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Free activities for kids over winter break in NYC 2012

With our guide to free activities for kids over winter break, your brood can have fun without spending a dime.

  • Photographer: Filip Wolak

    Free activities for kids over winter break in NYC 2012

    East Meets West Christmas Parade

  • Free activities for kids over winter break in NYC 2012

    Kwanzaa Children's Festival

     

  • Photograph: Courtesy Brooklyn Craft Central

    Free activities for kids over winter break in NYC 2012

    Brooklyn Craft Central Holiday Market

  • Free activities for kids over winter break in NYC 2012

    New York Transit Museum's Holiday Train Show

  • Free activities for kids over winter break in NYC 2012

    City Harvest Gingerbread Extravaganza

  • Photograph: Prospect Park Alliance

    Free activities for kids over winter break in NYC 2012

    Handiwork: Tasks and Crafts from the Past

  • Illustration: Courtesy of Megan Marlatt

    Free activities for kids over winter break in NYC 2012

    "A Toy Story and Other Delights"

  • Free activities for kids over winter break in NYC 2012

    Family Workshop: Winter Wonderland

     

     

  • Photograph: Carlos Detres

    Free activities for kids over winter break in NYC 2012

    The Mistletones

     

  • Photograph: Courtesy The JCC in Manhattan

    Free activities for kids over winter break in NYC 2012

    R&R: Shabbat at the JCC

  • Photograph courtesy of the National Park Service

    Free activities for kids over winter break in NYC 2012

    Be a Bird Detective

  • Photograph: NY Chess Kids

    Free activities for kids over winter break in NYC 2012

    Chess Club

  • Free activities for kids over winter break in NYC 2012

    Story Play

Photographer: Filip Wolak

Free activities for kids over winter break in NYC 2012

East Meets West Christmas Parade

Keeping children occupied over winter break (it's 11 days this year!) without breaking the bank can be a challenge. That's why, we've put together a list of the best fun and free activities for kids over the holiday recess, including holiday events like a train show at Grand Central to story sessions and theater performances at local libraries.


RECOMMENDED: Winter break activities for New York City kids


Saturday, December 22

East Meets West Christmas Parade

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Festively decorated for the holidays, Little Italy caps off the season with a multicultural parade blending Italian pageantry and customs from neighboring Chinatown. Kids can cheer from the sidelines as marching bands, lions, dragons and elaborate floats pass them by. Parade begins on Mulberry St at Canal St, heads north on Mulberry to Prince, south on Mott from Prince to Worth and ends at Chatham Sq. All ages.

  1. Various locations
  2. Until Sat Dec 22
More info

Kwanzaa Children's Festival

  • Critics choice
  • Free

The full slate of afternoon activities includes family workshops in African dance and drumming, storytelling, hip-hop and capoeira. Little ones can also browse kid lit at the book fair, then stop by the arts and crafts village for face painting and crafts. In honor of the week-long holiday tykes can make their own spirit masks, sekeres (musical shakers), Kwanzaa wish scrolls and more. All activities take place at NJPAC and next door at the Center for Arts Education. All ages.

  1. Chase Room (at New Jersey Performing Arts Center) 1 Center St, at the waterfront
  2. Sat Dec 27
More info

Brooklyn Craft Central's Fifth Annual Holiday Market

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Need to grab some last-minute gifts? Stop by Brooklyn Craft Central's Holiday Market to pick up handmade goodies like the cuddly stuffed animals from Sweatertoys or the stunning illustrations from Hans-My-Hedgehog. Enjoy some tasty snacks from food vendors as you wander the shops. If you like what you see the first time around, be sure to drop in again: The fair’s second weekend features a whole new crop of vendors. All ages.

  1. Littlefield 622 DeGraw St, between Third and Fourth Aves
  2. Sat Dec 27
More info

New York Transit Museum's Holiday Train Show

  • Critics choice
  • Free

The iconic Grand Central Terminal turns 100 in 2013—and the railroad hub is kicking off the centennial celebration with its annual train show. Even your littlest tyke will feel like a giant while wandering around the 34-foot-long display, festooned with miniature versions of city landmarks like the Brooklyn Bridge, the Empire State Building and, of course, Grand Central. Watch as Lionel model trains travel over the river (the East River, to be exact) and through the woods to reach their final destination, the north pole. Free. All ages.

