New-York Historical Society (70 Central Park West at 77th Street)
Free with museum admission ($20, $6/ages 5-13, free/ages 4 & under
50% off with this link)
Train enthusiasts of all ages can explore an immersive multimedia winter wonderland featuring theatrical lighting, an ambient audio “soundscape” and lots of historical model trains, scenic elements and toys. Pick up an “I Spy” Holiday Express trains and toys hunt to match pictures and rhyming facts with whimsical and intricate objects. See if for free and enjoy train0related actovities every Friday morning during Rise and Ride the Holiday Express
New York Hall of Science (Flushing Meadow-Corona Park)
Free with museum admission ($15, $12/ages 2 – 17, students & seniors)
Marvel at the largest gingerbread village in the world. Lots of fun details to discover including cable cars and subway stations, all made from only edible ingredients: gingerbread, royal icing and candy. A great excuse to explore the entertaining interactive science exhibits at the museum.
Time Warner Center (10 Columbus Circle)
14-foot stars hanging from the 150-foot tall ceiling light up in an array of colors in time to holiday tunes by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. Peek into the festively decorated Williams-Sonoma for free samples of holiday candy and hot apple cider. See cast members of Broadway shows perform on Mondays 5-6 pm.
American Museum of Natural History (West 81st Street & Central Park West)
Volunteers begin folding in July to complete the 500 creations in the dazzling annual Origami Holiday Tree. Find feathered dinosaurs, alligator hatchlings, and stunning modern birds among other treasured models. Patient volunteers are on hand to teach visitors of all ages the art of origami folding.
Lenox Avenue (Lenox Avenue between 117th and 127th Streets)
Participating businesses along a sparkle-filled Lenox Avenue between 117th and 127th Streets feature displays inspired by seven Traditional Harlem Celebrations that take place throughout the year: Three Kings Day, Christmas, Hanukah, Loiza, Ramadan, Kwanzaa, and Harlem Week. This year’s theme was suggested by high school students from The Schomburg Center’s immersive Teen Curator’s Program and executed by undergraduates from Fashion Institute of Technology’s interdisciplinary Visual Presentation and Exhibition Design (VPED) program, working closely with owners/operators and store managers.
Brookfield Place (220 Vesey Street)
650 hanging lanterns create a canopy of rainbow lights in the Winter Garden at Brookfield Place. Visitors send a wish to the lanterns above by touching a wishing station, transforming the installation and spurring a $1 donation from Arts Brookfield to the GRAMMY Foundation® to support its GRAMMY in the Schools® music education programs for high school students. Choreographed light shows, entitled “Snowfall,” “Christmas Tree,” “Ribbons,” “Firecracker,” and “Northern Lights” occur every two hours between 8 am and 10 pm.
Brookfield Place (220 Vesey Street)
$28.99+ for photos; proceeds benefit Dancing Classrooms
Visit Santa in Winter Garden with nearby shopping, ice skating, and dining (including our fave French Market Le District). Even dogs can meet Santa during select hours on Dec 3 & 10. Not much surrounding Santaland besides a festive children’s activity center, but usually no line and you can book a time with the Ritual app or on-site for same-day. Also check out the lovely Luminaries and disco ball decorated trees.
Minus5 Ice Bar (1335 Avenue of the Americas)
Meet Santa at Minus5 Ice Experience, a lounge tempered at minus five degrees Celsius where everything is made of ice. The wintry experience begins with donning Minus5 parkas, gloves and boots and entering Santa’s wintry wonderland complete with ice walls, an ice bar, ice seating covered with faux fur pelts, ice tables, and a variety of ice sculptures, all rounded out with a state-of-the-art sound and LED light show. Reservations highly recommended.Wednesday–Sunday 4 pm & 6 pm
Arsenal, Central Park (830 Fifth Avenue (at 64th Street))
Employing an array of uncommon materials, more than 40 participating fine artists, designers, and imaginative individuals create unique and unconventional wreaths. This year’s wreaths draw inspiration from a range of themes ranging from the personal to the universal.
