CITYSIGHTS NY BLOG

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  • Taste The Best Of The Vineyard At The New Jersey Spring Wine Festival!

    new-jersey-wine-festival-2015

    Traveling to New York City but looking for an event away from the bustle of Manhattan? Check out the New Jersey Spring Wine Festival in Short Hills, NJ. From rich and full-bodied reds and crisp whites to specialty wines, the New Jersey Spring Wine Festival is a seasonal event that offers 150 fine wines sure to delight the palate of any oenophile! Carefully curated by the Wine Library, the selection of wines showcases some of the best vineyards around the globe.

    Fine Food and Drink
    Admission to the even t includes 3 hours of tasting 150 wines and delicious foods (including Farmstead artisan cheeses, crostini, ficelles, baguettes, crudite/dips, a selection of hot pastas, and a Chef’s Choice of desserts) prepared by the Hilton’s AAA Four Diamond award-winning culinary experts. Your tasting glass is yours to keep, complements of the event.

    Music
    Live jazz by Elan Trotman sets the mood for an exquisite evening of fine food and drink! A native of Barbados and a rising star in the galaxy of jazz, Trotman was names Jazz Artist of the Year by both the New England Urban Music Awards and the Barbados Music Awards. Trotman is not only a seasoned performer, but also a composer and music educator.

    The VIP Suite
    A limited number of tickets to the VIP Suite are available by reservation only. VIP guests will enjoy 12 high-end wines chosen from a worldwide selection specifically for the event and ranging in price from $85 to $150. VIP wines include Caymus Special Select Cabernet Sauvignon, Quintessa, Chateau Leoville Poyferre, Louis Roederer Cristal, Arietta H Block Hudson Vineyard, Lindstrom Cabernet Sauvignon Stag’s Leap, Beringer Private Reserve, Clarendon Hills, Sassicaia, and Antinori Tignanello. A special selection of hors d’oeuvres accompanies the wines.

    The Event’s Charity Partner
    The New Jersey Spring Wine Festival has partnered with Family Promise of Bergen County and will donate net proceeds from the event to the organization dedicated to alleviating the plight of the homeless in Bergen County.

    If you go:
    April 24, 2015
    7pm–10pm
    New Jersey Spring Wine Festival
    Short Hills Hilton
    41 John F. Kennedy Parkway
    Short Hills, NJ

  • Celebrate The Positive Power Of Digital Games At The Games For Change Festival

    games-for-change-festival-nyc-2015

    Digital game designers have earned a reputation among the most innovative and forward-thinking minds in the Information Age. And while one might not immediately think of gaming as an instrument for social change, the virtual worlds of game design exert a powerful influence on the way we view the material world. So it’s no surprise that industry leaders, CEOs, designers, and innovators should come together in New York City to discuss and celebrate the ways in which digital games can help yield a more stable and productive future—both economically and environmentally.

    Part of the famous Tribeca Film Festival, the 12th Annual Games for Change Festival is a four-day event that draws thousands from not only the tech and gaming communities but also from those interested in promoting messages of social change through gaming innovation. The festival’s broad array of panels, workshops, and seminars features something to spike the interests every gamer. Topics include choosing your own hybrid platform, cross-platform interaction, the Arab world and its digital now, reclaiming culture through game design, culture war and video games, games and social interaction, and many more!

    You’ll also find a wealth of mini-talks on topics from designing games with scientists to post-Colonial thought in games. Plus, festival demos will include some of the more exotic and little-known digital games from around the world to spark your imagination. And don’t worry, there will be plenty of chances to network with others in the field.

    Presenters include Morgan Spurlock (of Supersize Me), Colleen Macklin (Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Design and Technology at Parsons The New School for Design in New York City), Karen Helmerson (Program Director for Electronic Media, Film & Visual Art at the New York State Council on the Arts), Philip Tan (research scientist at MIT Game Lab), Peter Vesterbacka (brand ambassador for Rovio, creator of Angry Birds), Dan White (co-founder, Filament Games), Jesse Schell and Jake Witherell (of Schell Games), and many more!

