.

 

 

The route runs along Fifth Avenue heading north from 49th Street to 57th Street. The best place to watch is from the area around St. Patrick’s Cathedral which in and of itself is a beautiful place to visit. 

For even more suggestions for the month of April, see our comprehensive guide to things to do in NYC.  

 


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THINGS TO DO AT NIGHT IN APRIL

Many of the activities included in our top 10 section above can be enjoyed at night as well such as attending a concert, a sporting event, or the Tribeca Film Festival.

Here are a few more ideas on how to spend a great night in New York City.

10 things to do any time of year in NYC

 

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For even more ideas, see our master post on things to do in NYC at night year-round and our New York night tours.


Take a Night Walking Tour 

April evenings are quite pleasant to explore the city at night. We have many evening tours in April including: 

  • Brooklyn Bridge and the 9/11 Memorial
  • Midtown Manhattan
  • High Line 
  • Central Park

You can go directly to our schedule of tours to see what we have on offer each day or you can visit our night tours page for more information. 

 

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Our guided walks are free to join and operate on a pay-what-you-like basis, which means you decide what a tour was worth or what you could afford (even free) when the tour is over.

If walking isn’t your thing, then consider a night bus tour. Many of these night tours are already included for free in bus tour packages.


Easter Supper on a Cruise

Most of the cruise lines in NYC have special Easter Supper menus so you can enjoy the traditional foods of the season while gazing at the stunning views of the Statue of Liberty to the Brooklyn Bridge.

In addition to dinner cruises, there are lunch/brunch cruises as well as Easter-themed cruises which are family-friendly.

Take a look at our post which New York boat tour or cruise is best to find one that is right for you. 


Orchid Evenings at the New York Botanical Garden  

As part of the annual Orchid Show at NYBG (Feb 15 – April 19, 2020), you can attend an Orchid Evening, which features music, tours, and special performances all amidst the gorgeous flower displays.

There will be cash bars offering beer, wine, and cocktails for purchase. See their website for more information


View the New York Skyline   

For spectacular nighttime views of New York City and beyond, visit one of the city’s observation decks:

Each deck has its own vantage point, as well as different prices of admission, varying wait time, and opening/closing hours.

Our post comparing NYC’s observation decks breaks down the pros and cons of each to help you choose which view is right for you. 

Our post on things to do in NYC at night has tons more suggestions for activities to do when the sun sets on the Big Apple.

 


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FREE THINGS TO DO IN APRIL

Below are just a handful of the endless list of free things you can do in New York City in April. Some of the events in the Top 10 section above, like walking the High Line or watching the Easter Bonnet Parade are free. 

 

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For year-round no-cost activities and events, see our in-depth post on free things to do in NYC.  


Museum Day Live

On April 4, 2020, you can get a free ticket that allows two people to visit one of the many museums participating in the event. See their website. If none of the museums participating interest you, you have other options!

Read our in-depth post about free museums in NYC for a long list of museums, attractions, and other institutions that are free all of the time or on specific days/hours.


New York Tartan Day Parade 

Celebrate all things Scottish on April 4, 2020, by watching bagpipers, men in kilts, and women in plaid, march in the Tartan Day Parade.

It’s is part of Tartan Week which schedules cultural events around the city from contemporary Scottish bands playing in bars to pub crawls, readings and the Scotland Run in Central Park. 


Take a Stroll in Central Park

In April, the park will be blooming all over and the trees will be filling out. Central Park is a wonderful way to experience springtime in NYC. 

Central Park is larger than you may think! Seeing it all would take all day, if not more. A guided walking tour can help you get the most out of the park in just a few hours.

We offer several pay-what-you-like tours of Central Park and a GPS-enabled audio tour of Central Park. We also offer bike tours which are super fun for the kids!   

If you can’t join us, explore the park on your own using our guide of things to do in Central Park.


See Cherry Blossoms for Free

The Brooklyn Botanic Gardens has a ticketed Cherry Blossom Festival (listed in our top 10 section above), but you can see cherry blossoms in many other places in New York City for free. 

Roosevelt Island has its own festival Cherry Blossom celebration. This is a great excuse to take the Roosevelt Island Tram for the incredible 360-views of NYC!

