Annual Events in Central Park
Central Park New York is a green haven for city-dwellers. Escape the hustle and bustle of the city streets by enjoying a picnic or stroll or by taking advantage of the many popular programs offered by the park. There are events for every season, but be sure to not miss these most popular events in Central Park.
A Clearing in the Forest
“A Clearing in the Forest” (official website) is a great family-friendly way to spend an afternoon in the park with activities ranging across dance, music, art, storytelling, wildlife, and puppetry performances. Every other Sunday, the Central Park Conservancy sponsors these programs for kids of all ages. The shows are free and no advanced registration is necessary.
For 26 years, the City Parks Foundation has sponsored one of the most exciting events in Central Park New York, SummerStage (http://summerstage.org/park.html?id=44). Free of charge, SummerStage is a series of concerts held on the park’s Rumsey Playfield. Some recent performances include Florence and the Machine, Lee Fields and the Expressions, Hugh Masekela, Jarabe de Palo and more! There are also dance, comedy and spoken word events enjoyed by thousands throughout the season.
Each October, New Yorkers and visitors alike flock to Central Park to celebrate the Pumpkin Festival (official website). The free festival includes a “spooktacular” haunted house, marionette performances, face painting and hay rides. Find the perfect pumpkin in the patch and decorate it before taking it home. With costumed characters and musical entertainment all day, the Pumpkin Festival is the perfect way to celebrate Halloween. The festival is located at the Bandshell Area of Central Park and is easily accesible by 72nd Street.
No Central Park events schedule would be complete without mentioning the Winter Lighting at the Charles A. Dana Discovery Center (http://www.centralpark.com/events/show/846/winter-holiday-lighting). This event has become a holiday tradition for thousands of New Yorkers. Spend the day making ornaments, decorating cookies and enjoying live holiday music. You can even see the big guy himself, Santa will be making an appearance! Advanced registration is not requires and the event is totally free. Located inside Central Park at 110th Street between Lenox and Fifth Avenues, the Winter Holiday Lighting ceremony is a much-loved event by all.
Central Park in a Day
There are so many things to do in Central Park that seeing it all in a day is difficult. The activities you choose can vary form season to season as well. The Central Park Zoo is always a good choice at any time of year and a staple in any New York City hotel guide to the city. In the summer make sure to make time to see a production from Shakespeare in the Park, and in the winter visitors can enjoy ice skating at Wollman Park.
Central Park Zoo
One of the most popular activities in Central Park is the Central Park Zoo and Wildlife Center (http://www.centralparkzoo.com). A popular attraction is the indoor rainforest where visitors can see monkeys swinging from the trees and birds nesting. Visitors can also view the harbor seals and sea lions feeding. The zoo is home to many penguins, which delight the many visitors. One of the most attended attractions in Central Park, it welcomes visitors all year long.
One of the favorite things to do in Central Park in the winter is to ice skate. The park has two ice skating rinks, but the favorite of most people is the Wollman Rink (www.wollmanskatingrink.com). The rink is available from October to April, and for those who do not know how to skate offers a daily skating school. Visitors can rent skate at the rink. For those more advanced, the rink offers synchronized skating and ice hockey lessons.
Shakespeare in the Park
Central Park New York is also home to Delacorte Theater (www.shakespeareinthepark.org) where each summer the outdoor theater offers a series of Shakespeare plays. The performances began in 1954, and occur each summer. The performances are offered for free, by talented young actors and actresses. Each summer, the actors and actresses provide a camp for middle school and high school students giving them a look at what it is like to be in a major production.
Ride the Carousel
Another great thing to do during a day in Central Park is to ride the carousel (www.centralparknyc.org/visit/things-to-see/south-end/carousel.html). The carousel is easy to find on the south end of the park, just listen for the calliope music. The carousel features 57 carefully restored horses that are ridden by 250,000 visitors each year. The first carousel was installed on the site in 1873 and was powered by real horses and mules. Today’s carousel was first used on Coney Island and was built in 1908.