New York arts events to inspire you this winter

Fill up on cultural experiences this winter with our list of New York arts events



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Fiona Brennan and Jonathan Alexander as the Little Prince and Princess (in Sleigh) The Nutcracker New York City Ballet

Fiona Brennan and Jonathan Alexander as the Little Prince and Princess (in Sleigh) The Nutcracker New York City Ballet Photograph: Paul Kolnik

Warm up those frostbitten toes and broaden your mind at a gallery, museum, ballet or literary festival. From exploring the new Queens Museum to taking in a performance-art piece, Time Out's got you covered, with New York arts events to keep you toasty until spring.

RECOMMENDED: 101 things to do in New York City this winter

Celebrate 15 years of rejected literature at Best of McSweeney's

  • Price band: 2/4

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
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See the gold standard of Nutcrackers...

  • Price band: 1/4

Since 1954, the New York City Ballet has transported audiences to a world of frost fairies, toy soldiers and towering mice. Tchaikovsky’s score may be hummably familiar, but the choreography still feels magically fresh. Schedule varies; visit for details.

  1. David H. Koch Theater (at Lincoln Center) 20 Lincoln Center Plaza, at 63rd St
  2. Through Sat Jan 4
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...and the new Nutcracker on the block

  • Price band: 2/4

American Ballet Theatre returns to BAM with Alexei Ratmansky's inventive version of The Nutcracker, in which Clara and the Nutcracker Prince grow up before our eyes—braving an ominous snowstorm—and a little mouse nearly steals the show. It's tender, witty and wise, just like Ratmansky.

  1. BAM Howard Gilman Opera House 30 Lafayette Ave, between Ashland Pl and St. Felix St
  2. Fri Dec 13 - Sun Dec 22
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Experience NYC's scrappy 1970s performance art scene

New York in the 1970s was a dismal place with high crime and abandoned real estate. Yet it was there that performance art was born with artists claiming space in lofts and outside major institutions. The Whitney Museum tries to recapture that period for this fascinating exhibit; the title, “Rituals of Rented Island,” comes from performance artist Jack Smith's nickname for Manhattan, which he used in his 1976 play, The Secret of Rented Island.

  1. Whitney Museum of American Art 945 Madison Ave, at 75th St, 10021
  2. Through Sun Feb 2
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Open 2014 on a literary note at the new Year's Day Marathon Benefit Reading

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. Among the many podium-takers this year are composer Philip Glass, storyteller Edgar Oliver, Bowery Poetry founder Bob Holman, and poets Eileen Myles and Anne Waldman. Local joints catering the 11-hour event include Grandaisy Bakery, Porto Rico Importing Co. and more.

  1. The Poetry Project at St. Mark's Church 131 E 10th St, at Second Ave, 10003
  2. Wed Jan 1 - Thu Jan 2
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Check in with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

  • Price band: 2/4

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. Through Sun Jan 5
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Hear a stellar lineup read the work of Pulitzer-winning scribe Alice Munro

  • Price band: 2/4

The Selected Shorts reading event pays homage to the winner of this year’s Nobel Prize in Literature, a supremely talented Canadian scribe whom the committee described as “a master of the short story.” Fellow fiction-writing giant Margaret Atwood will be on hand to discuss her longtime friend, and a to-be-announced roster of performers and actors will read selections from Munro’s staggering body of work, drawing from her upbringing in rural Ontario.

  1. Symphony Space 2537 Broadway, at 95th St, 10025
  2. Wed Jan 22
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Pick up tips from an overachiever at LIVE from the NYPL

  • Price band: 2/4

The NYPL kicks off its latest series of talks with none other than 2013 National Book Award for fiction winner, James McBride. The Good Lord Bird author is also an accomplished musician (some people!) and will have his jazz-gospel quintet, the Good Lord Bird Band, in tow for a special performance.

  1. New York Public Library, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building Fifth Ave, at 42nd St, 10036
  2. Fri Jan 24
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Get weird at BAM stage show Green Porno

  • Price band: 4/4

If you’ve been keeping up with the Sundance Channel’s series, you know that Isabella Rossellini acting out the strange sexual behaviors of insects, arachnids and sea creatures is possibly the greatest thing that ever happened in the history of time. Now, she (along with director Muriel Mayette and cowriter Jean-Claude Carrière) is bringing her intricate spandex-and-paper wildlife costumes to BAM, to school us on the birds and the bees live onstage in her soothing Italian purr. (And seriously, those bees have some fucked-up sex lives.)

  1. BAM Fisher 321 Ashland Pl, between Hanson Pl and Lafayette Ave, 11217
  2. Thu Jan 16 - Sat Jan 25
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See Ryan from The Office in person

  • Price band: 2/4

The former Office writer-director B.J. Novak—and portrayer of Dunder Mifflin’s resident cad, Ryan Howard—has hung up his fake hipster glasses for good. But much like Ryan, he's already onto the next thing: short fiction. To toast the debut of his first book, One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories, the comedian will read from the tome at this Selected Shorts event. His tales take on subjects as diverse as a kid who wins a fortune from a cereal box, an angry rabbit plotting revenge and John Grisham’s inner monologue.

