New Yorkers love an opportunity to dress up in costume and promenade throughout the city, and today will present a perfect opportunity with the Easter Parade and Easter Bonnet Festival.
The annual event will once again take over a sliver of Midtown, as revelers dressed in their holiday finery—which typically includes over-the-top, often handmade hats—gather around St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
The tradition began in the 19th century, and was originally more of a high-society affair; well-heeled men and women would gather (originally in Central Park, according to Big Onion Walking Tours, but they eventually migrated to Fifth Avenue) and show off their best clothing. (It also inspired a Judy Garland and Fred Astaire musical, Easter Parade, if that’s your sort of thing.)
The tradition has remained a spring staple in the city, and participants have moved beyond simply wearing nice clothes. Like the Village Halloween Parade, or the Mermaid Parade on Coney Island, Easter parade attendees take the opportunity to go all-out, with creative hats (many decked out with flowers, tiny renderings of NYC landmarks, or Peeps) and other accessories now the norm.
Want to check it out for yourself? Here’s what you need to know.
When is the Easter Parade and Easter Bonnet Festival?
The event begins around 10 a.m. on Sunday, April 21, and goes until 4 p.m.
Where does the parade kick off?
This isn’t a super-long parade: It begins at Fifth Avenue at 49th Street and continues up the avenue toward 57th Street. St. Patrick’s Cathedral is a natural gathering spot for the occasion, so don’t be surprised if there are big crowds around the building on Sunday.
What streets will be closed for the parade?
This also isn’t an event that takes over too much of the surrounding neighborhood; the only street that will be closed is Fifth Avenue from 47th to 57th streets.
What about getting there?
The parade area is served by a boatload of trains, including the E (at Fifth Avenue-53rd Street), N and R (Fifth Avenue-59th Street), the 4/5/6 (Grand Central), and the 7 (Fifth Ave). As always, check the MTA’s Weekender map before heading out.
What else do I need to know?
The rainy, gloomy weather of the past week has passed: It will be in the low 60s and partly cloudy that day. Plan your attire accordingly.