East Coast Events
Where to go, what to see and how to celebrate
Saturday 22 January 2005
Carnaval Miami, 5-10 March
One of the hottest carnivals north of Rio is that in Miami, which takes place around the central Calle Ocho Festival. Expect to see around 40 music stages pumping out salsa, merengue and pop, as well as carnival floats and food stalls which line the streets of Little Havana during the country's largest celebration of Hispanic culture. This year's festival is also vying for a place in the Guinness Book of Records for the world's largest street party, so you could be making history with a visit; entry is free. On the 5 March it's Noche de Carnaval, an evening of music from some of Latin America's most prominent artists. Further information: 01444 443355; www.calle8.com
St Patrick's Day Parade, New York City, 17 March
New York City's Irish Diaspora commemorates the death of 4th-century missionary St Patrick with one of the world's largest annual parades outside of Ireland. The first parade was held in the mid-18th century. Today the parade traditionally follows a route up Fifth Avenue from 44th to 86th Streets, with clans and public revellers following the Irish 165th Infantry. The event begins at 11am. Further information: 001 718 793 1600; www.saintpatricksdayparade.com
Sakura Matsuri (Cherry Blossom Festival), New York City, 30 April-1 May
East meets West during this celebration of spring. Cherry blossom festivals originate in Japan, and the tradition was introduced to the US at the turn of the 19th century by Japanese immigrants. Gradually, cherry trees were imported and today the number of festivals in America rivals the number in Japan. At the Brooklyn Botanic Garden festival, now in its 23rd year, visitors can view 50 varieties of cherry trees as well as see bonsai and watch Samurai demonstrations, view short films and see a selection of related art. Further information: 001 718 623 7200; www.bbg.org
White House Easter Egg Roll, Washington, Late March (date tbc)
The White House provides the unusual backdrop for this annual public tradition, which is said to date back to the era of President Lincoln. Decorated eggs are rolled down Pennsylvania Avenue by children both big and small, and inevitably celebrations have now expanded to include visits from the Easter bunny and street entertainment. The President and his family usually attend, so it's worth a visit if only to catch a glimpse of Dubya conversing with the Easter Bunny. Further information and confirmation of the date of Roll: 001 202 456 1414; www.whitehouse.gov/easter
Museum Mile Festival, New York City, 14 June
Take advantage of the Museum Mile Festival, which has been granting visitors free entry to its museums along Fifth Avenue for more than a quarter of a century, on the second Tuesday of June each year. The entire stretch of Fifth Avenue from 82nd to 105th Streets is closed to traffic from 6pm to 9pm when thousands of pedestrians swarm the museums, which include the Jewish Museum, the Solomon R Guggenheim Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Street art, live bands and performers can be found among the crowds all along what is a colourful road.
Further information: 001 212 606 2296; www.museummilefestival.org
Celebrate Brooklyn Festival, NYC, Mid-June to mid-August (dates tbc)
If Brooklyn is currently the place to be in New York City, then its eponymous summer festival is a must-see. Launched in 1979, the Festival is one of the largest free outdoor events in the city, providing visitors with music, dance, performance and film by artists from around the globe. Performers from 2004 included Los Lobos, The Marley Brothers, Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Brooklyn Philharmonic. Further information: 001 718 855 7882; www.brooklynx.org/celebrate
Central Park Summerstage, New York City, June-September (dates tbc)
Celebrate summer in the city at the Central Park Summerstage. The festival presents a diverse array of music, dance and performance to audiences gratis in the park's Rumsey Playfield - an oasis of tranquility in the midst of the frenetic city. Visitors can expect to hear both American and world music and a celebrated spoken-word programme; the dance programme has expanded in recent years to present dance from around the world. Tickets are allocated at the gate on a first-come, first-serve basis, so get there early.
Further information: 001 212 360 2756; www.summerstage.org
Boston Harborfest, Boston, 29 June-4 July
The Harborfest builds up to the country's largest Fourth of July celebrations with six days of festivities commemorating Boston as the cradle of the American Revolution. Choose from around 200 events, from historical re-enactments to a renowned chowderfest. The Fourth of July celebrations usually include a commemorative ceremony featuring a public reading of the Declaration of Independence, a parade and an impressive firework display.
Further information: 001 617 227 1528; www.bostonharborfest.com
Keene Pumpkin Festival, Keene, New Hampshire, October (dates tbc)
Wonderfully carved pumpkins inspired by anything from witches to spaceships are on display during Keene's annual pumpkin festival. It usually takes place over the weekend before Halloween and features the requisite pumpkin displays, a pumpkin seed-spitting competition, street entertainment, food stalls, a pumpkin-eating contest and a firework display.
Further information: 001 603 352 1303; www.pumpkinfestival.com
Haunted Happenings, Salem, October (dates tbc)
Nobody celebrates Halloween quite like North Americans, so what better place to witness the festivities than Salem in Massachusetts, the site of the notorious witch trials of 1692? The annual Haunted Happenings is a more convivial affair, with events running throughout October including carved pumpkin displays, ghost stories, a parade and tours of haunted buildings. The Witch Museum opens until midnight on 31 October and events for a more adult audience include re-enactments of the witch trials and a wine tasting.
Further information: 001 978 744 3663; www.hauntedhappenings.org
21st Annual Harvestfest, York, Maine, 14-17 October
Revellers at York's Harvestfest are treated to a variety of events including a parade, a colonial food festival, a craft fair and a music festival. Guided tours of York take place throughout the festival, taking participants to key landmarks including Boon Island Lighthouse. Visitors can also step back in time to sample roast ox and attend a colonial church service. Native American heritage is also celebrated during the annual pow-wow with traditional dance performances.
Further information: 001 207 363 4422; www.gatewaytomaine.org
Leaf-peeping, New England, September-October
Few places on earth epitomise autumn quite like New England. Visitors flock to the region to see the carpet of golden foliage across the region as summer draws to a close. "Leaf-peepers" can follow the seasonal change from north to south as the daylight diminishes and foliage from maples, elms and oaks carpets the ground. Newspapers and television stations advise on where to find the finest Fall colours. Further information: 020-7491 1112; www.visitnewengland.com
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