gay city recs

NewFest: How to make the most of this cinematic celebration in the heart of NYC

NewFest attendees
via NewFest Facebook

Are you a film enthusiast looking for a unique NYC experience? Then you should check out The 35th Annual New York LGBTQ+ Film Festival, a.k.a. NewFest, October 12-24, 2023. Celebrating queer filmmakers and storytellers since 1897, this groundbreaking film festival has become a vital part of the city’s cultural tapestry over the years, attracting cinephiles from all corners of the globe. 

The festival typically takes place at various venues throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn, with the city itself becoming an integral part of the experience. Many movie lovers abound, and NewFest energy permeates every inch of the festival’s footprint.

Here’s where you’ll catch that New Fest vibe around New York City…

Thompson Square Park

Tompkins Square Park

LBGTQ+ literary history New York, NY 10009
(212) 639-9675

After your screenings for the day, head to Tompkins Square Park in the East Village. This area is full of incredible bars, clubs, restaurants, and history so it’s impossible not to have a great time. Please Don’t Tell, Club Cumming, Boiler Room, to name a few – literally throw a stone and see where it lands.

Thompson Square Park is also the site of LBGTQ+ literary history. The neighborhood is where Walt Whitman was known to drink, and generations later where W.H. Auden once lived.



Stylish digs and inventive coffee drinks 218 8th Ave · New York, NY 10011
(347) 990-2100

When coffee shops selling wine were the trend, Café-Flor raised the stakes with its dirty chai martini. What immediately makes this multi-room venue stand out is its stylish atmosphere and the cream-of-the-crop Chelsea gays who frequent it. 

If your NewFest outfit can go from day to night, the crowd gets lively starting around happy hour. The owner Raul Avila has served as a producer and designer of the Met Gala for the past fifteen years. Following this spirit, Avila made his passion project Café-Flor a home of the arts, hosting a variety of creative affairs, including art classes, fashion shows, and runway classes.  


NY Pizza Suprema

NY Pizza Suprema

Cozy slice house 413 8th Ave · New York, NY 10001
(212) 594-8939

If you’re in need of a quick bite in between screenings, you won’t have to look hard for a slice shop in NYC. Though you’ll find one of our favorite slices in town at the bustling intersection of 8th Avenue and W 31st Street at NY Pizza Suprema. 

Say a blessing to the photo of trans goddess Colin Atrophy, author of Slice Harvester: A Memoir in Pizza, hanging on the wall in the cramped entryway before rushing out the door back into the street with a box filled with slices and squares. 


Rosecrans Florist & Cafe

Iced coffee and flowers 7 Greenwich Ave · New York, NY 10014
(646) 504-6864

Rosecrans in the West Village is a coffee shop that looks like a florist from the outside (because it technically is one). Ice lattes and flowers? What a time to be alive and gay! 

Aside from the cuteness of it all, this coffee shop is situated ideally on Greenwich Ave for foot traffic and people-watching, especially all the muscle boys on their way to TMPL or Equinox.

After a long panel discussion or Q&A at NewFest, recharge with some coffee while staring down hot pedestrians.

The Library

The Library at the Public

Legendary dive bar 425 Lafayette St · New York, NY 10003
(212) 539-8777

As you walk around the village, you might cross East 2nd St where Allen Ginsberg lived in the late 50s, and stumble upon The Library. The Library is a legendary queer-friendly punk dive on Avenue A.

Graffiti-covered, sticky, loud. The Library has the best jukebox in the city: Depeche Mode, Strawberry Switchblade, Limp Wrist, etc. Vintage horror movies projected on the back wall add a campy, moody air. 

Watch in awe as the tiny bartender chews out drunks for not tipping while serving drinks rapid-fire and leaning across the bar to greet friends with a kiss.

Bar Centrale

Bar Centrale

Celebrity chic to the max 324 West 46th Street · New York, NY 10036
(212) 581-3130

While there’s no shortage of Hell’s Kitchen gay bars, those looking for a potential celebrity sighting after NewFest should head to Bar Centrale.

Originally opened by the late Joe Allen, whose namesake restaurant resides next door, the unmarked second-floor townhouse’s cozy banquettes, dim lighting, and intimate bar create the ideal backdrop to discuss the nuances of your latest screening.

Keep your volume in check, you never know who may be sitting beside you while you nibble on spoonbill caviar and sip champagne. Reservations are recommended. No standing is permitted.

Good Judy

Good Judy

Brooklyn hotspot 563 5th Avenue · Brooklyn, NY 11215
(718) 788-2710

Since 2020, this queer Brooklyn watering hole has prided itself on providing an inclusive experience for all genders, orientations, and integers on the Kinsey Scale. Think of it as Park Slope’s Cheers, where everyone knows your name (and pronouns).

After a long afternoon of queer cinema, you can quench your thirst with one of their sassily- named signature cocktails. The “Golden Girl” will thank you for being a friend with its sweet synergy of mezcal, yellow chartreuse, Pineapple, lime, and honey. The “Don’t Stop Now” keeps the night pumping with vodka and gin sweetened with strawberry champaign shrub and peach liqueur. And the “Seriously” doesn’t mess around, balancing tequila with pineapple, lime, and fernet float.

The Rosemont

The Rosemont

Award-winning queer lounge 63 Montrose Ave · NY 11206
(347) 987-3101

Originating as a jazz bar, The Rosemont has since transitioned into an award-winning queer lounge.

Residing in the hipster hamlet of Williamsburg, this establishment has an ample patio in which to sip post-NewFest cocktails while enjoying the crisp autumn air, and a sweaty dance floor to warm you back up.

The Rosemont also serves as a venue for live events, weekly parties, and fierce drag shows. 

3 Dollar Bill

3 Dollar Bill

Dance the night away 260 Meserole St · Brooklyn, NY 11206
(718) 366-3031

After a day of sitting in cramped theaters, stretch your legs at 3 Dollar Bill. Describing itself as “Brooklyn’s premiere queer bar and performance venue,” this proudly inclusive nightclub offers a slew of entertainment options running in tandem with NewFest.

Whether you’re there to catch a drag show or serve a look at the bar, 3 Dollar Bill will provide you with an inclusive queer experience.


Ursula Brooklyn

New Mexican-inspired brunch 724 Sterling Pl · Brooklyn, NY 11216
((34) 7) -365-

This queer-owned eatery was created by Eric See, whose goal was to bring the taste of New Mexico to Crown Heights. By the looks (and taste) of it, he does just that.

Ursula’s standout is its breakfast burrito. Filled with New Mexican chiles, savory hash browns, and fluffy eggs. This breakfast slays, but make sure to grab it before 12 pm. Otherwise, you’ll have to deal with their delicious, stuffed sopapillas – a yummy consolation prize. 

The NewFest Film Festival in New York City is a celebration of LGBTQ+ filmmaking like no other. It’s a place where stories come to life, where diversity is celebrated, and where cinema’s power to inspire, educate, and entertain is on full display. Whether you’re a passionate cinephile or simply someone looking to experience the vibrant culture of New York City, attending NewFest is an experience you won’t soon forget.

So mark your calendar, book your tickets, and prepare to be moved, inspired, and entertained at one of the world’s most prestigious LGBTQ+ film festivals.

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