  1. Symphony Space 2537 Broadway, at 95th St, 10025
  2. Wed Feb 5
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Attend the Royal New Zealand Ballet's NYC debut

  • Price band: 2/4

Dance fans know Ethan Stiefel as the celebrated former American Ballet Theatre principal; dance-movie fans know him as the jerky choreographer who broke Jody’s heart in Center Stage. These days, he’s the artistic director of the world-renowned Royal New Zealand Ballet, which is making its long-awaited NYC debut at the Joyce. The company will perform Benjamin Millepied’s elegant 28 Variations on a Theme by Paganini, Javier De Frutos’s flamenco-inflected Banderillero and Andrew Simmons’s minimalist Of Days.

  1. Joyce Theater 175 Eighth Ave, at 19th St
  2. Wed Feb 12 - Sun Feb 16
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Weave your way through a tangle of crafty yarn art at "Queer Threads"

  • Free

Contemporary queer identity is explored in an unusual (and oh-so-crafty) manner in this exhibit: The “thread” that ties the various artworks together is, literally, a thread. Each of the pieces incorporates crochet, yarn, tapestry or embroidery. Be sure to check out Nathan Vincent’s installation of a crocheted men’s locker room, complete with life-size urinals made of yarn, and L.J. Roberts’s quilt-based work, which trails from the wall to the floor.

  1. Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art 26 Wooster St, between Canal and Grand Sts
  2. Fri Jan 17 - Sun Mar 16
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Hear Austrian music that isn't about small, white flowers at Vienna: City of Dreams

This three-week festival brings a bevy of Austrian culture to NYC, centered around Carnegie Hall. The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and Vienna State Opera headline the musical offerings, bolstered by film screenings, panel discussions, art exhibits and other special events.

  1. Various locations
  2. Fri Feb 21 - Sun Mar 16
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Look inside the apartments of Canal Street at "A Floating Population: Chinatown Photographs"

  • Price band: 1/4

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
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Explore the interior of a 1960s Eastern European sci-fi spacecraft

  • Price band: 1/4

For "Report on the Construction of a Spaceship Module," the entire fifth floor of the New Museum has morphed into a retro-futuristic spaceship interior thanks to the constructive nostalgia of Eastern European artist collective Tranzit. Artwork by its various members is installed throughout the space, which has been modelled after the fictional spacecraft from 1963 Czech science-fiction film Ikarie XB-1.

  1. New Museum of Contemporary Art 235 Bowery, at Prince St
  2. Wed Jan 22 - Sun Apr 13
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See street art indoors at "City as Canvas: New York City Graffiti from the Martin Wong Collection"

  • Price band: 1/4

Considering the sudden and bleak demise of graffiti hub 5 Pointz, and with all of October’s Banksy hysteria put behind us, this winter seems like an ideal time to look back at the beginnings of street art in NYC. See a host of never-before-exhibited paintings and sketches by the legends who drove the ’70s and ’80s scene, including Keith Haring, Lady Pink, Lee Quinones and more, culled from the holdings of downtown artist and collector Martin Wong.

  1. Museum of the City of New York 1220 Fifth Ave, between 103rd and 104th Sts
  2. Tue Feb 4 - Sun Aug 24
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Eat, Drink and Be Literary at BAM

  • Price band: 3/4

Bookworms are in for a treat with the lineup at BAMcafe’s annual series, which pairs dinner and wine with a reading and presentation by a leading author. The season kicks off with Salman Rushdie, famed scribe of The Satanic Verses and Midnight’s Children. After that, check out Alice McDermott (After This, Charming Billy) February 12 and Jeffrey Eugenides (The Marriage Plot, Middlesex) February 26. The series extends into the spring, concluding on May 28 with an appearance by novelist Meg Wolitzer (The Interestings).

  1. BAMcafé 30 Lafayette Ave, between Ashland Pl and St. Felix St
  2. Wed Jan 29 - Wed May 28
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Explore the new Queens Museum

  • Price band: 1/4

Located on the grounds of two World’s Fairs, the QM holds one of Gotham’s most amazing sights: The Panorama of the City of New York, a 9,335-square-foot scale model of the five boroughs, created for the 1964 exposition and featuring Lilliputian models of landmarks. The museum underwent an expansion to double the size of its galleries in 2013, as well as add public-event spaces, two new entryways and a glass facade facing Grand Central Parkway. A new branch of the Queens Public Library will open in the new space in 2015.

  1. Flushing Meadows–Corona Park, (near 111th St and 49th Ave entrance)
More info

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