    The annual Games for Change Awards will also be presented at the festival, honoring the year's best digital games for change. The finalist games will all be available to play at the Festival, and the official Awards presentation will occur on April 22nd.

    If you go:
    Games for Change Festival
    April 21–25, 2015

    Venues:
    The Center for Architecture (main festival space)
    536 LaGuardia Place, Manhattan

    The Uncommons Game Café (networking, games, sessions)
    230 Thompson Street, Manhattan

    NYU Kimmel Center (networking, sessions, topic tables)
    60 Washington Square South, Manhattan

    Admission:
    1-day pass $299
    2-day pass $399
    All-access pass $550

  • Celebrate The Blooms Of Spring At "Sakura Matsuri" - The Cherry Blossom Festival At Brooklyn Botanic Gardens!

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    An appreciation for the beauty of the cherry blossom is deeply embedded in Japanese culture, and the annual return of these breathtaking blooms is an eagerly anticipated event throughout Japan. “Hanami”—the Japanese term for the viewing of the blossoms— rests at the heart of long-honored customs and traditions that include dance, music, and trapping fallen petals in cups of sake.

    Each year the Brooklyn Botanic Garden kicks off cherry blossom season with a grand celebration called Sakura Matsuri (the Japanese term for Cherry Blossom Festival). Each spring the Garden’s unmatched collection of cherry trees—the largest and most diverse outside Japan—-displays a stunning canopy of blossoms that form the centerpiece for the celebration.

    While cherry blossom season extends from late March though late April, Sakura Matsuri is a two-day event, occurring this year on the weekend of April 25–26. Here are just a few of the events scheduled for the festival…

    Music and Dance
    Music and dance takes to the Main Stage with thunderous taiko drumming, elegant Kabuki Buyo dance, the Awa Odori dance and narimono drum ensemble from Shikoku, Japan, and much more!

    Comedy, Cosplay and Games
    You’ll also find stand-up comedy, cosplay crafting, illustration demonstrations, and more on the J-Lounge Stage at Osborn Garden. Traditional arts and games will feature tea ceremonies, doll displays, Shogi Chess and the game of Go.

    Learn to Draw Like the Manga Masters!
    The popular art of Japanese comic illustration (or Manga) will be a big part of the celebration, with illustration workshops and demonstration for both adults and kids!

    Bonsai and Ikebana
    Discover the world of traditional Japanese Bonsai, as well as the art of flower arranging with tours and demonstrations.

    Kids’ Stuff
    There will be plenty to keep the kids entertained—with workshops in Manga illustration, origami, and tea-making. Kids can even get their photo taken posed in Samurai warrior cutouts!

    If you go:
    Annual Cherry Blossom Festival
    Brooklyn Botanical Garden
    990 Washington Avenue, Brooklyn
    April 25 and 26, 2015
    10am–6pm
    Admission: Adults $25, Students and Seniors $20, kids under 12 FREE

  • Celebrate Our World On Earth Day In New York City

    earth-day-2015

    Anyone who’s read the headlines knows that our global environment has been in the news quite often lately. Climate change, overpopulation, and sustainability have gone from academic discussions to real and practical concerns. So it’s no surprise that the 25th Anniversary of Earth Day has taken on special importance.

    This year, Earth Day not only celebrates our environment and the importance of preserving our natural world, but also looks at ways our global community can work toward achieving sustainability in both energy and food resources through our shared economy.

    Earth Day celebrations will be held at Union Square in the heart of Lower Manhattan, where representatives from environmental campaigns and nonprofits will share their ideas for moving forward. You’ll also learn from local businesses that are spearheading green initiatives and about the latest environmentally conscious transportation with an exhibit of prototype green vehicles!

    This year’s Sharing Economy Exhibition offers you a chance to learn about the variety of business and nonprofit opportunities in the new sharing economy, as well as new avenues for sustainability for our global future. Booths will be staffed by informed representatives from a range of organizations to help explain how the actions we take today can shape tomorrow’s collaborative economy. To further foster the spirit of cooperation, join in our Earth Day Book Swap! Bring a book to swap and share ideas with others!

