New York City is about to be taken over by men and women in white uniform. Sailors are coming into town. Fleet Week celebrates the US Navy, Marine and Coast Guard Corp and 4,500 of them are about to flood the city. Everywhere you look it’ll be parades and parties and these servicemen and -women can expect the star treatment; upgrades at ball games, meals paid for by strangers, cover charges waived and everyone wanting to buy them a drink. Whether you wear a uniform or just like people in them, this is a great time to be New York.
Now in its 28th year, Fleet Week runs from Wednesday, May 25th, to Tuesday, the 31st. It kicks off with the spectacular Parade of Ships which showcases the grand arrival of huge aircraft carriers, fighter jets, giant warships and historic boats. Perfect viewing points are at Battery Park and Hudson River Park.
It’s an opportunity to see the latest capabilities of maritime services and daily ship tours will take place in Brooklyn, Staten Island and Manhattan across the week from 08:00-17:00 (try not to arrive after 15:00 as the lines may be capped). Finishing off the first day is a free public concert at 17:00; the Navy Band Concert is at Pier A, 22 Battery Place, New Harbor House in Battery Park. As well as silent drill demos, the US Coast Guard conducts search-and-rescue demos on May 28th in Staten Island and on the 30th in Manhattan.
I mentioned the celebrity status that people in uniform will receive, and it seems that everyone wants a photo; expect to see sailors plastered all over social media. If you grab a snap, tag it #fleetweeknyc and #selfiewithasailor. It’s a thing.
What better film can there be to watch on a 900-foot flight deck during Fleet Week than Top Gun? Tom Cruise’s best film celebrated its 30th anniversary this month and it will be screened at 18:30 on Friday, May 27th, at Pier 86 at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum. The massive USS Intrepid aircraft carrier is a historic landmark, which sustained five kamikaze attacks in World War II, and contains a space shuttle, spy plane and a strategic missile submarine. The film will be introduced by Top Gun instructor Dave Baranek, and while the screening is free, entrance to the museum is $27. It’ll be strictly first come, first served so when it comes to guaranteeing your place, I feel the need, the need for speed.
The following night, Intrepid’s flight deck hosts a 1940s themed party of swing dancing and big bands. There are around 90 performers on Saturday night, including three of New York’s biggest and best battling it out: James Langton’s New York All-Star Big Band, the George Gee Swing Orchestra and Gordon Webster Big Band. There will also be a vintage fashion show and contest, a 1940s photo booth and swing dance lesson for beginners. Tickets start at $35.
Memorial Day falls on Monday, May 30th, and parades honoring the services will be held in all five boroughs. You could also see the Mets take on the Chicago White Sox that day and see a US Navy flyover. More than 1,400 soldiers and their families will be in attendance. Two F-18 Super Hornets will fly over Citi Field before the first pitch and there will also be a demonstration from The Leap Frogs, the US Navy’s Parachute Team.
Each year, Memorial Day marks the start of summer and BBQed meats are mandatory.
On Tuesday, May 31st, Fleet Week comes to a close and the sailors leave NYC. The ships will depart Pier 88S in Manhattan, The Brooklyn Cruise Terminal and USS Sullivans Pier in Staten Island.
Want to experience Fleet Week for yourself? Check out our New York City hotel deals to start planning your trip.