Diwali New York: A Festival of Light

By Go City Expert

Have you experienced Diwali in New York yet? Many cultures have festivities that celebrate the triumph of light over dark, or good over evil. They’re especially prevalent this time of year, when the days get shorter and the sun seems to set at 3 PM. Coming up this week is Diwali in New York, which will see the city set aglow as a result of The Festival of Light. Keep reading for all the details on what it is and how to celebrate.

So, what is Diwali?

Diwali, sometimes known as Deepavali or Dipavali, is the five-day festival of lights; it celebrates the triumph of light over darkness. (The word ”diwali” comes from a word in Sanskrit meaning “rows of lighted lamps.”) It’s celebrated by religions around the world, including Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and some Buddhists. While the different faiths celebrate different events and stories, they all celebrate knowledge over ignorance; good over evil. It celebrates the return of King Rama’s defeat of Ravana, a multi-headed demon king, by lighting clay lamps. The actual days are dictated by the Hindu lunar calendar; this year it’s being celebrated on Sunday, Oct. 27.

How is Divali celebrated?

You’ll often see temples, shops, and even office buildings lit up. The preparations and the festival itself can take up to five days. Tasks include cleaning and decorating homes, preparing a meal, exchanging gifts, and make offerings to Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity. Celebrations often include worship ceremonies, religious rituals, meals, and sweets; you’ll also see firework displays, as well as Rangoli—patterns created on the floor, using colored powder or rice.

What foods are eaten on Diwali?

Sweets are very important on this holiday. Ones often eaten include Kheer (a kind of rice pudding, often flavored with cardamom, raisins, and nuts); gulab jamun (a sweet made primarily from milk solids); and Shankarpali (a kind of fried cookie). Yum.

Are there any Diwali celebrations in New York?

Yes! You can find Diwali celebrations throughout the city.

  • October 27 from 6 -9 PM: The Bhakti Center (25 1st Avenue) will offer music and dance performances, henna and face painting booths, and food stalls. It will end with an offering of lamps.
  • October 27: Staten Island Children’s Museum (1000 Richmond Terrace) will offer a celebration for all ages from 1–4 PM. Kids can make their own artwork using different colored sand.
  • And if you just can’t get your act together this month, the celebrations extend until November—check out Camp Friendship’s in Brooklyn from 3:30 – 6 PM.
  • October 25 from noon to 5 PM: Metropolitan Museum of Art (1000 Fifth Avenue) is offering World Culture Festival: Dance!. It celebrates cultures around the world, including The Colors of Krishna’s Love, a puppet show celebrating Diwali that will be offered three times throughout the afternoon.

If you're not ready to leave behind the celebrations just yet, why not check out our blog on the Village Halloween Parade?

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10 Things to Do in NYC With Kids on Vacation