    Best of all, Earth Day is your chance to learn how you can help—from recycling and energy use plans, to volunteerism and entrepreneurship. Remember too that Earth Day is a family-friendly event—with live music, delicious food, and green activities galore—so be sure to bring the kids!

    If you go:
    Earth Day NYC
    Sunday, April 19, 2015
    Noon–7pm
    FREE
    Union Square (between 14th and 16th Street), Manhattan

  • Broaden Your Horizons At The New York Travel Festival

    new-york-travel-festival-2015

    Each year New York City draws millions of visitors from around the world. And that’s no surprise — New York City attractions are seemingly boundless, and include museums, music, art, food, and nightlife. Experienced travelers know, however, that there’s a lot more to travel than accommodations and restaurants. Travel is a cultural experience.

    The New York Travel Festival, sponsored by The New York Times, is committed to examining critical sociocultural aspects of the travel experience. This year’s festival includes two fascinating discussion forums—Traveling While Black and An Afroprean Odyssey—exploring the experiences of travelers of color in two contexts. Discussion forums feature experienced African, African-American, and African-European travel writers, journalists, editors, and filmmakers.

    TRAVELING WHILE BLACK
    This dynamic forum examines the ways in which the travel landscape has changed for black travelers and for writers who cover it. The panel includes three journalists and an editor, moderated by New York Times Travel editor, Monica Drake.

    The Panelists
    Monica Drake. Monica Drake is a veteran editor at The New York Times, and heads its Travel section, overseeing the weekly print section, the digital report and directing its digital and mobile initiatives.
    Charlise Ferguson. Charlise Ferguson is head of social media at The Daily Beast. She is a superb storyteller and contributes to the site's travel and music coverage.
    Evita Robinson. Evita (Evie) Robinson is the founder of the Nomadness Travel Tribe, an online social community for travelers worldwide who share a similar urban background.
    Yolanda Sangweni. Yolanda Sangweni is a South-African-born writer/editor and cultural curator. Currently, she is the entertainment editor of ESSENCE.com—the online portal of ESSENCE Magazine—and the founder of afriPOP, an online outlet focused on trends in global African culture.
    Zim Ugochukwu. Zim Ugochukwu is the founder of Travel Noire, a digital publishing platform that helps the unconventional traveler discover new destinations, plan journeys, and experience travel.

    AN AFROPEAN ODYSSEY
    Join Johny Pitts on an exploration of Europe’s African diaspora and the identities those of African heritage have forged on the European continent. Through words and street photography, Johny shares his experiences as a traveler in London, Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Moscow, Berlin, Rome, Madrid, and Lisbon.

    The Panelists
    Melvin Estrella. As a noted Director of Photography and Producer, Melvin Estrella has worked in independent film as well as in commercial, TV, and nonprofit production.
    Johny Pitts. Johny Pitts is a British writer, photographer, and BBC host. He is the founder and editor of the award-winning online journal afropean.com, exploring the interplay of the black diaspora with Europe.
    Terrell J. Starr. Terrell J. Starr is a Senior Editor at AlterNet. His journalism experience includes public radio, social media, magazines, photography and online reporting.

    If you go:
    New York Travel Festival
    Wednesday, April 15, 2–4pm
    The New York Times Building
    620 8th Avenue (at 41st Street), Manhattan
    Admission is FREE but registration is required.

  • Clap Your Hands And Stomp Your Feet At The Brooklyn Folk Music Festival!

    brooklyn-folk-festival

    Folk music lovers, get ready to smile! The Brooklyn Folk Festival is here! The three-day event features 30 bands in genres that range from traditional American mountain music to, folk music from Ireland, a string band from Hawaii, and Klezmer from Belarus! There will also be vocal and instrumental workshops, a family-friendly square dance and swing dance, jam sessions, film screenings, the famous Banjo Toss contest, and more!

