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How to celebrate Holi 2018 in NYC, from colorful parties to festivals

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

Holi will be celebrated in colorful ways across

Holi will be celebrated in colorful ways across New York City, from a Holi cruise to a good-old color throw on Governors Island. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Mario Tama

The gray days of winter are numbered.

The Indian holiday Holi falls on March 1 and 2 but will be enjoyed across the city all month long.

The festival is a joyful one that requires throwing powdered color (gulal) and water balloons at everyone, creating a wet and cloudy mess, 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.

Holi dinner: Malai Kofta

The Viacom Teaching Kitchen, 1515 Broadway, March 1 at 12:30 p.m.

The kitchen is holding a celebration with Indian food, including malai kofta, a tomato curry with potato and cheese “meatballs.” $10.

Baar Baar Holi night

13 E. First St., March 1 at 8 p.m.

Enjoy colorful food and drinks and the music of Bollywood duo Kajal and Sunny Gill at the Indian restaurant Baar Baar. RSVPing to is encouraged.

Upscale Holi happy hour and social

Zaika New York, 230 E. 44th St., March 2 at 7 p.m.

Desi professionals are invited to this happy hour that will feature colorful drinks ($8 each) and Holi songs. Festive Desi Holi outfits are encouraged. No cover.

A Holi-inspired Festival

Greenwich Village (location announced after ticket purchase), March 3 at 1 p.m.

Dance to live music and African drumming as you throw colored powder at your friends at this C.A.M.P. event. When you’re not doing that, you’ll be privy to a Cacao (as in chocolate) ceremony, Indian food, drinks and, at the end, sound meditation. $100.

Yuva Holi Party

Basera Bar & Hookah Lounge, 745 Ninth Ave., March 3 at 11 p.m.

Pay what you want to get into this Hell’s Kitchen party, hosted by Yuva Bollywood Party, with Bolly-Latin music, drink specials and a drag performance by Lal Batti.

Holi Ayee Re dance party

Basera, 745 Ninth Ave., March 10 at 9:30 p.m.

Desi Knots and the Professional Indians Association are putting on this Bollywood dance party with DJ Dyn Amite and color throwing with venue-supplied powders. There will be giveaways and a raffle, too. $30.

Holi in the City brunch parties

Stage 48, 605 W. 48th St., March 17 and 31, noon to 7 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, March 17 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. Starts at $56.

Holi Hai

The Play Lawn, Governors Island, May 12 at 10 a.m.

This large Holi festival allows you enough space to go crazy with color. Not only that, there will be tons of food vendors on site and a slew of performers, including Sufi and Punjabi musicians and dancers doing Bhangra, smooth Latin fusion and rhythmic tap dancing. You can even start off the day with a bit of yoga as the event starts. Free.


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