Parades, Comedy, Climbing: Where to Celebrate AAPI Heritage Month in NYC

Link up with our city's beloved Asian American and Pacific Islander community.

Photo courtesy of Lunar
Photo courtesy of Lunar

New York City is home to a thriving Asian American and Pacific Islander community. And during AAPI Heritage Month this May, there are plenty of ways to celebrate the diaspora’s vast cultures and flavors.

In addition to shopping at all our favorite AAPI-owned businesses across the boroughs, we’re also scheduling a bevy of AAPI Heritage Month happenings of all kinds. Read on for the full lowdown on this month’s exhibits, comedy shows, parties, and more.

Peking Duck special at Leland Eating & Drinking House
Peking Duck special at Leland Eating & Drinking House | Photo courtesy of Leland Eating & Drinking House

Feast on heartfelt dishes inspired by two chef’s childhood memories

Every Monday in May, 5 pm–10 pm
Prospect Heights
This month, partners Randi Lee and chef Delfin Jaranilla of Leland Eating & Drinking House will honor their respective Chinese and Filipino heritages through an array of limited-edition menu items. First, chef Delfin sources inspiration from his childhood spent in the Philippines through Filipino dishes like Pork Sisig with poached egg and Szechuan eggplant. At the same time, Lee showcases his Chinese roots with cocktails like Lychee Daiquiris, and large-format offerings like a Whole Roasted Duck with crepes and Striped Bass with house-made fermented black bean sauce. If you’re more of a brunch person, drop by for the Ube Babka French Toast on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 am–4 pm.
Cost: Menu prices vary

Throughout May
At the Just Between Us: Archives of Arlan Huang photography exhibit, visitors are allowed a rare peek into a world of deeply personal moments by and of Asian Americans in New York City. Collected over six decades by artist Arlan Huang, the eclectic gallery of images speaks to the message of inclusivity and community.
Cost: Entry is free

The Cliffs at LIC
The Cliffs at LIC | Photo courtesy of The Cliffs at LIC

Saturday, May 13, 12 pm–4 pm
Long Island City
Whether you’re a newbie or a regular, the Asian Climbing Tribe invites New Yorkers to join in on this year’s AAPI Celebration. Hosted by The Cliffs at LIC, guests can drop by for this special activation of the friendly climbing session that’s open to all levels. Join in on a 15-minute warm up session, test out your upper body strength on the wall, enter yourself into a surprise gift raffle, and then capture the good times with a cheeky grin for the group photo.
Cost: Discounted day pass for $15, sign up here

Catch a limited-time pop-up concept while it’s open for exclusive dishes created by top AAPI chefs in NYC

Wednesday, May 17
West Village
The popular American Chinese restaurant Silver Apricot is behind a new pop-up concept in collaboration with some of our city’s top AAPI chefs and restaurants called F8 Cafe. Located next door to Silver Apricot on Cornelia Street, the temporary spot will showcase to-go bites from chefs like Justine Lee (Fat Choy), Eric Sze (886, Wen Wen), Christine Lau (Kimika), and more. All proceeds from F8 Cafe will be donated to the APEX for Youth and Heart of Dinner charitable organizations.
Cost: Dish prices vary

Photo courtesy of Lunar

Friday, May 19, 6:30 pm–9 pm
Lunar, an Asian American-owned hard seltzer brand, and Gold House, an organization that uplifts and invests in API creators and small businesses, have teamed up with Pearl River Mart this year to throw the second annual Asian and Pacific American Heritage Month Sunset Celebration at Chelsea Market. Held on the top floor of the food hall/marketplace, visitors can take advantage of an open bar courtesy of Lunar; fill up on bites from more than 30 AAPI-owned restaurants and vendors from across the city; and check out cool products made by local AAPI entrepreneurs.
Cost: Tickets from $96

Asian Creative Festival
Photo courtesy of The Asian Creative Festival

Saturday, May 20 and Sunday, May 21
Industry City
The purpose of the Asian Creative Festival is to support, promote, and celebrate the work of our local AAPI creatives. With this year’s theme announced as “Be Colorful,” expect the 2-day experience to be that much more revelrous. Among the many ways to entertain yourself, you can pull up a chair for an array of impassioned speeches, shop local goods from AAPI artists and small businesses, and watch an AAPI-directed film. On Sunday night, round out your weekend with the festival’s after-party, which is hosted by the Asian Creative Network.
Cost: Festival tickets are free, after-party tickets from $23

Better Chinatown parade in NYC
Better Chinatown parade in NYC | Photo by Bob Dea, courtesy of Better Chinatown

Sunday, May 21, 12 pm–3 pm
The most classic way to celebrate any holiday in New York City? A massive parade down Fifth Avenue. Marking the second anniversary of the Asian American Pacific Islanders Cultural Heritage Parade, the event includes a wide variety of floats, singing, dancing, and more. We recommend getting there a couple hours early if you want to snag a stellar viewing spot.
Cost: Free to attend

Tuesday, May 30, 7 pm–10 pm
There’s something therapeutic about openly sharing funny and possibly embarrassing anecdotes about childhood and life. At Gu Shi: A Storytelling Show, pull up for an intimate show full of storytelling from local comedians like Dylan Adler, Ann Chun, Bailey Swilley, and Non Kuramoto on growing up Asian. Taking place at the Chinese and Taiwanese marketplace Yun Hai Taiwanese Pantry, the show will be hosted by Esther Chen and Ricky Sim.
Cost: Tickets from $20

Sri Lankan Art & Cultural Museum NY
Sri Lankan Art & Cultural Museum NY

Throughout May
Stapleton Heights
At just 18 years old, Julia Wijesinghe founded the world’s first Sri Lanka museum outside of Sri Lanka. After years of building the museum collection, Julia now welcomes visitors to Staten Island to learn more about Sri Lankan culture through gallery rooms filled with sculptures, paintings, instruments, gemstones, and more. If you’re feeling peckish afterwards, drop by the nearby Wijesinghe family restaurant called New Lakruwana.
Cost: Free for entry

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Izzy Baskette is a Staff Writer for Thrillist New York. Find her on Instagram.