Choosing just 10 activities and landmarks to see on your New York City vacation is a challenging proposition, but these 10 tourist venues in Manhattan and around its five boroughs are some of the best things to do in NYC with kids on vacation (that the adults will enjoy, too). From educational museums to amusement parks and one-of-a-kind attractions, your New York City vacation will inevitably include some of the most well-known landmarks in the entire world. Here are a few of the best and brightest attractions NYC has to offer your family. Free Entry with The New York Pass® Free entry to many of these popular New York attractions and activities are included on The New York Pass®. Used by over 3.5 million travelers, the New York Pass is the ultimate sightseeing pass, which includes admission to 90+ attractions, Fast Track Entry at select attractions, a free guidebook, & much more. Learn more about the New York Pass benefits & how to save up to 70% off attractions. Get on the Big Bus New York: Hop-on Hop-off Tour The fully-narrated Big Bus New York sightseeing tour lasts about 2.5 hours and will show your family many of the famous venues of New York City. The access and information it offers about all of NYC's tourist attractions are invaluable for getting the most out of your Manhattan vacation. The bus travels along 25 stops around its New York City loop, and your family may hop-on or hop-off as many times as you want, whenever you're close to one of the NYC attractions you'd like to experience. Some of the sights you'll see on your tour include Times Square, the Empire State Building, and Rockefeller Center. Getting in: Big Bus Hop-On Hop-Off Tour tickets are included with The New York Pass. Get Goosebumps at the Empire State Building Each year, millions of adventurers travel to the top of the Empire State Building for an unparalleled view of New York City. Fun fact: Did you know that photographers point their cameras at the Empire State Building more often than any other building in the world? Not only is the Empire State Building an iconic part of the Manhattan skyline, but it's also a must-see part of your New York City vacation. The observation deck on the 86th floor will offer your family panoramic views of the city, as well as some of the best photo ops anywhere in town. Getting in: Empire State Building tickets are included on the New York Pass. Visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Immigration Museum If you only have a few days to spend in Manhattan, a trip across the water to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty is a must. Take the ferry from Battery Park to Ellis Island and learn about the 12 million immigrants who came to the United States to live the American Dream. The Statue of Liberty will offer your family memorable photo opportunities, and the Immigration Museum will provide them with a valuable lesson on the history of immigration to America. Adventurous families may wish to climb the 354 steps to reach the crown of the Statue of Liberty. Getting in: Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Immigration Museum and ferry tickets are included on The New York Pass. Please note: tickets for access to the pedestal and crown levels in the Statue of Liberty are sold separately and require advanced reservations. You will not be granted admission with The New York Pass. Explore and Learn at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum A visit to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum is an important trip for any visitor to New York City. Even though the museum might not be the first place you think of for kid-friendly venues in New York City, the 9/11 Memorial organization does offer age-appropriate activities for children. On Saturdays, the museum features drop-in activity stations to help children understand and discuss the events of 9/11. The museum also offers art activities and self-guided exploration for children in the form of stories and symbolism. The museum also hosts guided programs for children in the summer led by local educators. Getting in: 9/11 Memorial & Museum tickets are included with The New York Pass. Discover the World at the American Museum of Natural History Dinosaurs are a favorite for millions of children, and the American Museum of Natural History is one of the most expansive museums in the world for natural history and dinosaurs. The museum features rotating exhibits from all facets of the planet's history, from human history to the history of the oceans. The museum offers several self-guided tours like the Dino Tour, the Earth and Space Tour, and the Whales Tour. You and your family may choose to wander around