These are other locations that have cherry trees on their grounds. 


Macy’s Flower Show

From April 1-7, you can enjoy the free and famous Macy’s Flower Show. The show includes beautiful, bright floral arrangements, special events including live music, and kids’ activities.

For more information, click here. This is a family-friendly event.

Macy’s is located in the heart of Midtown Manhattan, so if you join one of our Midtown Manhattan Walking Tours, you can spend a good part of the day without busting your budget.


Greek Independence Day Parade

At the colorful New York Greek Independence Day Parade, participants wear traditional Greek attire and costumes as they celebrate the anniversary of Greek independence, which was declared March 25, 1821.

The parade attracts some 150,000 spectators, with about  25,000 participants. There’ll be music, food and lots of blue and white flags! The parade route marches up 5th Avenue from 64th to 79th St.

The date has yet to be announced so keep checking their website for more information.

Be sure to check out our post about free things to do in NYC for more activities for April and year-round.

 

 


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THINGS TO DO WITH KIDS IN APRIL 

In the above sections, we noted which activities are kid-friendly, such as going to a sports game or watching one of the many parades. Below are a few more free activities for the family to enjoy in April. 

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Be sure to see our posts, Top Things to Do with Kids in New York City, our 3-day itinerary for families, and our list of over 100 things to do in New York City which includes dozens of kid-friendly activities. 


T. rex: The Ultimate Predator

The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) has an exciting new exhibit about the most famous of all dinosaurs, Tyrannosaurus rex. The exhibit will include interactive elements, life-size models, fossils and a virtual reality experience. 

Note that the exhibit requires that you purchase tickets. (See their website for more information.)

However, if you are watching your budget, you can visit the AMNH for free (not including special exhibits).

Find out how to visit the museum for free and other ways to save money, see our post, American Museum of Natural History Tickets and Discounts.


See a Teen-Friendly Broadway Show

Be More Chill is a very tween/teen friendly musical and is a hit with adults too! This humorous coming of age story set in the modern digital world has a fun and poppy sound.

 

 

The whole family will enjoy this, regardless of age. Get tickets here.


Enjoy Free Admission to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

On select Fridays every month, you can visit this highly interactive and engaging museum for free between 5 pm and 9 pm.

This museum is housed on an aircraft carrier whose exhibits include a Concorde, submarine & space shuttle and much more.

April dates for 2020 have not yet been announced so check their website for updates.

If you arent here for the free dates, find out how to get discounted tickets from our post on Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.


Big Apple Comic-Con

This two-day comic book and pop culture convention is great fun for both kids and adults. In addition to being able to browse comic book vendors and merchandise sellers, you can see guest speakers. 

The convention is on April 4th and 5th, 2020. You can get more information about the event here.

You can expect to see your favorite superheroes and several top illustrators of superhero comics.

If you love superheroes, you will love our Self-guided New York Superhero Tour!


Pillow Fight in the Park

In past years this fun, feather-filled event has attracted over 5,000 participants. This year it will be held on Saturday, April 4th, at Washington Square Park.

Just bring a soft pillow and be ready to engage in a jovial public pillow fight. Check out the Facebook event page for more details.

While you are there, take advantage of exploring the fabulous neighborhood of Greenwich Village.

We offer several pay-what-you-wish guided walking tours as well as a GPS-enabled audio tour.


Celebrate Earth Day 

Earth Day, on April 19, 2020, is celebrated in NYC with a festive, family-friendly outdoor fair in Union Square.

There will be dozens of exhibitors, interactive displays, a green-vehicle show, family activities, music, and entertainment at Union Square Park at E. 17th St. and Park Ave. See their website for details.

TIP: While you are there, enjoy our free Self-Guided Tour of Union Square and nearby Gramercy Park.

Find many more ideas from our post, Things to Do with Kids in New York City.

 


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About the author

Courtney is a lifelong New Yorker fascinated with the city’s history, culture and cuisine. She loves exploring the world, as well as sharing her travel expertise with others.

She joined the Free Tours by Foot team in 2011, first as a guide and then as a writer. She has a law degree, a teaching degree and a worn-out passport. Her motto is “Have backpack, will travel”.

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