Memorial Day Weekend Guide: Events and Activities in NYC

Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of summer and is a time when New York City comes alive with many events and activities to celebrate the long weekend. From honoring the nation’s fallen heroes to enjoying outdoor festivities and cultural events, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in the Big Apple. We’ve put together the ultimate guide for you to make the most of Memorial Day weekend in NYC:

Fleet Week Celebrations

Join in the festivities as the 36th Annual Fleet Week takes over New York City starting May 22nd through May 28th, honoring the men and women of the United States Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. Attend ship tours, military demonstrations, and performances by military bands. Don’t miss the awe-inspiring Parade of Ships as vessels sail into New York Harbor or the Mount Loretto Aviation Event as helicopters land at the Mt. Loretto soccer field.

You can find more details and the list of tours and events on Fleet Week’s website here.

Memorial Day fleet week NYC

Memorial Day Parades

Pay tribute to the nation’s fallen heroes by attending one of the Memorial Day parades held throughout the city. Watch the iconic Brooklyn Memorial Day Parade held on May 27th or participate in solemn ceremonies at Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument in Manhattan’s Riverside Park, which serves as the city’s largest Memorial Day observance. These events offer a chance to honor and remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Memorial Day Parade NYC

Outdoor BBQs and Picnics

Gather your friends and family for a classic Memorial Day barbecue or picnic in one of NYC’s scenic parks. Central Park, Prospect Park, and Brooklyn Bridge Park are popular spots for outdoor gatherings. Pack a picnic basket with your favorite treats and spend the day enjoying games, music, and relaxation in the great outdoors.

Governors Island and We Belong Here

We Belong Here will have 6 pop-up events at Governor’s Island for the last two weekends on May. Explore the island’s historic sites, enjoy panoramic views of the city skyline, and partake in recreational activities such as biking, kayaking, and mini-golf. Enjoy the many festivities that feature live music, food vendors, and family-friendly entertainment. You can get your tickets and learn more here.

Rooftop Parties and Happy Hours

Experience the vibrant nightlife of NYC by attending rooftop parties and happy hours throughout Memorial Day weekend. There are many rooftop bars and lounges and  to enjoy spectacular views of the city skyline while sipping cocktails and dancing the night away to live music. Check out this list from Time Out of the best rooftop venues in NYC.

Beach Day Getaways

Escape the city heat by taking a day trip to one of NYC’s nearby beaches. Rockaway Beach in Queens and Coney Island in Brooklyn are popular destinations for sun, sand, and surf. Rent a bike, indulge in some boardwalk treats, or simply relax and soak up the coastal vibes. Don’t forget your sunscreen!

Cultural Festivals and Street Fairs

Immerse yourself in the rich cultural tapestry of NYC by attending Memorial Day weekend festivals and street fairs. From the DanceAfrica Festival at the Brooklyn Academy of Music to the Lower East Side Festival of The Arts, these events showcase the diversity and creativity of the city’s communities. Explore artisanal crafts, sample international cuisine, and enjoy live performances.

Brooklyn Academy of Music

Memorial Day Sales and Shopping

Score some great deals and discounts during Memorial Day weekend sales at NYC’s shops and boutiques. Whether you’re in the market for fashion, home decor, or electronics, you’ll find plenty of bargains to be had. Many retailers offer special promotions and extended hours for the holiday weekend.

Volunteer Opportunities

Give back to the community by participating in volunteer activities and service projects over Memorial Day weekend. You can help out at local food banks or participate in beach cleanups. Lending a hand is a meaningful way to honor the spirit of the holiday and make a positive impact in your community.


Memorial Day weekend in NYC offers a wide array of events and activities for residents and visitors alike to enjoy and kick off the summer. Pay tribute to the nation’s heroes, soak up the sun at the beach, or explore the city’s cultural offerings—there’s no shortage of ways to make the most of this long weekend in the Big Apple. For more fun events and experiences, check out our NYC Spring Bucket List.

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