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How to celebrate Holi 2019 in NYC, from colorful parties to festivals

The Indian holiday is about good triumphing over evil, play and forgiveness.

Revelers at the Holi Hai Festival on Governors

Revelers at the Holi Hai Festival on Governors Island throw colored powder in the air and on one another celebrating the arrival of spring in 2018. Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

The Indian multicolor holiday Holi falls on March 20 and 21, bringing a splash of cheer to the first days of spring.

The festival, which is celebrated all spring long in the city, is a joyful one that requires throwing powdered color (gulal) and water balloons — but there’s much more to it than that. Holi celebrates life, good over evil, the arrival of spring and thankfulness.

The throwing of color is based on the legend of Krishna. It is said that Krishna, whose skin was blue, wanted to have the same complexion as his love interest Radha, so with his mother’s advice, he applied colors to her face.

The colors are simply a representation of that story and have become an expression of love. Each color has its own meaning, too: Red is purity and love; green is vitality and new beginnings; blue is the color of Krishna; and yellow is the color of turmeric, which is what was historically used.

The vibrant tradition has spread to North America and New York City, and this year, there isn’t a lack of opportunity to celebrate.

We’ve put together a listing of dinners, socials, cruises and festivals you shouldn’t miss. Unless otherwise noted, gulal will be provided, and always wear white.

Baar Baar Holi night
13 E. First St., March 21 at 8:30 p.m.

Enjoy colorful food, like gujiyas treats, and drinks, such as the Le Berry Punch and Anar Swizzle, and live music by a DJ at the Indian restaurant Baar Baar.

Holi Bollywood Color Blast
Dorrian's Red Hand, 555 Washington Blvd., Jersey City, March 23 at 9:30 p.m.

Dance the night away and get free white T-shirt at this gulal-filled party with DJ Dyn Amite, who will be playing Bollywood's biggest hits. Starting at $35.

Holi in the City brunch parties
Stage 48, 605 W. 48th St., March 23 and 30 from 1 to 8 p.m.

Prepare to get colorful at this seven-hour DJ’ed party in this multifloor bar (with a rooftop). Don’t bring your own colors because the venue will have plenty to go around in pink, green, yellow and red. Starting at $29.

Holi Cruise
Hornblower Cruises, Pier 40, April 6 at noon

Cruise around the Hudson River while celebrating Holi to the music of DJ Ashu Rai and Dholi Mohit. When you’re not getting splashed with color, you’ll have food and a cash bar to enjoy. Starting at $49.

A family-friendly celebration in LIC
The Plaxall Gallery, 5-25 46th Ave., April 14 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Enjoy a day of dance, food, color play and music in Long Island City. A DJ will spin the classics and the latest tunes from Bollywood while guests can nibble on traditional Indian finger foods, sip on beer or wine and splash each other with color. This is an event that is open to children as well. 

Check back for more.


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