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FESTIVALS, HOLIDAYS AND OTHER ANNUAL EVENTS IN New York

There are a number of festivals, holidays and other events celebrated in New York each year.
The main ones are listed below.

January 1: New Year's Day (national holiday)

Third Monday in January : Martin Luther King Day (national holiday)

A federal holiday in the United States, celebrating the life and achievements of Martin Luther King, Jr. In recent years, it has increasingly been seen as a day of service, when Americans are encouraged to volunteer to help others less fortunate than themselves. Apart from a huge parade up Fifth Avenue from 61st Street to 86th Street, also honouring African-Americans who have served in the US military, with marchers ranging from school children to policemen, numerous events are held each year, including music and dance performances, walking tours, speeches, exhibitions, film screenings and debates.

January/February: Chinese New Year (celebrated nationwide in major cities)

To ring in the Chinese New Year, dazzling dragon troupes wend their way through the streets of Manhattan's Chinatown, accompanied by marching bands, martial artists, magicians, acrobats, processions by local organizations, not to mention elaborate floats. Perfect for families, this event draws nearly half a million spectators every year!

July 4: Independence Day (national holiday)

A federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, by which the 13 American colonies officially severed their political ties with Great Britain. Celebrated with parades, barbecues and picnics. At nightfall, a magnificent fireworks display lights up the Manhattan skyline.

Late July–late August: Harlem Week (local event)

Despite its name, this annual celebration lasts for nearly a month, featuring outdoor events, live performances, vendors and tributes at various venues.

Sunday before Labour Day: Brazilian Day (local event)

This celebration of Brazilian culture, originally held at the heart of Little Brazil, on West 46th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, now takes up over 25 city blocks, with a huge stage in the middle of Sixth Avenue. Numerous Brazilian artists perform, revellers fill the streets, and there are stands selling arts and crafts from Brazil and typical foods.

First Monday in September: Labour Day (national holiday)

Mid-September: Feast of San Gennaro (local event)

New York's best-known and longest-running street festival, the annual Feast of San Gennaro began in 1926 when immigrants from Naples continued the tradition they had followed in Italy, commemorating the day when the their native city's patron saint was martyred for the faith. Since then, the event in Little Italy has expanded and now lasts for nearly two weeks, including a procession carrying the statue of San Gennaro covered in dollar bills, marching bands, musical entertainment, floats, street vendors selling a variety of Italian treats, and other activities, such as a famous cannoli-eating competition. More than a million people attend each year.

Second Monday in October: Columbus Day (national holiday)

Commemorates the landing of Christopher Columbus in the New World (October 12, 1492). Many cultural events are organized to mark this anniversary each year, including performances, exhibitions and a huge parade.

October 31: Halloween (celebrated nationwide)

Halloween is celebrated each year by Americans of all ages. In the late afternoon and early evening hours, children don costumes and go door-to-door in their neighbourhoods to ask for treats, typically candy. Adults often attend costume parties in the evening. In New York, one of most popular events takes place at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in Harlem: a screening of a classic horror film from the silent era, followed by a thrilling, and mischievous, procession of ghosts and ghouls.

Fourth Thursday in November: Thanksgiving (national holiday)

Originally a Christian religious observance, for many years Thanksgiving has been a secular holiday in the United States, celebrated by Americans of all faiths. Families come together to prepare and enjoy a large feast at home. The meal typically includes roast turkey with stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce as well as various side dishes and ends with an assortment of pies (pumpkin, pecan, apple).

December 25: Christmas (national holiday)

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CLIMATE AND WEATHER IN New York

New York has a humid continental climate. Summers are hot and humid and the city enjoys sunshine about two-thirds of the year, on average. Winters are sometimes very cold, with considerable snowfall. Every few years, the Hudson River freezes over. Thankfully, the Appalachian Mountains shield the city from Canada's cold, arctic winds. Before the winter sets in, New York may experience several days of unseasonably warm weather, referred to as “Indian summer”. Rainfall is distributed fairly evenly throughout the year, appearing in the form of warm and brief thunder showers in the summer.