    The Bands
    The Brooklyn Folk Festival is a kaleidoscope of the best in folk, blues, bluegrass, jazz, ragtime, Americana, string bands, and more! This year’s lineup features folk legend Michael Hurley, ragtime pianist Terry Waldo, King Isgto’s Tropical String Band, mountain music by the Ozark Highballers, organist Chad Levitt, country music by the Cactus Blossoms, Naomi Shelton and the Gospel Queens, Grammy winner Art Rosenbaum, jug music by the Whiskey Spitters, and many more!

    Special Events
    From old-fashioned folk jam sessions to special film screenings, the Brooklyn Folk Festival is alive with family-friendly activities for music lovers of all ages! Stephen Petrus, from the Museum of the City of New York, presents “Folk City!” an exploration of New York City’s roots in folk music, with a look at seminal artists like Leadbelly, Woody Guthrie, Josh White, and more! Be sure to check out the Museum of the City of New York’s extensive exhibit on the folk music revival opening in June 2015. And at 4pm join in a fun vocal harmony workshop with Don Friedman and Phyllis Elkind. The Festival’s famous “Banjo Toss” will give you a chance to show off your throwing skills and maybe even win a free banjo! Plus there are films presented by folklorist Alan Lomax and a fiddle workshop by Bruce Molsky. In the evening join in for the big old-time square dance with the Ozark Highballers as the dance band!

    If you go:
    Brooklyn Folk Festival
    April 17–19, 2015
    St. Ann’s Church
    157 Montague Street (between Clinton and Henry), Brooklyn

  • Pirates Of New York

    pirates-of-new-york

    When one thinks of New York City today, piracy is not the first word that comes to mind. But delve 325 years into the city’s history, and you’ll find a past rich in privateering and piracy—much of it either ignored or directly financed by New York’s colonial governors!

    In the late 1600s, sea trade flourished as ships flying under the flags of many European powers (including England, France, and Spin) pursued trade routes from the Near East to the Americas. As the American Colonies thrived, port cities along the east coast from Boston and New York to Philadelphia and Charleston became hubs of activity for traders, merchants, and yes, pirates.

    In the late 1600s, New York, while a thriving port, had to compete with both Boston and Philadelphia for revenue. Jacob Leisler (governor in rebellion, 1689–1691) entered into active privateering and piracy arrangements, using his personal funds to pay William Mason to attack French shipping off the Massachusetts coast.

    After Leisler’s downfall and subsequent execution as a traitor, governorship fell to Colonel William Fletcher. Fletcher immediately recognized the value of the Sweet Trade (as piracy was sometimes called) to New York’s economy. Since England and France were at war, it was not uncommon for one country to seize the other’s ships. “Letters of Marque” carried by privateers granted them legal authority to seize ships and cargo in the name of the Colonial Governor. Under these rules, all seized cargo was to be brought to port for proper (and legal) disposition. Of course, it was far simpler to forego the formality and resort to direct piracy. Fletcher was open to hosting pirates in New York Harbor for a fee of 100 Spanish dollars—quite a tidy sum in the 1690s.

    So, through Fletcher, piracy found a home in New York City, and the city’s many merchants, innkeepers, and tavern owners profited nicely from the illicit business. It was not uncommon for pirates to spend all sorts of coin on the streets of Manhattan—from doubloons to dinars.

    Perhaps the most famous celebrity pirate to be associated with New York City was Captain William Kidd. There’s some evidence to suggest that Kidd’s association with New York began early in his career when he may have worked as a ship’s mate for privateers sailing out of the harbor. Later Kidd applied some of his wealth to building a substantial home in the city. In 1691, Kidd married Sarah Cox Oort, an English widow who was one of the wealthiest women in New York. Kidd was also instrumental in the financing and construction of New York City’s first Trinity Church. It has been said that Kidd even provided heavy block and tackle from his own ship to help hoist some of Trinity’s heavier stones into place.

