December 2013 events calendar for New York City

Plan your month with our events calendar of the very best activities, including Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s Eve events, plus the best free things to do.

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Get in the holiday spirit early with our events calendar for December: We’ve got the details on the best Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s Eve events, plus a look at upcoming arts, theater and music events.

Our December highlights

The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic

  • Price band: 2/4

Legendary director Robert Wilson’s music-theater hybrid, which follows the life and work of

  1. Park Avenue Armory 643 Park Ave, between 66th and 67th Sts
  2. Thu Dec 12 - Sat Dec 21
More info

“Indie Essentials: 25 Must-Play Video Games”

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

The newest consoles from Sony and Microsoft were recently released with all the optimized graphical

  1. Museum of the Moving Image 36-01 35th Ave, at 37th St, 11106
  2. Sat Dec 14 - Sun Mar 2
More info

The Gaits: A High Line Sound Walk

  • Critics choice
  • Free

This solstice event from Make Music New York’s Make Music Winter series is a smartphone-powered

  1. The High Line Washington St at Gansevoort St, to Tenth Ave at 30th St
  2. Sat Dec 21
More info

Radio City Christmas Spectacular

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

You'll get a kick out of this holiday stalwart, which—after more than eight decades—still

  1. Radio City Music Hall 1260 Sixth Ave, at 50th St
  2. Until Mon Dec 30
Buy tickets

More events in December 2013

New York Cares Coat Drive

New York Cares Coat Drive

Looked at from a certain angle, at least, this city appears more prosperous than ever. But peer beneath the surface and you’ll still find a lot of hardship out there. That’s where New York Cares comes into play. For 25 years, this charitable event has provided winter outerwear for the city’s thousands of homeless and working poor, who need a warm coat to make it through the winter. You can donate a jacket at a public collection site, or start a team to drum up support in your community. 646-801-4022, newyorkcares.org.

  1. Through Feb 7

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

The troupe explores a diversified repertory for its City Center season. Highlights include a new work by Aszure Barton, the Ailey premiere of Wayne McGregor's Chroma, Bill T. Jones's D-Man in the Waters (Part I) and Ronald K. Brown's Four Corners. The run—which celebrates Matthew Rushing tenure with the company—also includes restagings of Alvin Ailey's Duke Ellington–inspired pieces The River and Pas de Duke.

  1. New York City Center 131 W 55th St, between Sixth and Seventh Aves
  2. Wed Dec 4 - Sun Jan 5
More info

Of a Kind holiday pop-up

  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

Just what you need to make it through the harsh winter: shopping, booze and some good ol’ holiday cheer. This two-day bazaar will offer giftable jewelry, apparel, accessories and home goods—all by local designers—along with a gift-wrapping station manned by Brooklyn wallpaper design company Flat Vernacular. Grab a beer from the cash bar and browse through exclusive goods like Project Room metallic leather tangram coasters ($65), Brvtvs gold ball-chain thread earrings ($210) and GREI. Donegal knit fingerless gloves ($75). The goods are typically made in small batches, so snag ’em while you have the chance.

  1. Wythe Hotel 80 Wythe Ave, at North 11th St, 11249
  2. Sat Dec 7 - Sun Dec 8
More info

Damon Wayans

  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

The most talented of the Wayans-brother multitude (at least in our humble opinion) brings his stand-up act to Carolines. As with many no-longer-young comics, his material now focuses on the vagaries of family and parenting, but he’s still essentially the same guy we fell in love with on In Living Color. And if you look closely, you can still make out the fluffy wig, bulbous red nose and loaded sock of Homey D. Clown.

  1. Carolines on Broadway 1626 Broadway, between 49th and 50th Sts
  2. Thu Dec 12 - Sun Dec 15
More info

Best of McSweeney's

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Dave Eggers’s literary journal has survived and even thrived in an era generally considered hostile to the printed word. Although it has featured such notable authors as Michael Chabon and Joyce Carol Oates, McSweeney’s still sticks to its original premise of publishing only works that have been rejected elsewhere, and has never lost the sense of playful outsiderdom that has defined it since its inception. At this 15th-anniversary event, contributors including Jonathan Ames and Sheila Heti will participate in readings and discussions.

  1. 92nd Street Y 1395 Lexington Ave, between 91st and 92nd Sts
  2. Thu Dec 12
More info

MGMT + Dinosaur Jr.

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

The psych-rock outfit returns home to Brooklyn after crisscrossing the country in support of its self-titled third album. The band’s music has gotten grungier and weirder since the platinum-certified days of “Kids,” but the spectacle in its live shows has held strong, promising the kind of strangeness you don’t often see in an arena setting. If that’s not enough to sell you, we’ll point out that the openers—Dinosaur Jr., godfathers of lo-fi rock—are worth the price of admission in their own right.