Month Min. Average Temperature (°C/F°) Max. Average Temperature (°C/F°) Average Rains (MM) Best Time to Travel
January -3/27 4/39 93/3.7 Not the best period to go
February -2/28 6/43 78/3.1 Not the best period to go
March 2/36 10/50 111/4.4 Not the best period to go
April 7/45 17/63 114/4.5 Good period to go Good period to go
May 12/54 22/72 106/4.2 Good period to go Good period to go
June 18/64 27/81 112/4.4 Good period to go Good period to go
July 20/68 29/84 117/4.6 Not the best period to go
August 20/68 29/84 113/4.4 Not the best period to go
September 16/61 24/75 109/4.4 Good period to go Good period to go
October 10/50 18/64 112/4.4 Not the best period to go
November 5/41 13/45 102/4.0 Not the best period to go
December 0/32 7/45 102/4.0 Not the best period to go
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New York International Airports

John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)

JFK is the larger of the two international airports serving New York City. It is situated in the borough of Queens, about 24 kilometres (15 miles) south-east of midtown Manhattan.

New York's other two airports are Newark Liberty International Airport and LaGuardia Airport, which serves mainly domestic flights.
  • Eight terminals:
    • Terminal 1 (Air France)
    • Terminal 2
    • Terminal 3
    • Terminal 4
    • Terminal 5
    • Terminal 6
    • Terminal 7
    • Terminal 8

Getting from the airport to Manhattan and back
  • By car
    • Accessible via the Van Wyck Expressway (I-678).
    • Several car rental companies have counters in each terminal.
  • By rail
    • The AirTrain serves the Howard Beach or Jamaica stations (USD 5.00 per ticket), where you can connect with the A or E subway trains to Lower, Midtown or Upper Manhattan or the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) to Penn Station. With the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) subway fare, the total is USD 7.75, for a travel time of about 60 minutes, while the total cost is USD 15.00 if you choose the LIRR, with a travel time of about 35 minutes.
  • By bus
    • NYC Airporter
      This express bus line offers departures about every 30 minutes, connecting the airport with the Port Authority Bus Terminal, Grand Central Station and Penn Station in Manhattan (USD 16.00 per person).
    • MTA buses
      Three New York City bus routes operated by the MTA provide direct service between the airport (Terminal 5) and nearby neighbourhoods: the Q10 with local service to Queens (connect to MTA subway train A at Lefferts Blvd. and E and F at Kew Gardens), the Q3 with local service to Queens (connect at 169th St. and Hillside Ave. for MTA subway train F, and the B15 with local service to East New York (connect at New Lots and Livonia Aves. for MTA subway trains 3 and 4). The bus fare is USD 2.75.
  • By taxi
    • If you opt for the famous yellow cabs, the trip to Midtown will cost you about USD 66 (USD 52 flat Manhattan fare + USD 6 for tolls + USD 8 tip).
  • By SuperShuttle
    • Shared-ride and non-stop van services connecting the airport with Manhattan hotels, starting at about USD 20 per person.

Newark Liberty International Airport


Newark Liberty International Airport is located in New Jersey, about 26 kilometres (16 miles) south-west of Midtown Manhattan, and is usually more convenient than JFK for visitors staying on the West Side of Manhattan.
  • Three terminals:
    • Terminal A
    • Terminal B (Air France)
    • Terminal C

Getting from the airport to Manhattan and back
  • By car
    • Accessible via the New Jersey Turnpike.
    • Several short- and long-term parking facilities are available at each terminal, with short-term rates starting at USD 4 for 30 minutes and long-term rates starting at USD 18 for 24 hours.
    • Several car rental companies have counters at parking lots P2 and P3.
  • By taxi
    • Taxis are available outside each terminal, with fares to the West Side of Manhattan starting at USD 50 (excluding tolls and tips).
  • By rail
    • The AirTrain connects all airport terminals with the nearby Newark Liberty Airport Station on the NJ Transit and Amtrak rail lines, 14 hours a day, 7 days a week. Travel times are 30 minutes to Midtown Manhattan (USD 12.50 per person) and 40 minutes to the World Trade Center (USD 11.00 per person). Connections are also possible via Amtrak to Boston (5-hour travel time, USD 104.00 per person) and Washington, D.C. (3-hour travel time, USD 118.00 per person).
  • By bus
    • NJ Transit operates several bus lines connecting the airport with Manhattan or rapid transit to Manhattan: bus 107 to Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown Manhattan (USD 7.60) and bus 62 to Newark Penn Station (USD 3.30 per person), with connections via PATH to several points in Manhattan (USD 2.75 per person).
    • The Newark Airport Express Bus connects all airport terminals to Grand Central Station, Bryant Park and Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan (USD 16.00 one way or USD 28.00 round trip), departing every 15 minutes from 6:45 a.m. and 11:15 p.m. and every 30 minutes at other times.
  • By shuttle
    • AirTrain makes frequent stops around the airport, connecting all three terminals, free of charge.

