Dance, Theater, and Music

New York City Center

Dance, from the Kirov Ballet to Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Also home to Manhattan Theater Club productions, "possibly the best contemporary plays in New York."—Hillary Frey, culture editor, New York Observer. 130 W. 55th St.; tel. + 1 212 581 1212. www.nycitycenter.org

Carnegie Hall

Best of the old, an elegant 1891 space—with impressively lush sound—that's hosted the top classical names as well as pop greats, including the Beatles in 1964. Best seats for seeing the orchestra: side boxes. 57th St. and 7th Ave.; tel. +1 212 247 7800. www.carnegiehall.org

Performance Space 122

This former school now has two performance spaces and a mission: Find, nurture, and showcase the brightest talents in dance, music, film, and video. Ticket prices start at $20. 150 First Ave.; tel. +1 212 477 5288. www.ps122.org

Avery Fisher Hall

Lincoln Center's home of the New York Philharmonic. For the best sound, "get the cheapest, top-of-the-house seats."—Jed Feuer, band member, Bipolar. 63rd St. and Columbus Ave.; tel. +1 212 721 6500. www.lincolncenter.org

Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater

Just under 300 seats. Where the Lincoln Center Theater stages its off-Broadway style plays—"practically a retreat from the chaos of the vast Lincoln Center complex."—Hillary Frey. 150 W. 65th St.; tel. +1 212 239 6200. www.lincolncenter.org and www.lct.org

Feinstein's at Loews Regency

The menu's pricey (dine elsewhere), and there's a drink minimum on top of the ticket price. But it's worth it: Sit five feet from the likes of Mary Wilson—of the Supremes—tattling on her dream-girl life. "An intimate venue with a local, classy crowd; screams 'old New York'"—Hillary Frey. 540 Park Ave.; tel. +1 212 339 4095. www.feinsteinsatloewsregency.com

Nightlife

Mercury Lounge

One of the last loud and crowded (as it should be) rock clubs in town. "The place to see bands before they get really famous and move their shows a few blocks to the less intimate Bowery Ballroom."—Hillary Frey, culture editor, New York Observer. 217 E. Houston St.; tel. +1 212 260 4700. www.mercuryloungenyc.com

Arena

A multilevel dance club that, "despite its location, manages to circumvent the Times Square crowd. Boasts the city's largest programmable LED lighting system for nightclubs. On Thursdays, a colorful carnival of New York's most glittering souls."—Michael Musto. 135 W. 41st St.; tel. +1 212 278 0988. www.arenanyc.net

The Metropolitan Room

Among the city's newest live-music "cabaret-style" venues. Great singing from the likes of Tom Wopat, Annie Ross, and Christine Ebersole. "Seats about 115 and still feels intimate," says Jed Feuer, whose band, Bipolar, has played here. Cocktails, dessert. 34 W. 22nd St.; tel. +1 212 206 0440. www.metropolitanroom.com

The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre

Tiny comedy stage in Chelsea that's gained acclaim as its alumni—Saturday Night Live's Amy Poehler and 30 Rock's Jack McBrayer, for instance—have made the move to TV. "The best place in New York to see the art of improvisational comedy in all its unexpected, jaw-dropping hilarity and truth."—Dan Kois, editor, Vulture, a New York Magazine blog (www.nymag.com/daily/entertainment). 307 W. 26th St.; tel. +1 212 366 9176. www.ucbtheatre.com

La Lanterna di Vittorio

For those whose idea of nightlife involves hushed conversation in a dimly lit corner of a small, charming Greenwich Village wine bar and coffee house. Fireplaces lit in winter; intimate outdoor patio for balmy nights. Live jazz nightly; pizza, panini, desserts, wine, and perfectly frothed cappuccino. 129 MacDougal St.; tel. +1 212 529 5945. www.lalanternacaffe.com

Festivals

Midsummer Night Swing

On Lincoln Center's Josie Robertson Plaza, dance tango, ballroom, and more. Live bands. Lessons included in the ticket price. Mid-June through mid-July. Columbus Ave. and 63rd St. www.lincolncenter.org

Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit

A downtown tradition since 1931, with creativity cramming the streets of Greenwich Village. Memorial Day weekend and the following weekend; Labor Day weekend and the following weekend. +1 212 982 6255.

Feast of San Gennaro

Eleven days, mid-Sept. The city's biggest and best religious street festival takes over Little Italy. Food galore. +1 212 768 9320. www.sangennaro.org

Museum Mile Festival

No cars on Fifth Ave. between 82nd and 105th Streets; just art aficionados enjoying free admission to nine museums. A one-day block party the first or second week in June. www.museummilefestival.org

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Going strong since 1924, with only three years off during World War II. Classic Americana, with the float-filled procession pressing along Central Park West, turning on Columbus Circle, and heading down Broadway. http://www.macys.com/parade

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