October is the best excuse to drink beer in New York!

You never really need an excuse to drink more beer, but this year’s NYC Oktoberfest is giving you some anyway! Enjoy it!

Credits: pixabay
Credits: pixabay

Oktoberfest is the world’s largest Volksfest (beer festival and travelling funfair). Held annually in Munich, Bavaria, Germany, it is a 16- to 18-day folk festival running from mid or late September to the first weekend in October, with more than 6 million people from around the world attending the event every year. The celebration is one of the best NYC events in September, featuring some of the best beers in NYC as well as traditional favorites and delicious food.

Take in the beautiful fall foliage while guzzling brews at some of the best beer gardens and beer halls in New York, not to mention more celebrations with our fantastic « Beer Cruises ! »

Why is Oktoberfest in September?

Credits: pexels.com
Credits: pexels.com

The first Oktoberfest was held on October 12–17 in 1810 to honor the Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig’s marriage to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen. Supposedly, the celebration date was changed to the third week in September in the U.S. due to cold-weather concerns.

Where is Oktoberfest?

Credits: pexels.com
Credits: pexels.com

Oktoberfest celebrations take place in all five boroughs in New York at various public spaces and beer gardens. The largest events include Oktoberfest in Central Park (Sept 16), Munich on the East River (Sept 29–Oct 8) and Watermark’s Oktoberfest (Sept 15–17, Sept 22–24, Sept 29–Oct 2).

What activities should I do ?

Drink and eat at bars but not only ! There are so many different options especially with the beautiful weather. What I would suggest you is to go on a cruise !

Credits: pexels.com
Credits: pexels.com

How about enjoying a leisurely cruise as you explore the beautiful fall foliage and the historic splendor along the Hudson River. Harlem Spirituals offers you the most memorable experience of your trip in New York !

Credits: Harlem Spirituals
Credits: Harlem Spirituals

Indeed, embark with us on a full-day cruise on the Hudson, from New York City to Bear Mountain. Admire the breathtaking scenery along the way and enjoy German food, beer, and entertainment during ! If you want to book this cruise, CLICK HERE!

Looking for a shorter escape? 

If so, I would recommand our second option : The Clipper City Craft Beer Tasting Sail ! Indeed, set sail on New York’s largest sailing vessel, featuring craft beer, cheese and charcuterie while enjoying sailing by the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge. It’s a wonderful activity, perfect time to spend with friends !

Credits: Harlem Spirituals
Credits: Harlem Spirituals

Craft beer experts will help you appreciate the wonderful world of Craft Beer while enjoying breathtaking views of the city. With over 1,500 brewers now making delicious brews all over the country, choosing and appreciating beer has become an art form to rival its cousin wine.

Credits: Harlem Spirituals
Credits: Harlem Spirituals

Taste several outstanding ales and lagers paired with cheese and charcuterie while you drink in the magnificent views of the NYC skyline. Last thing, don’t forget your camera, you will be able to take amazing shots ! If you want to book this wine tasting activity, CLICK HERE !

If you have any question about this article, feel free to send a message on Facebook !

Salvatore

Things to do for Labor Day in New York !

Labor Day in the United States is a public holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws and well-being of the country. Sadly, it is also considered the unofficial end of summer in the United States. A lot of New Yorkers are going to enjoy their last recreation before going back to work ! So if you are in New York during this time, here are some activities you could do !

Credits: pexels.com
Credits: pexels.com

Watch a Broadway show for half price !

Broadway Week 2017 is coming and if you ever wanted to see a Broadway show but didn’t want to pay full price, now is your chance to get two for one tickets for some of the best shows playing on Broadway in September. The deal is offered by Broadway producers and NYC & Company which lets you buy two-for-one tickets to certain shows for a limited time.

When is Broadway Week?

Broadway Week in NYC runs from September 4th, 2017 through September 17th, 2017.

What should I see ?

Credits: pexels.com
Credits: pexels.com

This year, there are 23 Broadway shows to choose from. Some of the Broadway shows included in the two-for-one deal include: “1984,” “Groundhog Day,” “Hello, Dolly!,” “The Phantom of the Opera,” “Aladdin,” “Anastasia” and “Kinky Boots.” So there are plenty to choose from if you’re looking for a date idea or family-friendly outing.

