Each Easter Sunday, Fifth Avenue becomes a catwalk (bunny walk?) for thousands of people to show off their best Easter bonnets and other holiday outfits. The Easter Parade and Bonnet Festival is one of the standout events of spring, and it’s one of the most popular things to do during springtime in New York.
What exactly is the Easter Parade and Easter Bonnet Festival? This tradition dates back to the 1870s, when it was easily one of the top events in New York. The parade back then was a high-society affair, where New York’s elite would show up in their very best fashions. Those parades were held in Central Park, but today’s Easter parade takes place on Fifth Avenue, from Rockefeller Center to St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
At the height of its popularity, the NYC Easter Parade and Bonnet Festival became the inspiration for the song by Irving Berlin, which went on to be the basis for the Easter Parade movie with Judy Garland and Fred Astaire.
I had never even heard of the Easter Parade until last year, and by then it was too late to make a hat to participate. I went to last year’s Easter Parade and Bonnet Festival after most of the crowds had dispersed, but I still got to see plenty of cool hats and Easter spirit on display. Since I didn’t actually dress up, I didn’t consider this bucket list item “completed.”
Fortunately, I had an entire year to prepare this time!
For about $20, I picked up some hat-making supplies (I got the hat from Party City, paint and hot glue from Michaels, and everything else from Five Below!), and it took me only about an hour to put everything together.
The Easter Parade and Bonnet Festival officially goes from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. However, this is an extremely informal parade. Unlike the Halloween Parade, you don’t have to line up to take part in the festivities. It’s really just people walking around from Rockefeller Center to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, so you can pretty much just show up whenever you want to participate.
What’s it like to walk in the Easter Parade? Full-on celebrity status ! I truly think this is one event that you have to dress up for in order to get the complete experience! From the moment I got to Rockefeller Center, I had hundreds of people asking to take my picture. Even though I was by myself, I never felt awkward or alone. You don’t have to miss out on the parade if you’re worried about being the only one in your party!
It’s a lot of fun to see the designs that other people come up with, and I’m already inspired to do something even bigger next year!