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Where to Celebrate AAPI Heritage Month Events in New York

Many groups across New York City are holding educational and cultural events or activities to celebrate AAPI Heritage Month. Here is a selection of what is available.

AAPI Heritage Month is a commemorative month to celebrate Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States and pay tribute to the generations of Asian and Pacific Islanders who have enriched America’s history and contributed to America’s growth and prosperity.

The definition of the “Asian/Pacific” region changes according to the context. In general, it includes all of the Asian continent and the Pacific islands of Melanesia (New Guinea, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji, and the Solomon Islands), Micronesia (Marianas, Guam, Wake Island, Palau, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, and the Federated States of Micronesia) and Polynesia (New Zealand, Hawaiian islands, Rotuma, Midway Islands, Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, French Polynesia, and Easter Island).

In 2020, about 24 million people identified as Asian alone or in combination in the United States, and about 1.6 million people identified as Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islanders alone or in combination.

Why does AAPI Heritage Month happen in May?

The month of May was chosen to commemorate two milestones in AAPI history: the first Japanese immigrant arrived in the United States on May 7, 1843, and the building of the transcontinental railroad was completed on May 10, 1869. The majority of the transcontinental railroad workers were Chinese immigrants.

AAPI Heritage Month Events in New York

Many groups and institutions across New York City are holding educational and cultural events or activities to celebrate AAPI Heritage Month. Here is a selection of what is available:

  • Second Annual AAPI Cultural and Heritage Parade
Source: Better Chinatown

Date and Time: Sunday, May 21, 2023. The opening ceremony begins at 11:30 a.m at West 44th Street and 6th Ave, the parade will follow at 12 p.m. and end at 2 p.m.

Location: 6th Ave between West 44th Street and West 55th Street in Manhattan.

Ticket: Free

The parade arrives as New Yorkers celebrate Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month in May, highlighting the significance of New York City as home to the second-largest Asian American and Pacific Islander population in the United States. The parade will showcase a diverse range of performances, including marches, singing, and dancing, as well as various cultural and artistic displays from the AAPI community. The event is hosted by Better Chinatown U.S.A., please visit its website for more information.

  • Join free history tours and fun activities with NYC Parks

Celebrate AAPI Heritage Month with the Urban Park Rangers on free history tours and engaging activities around the city. Throughout the month of May, NYC Parks will be hosting a total of 13 events across all five boroughs. From guided garden tours and historical walks to art workshops, craft projects, and even a silent disco, there’s something for everyone at these family-friendly events. For more information about specific event dates, times, and locations, visit this website for more information.

  • Book discussions, online resources and rooftop happy hour with New York Public Library

The library invites you to join it in celebrating AAPI Heritage Month throughout May. Its extensive book lists for adults, kids, and teens offer a diverse selection of literature from AANHPI authors. In addition, the library is offering a variety of free online events, including story time, movie day, and a talk on Vietnamese Cooking. One of the featured events is the Rooftop Happy Hour with Singapore Unbound on May 26, 2023. You can always access the library’s free multilingual resources in your preferred language. For more information, please visit this webpage.

  • Climb with Asian Climbing Tribe
Source: Asian Climbing Tribe

Asian Climbing Tribe is a 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization that was founded in 2021 during the pandemic. Its mission is to create a secure and inclusive environment for the Asian climbing community, and it strives to achieve this by building a strong support foundation through networking between members of the climbing community and local Asian community leaders and businesses. 

ACT presents two upcoming events in May to celebrate AAPI Heritage Month: 1) May 6, 12 p.m. – 4 p.m. at Cliffs at Callowhill, located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 2) May 13, 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Cliffs Long Island City, located in Queens, New York.

Both events will feature a vendor village, showcasing a diverse range of businesses and organizations from the AAPI community. Attendees can expect to find an assortment of products and services, including food, beverages, apparel, and more. Limited free admission and discounted admission are available for both events. The AAPI month events are open to the public, visit this page for more information.

  • AAPI After Dark Tea Party @Wonderland Dreams

Date and Time: May 25th, 2023, 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Location: Wonderland Dreams (529 5th Ave, Manhattan, NY 10017)

Ticket : $30. Discount code : SECRET 12%OFF. Ticket includes one free drink, one admission to Wonderland Dreams, exploring Asian food & shop vendors, sake tasting * supply last and $10~$20 Gift card (First 11~30 guests).

Celebrate AAPI Heritage Month with Asian tea food and drinks by Asian-owned restaurants and shops at this spectacular Wonderland Dreams, a fun-filled festival bringing together diverse Asian American cultures within and outside! The event is hosted by the non-profit organization Upstairs NYC. Visit this page for more information.

  • Exhibitions and events at the Asia Society and Museum

The society is dedicated to navigating shared futures for Asia and the world across policy, arts and culture, education, sustainability, business, and technology. Among its offerings, the society’s art collection showcases the remarkable aesthetic and technical accomplishments achieved in Asia from 1,000 B.C.E. to the 1800s. 

