Here’s why you need to be in New York for Thanksgiving!

Every November, the US celebrates Thanksgiving Day, a national holiday when families come together to spend time, share food and enjoy parades. Celebrating Thanksgiving in New York City is a favorite occasion for many locals but it’s also a wonderful opportunity for tourists to learn more about American culture. It is actually one of the big six holidays of the year! What will you do that day? Here are some tips and activities suggestions for you to make the best of it! First, let’s start with some History.

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Does everyone in the US celebrate Thanksgiving?

Actually, no and the reason is still very sensitive. Many Native Americans, who were massacred by the settlers, understandably, decide not to celebrate Thanksgiving. Many groups actively protest against what they see as an offensive glorification of a group of invaders who killed the native and stole their land.

When is Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving falls on the last Thursday of November. Rendezvous next Thursday, November 23rd.

What you need to know in short, about the celebration.

Most government offices, businesses and schools close on Thanksgiving Day with many closing on the Friday after, too, giving their employees a four days weekend.

The traditional Thanksgiving meal revolves around turkey, stuffing and vegetables. You’ll also hear Americans talking about eating yams. Yams are a starchy root vegetable widely grown in the Caribbean.

Traditionally, the meal is rounded off with pumpkin pie, delicious. You should try even if you are not planning to do the whole Thanksgiving dinner.

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What’s the history behind Thanksgiving?

It originated as a harvest festival. Thanksgiving has been celebrated nationally on and off since 1789, after Congress requested a proclamation by George Washington.

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It has been celebrated as a federal holiday every year since 1864, when, during the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of “Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens,” to be celebrated on the last Thursday in November. Together with Christmas and New Years; Thanksgiving is a part of the broader holiday season.

What goes on Thanksgiving day in New York?

Since 1924, the Macy’s Parade… lasts for three long hours. With more than 3.5 million spectators and 10,000 participants, it is one of the largest parades in New York.

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At the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, you can expect dazzling musical performances, cool floats, costumes and awe-inspiring helium balloons in the shape of cartoon characters including Mickey Mouse, Pokemon, Felix the Cat and many more. Bring your camera because kids go crazy and it’s free.

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Another long held Thanksgiving tradition is watching American football. NFL, college, high school and amateur teams have played over the Thanksgiving weekend practically since the game’s invention, and it’s one of the biggest days in the football calendar.

Looking for something less crowded?

Thanksgiving falls in the middle of Autumn, it is to me the best time to enjoy the outdoors in New York City, trees are turning red and yellow, there’s a little wind in the air, a perfect time to wrap you up in a long scarf to explore the city. Our team of experts is here to help you to make the best of your trip:

– Williamsburg & Bushwick Private Walking Tour-

The tour (one to 6 people) starts at your hotel where your guide will pick you up for 4 hours of fun and amazement. You will take the subway and head to Brooklyn.

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Start with a visit through Williamsburg. Its once gritty industrial landscape has since transformed into a flourishing and vibrant artistic community. View cutting-edge graffiti murals from some of NYC’s most emerging artists.

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Take the opportunity to shop at some of Brooklyn’s trendiest stores. Then delve into the dynamic neighborhood of Bushwick through an exploration of its street art, part of the contemporary American culture.

If you want to book it, CLICK HERE!

-Soul Food and Jazz Tour-

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.

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.

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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).

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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.

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?”

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!

To book this activity, CLICK HERE!

If you have any question, feel free to send me a message!

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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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.

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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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