January 2015 events calendar for New York City

Plan your month with our events calendar of the very best activities, including free things to do and our picks from theater, the arts and music

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Our events calendar for the first month of 2015 is the perfect tonic for a holiday hangover. Start the year off with a chilly dip in the ocean at the Coney Island Polar Bear Club New Year's Day Swim, enjoy pyrotechnics and chow down on dumplings at the Chinese New Year Firecracker Ceremony and Cultural Festival, or free your legs from the tyranny of trousers at Improv Everywhere's No Pants Subway Ride.

RECOMMENDED: Full events calendar for 2015

Featured events in January 2015

Holiday Train Show

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice
  1. New York Botanical Garden Bronx River Pkwy, at Fordham Rd, 10458
  2. Sun Nov 16 - Mon Jan 19
More info

"Mac Conner: A New York Life"

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice
  1. Museum of the City of New York 1220 Fifth Ave, between 103rd and 104th Sts
  2. Until Mon Jan 19
More info

Back to the Eighties Show with Jessie's Girl

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice
  1. Le Poisson Rouge 158 Bleecker St, at Thompson St
  2. Sat Oct 4 - Sat Jan 31
More info

Free events in January 2015

Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Bryant Park’s 17,000-square-foot outdoor rink is free and open late. Don’t get too excited—the admission may be gratis, but you’ll have to shell out $19 to rent skates (or BYO). Still, it’s a veritable winter wonderland: After your skate, warm up at spacious rinkside restaurant Celsius. If you want to practice your lutzes and axels with ample spinning room, try visiting during off-peak hours. RECOMMENDED: More rinks for ice skating in NYC

  1. Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park Sixth Ave, between 40th and 42nd Sts
  2. Tue Oct 21 - Sun Jan 4
More info

"Picasso & Jacqueline: The Evolution of Style"

  • Critics choice
  • Free

The work of Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) represents the art-historical gift that keeps on giving, offering exhibtion organizers a seemingly inexhaustible supply of periods and styles to draw upon. This shows takes up the last two decades of his career, when he obsessed over the image of his second wife, Jacqueline Roque, in paintings that paid homage to Matisse, classical art and his own earlier work.

  1. Pace Gallery 32 E 57th St, between Madison and Park Aves
  2. Fri Oct 31 - Sat Jan 10
More info

Drunken Shakespeare

  • Critics choice
  • Free

The Night Shift, which describes itself as a “working class theater” group, hosts this inebriated reading of Shakespearean monologues. Want to see if you can recite Hamlet’s “To be, or not to be” after a few brews? Step up to the mike, or just sit back and soak in the iambs.

  1. Bar Nine 807 Ninth Ave, between 53rd and 54th Sts, 10019
  2. Sun Oct 19 - Sun Jan 18
More info

Chinese New Year Firecracker Ceremony and Cultural Festival

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Unfriendly spooks should steer clear of Sara D. Roosevelt Park on the first day of the New Year, when the Better Chinatown Society lights 500,000 firecrackers to welcome the Year of the Goat and ward off evil spirits. In addition to the pyrotechnics, there will be lion dances and decorations giveaways, plus craft vendors and food booths where you can get your fill of traditional delicacies. (It’s said that the more dumplings you eat at the celebration, the more money you’ll make that year.) 

  1. Sara D. Roosevelt Park Chrystie St, between Canal and E Houston Sts
  2. Sat Jan 31
More info

Sam Falls, "Light Over Time"

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice
  • Free

A process-oriented Los Angeles artist who works in a variety of media, Sam Falls has transformed Downtown Brooklyn’s MetroTech Commons into a playground for his interactive art. Exploring the passage of time through light and color, Falls displays several sculptural works that are activated by the viewer and will physically alter over time. 

  1. Public Art Fund at MetroTech Center Commons MetroTech Center Commons, Myrtle Ave, between Flatbush Ave and Jay St
  2. Until Fri May 29
More info

Arts events in January 2015

"Nam June Paik: Becoming Robot"

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Video is a common medium today, but it was far out and new in the mid-1960s when Nam June Paik (1932–2006) arrived in New York and quickly made the acquaintance of legendary names as John Cage, Merce Cunningham and Yoko Ono. He just as quickly established himself as the father of video art, though he certainly wasn't the first artist to tinker with the technology. But he understood the cultural impact of television and found a metaphor for its pervasiveness in his use of multiple monitors and screens and mesmerizing images. This look back at his seminal work is the first of its kind in New York in a decade.

  1. Asia Society 725 Park Ave, at 70th St
  2. Until Sun Jan 4
More info

"Picasso & Jacqueline: The Evolution of Style"

  • Critics choice
  • Free

The work of Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) represents the art-historical gift that keeps on giving, offering exhibtion organizers a seemingly inexhaustible supply of periods and styles to draw upon. This shows takes up the last two decades of his career, when he obsessed over the image of his second wife, Jacqueline Roque, in painitngs that paid homage to Matisse, classical art and his own earlier work.

