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New York Experience Safari: The Best Experiences In New York

Looking for the best experiences in New York City?

  • Welcome to the WXO New York Experience Safari: your guided tour through the best experiences in New York, created and rated by experience innovators the world over.

  • Put together using verified and validated recommendations from WXO Members and our team, this Safari covers some of our favourite New York experiences.

  • If you’re an experience creator, producer, investor, designer or commissioner, it can help inspire and guide your work – and if you’re an experience consumer, it can help highlight the experiences that are worth your time and your money.

  • And at this year’s World Experience Summit in New York – the first in the Americas – we’ll be giving attendees the opportunity to visit some of these New York experiences alongside fellow experience experts. Discover more – and get your ticket! – here.

If you’ve got an experience to share in New York or another global destination, let us know about it. This list is a work in progress and will be updated regularly.


OPEN NOW

Experiences that are currently open, plus permanent experiences and venues in the city.

Aṣẹ: Afro Frequencies at ARTECHOUSE

Above: Aṣẹ at ARTECHOUSE. Headline image: SUMMIT One Vanderbilt

Open until 30 June 2024
Experience Sector: Museums & Galleries

ARTECHOUSE is the nation’s first innovative art organization dedicated to the intersection of art, science and technology. As a pioneer in the field of experiential art, it creates, produces and presents innovative technology driven exhibitions, expanding the possibilities of art and how we experience it.

Bold, beautiful, powerful; step into this vibrant Afrosurrealist exhibition, featuring the work of London-based Afro-surrealist digital artist Vince Fraser along with poetry by ursula rucker. The spirit of aṣẹ — a powerful affirmation and philosophical belief held by the Yoruba people of West Africa, meaning “so will it be” — reverberates throughout this vibrant and meditative exhibition. Alongside the Immersion Gallery, you can explore other multi-sensory and interactive experiences — like virtually “trying on” African masks — combining film, technology, Afrosurrealism and poetry.

The Atlas Of Es Devlin

The Atlas Of ES Devlin,

Open until 11 August 2024
Experience Sector: Immersive Art

Having worked with everyone from Beyoncé to Adele, British artist and stage designer Es Devlin is being celebrated through a solo show at the Smithsonian Design Museum in New York. Known for creating large-scale performative sculptures and environments that fuse music, language and light, the exhibition – An Atlas of Es Devlin – is the first of its kind dedicated to the artist. Renowned for work that transforms audiences, Devlin began her career in 1995 creating kinetic set designs for the likes of the National Theatre and Metropolitan Opera.

Over the past decade she’s adapted her craft to address climate change, and her public installations on endangered species have inspired audiences to reimagine their connections to each other and the planet by shaping stories that reframe our thinking. Sketches, paintings and cardboard models form the seeds of her large-scale structures, and the show dips back into her 30-year archive mapping points that connect her teenage paintings to her stage designs and contemporary installations. Devlin dubbed the result an atlas, giving the show its name.

Queen Of Hearts

Queen Of Hearts, New York, US

Open until 25 August 2024
Experience Sector: Immersive Theatre

Aside from The Great Gatsby, another gift that keeps on giving within the experiential realm is Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland, which has been riffed on and reimagined more times than Gershwin’s Summertime. Its latest incarnation is Queen of Hearts, a burlesque romp in Brooklyn. The creation of Company XIV, the risqué ode to the Carroll classic features a heady blend of circus performers, singers, brilliant burlesque, classical dance and daring design.

Taking place at Théâtre XIV on Graffiti Alley in trendy Bushwick – very close to the venue for this year’s World Experience Summit… – the experience begins when you walk through the door and are greeted by some of the show’s colourful characters, one of whom thrusts a glass of champagne in your hand. The evening includes original music, themed cocktails shaken up at the venue’s speakeasy, and more than its fair share of crowd-pleasing aerial stunts. Time Out New York called the show “Moulin Rouge for actual bohemians”. We’re sold.

