101 things to do in the winter in New York City 2012

The coldest months are a time for comfort food, warm drinks and indoor pursuits. Find these and more with our rundown of the best things to do in the winter.

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  • 101 things to do in the winter in New York City 2012

    1. See Chris Martin and Jay-Z duet on "White Christmas" (we hope) at a New Year's Eve show at Barclays Center

  • Photograph: Courtesy Grand Central Terminal/Jones Lang LaSalle

    101 things to do in the winter in New York City 2012

    2. Celebrate the Grand Central Centennial

  • Photograph: Bart Barlow

    101 things to do in the winter in New York City 2012

    3. Make a pilgrimage to the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

  • Illustration: Byran Mayes

    101 things to do in the winter in New York City 2012

    4. #Pimpyourtree

     

  • 101 things to do in the winter in New York City 2012

    5. Head to Chinatown for a new year do-over at the Chinese Lunar New Year Firecracker Ceremony

  • Photograph: Phyllis B. Dooney

    101 things to do in the winter in New York City 2012

    6. Get the blood pumping at Freeze Tag on Wall Street

     

  • Photograph: Courtesy of the Madison Square Park Conservancy

    101 things to do in the winter in New York City 2012

    7. Take in a light show in Madison Square Park

    Pictured: Buckyball

  • Photograph: Jocelyn Gonzales

    101 things to do in the winter in New York City 2012

    8. Play the Pied Piper at Make Music New York Winter

     

     

  • Photograph: AMNH / C. Chesek

    101 things to do in the winter in New York City 2012

    9. Go stargazing on Valentine's Day at Romance Under the Stars

  • 101 things to do in the winter in New York City 2012

    10. Donate to the New York Cares Coat Drive

101 things to do in the winter in New York City 2012

1. See Chris Martin and Jay-Z duet on "White Christmas" (we hope) at a New Year's Eve show at Barclays Center


Don't succumb to cabin fever—NYC's full of things to do in the winter that you can only enjoy between December and February. As well as things to do for Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year's Eve, Kwanzaa, Chinese Lunar New Year and Valentine's Day, there are annual favorites like petting the adorable pooches at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, marching in free musical parades Make Music New York and Unsilent Night, taking the plunge at the Coney Island Polar Dip on New Year's Day, and joining the mob at SantaCon and the No Pants Subway Ride.

RECOMMENDED: Guide to all winter activities in New York

There are also plenty of comfort-food events including NY Chili Fest, Fondue Night and the month-long Hot Chocolate Festival—and if you're hungry for a bargain try Winter Restaurant Week. Musical highlights include John Cale at BAM, an oddball (but utterly charming) Christmas show from Sufjan Stevens and a NYE double-bill of Coldplay and Jay-Z. Whether you're looking for traditional activities (caroling) or alternative events (guerilla caroling), you'll find inspiration with our essential guide to things to do in the winter.

And if you'd like to see these events in a calendar format, check out these chronological listings (by section) for December, January and February.

1

See Chris Martin and Jay-Z duet on "White Christmas" (we hope)

  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

We really hope. Followed by Beyonce and Gwyneth Paltrow joining them on stage for a rendition of ABBA's "Christmas Song." Can you imagine?! Daydreams aside, this is still winter's hottest ticket. Say what you like about Coldplay’s unabashedly anthemic brand of indie-rock, but these Londoners have their live shows locked down: all the tightly honed hits delivered with a winning mix of sincerity and stadium bombast. Plus Jay-Z will join his pals to co-headline the final show on New Year's Eve to help usher in 2013. As New Year’s Eve blowouts go, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more high profile or impressive collaboration.

  1. Barclays Center 620 Atlantic Ave, at Flatbush Ave
  2. Mon Jan 5
More info
2

Celebrate the Grand Central Centennial

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Happy 100th, GC! The station’s big birthday gift to itself: a new logo showing its iconic clock striking 7:13pm—also known as 19:13, Grand Central’s birth year. Start the party at a daylong shindig, with a music program planned by opera singer Jessye Norman and a multimedia show from the New York Transit Museum (the first of many that the Transit Museum will put on during 2013). If you can’t wait for the big Beaux Arts building’s birthday, the Grand Central Centennial Holiday Fair jumps the gun with gift shopping through Dec 24.

