Winter ends, and Albany gets festive. The city's flowers bloom while the sidewalks, streets and parks soon buzz with energy of various festivals that showcase the best of the area's energy. Here are some of the highlights that shape Albany's spring and summer.
Scheduled for May 12-13, nothing says Albany quite like tulips. It's been that way since 1947, when Albany adopted the Dutch city of Nijmegen as a sister city, even sending all sorts of supplies to help rebuild it after World War II.
The somber beginning is now one of Albany's finest celebrations, the Albany Tulip Fest. Around 100 vendors sell crafts and food, and two stages offer top-shelf entertainment.
While you're there...Take a picture at the "Moses Fountain." The King Memorial fountain is the most striking structure in the park. Ringed with tulips, it'll make a heck of a selfie - and even a good focal point for a holiday card (not that we're ready to tap right back into winter...)
Oh, and did we say tulips? More than 140,000 bulbs are in peak condition around Washington Park's 81 acres.
The area's largest Greek festival features a variety of authentic home cooking and culture, all under a large tent to keep covered from heat or rain. There's even a small carnival with amusement park rides for kids.
While you're there...save some hassle amidst the crowds by parking a little farther away. There's a free shuttle service available to and from the premises. And don't forget to buy your tickets in advance through Price Chopper's "Tickets to Go" service. That dollar-per-ticket savings will land you something tasty, like a Greek coffee.
Travel/stay packages are available through New York By Rail, so there's no excuse not to visit and try on this cutting-edge music for size.
Alive at Five. Celebrating nearly 30 years of music, the free Thursday evening concert series annually draws major names and up-and-comers. The diversity of music is better than you'll find on most iPods, too.
While you're there...Stop in at the Riverfront Bar and Grille (affectionally known to many locals as "the Barge") for a family-friendly atmosphere. Grab a cold drink and a hot appetizer before or after the music. It is, after all, Albany's only waterfront restaurant.
Capital Pride Festival and Parade events focus around Lark Street and Washington Park, but this is hardly a one-day show. Capital Pride draws around 30,000 visitors during a two-week period that includes several programs.
For the parade, thousands of visitors line the streets to show their local spirit and support.
While you're there...The festival is for everyone, and the myriad outdoor patios around Lark Street are brimming with fun.
The city's annual Father's Day celebration was rebranded a few years ago as Dad Fest, a daylong lineup bands and other festivities to be held at Jennings Landing in the Corning Preserve. Its origin is actually Tulip Fest, which generally falls on Mother's Day weekend.
This festival is really for everyone. You can even just be a Daddy-o, if not an actually daddy.
There's live music, food, beer and even kids' activities.
While you're there...Well, you actually need a little advance planning on this one: Can you grow good facial hair? There's a contest we moustache you about.
the City of Albany's Jazz Festival has featured a wealth of jazz greats, critically acclaimed up-and-coming artists and local favorites at the area's most spectacular venues. This all-day concert is still free, too.
While you're there...stay through the evening for the traditional fireworks.