Gatsby The Musical

Gatsby The Musical, New York, US

Open until November 2024
Experience Sector: Immersive Theatre

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel encapsulating the greed and glamour of the Roaring Twenties is the gift that keeps on giving, as news reaches us that a musical inspired by The Great Gatsby has just opened on Broadway in New York. The previews have begun and opening night is set for 25 April at the Broadway Theatre. Tony Award-nominated actors Jeremy Jordan and Eva Noblezada will take on the lead roles of Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan in the musical, which is directed by Marc Bruni, the man behind Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.

The all-singing, all-dancing show will feature songs by Nathan Tysen and Jason Howland. Great Gatsby musicals appear to be like buses at the moment as the Big Apple will also play host to Gatsby this spring, which will be debuting pre-Broadway performances on 23 May at the American Repertory Theater in Queens. With a book by Martina Majok, Gatsby features music and lyrics by Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine fame.

SUMMIT ONE Vanderbilt

Experience Sector: Themed Attractions

A mere 53 feet shy of The Empire State Building, the One Vanderbilt is redefining Manhattan’s skyline. As reported by Architectural Digest, the soaring skyscraper stands at 1,401 feet tall, and its top three floors are causing a buzz. The observation deck – Summit One Vanderbilt – offers visitors a jaw-dropping multi-sensory experience. The deck includes an art installation called Transcendence, created by Kenzo Digital, featuring a series of mirrors that morph into the cityscape, creating a hall of mirrors-style optical illusion.

The aim of the space is to help visitors connect with New York in all its frenetic glory, while also imbuing them with a sense of serenity through earthy design touches such as wooden benches, stone tables and an outdoor garden, offering frazzled New Yorkers a moment of respite from the Big Apple’s relentless pace. We love the sound of the Willy Wonka-like glass elevators that whoosh guests up over a thousand feet, allowing them to see the city unfold like a pop-up book beneath them.

Mercer Labs (MOAT)

Mercer Labs, New York, US

Experience Sector: Museums & Galleries

The Big Apple has a shiny new museum – Mercer Labs, Museum of Art and Technology (MOAT), which has taken over the iconic bank building at 21 Dey Street. Billing itself as “the first museum for New York where art and technology come together for an immersive experience,” the cultural hub will host a grand opening this month.

The project is the brainchild of Israeli artist Roy Nachum and real estate mogul Michael Cayre, and will boast fifteen unique immersive experiences set across 36,000 square feet on three levels that aim to “tease the senses using state-of-the-art technology”. There’s also a mochi bar and a retail concept store focusing on contemporary brands, limited-edition pieces, special collaborations, and original designs by MOAT’s magic makers.  

House of Cannabis

House of Cannabis, New York

Experience sector: Immersive, Museums

The House of Cannabis bills itself as “the world’s first immersive destination exploring cannabis culture through a multi-sensory, transportive experience”. The brainchild of Las Vegas club owner Robert Frey, the 30,000-square-foot venue is set across three floors of gallery space that feature rotating exhibits about the history of weed that incorporate high-tech design elements such as LED light shows and 4D effects.

The top floor serves as an event space where lectures about cannabis programmes and social justice will be held. Cannabis photographer Chris Romaine, scent maker Victorine Deych and light designer Carlos Hano have all helped to bring the space to life. Disclaimer: you won’t be able to buy or smoke weed there.

INTER_ 

INTER_, New York City

Experience Sector: Immersive

In keeping with the current trend for brain-boosting functional experiences, Manhattan’s immersive art experience, INTER, is more meditation retreat than gallery by design. The multi-sensory museum in Soho takes guests on a journey into a heightened state of contemplative awareness through a sound bath, light installations and digital art with a side dish of meditation.

Aiming to blur the lines between the visitor and their environment, the space, masterminded by artist Pete Sax, questions how memory is experienced. Inside a sensory dome, abstract generative art fills the walls with images representing connection and birth to an ambient soundtrack and 360-degree projections that respond to visitors’ movements, while audio cues help you to stay present. The venue also features a vibrating gong room and gallery space exploring the collective memory of the experience.

Journey Restaurant

Journey, New York

Experience Sector: Immersive dining

Experimental dining is on the rise, as eating out morphs into the entertainment equivalent of a night at the theatre. Keen to jump on the trend is immersive dining experience Journey near Madison Square Park in New York, where guests can have dinner inside a ‘volcano’ complete with smoking table, dishes under cloches billowing with dry ice, a glowing red room and the sound of oozing lava.