Also Read: Corky Lee Remains on Chinatown’s Mind

Currently, the museum is featuring an exhibition titled “Comparative Hell: Arts of Asian Underworlds,” which displays fifty-four superlative Asian artworks spanning the tenth to twenty-first centuries. Additionally, the society has a series of events lined up for May in New York, including a panel discussion about U.S.-China relations, stand-up comedy with Negin Farsad, and a family program to celebrate Buddha’s birthday, among others. Please visit this webpage for more information.

  • AAPI Heritage Month events hosted by Welcome to Chinatown
Photo: April Xu for Documented

Welcome to Chinatown, a non-profit organization amplifying and addressing the critical needs of the Chinatown community and its entrepreneurs will host a series of events to celebrate AAPI Heritage Month.

The highlights include:

  • May 5: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. | Poster House First Friday. The museum partners with Welcome to Chinatown for a series of programming, including a lion dance, and a red envelope workshop to celebrate the culture, community, and resilience of Chinatown. Free admission and extended hours. Visit this page to book your ticket.
  • May 13: 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. | New York Knicks and Rangers Youth Clinic. The New York Rangers along with the New York Knicks aim to inspire, educate, and impact fans around AAPI month. In partnership with Welcome to Chinatown, the New York Rangers and Knicks will be hosting a celebration clinic at Grand Street Settlement – Lower East Side Preparatory High School at 145 Stanton Street. Open to kids ages 6-14.  Visit this page to RSVP.
  • May 27: Art Bean Block Party celebrating Art Bean’s 1-year birthday and the close of NYC food content creator and artist Justin Wu’s (@hungryartistny) residency at the coffee shop at 19 Doyers Street.
  • Explore Rubin Museum of Art

The museum presents art that traverses Asia’s diverse cultures, regions, and narratives. Its special exhibitions highlight art forms that span from ancient to contemporary, such as photography and multimedia, while its permanent collection galleries focus primarily on art from the Himalayan region. Throughout May, the museum has an array of programs planned, including mindfulness meditation, dark retreat workshops, and family Sundays. Please visit this website for more information.

  • Watch AAPI Talents and Heroes on the Big Screen at The Paley Center for Media

Date and Time: May 3-31, 2023. Open at 12 p.m. – 6 p.m. on Wednesdays to Sundays

Location: Paley Center for Media, 25 W 52nd St, New York, NY 10019

The Paley Center will be showcasing a variety of exciting screenings in its renowned Goodson Theater in celebration of AAPI Heritage Month. Visitors can expect to see screenings of the Heritage Heroes documentary, produced by The Asian American Foundation spotlighting unsung AAPI heroes, the documentary 38 at the Garden about the basketball prowess of Jeremy Lin, and the premiere episode of BEEF, the acclaimed Netflix series starring Steven Teun and Ali Wong.

Families can also enjoy popular anime and other animated series such as Avatar: The Last Airbender, Ni Hao, Kai Lan, Samurai Jack: The Movie, and The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo. For ticket information and the updates to the exhibit schedule, please visit this page.

  • Visit Japan Society for a Japanese Experience in NYC

Located in midtown Manhattan, the society’s landmarked building was designed by renowned architect Junzo Yoshimura. It is the first building in New York City of contemporary Japanese architecture. Its gallery is among the premier institutions in the U.S. for the exhibition of Japanese art. The society’s language center offers world-class language education, calligraphy courses, workshops, and events. Visit its website for more information.

  • Asian Creative Festival 2023

Date and Time: May 20, 11 a.m. – May 21, 8 p.m. EDT

Location: Industry City 220 36th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11232

Ticket: $0-$89

The Asian Creative Festival is a 2-day experience, hosted by the Asian Creative Foundation. For the first time, the festival is gathering NYC’s largest AAPI creative organizations, including ACE Pop-Up, Mixed Asian Media, East Side Story and Asian Creative Network to curate the most exciting program for AAPI creatives. Hear from all-star speakers by ACF, shop at the AAPI artists/small businesses marketplace by ACE, and watch an AAPI-directed film screening by Mixed Asian Media and East Side Stories. The event will close with an exclusive after-party hosted by Asian Creative Network. Visit this page to register for the event.

  • Night Market: AAPI-Thing Everywhere All at Once

Date and Time: Thursday, May 4, 7 – 11 p.m. EDT

Location: 516 W 26th St, Suite 315, New York, NY 10001

Ticket: $12.71

KraveBeauty will host its first-ever Night Market! Join the event and shop some of your favorite AAPI-owned brands on May 4th. You will be able to shop, eat, drink, and get some freebies while you’re there. All ticket proceeds and a percentage of each brand’s sales will go to Welcome to Chinatown, in support of AAPI Heritage Month. First 100 attendees will receive a goodie bag and special performances will take place throughout the night. Visit this page to get your ticket.

