Have you ever seen the extravagance of a New York City festival up close? New Yorkers know how to do it big, which is seen in all its glory during the annual Easter Parade and Easter Bonnet Festival. Witness everything from adorable children adorned in frills, to other people’s “Easter” interpretations, including snakes and live rabbits as they take to the street in harmony. Thousands line the route to get a good look at the display that goes on for hours and embodies the spirit of happiness from the ancient holiday.

Learn About Its History

Beginning in the 1880s, New York City was the standard for Easter celebrations, outshining all the rest of the country with its fanfare and complex traditions. Rooted in churches seeking to outdo each other with intricate Easter altars and decorated sanctuaries, the parade then blossomed from these ideas and began to also represent fashion and fun. It continued to gain speed with the “Easter Parade” song released in the 1930s, which subsequently spawned a film of the same name in 1948, featuring stars Judy Garland and Fred Astaire. A timeless tradition was solidified into the wonderful holiday for good. Not many events in the U.S. can brag about similar longevity as the Easter Parade can, so it’s well worth being a part of something so ingrained in the culture.

Witness the Fun and Festive Occasion

If you and your family have ever attended the Thanksgiving or Christmas parades held in Manhattan, you will notice the Easter one takes on a different form. There are no major corporate sponsors and almost anyone is welcome to participate. Most people say that some of the best viewing spots are by the old churches, especially St. Patrick’s Cathedral on 50th Street. Either pop in first to catch a glimpse of this stunning house of worship, or simply perch on the steps to watch the ebb and flow of colors float by.

Guests to the Easter Parade are invited to dress up themselves, too. Some people wear their traditional “Sunday best,” donning elegant hats and bright hues in their garb. Other people will honor various decades past with period clothing that may have once been worn by other parade-goers throughout history. But it is perfectly acceptable to simply come as you are and perhaps create a paper hat or homemade costume to join in on the fun. Men and women, young and old, all head to the street to admire others, show off and be photographed.

Tips for Tackling the Easter Parade

On Fifth Avenue, check out the parade route between 49th and 57th streets. Choose to stay the entire day, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., or take a break for brunch, a church service or hunting for the elusive Easter bunny. There are countless cafes, attractions and shops to poke around down this iconic lane. Try a smartphone app to pinpoint your exact location and to offer the best recommendations for any type of accommodation or entertainment.

Head to New York City for its fabulous Easter celebrations that reach a memorable conclusion at the Easter Day Parade. Do plan ahead, as its popularity has not gone unnoticed by travelers worldwide, flocking to Manhattan to get a taste of all the Sunday-funday action.