It’s a perfect activity to do with family or even if you are traveling by yourself ! A deal is a deal ! The variety of shows currently on Broadway proves that there’s something for everyone and this is the perfect time to experience it.

How can I book my ticket(s) ?

Credits: pexels.com
Credits: pexels.com

Very easy, we can help you to get the tickets you want. Harlem Spirituals has built partnerships with the best Broadway companies and boutiques. We always have the best prices and seats available in the market.

Send us an email at : tours@harlemspirituals.com

We will get back to you the same day !

Enjoy a cultural Jazz tour and taste the local Soul Food with us !

Credits: Harlem Spirituals
Credits: Harlem Spirituals

Come and relive the high-stepping, fun-loving nights of the 1920s! Join us for a great night out in Immortal Harlem. Tour the neighborhood with one of our professional city guides and learn about Harlem’s role in the history of Jazz in addition to the roles of its most noted jazz musicians who gave New York its musical edge.

What is it and what will I see?

See the site of the original Cotton Club, where Duke Ellington and Lena Horne spent hours wowing crowds from around the world. Drive past the site of the Savoy Ballroom where Benny Goodman and Chick Webb fought it out during their “Battle of the Bands,” and where the Charleston, “Lindy Hop” and the “Big Apple” dances were firmly cemented into American culture.

Credits: Harlem Spirituals
Credits: Harlem Spirituals

Visit the world-famous Apollo Theater, where Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald won the popular “Amateur Night.” Pass by Minton’s Playhouse, where bebop was born and where Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, and Thelonious Monk started the tradition of musical jam sessions.

Discover one of Harlem’s hottest clubs, where jam sessions and musical collaborations go on into the wee hours of the morning. Dinner is at Sylvia’s legendary restaurant – “The Queen of Soul Food” (Family style dining).

When is it ?

On Mondays, swing dance the night away to the beat of a terrific, twelve-piece band. Free dance lesson included! We pick up the tab for your first two drinks at the Jazz club.

Credits: Harlem Spirituals
Credits: Harlem Spirituals

On Thursdays, experience the essence of Harlem and enjoy the convivial atmosphere as you mingle freely with the locals, while enjoying the sounds of a jazz or rythm & blues band. We also pick up the tab for your first two drinks at the Jazz club.

What is “Soul Food?”

Credits: Harlem Spirituals
Credits: Harlem Spirituals

Soul Food is the traditional African American cuisine that originated in the South of the United States. It consists of spicy ribs, collard greens, freshly cooked corn bread, black eye peas, and not to mention the best crispy fried chicken!

If you want to book this tour with us, CLICK HERE !

If you have any question or request, you can send me a message on Facebook.

Also, it’s good to know we are located near Times Square so if you want to meet us, that will be our pleasure  !

Salvatore

 

 

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Things to do in Brooklyn, The Bronx and Queens !

When someone hears of the words “New York” the first images that usually come to mind are those of Times Square and its giant luminous boards, Central Park and its mythical lake, or Greenwich Village and its brownhouses, typical of the New York architecture. Today, I choose to widen your horizons and make you discover districts like the Bronx, Queens or Brooklyn, each seeped in history and culture in their own unique way.

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Credits: pixabay

To live like a true New Yorker let’s get off the traditional tourist path of Manhattan. This time around, I am taking you deep into the real New York! No need for a bulletproof jacket, I have secured the place for you 🙂

The Bronx

Credits: Harlem Spirituals
Credits: Harlem Spirituals

The Bronx is the most northern of the five boroughs of New York City, within the U.S. state of New York. It is geographically south of Westchester County; north and east of the island and borough of Manhattan to the south and west across the Harlem River; and north of the borough of Queens, across the East River. Of the five boroughs, the Bronx is the only one that has the majority of its area on the U.S. mainland and, with a land area of 42 square miles (109 km2) and a population of 1,455,720 in 2016. The naming of « the Bronx » originates from Jonas Bronck, a swedish immigrant who was the first to colonize this area in the 17th century. That part of the land was designated by the Siwanoy Native Americans « Rananchqua », later on the settlers named it « Broncksland » or « Bronck’s farm » and finally « the Bronx »

The birthplace of the Hip Hop Culture

It is true that The Bronx does not benefit from a very flattering image as it has been considered one of the most dangerous districts of New York for a long time. Countless criminal acts and gang wars happened there in the Seventies and Eighties.

pexels.com
Credits: pixabay

Today, the neighborhood is very far from its former reputation, and the memories the district has preserved from this “Golden Age” are the graffitis and local paintings. Street Art is inspired by all these actors of the streets and the pionniers of Hip Hop which have made the Bronx a legendary place in that field.