The Paley Center for Media (25 West 52 Street )
Enjoy daily screenings of beloved classic holiday TV programs from the Paley Archive, along with family activities including ornament and puppet making, visits with Santa and free hot cocoa.
Metropolitan Museum Of Art (1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street)
Free with museum admission (Pay-what-you-wish, suggested $25, free/ages 12 & under)
Hear hymns and carols of the Byzantine Empire, with the musicians alternating parts in multiple languages (ranging from Russian to Armenian to Greek to Arabic), weaving an evocative sonic tapestry from floor to balcony in the Medieval Sculpture Hall, home of the Met’s exquisite Christmas tree.Also at 6:00 & 8:00 pm.
Ellen Stewart Theatre @ La MaMa (66 East 4th Street)
MaMa’s End of Year celebration features a fun-filled immersive performance by La MaMa resident artists. Site-specific performances interweave throughout the Annex building, each piece inspired by the theme of ‘Winter Wonderland’. A unique holiday event for the whole family – all ages encouraged – embracing puppetry, storytelling, dance, music and theatre.
Bryant Park (42nd Street & Fifth Avenue)
Take free photos with Santa with your own camera or with the help of elves rinkside at the festive Winter Village. Free holiday-themed postcards and coloring supplies are available for making notes for Santa.
Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine (1047 Amsterdam Avenue at West 112th Street)
Celebrate the spirit of the holidays within the extraordinary acoustics of New York’s greatest Cathedral. This multi-media event features musicians, vocalists and the 25 dancers and drummers of the Forces of Nature Dance Theatre, offering a contemporary take on ancient solstice rituals, when people gathered together on the longest night of the year to welcome the return of the sun and the birth of the new year.Also at 7:30 pm.
96th Street Subway Station (Second Avenue & 96th Street )
$2.75 (one MetroCard swipe)
Ride back in time on a vintage fleet of subway cars and buses. In celebration of the one year anniversary of the Second Avenue Subway, this year’s Holiday Nostalgia Train will run along the F line between 2nd Av and Lexington Avenue / 63rd Street and via the Q line between Lexington Avenue / 63rd Street and 96th Street on the Upper East Side. Departures from the 2nd Av subway station on the F line at 10am, 12pm, 2pm, and 4pm and from the 96th Street subway station on the Q line at 11am, 1pm, 3pm, and 5pm. The special eight-car subway train of R1-9 cars from the 1930s is complete with rattan seats, ceiling fans, incandescent bulb lighting, drop-sash style windows, vintage roll signs, and original advertisements. Dance along with jazz and swing bands at the stations.
The Jewish Museum (1109 Fifth Avenue at 92nd Street)
Create art, share ideas, listen to storybook readings, and enjoy live music as a family. A 10 am gallery program includes interactive activities, art viewing, and a PJ Library collection book reading. At 10:45 am head to the art studio to create original art and enjoy a snack. Finish up the program with an 11:30 am interactive and high energy Hanukkah concert featuring Latin Grammy winning children’s musician Mister G (Ben Gundersheimer). Part of a monthly series.
Sutton Place Synagogue (225 East 51st Street)
Celebrate Chanukah with crafts, goodies and a program for children under 6.
Brooklyn Bowl (61 Wythe Ave)
$12, free/ages 1 & under
Enjoy an interactive and educational live holiday-themed music experience for families set in the remarkable Brooklyn Bowl venue featuring the music of the Rolling Stone – because Jagger and Santa are kind of the same – and DJ Questlove’s Family Bowl Train. Toy drive donations accepted.
Tarrytown Music Hall (13 Main Street)
Bring your dancing shoes and a stuffed animal (for your head) to a show featuring holiday songs and some greatest hits of popular family-friendly rockers the Laurie Berkner Band, one of our family’s faves.
The Church of the Intercession (550 West 155th Street)
For the 107th year, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’ will be read followed by lantern procession and wreath-laying ceremony at the author Clement Clarke Moore’s nearby mausoleum. The Young People’s Chorus of New York City will sing the musical prelude.
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