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How to celebrate 420 in New York City this year

Heading to the Baked Apple to celebrate this year’s high holiday? Or just wondering if making the trek to New York City for 4/20 will be worth it?

We did the legwork to help you find the best cannabis parties in NYC, so you can stay stoned all day—and long into the night—in the city that never sleeps (but might squeeze in a weed nap).

First thing you need to know: Pretty much all of New York City is now a consumption area, with the exception of schools (legit), workplaces (understandable), and public parks (sigh).

The rule of thumb is that it’s legal for adults 21-or-older to blaze a joint (or a blunt, or a bowl, or I suppose a 6-foot bong rip) anywhere that it’s legal to smoke tobacco. Such has been the case since New York State’s notably progressive cannabis legalization law went into effect in April 2021.

Did we mention that possession of up to three ounces of flower (and up to 24 grams of concentrates) is legal for personal use? It’s also legal to share some of your canna-bounty with any other 21+ adult?

Technically, all of the above was true last 4/20, but this will be the first ever legal 4/20 in NYC with widespread vaccination and the city “open for business.” Even if Mayor Swagger remains quarantined with COVID.

Washington Square Park

man on skateboard in front of fountain with skyscrapers behind him
(Frank Franklin II / AP)

Okay, we just told you it’s not legal to smoke in city parks. But it’s not technically a crime, either. It’s now a civil infraction. Which means penalties for lighting up in a park range from a $25 fine up to 20 hours of community service. And you can avoid even that risk by unobtrusively puffing on the sidewalk before actually entering the park.

More importantly, ever since the NYPD stopped cracking down on cannabis, the venerable Washington Square Park—first opened in 1871—has reportedly become an open-air, unregulated cannabis autonomous zone. Naturally, the New York Post and other establishment/reactionary media decry the grey market sale of cannabis across New York City as a sign of the impending apocalypse:

Manhattan’s troubled Washington Square Park has reached a new low — with brazen drug dealers illegally selling weed from tables laden with pre-rolled joints and jars of pot conveniently labeled so choosy customers can select their favorite strains.

You’ll have to forgive this reporter (and former New Yorker) for thinking it all sounds, well, pretty fucking cool.

Phish at Madison Square Garden

The jam band kings will be performing four nights in a row at “the world’s most famous arena”—starting on 4/20.

Whether you’re a dedicated Phish-head or a total newbie, it’s always a wild time when the Fab Four play live at MSG. Add in 4/20 and the legality of getting lit on any city sidewalk, and this promises to be a Shakedown Street pre-concert vending scene for the ages, man.

There are also at least two un-official Phish afterparties happening, in case you’re looking to spend the waning hours of 4/20 chasing that ultimate live music high. The Cutting Room—a short walk from MSG—will host a DAB session of improvisational music headed by Phish lyricist Tom Marshall. Or head to the beautiful Gramercy Theater for a post-Phish fiesta featuring Pink Talking Phish, a top-tier tribute band.

Although, if I’m being honest, you still need more noodling after Phish at MSG, I’d sooner recommend visiting one of NYC’s many incredible ramen restaurants.

Massive NYC 4/20 celebration

From the team behind New York’s legendary Harvest Festival events, comes what promises to be the city’s biggest 4/20 celebration of the year at Club Amazura—a 3000+ capacity mega club in Queens.

From DJ Keoki spinning Grateful Dead tracks to sets from the Original Wailers and Immortal Technique, plus vendors, an art gallery, a weed brownie bake-off, workshops, speakers and more—this party will surely get lit early and blaze till late.

WeedFeast: A Weed Feed Supper Club Event

array of Mexican dishes seen from above on table, in plates and in skillets
No munchies needed. (Courtesy of Weed Feed)

What’s a high holiday without a weed feast?

And while a slice (or three) of real NYC pizza will certainly hit the spot, you can also go big with your munchies. Because the cannabis culture mavens behind WeedFeed have got your covered with a 6-course sit-down 4/20 dinner featuringlive drag and burlesque performances, highly crafted beverages, and gifts from epic brands.”

All at the upscale Toro Loco restaurant, with a menu featuring “suckling tacos, fresh empanadas, sweet and salty churros and so much more, and every course is paired with an infused sauce so you can control your dosage.”

Hip Hop Legends 4/20 Launch Party

Looking to spend 4/20 among like-minded hip-hop heads?

The place to be is the legendary NYC dance club SOB’s, which will present an evening of old-school weed-friendly MCs hosted by none other than the legend Rakim. Plus performances from Havoc, Styles P, Big Twins, Big Noyd, The Hoodies, & DJ LES.

Roof Party!

Astor Club and Buddy’s Bodega host a VIP rooftop 420 celebration at the McKittrick Hotel. Advanced tickets only. 9:30PM – 1:30AM.

4/20 Unity Day w/ Yoga, Panels and Latin Dance Music

Join Cannademix for Unity Day at the iconic Webster Hall! With performances by from legendary Wu Tang Clan members Inspectah Deck and Cappadonna and more.

The evening will also feature a yoga session led by SannaOhana and panels on NY legalization and a late-night dance party.

50th Anniversary Celebration of “The Pope Smokes Dope”

event poster with event details on red background with image of John Lennon on the right
Courtesy of the event

The tradition of musical odes to Mary Jane has a long and illustrious history dating back to at least to jazz age songs like Cab Calloway’s Reeferman. But nobody deserves the title “marijuana minstrel” more than the dearly departed David Peel.

In 1971, Peel was busking in Washington Square Park to make ends meet when (a likely very stoned) John Lennon and Yoko Ono caught his act by chance and decided to sign him to the Beatles’ own Apple Records.

Lennon produced Peel’s cannabis cult classic album The Pope Smokes Dope, which was subsequently banned in a bunch of countries, solidifying its status as a weedy middle finger to the man.

Now, fifties years later—in a city that’s finally stopped busting pot smokers, and on a day where cannabis smoke will surely fill the air—NYC’s remaining hippies and Yippies will gather at the Lower East Side’s Parkside Lounge to celebrate the Acapulco Golden anniversary of Peel’s magnum opus of marijuana music. Be there or be square.

Bob Marley Tribute

Just a stoned throw away from the weedy autonomous zone of Washington Square Park, you can check out a musical tribute to perhaps the greatest cannabis icon of all time. Head to Groove for an irie evening featuring Amadou Gaye and members of the Cafe Wha? House Band.

Easy Star All-Stars: The Return of 4/20

If your idea of rolling one on 4/20 includes bowling, then reserve a lane in advance, head to Brooklyn Bowl to engage your inner Lebowski, and stick around for an night of reggae-fied covers of popular stoner songs from the long-burning Easy Star All-Stars band.

Bonus points: Brooklyn Bowl also has great food!

Laff Ya Face Off Comedy Fest 4/20 Edition

Need a laugh? Check out this weed-inspired stand-up hosted by comedians Smokey Suarez and a.g white  at Casa de iwu in Queens.

David Bienenstock's Bio Image
David Bienenstock

Veteran cannabis journalist David Bienenstock is the author of "How to Smoke Pot (Properly): A Highbrow Guide to Getting High" (2016 - Penguin/Random House), and the co-host and co-creator of the podcast "Great Moments in Weed History with Abdullah and Bean." Follow him on Twitter @pot_handbook.

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