Celebrities who grew up in the Bronx

If you are a fan of Pop Culture, you know Jennifer Lopez aka Jenny from the block lived a big part of her life in the Bronx. She mentionned it quite a few times during interviews. Some other amazing stars have lived there : Woody Allen, Lauren Bacall, Peter Falk, Fat Joe, French Montana, Billy Joel.

What you don’t want to miss in the Bronx

The Yankee Stadium, homebase of the NY Yankees baseball team. You do not have to enter the arena but if you have the opportunity to be close by, go snap a picture in front of it ! It is a staple of NY culture.

The Italian district around Arthur Avenue, the “real” Little Italy and its farmer’s market with fresh produce. If you wish to travel down to south Italy without leaving New York, you should absolutely head over this district full of Mediterranean flavors. Most of the craftsmen are Italian immigrants who arrived in New York about forty years ago. They are always willing to have a conversation with visitors while having coffee! If you are a fan of cheese or charcuterie, search no more and buy their fresh produce. They are, at least, half cheaper than those sold in Manhattan.

Identity of the Queens

Credits: pixabay
Credits: pixabay

In 2013, its population was of 2,296,175 habitants. The Queens accommodates the international airport of New York-John F. Kennedy as well as the airport of New York-LaGuardia. Created on November 1st, 1683, it was baptized in honor of the queen consort Catherine de Bragance, wife of the king Charles II of England.

The Queens: A true melting-pot

Credits: pixabay
Credits: pixabay

The district is quite cosmopolitan and is composed mainly of districts accomodating the middle class, as well as upper middle class districts where one can find hotels, large parks and golf courses. It coincides with the county of Queens (administrative unit of the State of New York). However, strictly speaking, the latter does not function like a county, as it does not have any power and depends entirely on the municipal authority.

The personalities who grew in the Queens

He can be seen everywhere these days, the most emblematic figure to date to represent the Queens is no other than the current president of the United States, Donald Trump! Other celebrities resulting from other horizons also were born in this cultural melting pot: 50 cents, Ja Rule, Nicky Minaj or Lucy Liu.

The not-to-be-missed places:

Shea Stadium in Flushing Meadow-Corona Park is where the team of baseball the New York Mets, plays. It was the first stage to host a concert (the Beatles on August 15th, 1965). The park of Flushing Meadow also hosted the World Fairs of 1939 and 1964.

The residential district of the millionaires of the Queens: You will be able to admire the prettiest houses which can remind us of Californian residences with green lawn, white picket fences and swimming pools.

Brooklyn

Credits: pexels.com
Credits: pexels.com

Brooklyn is one of the five boroughs of New York. It is part of the county of Kings (Kings County), administrative unit of the State of New York. However it does not operate like a county strictly speaking, because it does not have any power and depends entirely on the municipal authority. With a population of more than 2,636,735 habitants in 2015, it is the most populated district of New York.

Historical facts about Brooklyn

The Dutch were the first Europeans to colonize the Western area of Long Island, which was hitherto inhabited by the Carnasie Amerindian tribe. They established themeselves in Midwood in 1624. They bought the territory to the Mohawks which extends itself to the current districts of Gowanus, Red Hook, Brooklyn Navy Yard and Bushwick. The Village of Breuckelen (named after the town of Breukelen in the Netherlands) became authorized by a dutch Company of the Western Indies in 1646 and became then the first municipality of the Nieuw Nederland.

Places not-to-be-missed

Williamsburg: the quintessential hipster neighborhood of Brooklyn made of small diy artist boutiques, street art, coffee shops, trendy bars and vibrant nightlife.

