The New York Easter Bonnet Parade: Celebrating a Colorful History

25 Mar

On Easter in NYC, the term “Sunday’s best” takes on a new meaning. At the Easter Bonnet parade, conservative formalwear is traded in for loud, statement-making headwear that celebrates the energy and color of the coming seasons.


Dating as far back as the 1800s, The New York Easter Bonnet Parade began more subtle than the presentation of grand pageantry that occurs today. Taking place on Fifth Avenue, the parade began as more of a social gathering than a formal event.

After attending Sunday church services, many of the New York elite would take the opportunity to show off their new holiday dresses and hats, demonstrating the latest fashion trends and  attracting fascinated onlookers.


Photos via Jemal Countess/Getty Images North America

The parade was a particularly significant cultural event prior to the days when the latest fashion trends could easily be viewed by opening a magazine or looking at a TV or computer screen. And while a variety of Easter parades take place throughout the country, New York’s parade maintains its place as the most notorious.


Photos via Heather Cross, Guide

Today the parade is no longer dominated by the wealthy elite, but serves as a fashion playground for all to participate in. The pretense has faded away, replaced by a playfulness and friendly creative competition to see whose outlandish hat can outdo the others. Whether you participate or simply show up to take in the sights, the New York Easter Bonnet Parade is a visual feast served up for all to enjoy.


Photos via Jemal Countess/Getty Images North America

Interested in attending this event? The New York Easter Bonnet Parade takes place on March 31, beginning in front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue.

— Compiled & written by Riss Vandal, a Thrifty Vintage Chic intern.

For a further look at past Easter Bonnet Parades — which have been chock-full of vintage styles, dancing and live music by the finest the Jazz Age has to offer — then check out Robin’s post from 2011. CLICK here for more photos & video!

NYC Easter Bonnet Parade - Vintage Dancers


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