December 2012 events calendar for New York City

Plan your month with our events calendar, featuring free activities, Christmas traditions, holiday highlights and New Year’s Eve parties.

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Sure, December can be dominated by holiday shopping, the run-up to Christmas, and gathering around New York bars with fireplaces. But set aside some time for these seasonal favorites on our events calendar, from winter balls to musical parades, and costumed bar crawls to a pop art pseudo–scavenger hunt on the High Line.


RECOMMENDED: More winter activities in NYC


Featured events in December 2012

Biblioball 2012: Signed, Sealed, Delivered

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Literary social group the Desk Set’s bookish bash wouldn’t be welcome at any library—it’s far too loud. The philanthropic librarians and their like-minded friends fill the Bell House’s stage with dozens of performers and DJs. Donate a book to score a free raffle ticket, but the real prize comes when a lucky word-lover is crowned Postmaster General. Prom-style photos make the event feel like the acne-free school dance you never had, and proceeds go to the nonprofit Literacy for Incarcerated Teens.

  1. The Bell House 149 7th St, between Second and Third Aves
  2. Until Sat Dec 8
More info

Target + Neiman Marcus Holiday Collection

Fight the crowds and complete your holiday shopping in one fell swoop with Target’s latest collaboration. The affordable collection boasts more than 50 covetable gifts—including men’s clothing (Rag & Bone, Thom Browne) and women’s fashion (Lela Rose, Tracy Reese), plus accessories (Diane von Furstenberg, Marc Jacobs) and home goods (Altuzarra)—created by 24 designers. Splurge on a floral-print Alice + Olivia bike ($500) with lime-green and holiday-red accents, or treat Fido to an Oscar de la Renta collar and leash ($40). Whatever you buy, present it in style with Rodarte monochrome wrapping paper ($7 per roll). Available at neimanmarcus.com and Target, locations throughout the city; visit target.com.

The Winter Ball

  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

Formal attire is encouraged, but not required, at this sophisticated wingding thrown by Michael Arenella. But why would you want to go casual to a night that starts with free bubbly (well, prosecco) and includes performances by the snappy host and his Jazz Age–inspired Dreamland Orchestra, a French cabaret accordionist, and vaudevillian duo and flapper-scene fixtures Gelber & Manning? When not being entertained, nibble on hors d’oeuvres, quaff holiday cocktails, soak in the views of Central Park, sit on Santa’s knee for a vintage portrait or try to keep your top hat from falling off while doing the jitterbug on the wooden dance floor. Visit dreamlandorchestra.com for more information.

  1. Stone Rose Time Warner Center, 10 Columbus Circle, at Eighth Ave
  2. Sat Dec 14 - Sun Dec 15
More info

Fourth Annual Latke Festival

  • Critics choice

Indulge your craving for the ultimate Jewish comfort food at this ode to the potato pancake. Chefs from 17 local restaurants, including the Farm on Adderley, Fatty ’Cue and Veselka Bowery, descend on BAM to vie for the Ultimate Latke award, judged by a panel that includes WNYC’s Leonard Lopate and Saveur senior editor (and former TONY Food & Drink editor) Gabriella Gershenson. Wash down samples of the entries with free He’brew beer and Brooklyn Roasting Company coffee. Think you’ve got what it takes to fry alongside the big boys? Enter your recipe at info@ediblebrooklyn.com for a chance to compete.

  1. BAM Peter Jay Sharp Building 30 Lafayette Ave, between Ashland Pl and St. Felix St
  2. Mon Dec 15
More info

Free events in December 2012

Phil Kline's Unsilent Night

  • Critics choice
  • Free

The loveliest of New York parades, this annual boom-box procession has trod from Washington Square Park to Tompkins Square Park since 1992. Bring a sound-emitting device such as a tape player (composer and founder Phil Kline will distribute a limited number of cassettes), MP3 player with speakers or iPhone (sound files and an app are available to download for free), or just show up for a gentle, holiday-stress-busting stroll immersed in Kline’s ethereal piece. The participants are wrapped in a cocoon of delicate chimes that merge with and reappear from the city’s soundscape.

