Visiting New York City’s Easter Bonnet Festival

New York’s Easter Bonnet Festival is a longstanding tradition, dating back to the 1800s. It originated quite naturally, as a church procession following Easter mass: high society women decked out in their Sunday best “paraded” through the city, turning heads and causing quite a commotion. Today, the Easter Bonnet Festival is not as much about Sunday finery as it is about donning the most elaborate, whimsical, and attention-grabbing hat possible.

New York City's Easter Bonnet Festival

Image Courtesy: Josh Locke

If you plan on visiting New York’s Easter Bonnet Festival, then this guide should fill you in on everything you need to know:

Where and when. The Easter Bonnet Festival takes place on Easter Sunday of every year, between the hours of 10am and 4pm. That means the 2012 festival will be on April 8. The precession takes place on Fifth Avenue, between 49th and 57th street, and that entire stretch of the famed New York roadway is blocked off to vehicular traffic during the event.

What to wear. Not only is it appropriate to wear the zaniest hat you can find (or create!), but most people use the Easter Bonnet Festival as an opportunity to wear the most outrageous clothing possible. When you visit the Easter Bonnet Festival, it is not unusual to see people strutting their stuff in period costumes, themed outfits, and the latest in high fashion. Of course, if you don’t plan on participating in the event, but rather prefer to people-watch from the side, your best bet is to wear a comfortable pair of walking shoes. Also, the more baggage you have, the less comfortable you will be as the day wears on. It is a good idea to wear a fanny pack.

To attend a Sunday service. If you want the most authentic Easter Bonnet Festival experience possible, then you should attend a Sunday church service before the big event. Some churches that are in the perfect location include Saint Patrick’s Cathedral (on 50th Street and Fifth Avenue), Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church (on 55th Street and Fifth Avenue), and Saint Thomas Church (on 53rd Street and Fifth Avenue). Be sure to call churches beforehand to find out specific times for Easter service, as well as if you need tickets to get in.

Remember that New York’s Easter Bonnet Festival is not an organized event – not like the other, more conventional New York parades are. Instead, people simply wander up and down Fifth Avenue, showing off their unique attire. It is the perfect event if you like people watching, or are even just into elaborate hats and costumes. Just don’t forget to bring your camera!

About the Author: Sue Kesek loves to travel and plans to take her children to the Easter Bonnet Festival this year. When she’s not caring for her family you can often find sue searching http://www.goldenmoontea.com and other food sites for the oolong tea blends she loves.