Dumbo: It is one of my favorites part of Brooklyn, bordering the waterfonts, it is ideal to take a picture with the buildings of Manhattan behind you. The possibility of taking a boat to join the city is also a good idea to admire the environment with impressive architecture.

Bushwick: The area a little less popular than Williamsburg but is up and coming, a lot of young people relocate there as it is cheaper.

Personalities associated with Brooklyn

Jay-Z, Mike Tyson, Aaliyah, Al Apone, Cindy Lauper, Barbra Streisand, etc: the list is long!

Would you like to take a tour with us ?

Harlem Spirituals can take you along an unforgettable adventure…
Discover the heart of New York ! After meeting with our tourguide in Times Square, get on the bus to get started on your tour of NY. First stop : the Bronx, also known under the appelation « boogie-down Bronx » and the only burough attached to the american continent. Explore the South Bronx, famous for its influence on latin american music and its involvement in the rise of the hip hop culture : breakdance, graffitis. Go admire the Yankee Stadium and Grand Concourse, the main street of the Bronx known for its many art deco buildings.

Credits: pixabay
Credits: pixabay

Continue your adventure in the Queens, second biggest borough of New York that will surprise you by its diversity and culture richness. Admire Astoria’s street art and murals and stop by Socrates sculpture park : a nice area by the water hosting sculptures and art out in the open.
Visit Long Island City, growing neighborhood with the most art galleries around, museums and art studios of NYC.

And finally, Brooklyn! A real example for fashion and crafty work, Brooklyn is also the most populated burough and one of the two (Queens being the other one) that is the most diverse culturally. Discover Williamsburg, the « hipster capital » with its numerous trendy coffee shops, small vintage boutiques, wolrd restaurants and art galleries. This former industrial neighborhood is today the home of the most hip community around, and its waterfront provides one of the most spectacular views of manhattan bordering with many green parks.

The tour ends in DUMBO (Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass), a dynamic part of Brooklyn with a beautiful view of the Brooklyn Bridge and the skyline, before the bus takes you back to Times Square.

To book this tour please click here !

As always, don’t hesitate to shoot me a message on Facebook if you have any questions! I’ll answer immediately 🙂

Salvatore

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What happened to these soldiers from Harlem who fought for France?

While Emmanuel Macron has just celebrated the commemorations of the entry of the United States into the First World War, the fate of the 15th infantry regiment of the National guards of New York, composed of African Americans remains unknown to this day. Indeed, the voluntary soldiers were present in the trenches to help the French, their bravery was greeted by the French Army, but unfortunately, not so much from their own country, the United States because of their skin color…

frencflag BON

Who were these remarquable soldiers?

They were businessmen, lawyers, boxers and job seekers. The entire population of Harlem and the various districts of New York was enroled in the 1916 National guard of New York to go to war. They had to fight two battles: the first was the Front like any other soldier and the second, involved many challenges and obstacles, that of discrimination and segregation against them from the American military department.

Credits: mashable.com
Credits: mashable.com

Named the “Hellfighters” by the Germans, 500 of them were awarded with the France’s War Cross, but in Washington their exploits were not saluted. Their biggest enemy was their hierarchy.

Even in the military Front, they were segregated.

At the beginning of the war, it was very difficult to have both white people and african americans fighting alongside each other as a team, since the US itself was segregated. That is the reason why those men were transferred to the French Army and fought under the French uniform. Under this one condition, they gained some respect from the American administration throughout the war.

During the year 1918, the african american soldiers spent 191 consecutive days fighting in the Front, a record for an American unit and from that point on, they went from victory to victory. It is said that at the end of that same year, they did not lose an inch of ground.

The hour of glory finally arrived on February 1919 where a sumptuous parade on the streets of New York City was held. The celebration walk was held from Fifth avenue to Harlem. A few days later, the regiment finally got demobilized and these african americans veterans did not get the regards the army could have given to them, unfortunately. They received much less rewards than they actually deserved compared to how their accomplishments were acknowledged by the french.