    Piracy in New York got a boost from the Revolutionary War, as seized cargo was invaluable to the struggling colonies. John Broome, a New York merchant, organized a privateering operation from his Connecticut home that raided ships in Long Island Sound. Following the War for Independence, piracy began a long but steady decline, and subsequent Governors were not so quick to turn a blind eye to the sea dogs who once strolled Manhattan’s streets with impunity. Yet it you tour the neighborhoods of Manhattan at night, you may still find a pirate ghost or two in the shadows.

  • Please Your Palate With A Taste Of The Lower East Side!

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    Attention Foodies! If you’ve ever dreamt of sampling some of the finest and most diverse flavors New York City has to offer, and helping a worthwhile cause in the process, you’re in luck. On April 15, 2015, Grand St. Settlement sponsors the 15th Annual Taste of the Lower East Side—a gourmet event that brings together over 50 of the Lower East Side’s most exciting restaurants for a premier tasting event to delight the palate!

    The Lower East Side of Manhattan has an established reputation as a food Mecca for both native New Yorkers and visitors. Mobile eateries and innovative kitchens have replaced the pushcarts and sidewalk vendors, but the spirit of the neighborhood remains a thriving inspiration. Taste of the Lower East Side is a celebration of flavor sure to bring everyone to the table, letting you sample some of the dishes that have made the Lower East Side a foodie’s paradise, while supporting Grand St. Settlement, an advocacy organization seeking to provide everyone, regardless of income, with access to the nutritious food needed to promote health and sustain life.

    For 100 years, Grand St. Settlement has assisted the Lower East Side community by providing families with the skills and resources needed to improve their lives and their futures. In the multicultural setting of the Lower East Side it’s only natural to bring together a broad array of dishes reflective of the various ethnicities represented in the area.

    The list of participating restaurants is essentially a who's who of food in the Lower East Side. This year’s restaurants offer a spectacular variety of fusions and flavors sure to tickle your tastebuds. Here are just a few of the fine establishments offering their wares for the tasting…Black Tree, Cata, The Comfort, DBGB, Fung Tu, GG’s, Kuma inn, Louie & Chan, Mezetto, Pies ‘n’ Thighs, Prohibition Bakery, Sauce, The Wren, and MANY MORE!

    So bring your appetite, and enjoy the many flavors of one of New York’s oldest and most diverse neighborhoods!

    If you go:
    Metropolitan Pavilion
    125 East 18th Street, Manhattan
    Wednesday, April 15, 2015
    6–7pm Tasting Preview ($300)
    7–10pm General Admission ($195)

  • How Broadway Got To Be "Broadway!"

    broadway-new-york

    Looking at Broadway in New York City today, one can scarcely imagine a time when it wasn’t bustling with tourists and theatergoers, shoppers and office workers. The name Broadway is so synonymous with American theater that one can easily forget that Broadway itself stretches from Manhattan’s southern tip, north through the Bronx, and outside the city into its northern suburbs. But for now let’s take a look at the theater district in Midtown Manhattan and how it got to be so famous.

    Back in the 1600s, what we now know as Broadway was a dirt path called the Wickquasgeck Trail, cut through the swamps, streams, rocks and brush by the Native American tribes of Manhattan Island. Dutch explorers noted the trail as a main north-south route along the island’s western side as early as 1642.

    In the 1800s, as Manhattan’s now familiar grid structure of numbered east-west streets and north-south avenues began to take shape, Broadway remained a principal traffic route. Its often zigzagging contour through the city, however, necessitated the creation of some rather interesting intersections, or Squares. Union Square (at 14th Street), Madison Square (at 26th Street), and Times Square (at 42nd Street) became some of the most famous. The open spaces afforded by these unique intersections drew the interest od developers (circus magnate P.T. Barnum built the Hippodrome on the site of a former rail depot at Madison Square in the mid-1800s).

    Theater culture, for which Broadway is widely known, remained sharply divided along class lines in the 1800s—with bawdy musical halls and minstrel shows for the blue collar workers ad their families downtown (now the Bowery) and classical theaters and concert halls for the white collar society uptown (now Midtown Manhattan). The theaters we know today did not begin to take root in the Midtown (Times Square area) until around 1900.