Celebrating the connections we make on our travels, the venue bills itself as a ‘theatrical gastronomy’ restaurant, and brings its various dining environments to life through cutting-edge projection mapping tech paired with high-end dining and innovative drinks. The travel theme is amped up via a collection of antique globes, 3D sculptures of famous landmarks and a projection wall of moving masterpieces. Cocktails come with complimentary AR skits from the likes of whiskey professor Ben Vereen, while dishes in the café have hidden 3D designs that can be unlocked via an app.

Details Coming Soon…

  • The Friends Experience
  • Sleep No More
  • Fotografiska
  • SuperFunland at The Museum of Sex
  • Speakeasy Magick
  • The Museum of Ice Cream
  • Color Factory
  • The Sloomoo Institute
  • Museum of Illusions
  • American Dream
  • Brooklyn Bowl
  • The Drunken Laboratory
  • Harry Potter: The Exhibition
  • The Museum of Broadway
  • RISE NY
  • Unarthadox
  • City Days
  • Spyscape
  • Invisible Worlds at AMNH
  • Game of 1,000 Boxes


ON PAUSE

Venues that often host experiences, but currently don’t have anything showing or scheduled.

Details Coming Soon…

  • HERO NYC
  • The Shed
  • Hall des Lumières
  • Zerospace


NOW CLOSED

Experiences that have now closed and that we either don’t expect to return or haven’t yet announced a return date.

Arcadia Earth

Arcadia Earth, Canada

Closed December 2022
Experience Sector: Immersive, AR, VR

Arcadia Earth is an environmental storytelling platform based in New York City that uses a “multisensorial journey through underwater worlds, fantasy lands, and inspirational art installations to reimagine the way we address the most pressing environmental issues of our time.”

Visitors download the Arcadia Earth AR app to get access to AR components of the event, as well as additional information, action resources, and eco-purchase opportunities. Each exhibition is brought to life through immersive technology, animated by AR, VR, projection mapping and interactive environments, where visitors learn how small lifestyle changes will impact the future of our planet. The result is the first-ever, large-scale, immersive experience dedicated to sustainability and taking action for the Earth.

Tomás Saraceno: Particular Matter(s)

Tomás Saraceno: Particular Matter(s)

Experience Sector: Immersive, Immersive Art

Tomás Saraceno: Particular Matter(s) was an immersive exhibit at The Shed, billed as a “large-scale exhibition and sensory experience with spiderwebs, air, and the cosmic web”.

According to the programme, “Through floating sculptures, interactive installations, and an artistic process that centers collaboration, often with spiders and their webs, Tomás Saraceno proposes a conversation between human and nonhuman lifeforms. In a call for environmental justice, Saraceno also collaborates with human communities that have been impacted by these negative effects to renew relationships with Earth, the air, and the cosmos, particularly as part of his community projects, Aerocene and Arachnophilia.”

Read the full Experience Review by Creative Director Julian Rad here.

Liminality By MoFE

Liminality by MoFE

Experience Sector: Immersive, Immersive Audio

The world of immersive audio is one that’s growing rapidly – see our piece on the rise of 3D audio here – particularly when combined with an element of VR.

MoFE’s Liminality used both virtual reality and spatialised 3D sound over a collection of six hypnotic immersive experiences that explore the chaos, uncertainty and beauty of liminal states. It promises that “those who let go are transformed” through its combination of storytelling and technology.

Read the full Experience Review by Creative Director Julian Rad here.

Cascade: A Jen Stark Experience

Cascade: A Jen Stark Experience

Experience Sector: Immersive Art

This “interactive art experience” covered six rooms and 6,000 square feet of interactive projections, paintings, sculptures, and 3D mapped environments.

Read the full Experience Review by Experience Producer Heather Gallagher here.

If you’re a WXO Member, you can submit Experience Reviews for New York and around the world via the private Circle platform.

If you’re running an experience in New York or around the world you’d like us to add to this list, fill out our Experience Safari form here.

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