Put your best foot forward in the Big Apple this month for couture splendour at the Met and cocktail parties galore. Or mingle with fellow contemporary art lovers at the world-famous Frieze fair

In New York, the month of May marks the true beginning of spring, when the typically rainy weeks of April make way for clear blue skies that are perfect for enjoying everything the city has to offer. To celebrate the promise of more favourable weather, New York City opens up with an endless array of events, launches and festivities. Here, we hand-pick the ones you shouldn’t miss.

Charles James: Beyond Fashion at the Anna Wintour Costume Center

Charles James: Beyond Fashion at the Anna Wintour Costume Center

Every May, the Metropolitan Museum of Art hosts the glam fest that is the Met Ball, when magazine editors and Hollywood ingénues brighten up Museum Mile in their finest. Even if you can’t score an invitation, this year is especially notable, as the museum unveils the Anna Wintour Costume Center on 8 May, after a two-year renovation. Previously the Costume Institute, the revamped exhibition space opens with Charles James: Beyond Fashion (8 May to 10 August), which presents the revolutionary work of the designer known as America’s first couturier. The Met’s first-floor special exhibition galleries will be home to some of the most beautifully structured gowns James created for distinguished figures such as Millicent Rogers and Dominique de Menil.

Frieze New York at Randall’s Island Park

Frieze New York at Randall’s Island Park

From 9 to 12 May, prepare for discoveries in contemporary art at Randall’s Island Park, Manhattan, with Frieze New York. Countless international and local galleries descend on the Big Apple with their most engaging works, for perusal or purchase. The grounds of the fair will be transformed by a variety of commissioned projects, including one by Argentine artist Eduardo Basualdo, who will erect two large-scale, glass-covered goalposts, turning the park into a soccer field.

On 12 May, Asiate at Mandarin Oriental, New York presents the second of its intimate, one-night-only winemaker dinners. The four-course menu features chef de cuisine Angie Berry’s culinary masterpieces paired with a selection of wines from esteemed Napa Valley producer Staglin Family Vineyard. This spring is also the best time to experience TriBeCa, as a spate of top-notch restaurant openings has recently revived this pocket of downtown Manhattan. Chief among them is the reopening of Dylan Prime, where you can treat yourself to all cuts of steak, from a 48oz porterhouse to a rib-eye, all dry-aged for at least 28 days.

Asiate at Mandarin Oriental, New York

Asiate at Mandarin Oriental, New York

The Manhattan Cocktail Classic (9 to 13 May), with its parties, classes and conversations, shows us why this city is indeed the cocktail capital of the world. The rooftop tequila event at Salvation Taco on 13 May is a particular highlight, in which Ron Cooper, Steve Olson, David Grapshi and Carmen Villareal head up a talk about mezcal and tequila, followed by cocktails and Mexican snacks.

Dover Street Market’s Comme des Garçons window installation by Matt Groening

Dover Street Market’s Comme des Garçons window installation by Matt Groening

And, of course, no trip to Manhattan is complete without a dose of retail therapy: a barrage of new openings – from Parisian perfumer Annick Goutal’s American debut on Bleecker Street, to a Helmut Lang boutique in SoHo – continue to add to NYC’s robust shopping landscape. A relative newcomer of London origin, Dover Street Market has a two-month Moynat pop-up, where the luxury French brand’s collection of chi-chi handbags, in a variety of spring-friendly pastels alongside standard blacks and browns, takes over the store’s first floor.

Chadner Navarro is from Manila, the Philippines, but has lived in NYC for nearly 20 years. He writes about travel, fashion, design and food

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