the museum exploring, or you may choose to participate in one of the special events occurring at the museum on the day of your visit. Getting in: American Museum of Natural History tickets are included on The New York Pass. Ride the Park with Central Park Bicycle Rentals & Tours Central Park covers 843 acres in the middle of Manhattan, and exploring the park from the seat of a bicycle is an excellent way to leave the cement behind for a few hours and enjoy a tree-filled urban adventure. Available bicycles include those sized for adults and children, as well as tandem bikes made for two riders. If your visit to Manhattan occurs in the warm months, consider taking a ride around the park and then eating a picnic lunch on the grass beneath the nearby skyline of Manhattan's skyscrapers. Enjoy a few minutes of sun and relaxation before heading back to the city for more adventures. Getting in: Central Park Bike Tour tickets and rentals are included with The New York Pass. Find Excitement at Luna Park at Coney Island Featuring rides, games, dining, and shops, Luna Park at Coney Island is an excellent way to relive your childhood memories of amusement parks while helping your children make new memories--it's one of the most fun things to do in NYC with kids. Various amusement parks have called Coney Island home since the 1880s. In recent years, the famous Brooklyn neighborhood has also become home to a professional soccer club and a minor league baseball team. After having your fill of classic amusement rides, games of chance, and fair food, take a walk along the beach and put your feet in the water for a few minutes if weather permits. Getting in: Luna Park at Coney Island 4-hour Ride wristband tickets are included with The New York Pass. Visit the First Museum for Kids: the Brooklyn Children's Museum Widely regarded as the first museum offering exhibits meant for children, the Brooklyn Children's Museum offers a rotating selection of exhibits to enjoy, as well as permanent displays for education and adventure. The museum features three whole floors of activities covering topics like science, food, nature, and the senses. The popular neighborhood nature exhibit features dioramas, a greenhouse, and live animals throughout the display. You might consider spending the morning at the Brooklyn Children's Museum for its educational value and then heading over to Luna Park at Coney Island for an afternoon of adventures. Getting in: the Brooklyn Children's Museum is not included on The New York Pass. Tickets are available for purchase upon arrival. Learn the History of New York City at the Rockefeller Center Tour If your visit to New York City will coincide with the winter holidays, visiting Rockefeller Center is all but required. With its famous ice rink and its similarly amazing Christmas tree, Rockefeller Center is the best place to enjoy New York City in the wintertime. The building also features terraces on its upper stories for views rivaling those of the Empire State Building. On the Rockefeller Center Tour, you and your family will learn about the building's 80 years of history through personal headsets, and you can spend some extra time at "Rock Center" exploring the stores, restaurants, and art exhibits throughout the famous NYC landmark. Getting in: Rockefeller Center Tour tickets are included with The New York Pass. Staten Island Zoo Do your kids love snakes and reptiles? The Staten Island Zoo features one of the most comprehensive reptile collections in the world, and the zoo also offers special events each month and educational programs for kids. Habitats include the reptile wing, the leopard habitat, and the tropical forest wing. The zoo also features three enclosures housing magnificent birds of prey, a children's center, a "Kids Korral," and an Australia-themed exhibit of kangaroos. Getting in: Staten Island Zoo tickets are included with The New York Pass. Remember To Save On Attraction Admission Lots of the fun things to do in NYC with kids on vacation mentioned in this post are included on The New York Pass. Whether you’re interested in going on guided tours of the city, going museum hopping, or getting out on the water, an NYC sightseeing vacation that the whole family will enjoy is easy to plan with The New York Pass. If you plan on visiting multiple attractions, consider using the New York Pass which grants you free entry to over 90 attractions in New York City. That way you can do more when you sightsee and make the most of your time in New York City. For more information on the New York Pass, click here.
Casey Makovich
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Things to Do Near the Empire State Building