Some encountered tragic destinies…

A certain number of these heroes died during the war. During the night of May 14th 1918, Henry Johnson (1892-1929) and Needham Roberts (1901-1949) were in station in the forest of Argonne when they were attacked by about twenty German soldiers. Fleeing was not an option for them. Johnson defended himself as much as possible with whichever weapons he had, initially grenades, then the stick of his rifle, his Bolo dagger, and finally his fists.

Credits: Harlem Spirituals
Credits: Harlem Spirituals

He managed to send the enemies running only by himself, not without having massacred a good number of them, and saved his companion. At the cost of twenty and one wounds. he earned the nickname of Black Death and the French Military Cross with star and palm of bronze. He lived on to the late 1920s on the streets, forgotten of all, never getting the American military honors that he truly deserved.

It is only in 2015 that he was greeted by the United States

Barack Obama was the one who, nearly one hundred years later, granted Henry Johnson the highest military distinction posthumously. It is the proof that even after the end of the war, the successive american political administrations had great difficulties in acknowledging the bravery and the contribution of these african-americans soldiers during the world wars.

 

Credits: History.com
Credits: History.com

Explore the History of Harlem, home of the brave heroes

Learn about Harlem from its origins as a rural Dutch community to its transformation into a summer retreat for New York’s most prominent families. Take a journey into the past and see the African-American Mecca for writers and artists at the turn of the century. Hear about Harlem’s troubled past during the 1960’s and 1970’s and view its present day community beam with pride as with the “Harlem renaissance” period.

Credits: Todd Webb
Credits: Todd Webb

See famous NYC sights and landmarks such as Columbia University, City College, Morningside Heights, the Morris Jumel Mansion, Sylvan Terrace, Strivers Row, the Cotton Club, the Apollo Theater, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Sugar Hill, Duke Ellington’s apartment, the famous 125th street and many more. End your tour of Harlem by joining a local congregation* for the Sunday worship mass service and experience the soul-stirring power of gospel music with a live gospel choir! To book the tour, CLICK HERE

Credits: Harlem Spirituals
Credits: Harlem Spirituals

What kind of weather can I expect during my trip to New York?

Rain or shine, New York is always a good trip idea ! Indeed, even when my Sicilian roots resurface and get me excited with the first ray of sunshine, I also appreciate the fresh and breezy nights of the City during the month of November. In this article, I will give you advice for your next trip to New York City according to the changing seasons.

credits: pexels
credits: pexels

Let’s get right into it: 
Winter in New York is a tough season, even for John Snow!

What you heard about NYC in the winter is probably true. It’s freezing cold and the streets get covered in snow. The maximal average temperature between December and February reaches approximately 41°F while the average minimal temperature reaches 27°F.

snow in times square harlem spiritualsCredits: Anthony Quintano

However, do no trust the average estimates too much. Indeed, 3 winters out of 10 temperatures can reach as low as the -1°F and even go beyond -4°F. Also, it is not rare for a snowstorm to last several days . Rain can be a big part of the month of February. In short, harsh winters in New York are an usual occurrence.

How to survive?

By wearing the right clothes!
To avoid freezing to death and spending your money on extra sets of clothes when you are here, my advice to you is to bring the survival kit of the mountain dweller! Warm coats, scarves, gloves, beanies and even your moon boots or furred boots (not necessarily with real fur) which will prove to be more than useful (you will thank me later!)

Lastly, skip the glamour and multiply layers: leggings skilfully slipped under trousers, vests, tee-shirts and sweaters under your polo neck, the whole supplemented by a warm coat. Don’t forget to bring an umbrella as well, rain can also be unpredictable (some hotels provide them.)

What activities should I do during the winter?

Obviously, I would advise you to stay indoors as much as possible, why not go to the numerous museums or galleries the city has to offer ? You can always stop to a few coffee shops on your way to warm yourself. New York is the place to be for everything cultural. All the greatest museums are here, whether you are into modern art or a dinosaur enthusiast, the MoMa and the Museum of Natural History await you. If you wish to book any of these activities securely CLICK HERE.

Another idea is to visit Harlem. You’ll be comfortably seated in our heated bus while our best tour guide show you the neighborhood and tell everything about the storied past of Harlem. Cherry on top, you will have the chance to attend a Live Gospel concert at the end of the tour. It will create a wonderful memory and warm up your heart. To join us for this experience, CLICK HERE.

