Calendar of Ethnic Festivals


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Feast of St. Francis, “Blessing of the Animals”
First Sunday in October, 11 am
Cathedral of St. John the Divine, Amsterdam Avenue at 112th Street

Animal lovers and their pets fill the Cathedral for the annual Blessing of the Animals in honor of St. Francis, to whom the animals were “his brothers and sisters.” A formal procession to the altar is representative of the animal kingdom, and usually includes an elephant, a goat, a cockatiel (a crested parrot), a hedgehog, and a reptile. Other elements of the natural world, such as rocks or algae, are carried in procession too, where they are symbolically blessed by the Bishop and the Dean. The service is followed by a fair on the grounds, featuring environmental booths, food vendors, and performances by the Cathedral’s artists-in-residence. A highlight is the pet/owner look alike contest.

For more information: Cathedral of St. John the Divine, 212-316-7490

last update: 9/2008

Deepavali India Festival
First Sunday in October
South Street Seaport

This Festival of Lights marks the New Year, ushering in good and staving off evil with demonstrations of New Year’s customs from all regions of India. Lavishly dressed dancers move to the haunting sounds of the sitar, and crafts people offer a range of wares, including demonstrations of folkloric painting techniques with earthen dyes. Lanterns abound as the sun goes down, and fireworks over the East River conclude the event in the Indian tradition. Indian organizers find this setting near Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty ideally suited to celebrate and affirm Indian-American identity.

For more information: Association of Indians in America, Inc.

last update: 9/2008

Pulaski Parade
First Sunday in October, 12:30 pm
Fifth Avenue, from 29th to 53rd Streets

The infectious music of polka bands and the laughter and language of Polish celebrants guarantee smiling and dancing in the streets. Polish-American war veterans, vibrant floats, marching bands, and folkloric dancers stream by in a procession 100,000 strong. This celebration of ethnic heritage and its Polish-American hero, Revolutionary War Brigadier General Casimir Pulaski, is the Polish community’s most important cultural event of the year. It also pays tribute to Poland’s struggle for freedom in the 1980s through a symbolic placing of a cross-shaped wreath on the steps of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. More than 1 million spectators line Fifth Avenue to watch, and the event is televised in its entirety in Poland.

For more information:

last update: 9/2008

Hispanic Day Parade
2nd Sunday in October
Fifth Avenue, from 44th to 72nd Streets

Over 50 social, civic, religious, and athletic clubs representing 19 Spanish-speaking countries fill Fifth Avenue in a celebration of Hispanic culture in New York and beyond. Starting with Argentina and ending with Uruguay, each country marches by, costumed to perform folkloric dances or parading their country’s flag, and families stand for hours waiting for their home country to appear. Since 1965, this event has showcased the similarities and differences among Spanish-speaking cultures but as one organizer points out, “We are all Hispanic people, together for one day.”

last update: 9/2008

The Halloween Parade
October 31, 7 pm
Greenwich Village, Sixth Avenue, from Spring to 21st Streets

Come and join this wildly creative parade featured by giant puppets, outrageous costumes and music brought by various ethnic groups in the city. From humble beginnings in 1973 when a Greenwich Village artist walked through the neighborhood with his children and friends carrying handmade masks and puppets, this parade has grown to attract some 50,000 participants and many more spectators. In a celebration of costume, thousands of decorated and disguised New Yorkers join the parade’s signature 15-foot colorful, expressive puppets (which require nearly 1,000 human guides), creating a unique street-theater event.

For more information:

last update: 9/2008

Haunted Forest Walk
Saturday, October 25, 2008
12pm – 3 pm
Prospect Park, Woodlands

Thousands of families line up for this charming woodland encounter with the ghosts of Halloween. Witches, ghouls, goblins, and vampires are among the scary creatures lying in wait as groups of 25 to 30 are led through a haunted forest in Prospect Park. The line begins forming at 11 am.

For more information: Prospect Park Events Line, 718-965-8999

last update: 9/2008

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