  1. Washington Square Park W 4th St to Waverly Pl, between MacDougal St and University Pl
  2. Until Sat Dec 15
More info

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
New York Cares Coat Drive

New York Cares Coat Drive

After seeing our neighbors get slammed by Sandy, we’d give the shirts off our backs to help. This citywide coat drive offers a chance to do (basically) that, and planners are already making arrangements to try to send a quarter of the 200,000 desired donations to Staten Island and the Rockaways. All your gently worn warm-and-fuzzies can be dropped off at public libraries, police precincts and the group’s midtown headquarters, but it isn’t the only way to help. Use the code GRNYCARES when buying tickets to the Broadway show Grace to score the charity a $10 donation. Volunteers will be needed to help sort; sign up on the website. 212-228-5000, newyorkcares.org.

  1. New York Cares, 157 W 31st St between Sixth and Seventh Aves
  2. Through Dec 31

Leo Villareal, "BUCKYBALL"

  • 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 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. Thu Feb 28
More info

Richard Artschwager, blps

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Go on a leisurely walk along the High Line and see something new. In conjunction with the Whitney’s full-scale retrospective “Richard Artschwager!” , this grandee of the art world installed nine pill-shaped works along and around the elevated park. Artschwager began posting the shape in public spaces in New York in the late ’60s, intending them to draw the viewer’s attention to unnoticed spaces.

  1. The High Line Washington St, at Gansevoort St
  2. Sun Feb 3
More info

Christmas and holiday events in December 2012

The Party Machine Holiday Benefit Spectacular

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

One recipient of the money raised by this comedy extravaganza is the nonprofit Badass Brooklyn Animal Rescue, whose goal is “Saving badass dogs from idiot humans”; the other benefactor is the Red Cross for Hurricane Sandy Relief, which did the same thing for badass New Yorkers and that idiot Sandy. Laughs come courtesy of hosts Arden Myrin and Lisa deLarios, who welcome the sarcastic queen of ’90s comedy, Janeane Garofalo. They share the Bell House mic with Jon Glaser of Delocated, Chris Gethard, Sheng Wang, and Adira Amram and the Experience. After the show, get down to beats by DJ AndrewAndrew, the spinning duo that goes by one name, one outfit and one persona.

  1. The Bell House 149 7th St, between Second and Third Aves
  2. Until Thu Dec 13
More info

SantaCon

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

The annual shitshow of shitfaced Santas, randy elves and leggy reindeer faced a bit of a backlash last year, rousing calls to cancel the Christmas pub crawl. Although we’re sure some participants were more naughty than nice, SantaCon’s covert organizers announced that 2011’s event raised $10,000 for Toys for Tots and donated more than 6,000 pounds of canned goods to New York food banks; they’ve promised to tweak this year’s format to tame the ever-growing number of marauding Saint Nicks. Follow @santacon on Twitter for instructions, and don’t be a grinch: Go along, have fun, be good and don’t forget to donate. Locations and time TBA; visit nycsantacon.com for more information.

  1. Location TBA
  2. Until Sat Dec 14
More info

Kwanzaa Celebration: Regeneration Night

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

For the sixth year, Harlem’s main stage celebrates the weeklong festival with a song-and-dance blowout. The name of the holiday may come from Swahili, but it—and the Apollo show—pulls from the whole of African-American history and experience. Forces of Nature Dance Theatre is joined by Songhai Djeli and Flute Visions, along with Queen GodIs and children’s choirs, to illustrate and explain Kwanzaa’s seven principles. No, there won’t be a test at the end—as long as you clap a lot for the singing kids.

  1. Apollo Theater 253 W 125th St, between Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd (Seventh Ave) and Frederick Douglass Blvd (Eighth Ave)
  2. Until Fri Dec 27
More info
See more Christmas events in December 2012

Music events in December 2012

Z100's Jingle Ball 2012

  • Critics choice

Pop powerhouse Z100 takes over MSG for its annual holiday bash, a glittery gathering of chart toppers performing truncated, hit-heavy sets. True to form, the radio station has secured the squillion-record-selling trifecta of Justin Bieber, One Direction and Taylor Swift. The latter’s latest country-pop opus, Red, has made converts of pop skeptics and indie rags alike. Also on the bill: superhot, TONY-approved singer-rapper Ed Sheeran and local disco-popsters Fun., proving that the Top 40 is delightfully far from monotonous.

  1. Madison Square Garden 4 Pennsylvania Plaza (Seventh Ave), between 31st and 33rd Sts
  2. Until Fri Dec 7
More info

Mx. Justin Vivian Bond Presents Snow Angel

  • Price band: 3/4

JVB’s latest yuletide cabaret show wouldn’t sit well with either Jesus or Santa Claus, but the transgender performance icon radiates a unique brand of holiday magic. At Bond’s December residency at 54 Below, expect radically reinterpreted Christmas classics and tunes from recent records Silver Wells and Dendrophile. There’ll also be plenty of the loving-yet-barbed banter (and, reportedly, “spell casting”) that has helped cement Bond’s status as a downtown legend. $25–$35 plus $25 minimum.