  1. Pace Gallery 32 E 57th St, between Madison and Park Aves
  2. Fri Oct 31 - Sat Jan 10
More info

"Mac Conner: A New York Life"

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

The career of illustrator McCauley (“Mac”) Conner helped to define the look of midcentury America. One of the original Mad Men, Conner's style was crisp and refined and very urban; life in the big city was a frequent theme. His work, which was published in such magazines as Redbook and McCall’s, owed a lot to the influence of Norman Rockwell (a boyhood idol), but also to film noir.

  1. Museum of the City of New York 1220 Fifth Ave, between 103rd and 104th Sts
  2. Until Mon Jan 19
More info

"Cy Twombly: Treatise on the Veil"

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Twombly (1928–2011) famously elevated scribbles, doodles and scratches to high art, but his abstract paintings were always rife with allusions to antiquity and classical mythology—due in no small measure to the fact that this Virginia native lived his whole life in Rome. The epic Treatise on the Veil (Second Version) was executed there in 1970, but because of its enormous size—it measures 33 feet across—it's rarely on display. The piece, on loan from the Menil Collection in Houston, TX, makes an unusual public appearance here along with its related drawings.

  1. The Morgan Library & Museum 225 Madison Ave, at 36th St
  2. Until Sun Jan 25
More info

"From the Margins: Lee Krasner and Norman Lewis, 1945–1952"

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

The default assumption about Abstract Expressionism is that it was overwhelmingly white, straight and male. The Jewish Museum sets out to complicate that picture by revisiting the careers of Lee Krasner and Norman Lewis, artists who were female and African-American, respectively.

  1. The Jewish Museum 1109 Fifth Ave, at 92nd St, 10128
  2. Until Sun Feb 1
More info

"Francesco Clemente: Inspired by India"

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Twenty works spanning 30 years have been collected here to explore the impact of Indian art and culture on the career of the veteran Italian Neo-Expressionist.

  1. The Rubin Museum of Art 150 W 17th St, at Seventh Ave, 10011
  2. Wed Oct 1 - Mon Feb 2
More info

"Thomas Hart Benton's America Today Mural Rediscovered"

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Benton is generally known for being the crusty anti-Modernist teacher of Jackson Pollock, so it's somewhat ironic that his epic ten-panel mural, America Today, was commissioned in 1930 by New York’s New School for Social Research for the boardroom of its International Style building on West 12th Street.

  1. The Metropolitan Museum of Art 1000 Fifth Ave, at 82nd St, 10028
  2. Until Sun Apr 19
More info

More events in January 2015

Coney Island Polar Bear Club New Year's Day Swim

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Meet at the Boardwalk and Stillwell Ave, Coney Island, Brooklyn. Suggested donation of $20. Would you believe us if we told you a dip in the Atlantic is great for a hangover? Even if you don't buy it, cheering those brave—or crazy—enough to take the plunge will stir you from your stupor. The Coney Island Polar Bear Club's annual New Year's Day Swim welcomes hundreds of swimmers, without the benefit of blubber, underfur or guard hairs, to venture out into the ocean. Warm clothes, a pair of sneakers you don’t mind ruining (or surf boots, if you’ve got them) and the fortitude to actually go through with it are all that’s required to take part in the brisk tradition. Membership is not required for this dip, but if you're planning on taking the plunge, help the organization raise funds for Camp Sunshine, a charity that supports children with life-threatening illnesses and their families.

  1. Coney Island Beach Surf Ave, between Ocean Pkwy and W 37th St
  2. Thu Jan 1
More info

41st Annual New Year's Day Marathon Benefit Reading

  • Critics choice

What better way to banish that New Year’s Eve hangover than with verse and good food? On the first afternoon of the year, 140 of the city’s best poets, artists and performers gather at St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery and, one after another, recite their work to a hall full of listeners. Past readers include composer Philip Glass and legendary poets Eileen Myles and Anne Waldman, and local shops will cater the 11-hour affair.

  1. The Poetry Project at St. Mark's Church 131 E 10th St, at Second Ave, 10003
  2. Thu Jan 1
More info

George Balanchine's The Nutcracker

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

New York City Ballet presents the 60th-anniversary season of George Balanchine's The Nutcracker. Set to the famous Tchaikovsky score, this holiday staple includes the full company, 62 musicians, 32 stagehands, 100 School of American Ballet students and one 40-foot Christmas tree.

  1. David H. Koch Theater (at Lincoln Center) 20 Lincoln Center Plaza, at 63rd St
  2. Fri Nov 28 - Sat Jan 3
More info

Barbara Nessim: An Artful Life

  • Critics choice

Barbara Nessim is a pioneer in graphic design. The Bronx-born artist and illustrator was one of the first women in the field in the early 1960s, and her complex designs made waves in the creative world. Her new exhibit features more than 150 of her works, ranging from computer-generated illustrations to textiles to fashion and more. The book Barbara Nessim: An Artful Life, exploring the details of the creative designer's career, accompanies the installation.

  1. Bard Graduate Center Gallery 18 W 86th St, between Central Park West and Columbus Ave
  2. Tue Sep 30 - Mon Jan 12
More info

Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company presents a Lunar New Year Celebration

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

This modern dance performance celebrates the Chinese New Year with a nod to traditional Chinese arts and the history of this 3,000-year-old civilization.

  1. Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts (at Brooklyn College) 2900 Campus Rd, at Hillel Pl, 11210
  2. Sun Jan 25
More info



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