  1. Barclays Center 620 Atlantic Ave, at Flatbush Ave, 11217
  2. Fri Dec 13
Buy tickets

“A Floating Population: Chinatown Photographs by Annie Ling”

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Frequent New York Times photographer Annie Ling’s pictures of the neighborhood are an entry point into the often insular world of Chinatown, documenting the lives and struggles of the people who live there. This exhibition includes four collections, including “81 Bowery,” a series of images Ling took inside a modern-day flophouse where residents pay between $100 and $200 a month for cubicles not much larger than their mattresses.

  1. Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) 215 Centre St, between Grand and Howard Sts
  2. Fri Dec 13 - Sun Apr 13
More info

Salzburg Marionette Theatre: The Ring Cycle and Alice in Wonderland

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

The renowned Austrian puppet troupe celebrates its 100th anniversary this year with a visit to the Met Museum, where expert puppeteers will breathe life into a host of beautifully carved wooden marionettes. Check out their imaginative takes on the White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter and the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland (Dec 14, 15), or gawk at miniature versions of operatic giants and flying horses in an abbreviated rendition of Wagner’s sprawling Ring cycle (Dec 13, 14).

  1. The Metropolitan Museum of Art 1000 Fifth Ave, at 82nd St, 10028
  2. Fri Dec 13 - Sun Dec 15
More info

Unsilent Night

  • Critics choice
  • Free

This trippy musical performance piece, dreamed up by composer Phil Kline, is downtown’s decidedly arty, secular answer to Christmas caroling. Boom-box-toting participants gather under the Washington Square Arch, where they are given a cassette or CD of one of four different atmospheric tracks; you can also download the Unsilent Night app and sync up via smartphone. Everyone then presses play at the same time and marches through the streets of New York together, blending their music and filling the air with a beautiful, echoing 45-minute piece. Those without speakers are invited to join in, too.

  1. Washington Square Park W 4th St to Waverly Pl, between MacDougal St and University Pl
  2. Sat Dec 14
More info

Welcome to Night Vale Live

  • Critics choice

If David Lynch and Douglas Adams built a town together and then left it to its own devices, it would probably look something like Night Vale, the fictional community that’s the subject of this faux public-radio show. Two-headed quarterbacks, haunted dog parks… You’ll find everything but the demon-possessed kitchen sink in this eccentric, chart-topping podcast. This live session will feature Night Vale’s velvet-voiced announcer, Cecil Baldwin; its resident band, Disparition; and a special appearance from former child actor Mara Wilson as the Faceless Old Woman Who Lives in Your Home.

  1. The Bell House 149 7th St, between Second and Third Aves, 11215
  2. Wed Dec 18
More info

Cirque Éloize: Cirkopolis

  • Price band: 3/4

This contemporary-circus troupe from Montreal brings its latest show to NYC, performing classic acrobatics and tightly choreographed dance numbers against a backdrop of original video projections. Expect jugglers, contortionists and Cyr-wheel artists in pieces inspired by the struggle to escape a soul-crushing industrialized city. If that hits a little too close to home, rest assured: At least onstage, humanity wins in the end.

  1. Skirball Center for the Performing Arts 566 LaGuardia Pl, at Washington Sq South, 10012
  2. Wed Dec 18 - Sun Jan 5
More info

Winter Solstice Celebration

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Having trouble deciding which one of your friends’ apartments will be used to host this year’s solstice bonfire and ritual sacrifice? Avoid all that messy virgin blood and try a more modern tradition: Paul Winter’s annual concert, returning for its 34th year. You can see African-inspired dancing and drumming from the Forces of Nature Dance Theatre as well as the WSC standbys: Brazilian guitarist Renato Braz, and the Paul Winter Consort with Winter himself on sax.

  1. Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine 1047 Amsterdam Ave, at 112th St
  2. Thu Dec 19 - Sat Dec 21
More info

Kwanzaa Celebration: Regeneration Night

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Radio personality, poet and songwriter Imhotep Gary Byrd hosts this annual Kwanzaa showcase of music, poetry and dance. This year’s roster includes multi-instrumentalist Michael C. Wimberly, rapper F the Elemental and kora player Yacouba Sissoko, along with Abdel Salaam’s Forces of Nature Dance Theatre. The highlight is likely to be the Rite of Nation Building ceremony, in which community members join artists to erect a structure onstage, symbolizing societal rebirth through the passage of knowledge from elder to child.

  1. Apollo Theater 253 W 125th St, between Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd (Seventh Ave) and Frederick Douglass Blvd (Eighth Ave)
  2. Fri Dec 27
More info


Users say

2 comments
jeannie spikes
jeannie spikes

i would like to go to new york city. for christmas.me and my family.. would like to go and have some fun.

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