  1. 42nd St to 44th St, (between Vanderbilt and Lexington Aves)
  2. Fri Feb 7
More info
3

Make a pilgrimage to the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Yes, it's crowded, but a visit to this monumental spruce never fails to remind us why we love New York City in December. Fighting the tourists to gawk at this year’s behemoth, decorated with 30,000 LED bulbs stretched across five miles of wire, is well worth the elbowing.

  1. Rockefeller Plaza Fifth and Sixth Aves, between 48th and 49th Sts
  2. Until Tue Jan 7
More info
4

#Pimpyourtree

  • Critics choice

30 Rock's tree is ballin'. How could your palty pine compete? How about if it was decorated with mini Christmas trees made from dollar dollar bills y'all? Inspired by the American Museum of Natural History's annual Holiday Origami Tree we put together a step-by-step guide to folding dollar-origami ornaments. Give it a try, then share your seasonally-appropriate awesomeness with us on Twitter or Instagram with the tag #PimpMyTree.

5

Head to Chinatown for a new year do-over

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Up to 200,000 people converge on Chinatown for the Chinese Lunar New Year Firecracker Ceremony, and the Better Chinatown Society will light just as many rounds of fireworks to ring in the Year of the Snake. Come for the dancing troupes and Pan-Asian food booths, and stay because the firecrackers will drive away every evil spirit for miles.

6

Get the blood pumping at Freeze Tag on Wall Street

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Bundle up and tear around FiDi with Matt Levy from family-owned tour company The Levy’s Unique New York. There’s no political angle or protest intended at this eighth annual edition of schoolyard japery in the backyard of the masters of the universe—just the chance to play tag, Red Rover and more games you’d have to google to recall the rules. (Some just sound made up: Heard of Wolf Sheep Rock? Us neither.)

7

Take in a light show in Madison Square Park

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Nonprofit Mad. Sq. Art is on a hot streak. It follows up its summer installation of Charles Long’s Pet Sounds, brightly colored blobs that emitted noises when touched, with Buckyball, a pair of illuminated geodesic spheres, one inside the other. The form is based on Carbon 60 molecules, named after inventor and futurist Buckminster Fuller, who popularized geodesic domes as habitable structures. The monumental sculpture, 20 feet in diameter, is composed of multicolored LED tubes that put on a changing light show dictated by computer software. Lounge in one of the surrounding wooden zero-gravity chairs and take in the hypnotic spectacle.

  1. Madison Square Park E 23rd St to E 26th St, between Fifth and Madison Aves
  2. Through Fri Feb 1
More info
8

Play the Pied Piper at Make Music New York Winter

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Take a stroll in one of 12 participatory musical processions celebrating the first day of the season. Like its summer counterpart—which saw amateur and professional singers performing a Philip Glass premiere in Times Square—MMNY’s winter edition packs ten hours with innovative outdoor performances. New additions, like a procession around Harlem to the tune of Hiroya Miura’s Mayan-apocalypse-inspired Recordare, complement returning favorites such as Patrick Grant’s guitar parade through the East Village and the Soho Gamelan Walk—Daniel Goode’s musical exploration of the ’hood’s cast-iron buildings. Visit makemusicny.org for the complete schedule.

  1. Various locations
  2. Until Sat Dec 21
More info
9

Go stargazing on Valentine's Day

  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

Eschew the dinner date on and snap up tickets to Romance Under the Stars, a swanky soiree at the American Museum of Natural History's Rose Center for Earth and Space. The night begins among the asteroids (have a "heavenly bodies" quip ready) with an open bar of cocktails and champagne, passed hors d’oeuvres and chocolate-covered strawberries while the Josh Rutner Quartet sets the mood with jazz standards. An hour and a half later, cozy up in the Hayden Plantarium while an astronomer tells lovey-dovey stories based on the mythology of the cosmos.

  1. Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth & Space 175 Central Park West, at 81st St
  2. Until Fri Feb 14
More info


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