  1. 254 W 54th St, (between Broadway and Eighth Ave), 10019
  2. Dec 9, 10, 16, 17, 23, 30 at 9:30pm
Book online

Paul Winter: Winter Solstice Concert

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Springsteen isn’t the only one dancing in the dark; the Paul Winter Consort’s 33rd annual show delivers a groove-filled extravaganza leading up to the longest night of the year. Winter joins forces with West African singer and guitarist Abdoulaye Diabaté, the 25 dancers and drummers of the Forces of Nature Dance Theatre, vocalist Theresa Thomason and the reunited Paul Winter Sextet to put on a spectacular program sure to brighten the cavernous Cathedral of St. John the Divine.

  1. Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine 1047 Amsterdam Ave, at 112th St
  2. Thu Dec 13 - Sat Dec 15
More info

Sandra Bernhard

The acerbic actor-comedian-singer returns with her band, the Rebellious Jezebels, for a reliably outrageous four-night end-of-year engagement at Joe’s Pub, culminating in two New Year’s Eve shows (book tickets by Thanksgiving and bag a discount). Thankfully, 2012 has provided no shortage of bilious fodder that we look forward to seeing through the Divine Sandra’s gimlet eyes. Dec 27–30 at 7:30, 9:30pm; $50. Dec 31 at 9pm; until Nov 22 $85, from Nov 23 $100. Dec 31 at 11pm; until Nov 22 $125, from Nov 23 $150.

  1. 425 Lafayette St, (between Astor Pl and E 4th St)
  2. Dec 27–30 at 7:30, 9;30pm; Dec 31 at 9pm
More info
See more music events in December 2012

Arts events in December 2012

David Byrne

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

The active solo artist, former Talking Head and avid bicyclist delves into his personal history and the reaches of his mind to talk about the mechanics of song in How Music Works. This conversation with the legendary New Yorker should prove to be brain-expanding; if it’s not already sold out, it soon will be.

  1. Celeste Bartos Forum, Humanities and Social Sciences Library Fifth Ave, at 42nd St, entrance on 42nd St
  2. Until Wed Dec 5
More info

Christian Marclay, The Clock

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

The artist’s 24-hour-long supercut of thousands of movies was the talk of the town at this summer’s Lincoln Center Festival, with huge crowds waiting to see ingenious juxtapositions of the meanings we attribute to that slippery, temporal beast. MoMA will show the film for a month in its contemporary galleries’ 130-seat screening room. For the endurance junkie, the museum offers seven opportunities to watch the piece in its entirety, beginning—aptly—on New Year’s Eve and continuing over the following three weekends. $25, seniors $18, students $14, children under 16 free.

  1. 11 W 53rd St, (between Fifth and Sixth Aves), 10019
  2. Dec 21–Jan 21
More info

Joel Meyerowitz

  • Free

Howard Greenberg Gallery mounts a two-part, career-spanning retrospective of one of America’s greatest photographers. The first features the Bronx-born Meyerowitz’s witty, candid New York street shots from the ’60s and ’70s. The second focuses on his landscapes, including his seminal depictions of Cape Cod, published in Cape Light and Bay/Sky. Tue–Sat 10am–6pm

  1. 41 E 57th St, (between Madison and Park Aves)
  2. Part I through Dec 1; Part II Dec 7–Jan 5
More info

"Rolling Stones: 50"

  • Critics choice

To toast reaching the half-century mark as a group, Mick, Keef & Co. play two gigs at Newark’s Prudential Center (25 Lafayette St between Broad and Mulberry Sts, Newark, NJ; 973-522-4800, prucenter.com; Dec 13, 15 8pm; sold out)—their only scheduled concerts aside from a pair of shows in London. Naturally, tickets were gobbled up within minutes of going on sale. Console yourself by brushing up on Stones history at the Paley Center’s ongoing exhibit, where you can peep 70 rare, career-encompassing photos and videos of the band in action, including their goose-bump–inducing set from The T.A.M.I. Show in 1964. Wed, Fri–Sun noon–6pm; Thu noon–8pm; $10, students and seniors $8, children under 14 $5.

  1. The Paley Center for Media 25 W 52nd St, between Fifth and Sixth Aves
  2. Sun Feb 3
More info


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