  • Gu Shi: A Storytelling Show that Features AAPI Comedians
Source: Eventbrite

Date and Time: Thursday, May 4, 7 – 11 p.m. EDT

Location: 516 W 26th St, Suite 315, New York, NY 10001

Ticket: $23.41

In celebration of AAPI Heritage Month 2023, an intimate storytelling show featuring NYC comedians will take place in Brooklyn, sharing funny, hilarious, and heartfelt stories of how they “grew up Asian”. Performances include Ann Chun (Edinburgh Fringe Festival), Bailey Swiley (We Love A Theme), Dylan Adler (The Late Late Show with James Corden), Edward Yoo Pokropski (Asian Comedy Festival), Non Kuramoto (Edinburgh Fringe Festival). The 3-hour show is hosted by Esther Chen (HBO) and Ricky Sim (NY Comedy Festival). Visit this page to get your ticket.

  • Third Street Celebrates AAPI Heritage with Saung Budaya Dance

Date and Time: Friday, May 12, 5 – 6 p.m. EDT

Location: Third Street Music School Settlement. 235 East 11th Street New York, NY 10003

Ticket: Free

Join Three Street to celebrate AAPI Heritage Month with a family-friendly dance event and learn a traditional Indonesian dance! Tari Indang or Tambourine Dance is usually performed in ritual or ceremonial events. Indang, which is the mini tambourine used in this dance, becomes the main rhythm of each dancer’s movement. The event is friendly to people with no dance experience and is suitable for ages 5 and up. Visit this page to reserve a spot.

  • Taste of AAPI Sweets

Date and Time: Saturday, May 20, 1 p.m. EDT

Location: 43-50 12th St, Queens, NY 11101

Ticket: Tickets on Sale on May 13 at 1:00 p.m.

The AAPI Bakery Fest is a celebration of the AAPI community through cultural baked goods in honor of AAPI Heritage Month. Enjoy a day filled with AAPI-led food businesses featuring unique and delicious desserts, complimentary tastings, and an array of interactive activities hosted by talented creators from across the city. Participating Vendors include SoFun Kitchen, MOYU, and POOM. Visit this page to book your ticket.

  • Community Dance Workshop Inspired by AAPI Food Culture at MOCA

Date and Time: Sunday, May 7, 2:30 – 4 p.m. EDT

Location: Museum of Chinese in America, 215 Centre Street New York, NY 10013

Ticket: Free. RSVP required on Eventbrite.

Want to take a dance class and learn some fun movements inspired by AAPI food culture? In this open-level 90-minute dance workshop, participants will learn a simplified excerpt of Here We Root, choreographed by Jiemin Yang. This excerpt drew inspiration from the food experiences of AAPI communities. The workshop is aimed to encourage participants to express their identities through movements and celebrate AAPI culture.

This workshop welcomes participants of all experience levels. It will start with a warm-up, followed by creative movement exercises, and eventually learning the combination and dance with rhythmic music. Participants are encouraged to wear clothing suitable for movement and bring a bottle of water. This dance workshop is recommended for participants 16 years of age and older. MOCA is open with FREE admission. Check this page for more info about events and plan your visit.

  • Opening Reception: “Just Between Us: From the Archives of Arlan Huang”
Untitled. 1987. Photograph by Corky Lee

Date and Time: May 4 – August 27, 2023. The opening reception will be held on May 4 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Location: Pearl River Mart Gallery, 452 Broadway New York, NY 10013

Ticket: Free. RSVP required on Eventbrite.

Presented in partnership with Think!Chinatown and Pearl River Mart, “Just Between Us” is a group exhibition that highlights just some of the works from the incredible collection pioneering artist and activist Arlan Huang has built over 40 years.

While some of the pieces were purchased, much has been amassed through “art swaps,” friendly exchanges between fellow artists. Rather than illustrate his tastes, Huang’s archive memorializes a people. For him, archiving has been equal parts a lifelong research project, an enchantment, and a collaboration. “Just Between Us” is on view in the Pearl River Mart Gallery from May 4 through August 27, 2023. Free and open to the public during business hours. 

  • Asian American Studies across CUNY: Reflections, Connections, Futures

Date and Time: Friday, May 12, 2023, 8:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Location: Borough of Manhattan Community College – Fitterman Hall. 245 Greenwich Street, Manhattan

Ticket: Free. RSVP required on Eventbrite.

The City University of New York  (CUNY) has a long history of efforts that engage Asian American studies and communities, but these activities have rarely been sustained over time. AAARI is hosting a day-long symposium to reflect upon the histories of this work, build connection and community, and collectively vision the future possibilities and directions for Asian American studies at CUNY.

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