  1. New York Transit Museum Gallery Annex Grand Central Terminal, E 42nd St, between Lexington and Vanderbilt Aves
  2. Sat Dec 27
More info

City Harvest Gingerbread Extravaganza

  • Free

You may not be allowed to nibble on the confectionary edifices featured in Le Parker Meridien's third annual gingerbread-house exhibition, but you can gawk at the sugary sculptures, created by local culinary kings. This year's theme is "Landmarks Around the World," so expect to see recognizable buildings and sights in gingerbread form. For just a buck (which will be donated to City Harvest, an organization that helps feed people who are homeless), you can vote for your favorite and automatically be entered to win a five-night stay at the Parker Palm Springs. Hey, this is the season when wishes can come true! All ages.

  1. Le Parker Meridien 119 W 56th St, between Sixth and Seventh Aves
  2. Sat Dec 27
More info

J&R Jr. Kids Night Out

  • Free

Keep your Saturday night low-key with free pizza and an animated film. This month, J&R Jr. wraps up the year with some seasonal favorites, including vintage Christmas classics Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Santa Claus is Comin' to Town and Frosty the Snowman (Sat Dec 8) as well as the 2011 holiday flick Arthur Christmas (Sat Dec 22). Plus, on Sat Dec 15, join Sonia and Mona from Little Pim for Spanish-language stories and songs. Ages 5 to 10.

  1. J&R Jr. 1 Ann St, at Park Row, second floor
  2. Sat Dec 27
More info

Handiwork: Tasks and Crafts from the Past

  • Free

Take a pretend trip to 19th-century Brooklyn, as kids enjoy old-time games and arts-and-crafts projects such as building and decorating whirligigs. Ages 6 to 16.

  1. Lefferts Historic House Museum 95 Prospect Park West, at Flatbush Ave
  2. Sat Dec 27
More info

"A Toy Story and Other Delights"

  • Free

Elisa Contemporary Art's new holiday exhibit, "A Toy Story and Other Delights" will have you reminiscing about childhood while creating new memories with your little one. The exhibit explores the transition between childhood and adulthood using playful imagery like a mountain of plastic toys and a dinosaur portrait. Through Dec 15, the gallery will be hosting a toy drive to help victims of Hurricane Sandy. All ages.

  1. Elisa Contemporary Art Gallery 5622 Mosholu Ave, at Liebig Ave
  2. Sat Dec 27
More info

Family Workshop: Winter Wonderland

  • Free

After watching today's holiday screening of "Arthur Christmas," little ones can create either a picture frame, holiday bracelet, or tree ornament. Only one craft project per child. No reservations required, but space is limited. Ages 6 and under.

  1. Sony Wonder Technology Lab 550 Madison Ave, Sony Plaza, at 56th St
  2. Sat Dec 27
More info

The Mistletones

  • Free

What better way to get the little ones in the holiday spirit than to listen to "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and "Frosty the Snowman" in front of the Seaport's big tree? Known as the The Mistletones, this alternative caroling group prides themselves on their hipster-chic fashion sense and expertly sung a capella. All ages.

  1. South Street Seaport 19 Fulton St, at Front St
  2. Sat Dec 27
More info

R&R: Shabbat at the JCC

  • Free

Spend an afternoon of free fun with the JCC in Manhattan! While grownups enjoy activities like meditation sessions, film screenings and an cappella concerts, kids can take advantage of the JCC's rooftop playground, plus art projects, circle games, interactive concerts, storytelling and other activities. All ages.

  1. JCC in Manhattan 334 Amsterdam Ave, at 76th St
  2. Sat Dec 27
More info

Be a Bird Detective

  • Free

Become an expert bird-watcher at this program, where kids can discover the many species of birds that live in the Jamaica Bay area, armed with a pair of binoculars and a bird detective checklist. Free. All ages.

  1. Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge Crossbay Blvd, at Broad Channel
  2. Sat Dec 27
More info

Chess Club

  • Free

Kids can sharpen their thinking skills by learning the basics of chess or improving their techniques. Ages 8 and up.

  1. Queens Library, Flushing 41-17 Main St, between 41st Ave and 41st Rd
  2. Sat Dec 27
More info

Story Play

  • Free

Tots can play with a variety of toys while they listen to a story. Ages 0 to 5

  1. Brooklyn Public Library, Central Branch 10 Grand Army Plaza, at Flatbush Ave
  2. Until Sat Apr 27
More info


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