Credits: Harlem Spirituals

Spring: New York City starts brightening up and emerges from its harsh winter conditions.

Spring remains a rather short season (from mid-March to the end of May) but well marked. Indeed, the temperatures increase rapidly; the average minimal temperature during March is about 33°F while it can go up to 53°F in May. The early morning frosts of March end progressively and the days get nicer. However, it continues to rain frequently.

Harlem Spirituals / Roosevelt Island in the spring

What should I pack for my trip ?

An umbrella, sweaters, jackets and cardigans (mid-season everything.) For those of you who are sensitive to cold, a light scarf is not superfluous. Regarding shoes, always think “comfortable” because you will be walking a lot!

What are the best activities during this season?

The weather starts to get warm again, you can wear lighter clothes but still bring a jacket with you. Time is favorable for long walks, discovering neighborhoods and other boroughs (if you are the adventurous kind!) and animated outdoor spaces. Stay outside as much as possible ! You will still be able to go to museums during the evenings when the air is cooler.

Credits: Harlem Spirituals
Credits: Harlem Spirituals

If you want to rent a bike in Central park or book an helicopter tour with us, those are also considerable options, CLICK HERE.

Summer in New York is hot and humid.

Credits: Pexel
Credits: Pexel

New York in the summer is hot… very hot, and seems to last forever. The average maximum temperature in July and August is 86°F and can sometimes go beyond. It is easily possible to reach the 104°F. Watch out for temperatures variations between outside and buses, restaurants, museums and stores where air conditioning is often put on full blast.

What are the essential clothing items to bring in your luggage?

Bring everything lightweight, short and cropped ! T-Shirt, tank tops, dresses, skirts, dockers, flip-flops (except to take walks, New York isn’t the cleanest of cities… ) Do not forget to carry sunglasses (a must)! Sales are happening in New York during the month of July so if you wish to travel light, know that you can buy clothes here for much cheaper.

How can I have fun during this hot weather?

Credits: Harlem Spirituals
Credits: Harlem Spirituals

Go on a cruise and be close to the water! This is what I prefer doing during this hot weather ! There are all type of cruises and for any budget. You will have fun creating wonderful memories with your family. It is also the perfect occasion to take pictures with the Statue of Liberty in the background or with the New York skyline. To book one of our cruises or boat tours, CLICK HERE!

What about Autumn in New York ?

Temperatures fall between October and December, you can expect a good 50°F.

Things to do in NYC in the Fall, Harlem Spirituals

Contrary to what one may think, Fall in New York City is not wetter than the other seasons since the rate of precipitations is appreciably the same throughtout the year. However you will notice the change of season and ambiance with the decorations of the city (remember Halloween and Thanksgiving celebrations are coming up!) The trees display gleaming colors and you can’t stop looking at nature which offers amazing red landscapes.

What to carry with you?

Once again, make it simple : clothing of mid-season will be enough. For those who are very sensitive to cold, a good coat and a scarf will be necessary. The temperatures still remain positive even if the weather in New York is unforeseeable. For me, it is the most pleasant temperature because the weather is neither too cold nor too hot.

What can I do during Fall in New York?

Fall is a season that is very appreciated by New Yorkers because, finally, it’s time to get away from the summer inferno and humidity. Also Halloween is approaching!! Need I say more? The entire city is decorated with spiders and monsters. It feels great to be outside with a little scarf around your neck and a warm cup in your hand. During this season, take advantage of the weather: visit neighborhoods like Harlem, Brooklyn, the Bronx or Queens. To book a private visit of any district with us, CLICK HERE. And then when the temperature gets to you, go on a coffee break !

Credits: Harlem Spitituals
Credits: Harlem Spirituals

If being out in the cold isn ‘t your thing, and you absolutely want to remain indoors while discovering the city, why don’t you book a tour with a private driver throughout the city? It is the perfect occasion to have an overall sense of the city while being seated comfortably on board of a splendid limo! If you want to know more, CLICK HERE.

As always, if you have any questions, do not hesitate to send me a message on Facebook !

Salvatore

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