    One major development in the evolution of Broadway’s theater district was the invention of the electric lamp. Broadway was among the first major U.S. streets to get the makeover, replacing gas lanterns with an interconnected system of AC-powered streetlights. It is from these lights that Broadway earned the moniker “The Great White Way.” Musical comedies by the hundreds were staged on Broadway around the turn of the last century, man written by Tin Pan Alley composers like George M. Cohan.

    As the 20th century took shape, more theaters began to open. Many theaters were owned by consortiums like the Erlanger Syndicate and later the Shubert Brothers. Actors Equity gained standard wages for unionized actors in 1919. Light opera began to work its way into the Broadway canon as a strong demographic of middle class theatergoers emerged.

    As motion pictures became the emerging technology of the 20s and 30s, Broadway was forced to adapt, taking on ever larger productions such as the Ziegfeld Follies to entice audiences. The era of the full-scale narrative musical was ushered in by Show Boat in 1927 and proved a definitive moment for Broadway musical theater. During the war years, the musical Oklahoma! became an overwhelming hit with over 2,200 performances.

    Following World War Two, the Times Square area of Broadway began to see another sort of transformation, this one to the seedier side, as low-rent burlesque houses and adult movie theaters began to encroach on the district. By the 1960s and ‘70s, the districts was as synonymous with street crime, peep-shows, and prostitution as it was with theater. But beginning in the 1980s, Broadway’s theater district began to emerge from this darker era with increased policing and the closure of many of the low-rent businesses that had proven to be magnets for crime.

    Modern Broadway has reinvented itself as a family-friendly neighborhood, well attended both by day and night, and aglow with the lights that made Broadway famous. Hit theatrical productions continue to be the defining characteristic of Broadway near Times Square, with hits like Finding Neverland, Aladdin, Chicago, and Phantom of the Opera attracting millions of theatergoers annually.

    No trip to New York City is complete without a visit to Broadway, so bring the family, take in a show, and be a part of history!

  • Comic And Cartoon Art Comes Alive At The MoCCA Arts Fest!

    mocca-arts-fest-2015

    Once relegated to the comic rack at the corner drugstore, comic and cartoon illustration has undergone a renaissance over the past two decades to emerge as one of the most popular and intriguing art forms. From Marvel’s Stan Lee and Sin City’s Frank Miller to Japanese manga artists like Akira Toriama (DragonBallZ) and Naoki Urasawa (Monster), creators of graphic novels have recently acquired star status within the genre and beyond.

    History
    Beginning in 2002, the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art (MoCCA) in New York City has hosted a festival to honor the art form—featuring artists, publishers, panel discussions, slide shows, and presentation of the Klein Award (named in honor of MoCCA’s founder Lawrence Klein). In 2013, the festival was taken over by the Society of Illustrators, which changed the Klein Award to the Award of Excellence Now in its 14th year the MoCCA draws thousands of comic and cartoon enthusiasts to the annual event.

    Exhibitors
    Considered by many to the be the premiere small-press gathering for comic and cartoon illustration, the MoCCA festival features over 150 exhibitor booths, including publishers Conundrum Press, Copra Press, GUMI Press, Koyama Press, Northwest Moon, Paper Comet Minicomics, Pegacorn Press, Revival House Press, So What Press, and more.

    Special Guests
    Topping the bill of this year’s special guests is painter and illustrator Aline Kominsky-Crumb (creator of Need More Love and wife of illustrator/cartoonist R. Crumb). Also featured are Zot! Creator and comic theorist Scott McCloud, and illustrator and creator of Smile and Drama Raina Telgemeier. International guests include Pénélope Bagieu, the artist DoubleBob, Annie Goetzinger, Ilan Manouach, Anne-Françoise Rouche, and Barbara Stok.

    Events will be at the Center 548, conveniently located on Manhattan’s Lower West Side.

    If you go:
    MoCCA Arts Festival
    548 West 22nd Street (near 11th Ave High Line)
    Apr 11–12, 2015
    11:00 am to 6:00 pm
    Admission: $5 per day.