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GETTING AROUND New York

Whether on foot, by bus or subway, or by taxi, it is easy to find your way in Manhattan: the avenues run north and south, while streets run east and west. Fifth Avenue separates the East Side from the West Side. During rush hours, it is often faster to walk short distances rather than using public transport.

By rail

New York City's subway system is safe and inexpensive. Its network covers the entire metropolitan area. Reaching Manhattan from the other boroughs is very straightforward and there are numerous connections between lines. Subways run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. A single ride costs USD 2.75 when you purchase a reloadable MetroCard, the standard way of charging rides on the system, with a USD 1.00 fee for each new MetroCard (an 11 percent bonus is added when you buy or add USD 5.50 or more to your MetroCard). A 7-day unlimited ride MetroCard is also available for USD 31.00.

By bus

Like the subways, New York City buses operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with lines running on all north-south avenues and many of the crosstown streets. The fare for a single ride is the same as that for the subways (USD 2.75), with automatic free transfers between buses or between bus and subway.

By taxi

The famous yellow cabs serve all five boroughs of New York City and a portion of New Jersey. The initial charge is USD 2.50, plus 50 cents per 1/5 mile or 50 cents per 60 seconds in slow traffic or when the vehicle is stopped. Passengers are expected to give the driver a tip amounting to between 10 and 15 percent of the fare.

By car

Trying to visit New York City by car is a very bad idea. It is almost impossible to find parking. Near landmarks and tourist attractions, parking garages are excessively expensive, with attendants often bumping cars together to maximize the number of cars the garage can hold.

By ferry

The Staten Island Ferry provides free, around-the-clock service between the South Ferry Terminal in Manhattan and St. George Terminal on Staten Island, offering dramatic views of New York Harbor, Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty and Lower Manhattan.

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Visitor information

Upon your arrival in New York, you can get in touch with local tourism professionals for further information and to help organize your stay.

Official NYC Information Centers

These centres offer visitors discounted attraction passes, guides, maps and brochures covering all there is to see and do in the five boroughs as well as assistance and recommendations for accommodation, restaurants, public transport, festivals and cultural events.

  • Official NYC Information Center at Macy's Herald Square: 151 W. 34th St. (between Seventh Avenue and Broadway)
  • Official NYC Information Center – City Hall: Southern tip of City Hall Park, Broadway at Park Row
  • Official NYC Information Center – South Street Seaport: Hornblower Cruises on the East River Waterfront Esplanade at Pier 15
  • Official NYC Information Center – Times Square: Seventh Avenue between 44th and 45th Streets
  • Website: http://www.nycgo.com

Further information available online for visitors to the United States

Discover America, a public-private marketing entity, works closely with the travel industry to promote tourism in communities around the country. Its website offers excellent information on all US travel destinations, including New York City.

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Medical information

Excellent medical care is available in New York City, but costs are high. As the United States has not entered into reciprocal health agreements with other countries, you should take out appropriate insurance before you leave home, covering both medical expenses and medical evacuation or repatriation.

Vaccinations

There are no vaccination requirements for visitors to the United States.

For more information, contact Air France's international vaccination centre:

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Administrative formalities

The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows citizens or nationals of the following countries to travel to the United States without a visa for stays of 90 days or less, whether for tourism or business: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Kingdom.

For further information, see the Visitor Visa page on the website of the Bureau of Consular Affairs, U.S. Department of State: http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/visit/visitor.html

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Essential phrases

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Good to know

intl. access code + 1
+ phone number (calls to New York City)
-6 : 00
of time difference with
Geneva
Start of daylight saving time: second Sunday in March
End of daylight saving time: first Sunday in November> 2 novembre

Banks

Usually open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon
Government offices

Usually open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.
110 V / 60 Hz

And what about tipping?
In New York as in the rest of the United States, a service charge is not included in the bill and tips form a major portion of income for waiting staff. Prices on restaurant menus are indicated before taxes and tips. You are therefore expected to leave a tip (generally between 15 and 20 percent of the bill). Tipping less than 15 percent (or leaving no tip at all) means that you are very dissatisfied with the service.