One of the iconic destinations for travelers is a trip to the Empire State Building (ESB), a historic landmark in the city. Make the most of your time at this NYC landmark by adding some of these things to do near the Empire State Building to your itinerary before and after your visit. The building itself is close to some other terrific attractions that you can visit with the New York Pass to help you make the most of your trip whether it's for a week or a weekend. If visiting New York and looking for other fun things to do near the Empire State Building, be sure to check out these other landmarks and attractions located nearby. They include: Central Park Rockefeller Center Madame Tussauds Times Square Greenwich Village and more! Free Entry with The New York Pass® Free entry to many of these popular New York attractions and activities are included on The New York Pass®. Used by over 3.5 million travelers, the New York Pass is the ultimate sightseeing pass, which includes admission to 90+ attractions, Fast Track Entry at select attractions, a free guidebook, & much more. Learn more about the New York Pass benefits & how to save up to 70% off attractions. Here's a closer look at attractions near the Empire State Building and why you may want to include them on your trip to New York City. Empire State Building Of course, if you're looking for things to do near the Empire State Building, visiting the Empire State Building itself should be at the top of your list. Taking in the views from the building's 86th floor observation deck is an iconic New York City experience. You'll get 360-degree views of the surrounding cityscape from 1,050 feet above ground and learn all about the buildings history and significance as you make your way to the top and pass through the exhibits on disply. Admission: Empire State Building tickets are included with the New York Pass. Rockefeller Center A trip to “The Top of the Rock” at Rockefeller Center provides stunning views of the New York City skyline, Manhattan Island, and Central Park. The art deco style building soars 800 feet above ground level and offers an amazing three stories of indoor and outdoor observatory space. Even the ride to the top is a light-show filled adventure that the kids will love. A trip to Rockefeller Center should also include a visit through the building and the exceptional neighborhood surrounding it. Admission: Top of the Rock observation deck tickets and guided Rockefeller Center Tour tickets are included with The New York Pass. Central Park Activities in the 843 acre Central Park can keep you busy for days! Rent some bicycles and take a bike tour in the park. Alternatively, you can visit the Central Park Zoo, and see sites where famous TV shows and movies were filmed. Partake in a walking tour or hop on an unforgettable horse and buggy or pedicab ride. No trip to New York City would be complete without at least a stroll through Central Park. Admission: Central Park is free and open to the public; certain activities and things to do within the park such as guided Central Park Bike Rentals and Tour tickets, or if you prefer to explore by foot the Central Park Sightseeing Walking Tour tickets, or if you want to get to know the Central Park you recognize from blockbuster hits the Central Park TV & Movie Sites Walking Tour tickets are all included with The New York Pass. Museum of Modern Art (MoMa) A visit to the Museum of Modern Art gives you an opportunity to see works by Van Gogh, Claude Monet, Andy Warhol, and Pablo Picasso up close and personal. Impressive works of art abound around every corner and MoMA visitors are welcome to stop in the museum's garden to relax while you take in the world-class art that is on display here. Admission: Museum of Modern Art tickets are included with The New York Pass. St. Patrick's Cathedral A visit to New York's St. Patrick's Cathedral is an awe-inspiring experience that celebrates the human spirit. It is also an incredible example of Neo-Gothic architecture. The cornerstone for the cathedral was laid in 1858 but it didn't open its doors until 21 years later in 1879. Today, the ornate structure stands proudly among soaring skyscrapers, providing an almost surreal setting for the structure. Admission: guided public tours are offered depending on volunteer availability - check availability online - and though not required, a donation of $5 is requested to support "America's Parish Church." Times Square If your only reference to Times Square is New Year's Eve on television, you have yet to really appreciate what this area of Manhattan has to offer. A visit to Times Square is one of the most exciting things to do near the Empire State Building - the energy from the crowds is palpable and its larger-than-life billboards are a NYC landmark. One of the best ways to see Times Square is through a variety of bus and walking tours that are available. Of course, if you want to be dazzled, visit Times Square after dark. Admission: admission to Times Square is free and open to the public; some activities and attractions, like Madame Tussauds Times Square tickets or the NFL Experience tickets are available with The New York Pass. Greenwich Village To get a real feel of what New York City is about, take a trip to Greenwich Village (you can read about a fun, guided walking tour of the neighborhood here), home of the lively Washington Square Park. Here, you'll find some of New York's best dining and entertainment options. This is the home of New York's cultural revolution in the 1960's and of New York University. This is the artistic capital of the Big Apple and serves as a Bohemian Capital that is always interesting. Discover the area on your own or take advantage of one of the area's organized tours. Admission: admission to Greenwich Village and Washington Square Park is free; guided Greenwich Village Walking Tour tickets are included with The New York Pass. Madame Tussauds Times Square Located in the heart of Times Square, get up close and personal with wax figures of the most famous people on the planet. You'll find figures ranging from the world of entertainment, sports, and politics. Madame Tussauds is the ultimate “selfie” destination and you'll want to share every one! Pose next to Lady Gaga, Morgan Freeman, and more. You'll be amazed at the detail of the figures inside. Especially once you know that each takes about six months to create using over 2,000 lbs of wax. Enjoy the Marvel 4D and Ghostbusters Experience, Kong: Skull Island, and more! Admission: Madame Tussauds Times Square tickets are included with The New York Pass. Remember to Save on Attraction Admission Plus, the Empire State Building is surrounded by many of NYC's greatest landmarks. There is so much to see and do and you know friends and family will want to know what you saw. That's why you'll want to make the most of each of your adventures while in the Big Apple. If you're interested in visiting the Empire State Building during your trip to NYC then get your New York Pass today! The pass will allow grant you access to over 90 of New York's most popular attractions and guided tours. Click here for more information.
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