December kids' events in New York City

Looking for the best kids' events this December? See our December events calendar for kids to plan your month!
Radio City Christmas Spectacular
Photograph: Gene Schiavone Radio City Christmas Spectacular
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December has the most fantastic kids' events ever! And you're the first to hear about them, thanks to our December events calendar for kids. Prepare for the most wonderful time of the year with festive events (Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa) as well as wintry adventures (like these sledding hills and other outdoor activities for kids).

RECOMMENDED: Full kids' events calendar for 2018–2019

Don't miss out on Macy’s Santaland 2018, the Radio City  Christmas Spectacular and our favorite  holiday train shows.

December kids' events

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Macy's Santaland
Photograph: John Minchillo
Things to do

Macy's Santaland

icon-location-pin Macy’s Herald Square | Midtown West, NY, Midtown West
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Head up to the eighth floor of the Herald Square behemoth for 13,000 square feet of holiday cheer! You'll experience the Aflac Ducks putting on their ice skates for the ice rink, igloos, ice sculptures, a rainbow bridge and Lionel Trains Industrial City, where you'll see six complete sets of trains surrounding a six-foot-tall Christmas Tree. You'll even get a glimpse of Santa's Sleigh, Santa's reindeer and the toy shop packed with trinkets and gadgets. Finally, you'll be escorted by elves up to the man in red. All ages.

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Rockefeller Center
Things to do

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

icon-location-pin Rockefeller Center | Manhattan, NY, Midtown West
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Christmas in NYC is incomplete without a trip to Rockefeller Center. Admire the gorgeous, larger-than-life tree—complete with thousands of LED lights and a giant Swarovski crystal star—while snapping festive photos with your family. Nothing compares to this fantastic holiday display, so return after the tree lighting ceremony (Nov 28 at 8pm) to admire the views before 2019 swoops in. All ages.

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Photograph: Courtesy Russ Rowland
Theater, Children's

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show

icon-location-pin The Town Hall, Midtown West
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Experience puppetry magic as Eric Carle’s beloved story comes to life on stage. The production will also feature three of Carle’s other children’s books: 10 Little Rubber Ducks, The Very Lonely Firefly, 10 Little Rubber Ducks and Brown Bear, Brown Bear. Little bibliophiles will love seeing their favorite stories unfold before their eyes. All ages.

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New York Philharmonic
Photograph: Courtesy Twentieth Century Fox/Chris Lee
Music, Classical and opera

Home Alone in Concert

icon-location-pin David Geffen Hall (at Lincoln Center) | Manhattan, NY, Upper West Side
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The New York Philharmonic performs John Williams’s score during this festive screening. If you’ve ever wanted to feel refined while snickering at lines like “I wouldn’t let you sleep in my room if you were growing on my ass” or watching a little kid literally torture grown men, here’s your chance.

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Photograph: Courtesy MGM TV/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock
Theater, Children's

Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas

icon-location-pin Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden, Midtown West
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The town of Whooville is holly jolly when the holidays hit...well, almost everyone in Whoville. Our beloved green scrooge—the Grinch—comes to life on stage as he tries to hijack the Christmas festivities in his town. It'll take one sweet little girl to show him what the season is all about. Wintertime is incomplete with without this Dr. Seuss classic. Ages 5 and up. 

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gctholidaymkt.jpg
Photograph: Grand Central Holiday Fair
Things to do

Grand Central Terminal Holiday Fair

icon-location-pin Grand Central Terminal, Midtown East
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Forty unique vendors come together in one of NYC's most gorgeous architecutral attractions to provide a can't-miss holiday experience. If your daily commute's got you down, the Grand Central Holiday Fair is surely one way to make you feel merry and bright. Explore the wide array of handmade goods—toys, games, accessories and more—before boarding your train home. Chances are, you're bound to find some great gifts for loved ones. Even better? You also have the option to snag a sneak peek at the holiday train show too, so you're truly entering a winter wonderland. You'll be spending a lot of time wandering the train station this season! Note that the market won't be open on Thanksgiving or Christmas Eve, so plan your shopping ahead of time. All ages.

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Photograph: Courtesy: Robert Gerhardt and Denis Y. Suspitsyn
Museums, Art and design

"Andy Warhol: From A to B and Back Again"

icon-location-pin Whitney Museum of American Art, Meatpacking District
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Take a look back at Andy Warhol's iconic pieces—portraits, pop and photo silkscreen paintings and other pieces of work—during the Whitney's retrospective that highlights all aspects of his career. During Family Day (Dec 1 from 10:30am–3pm), kids can create their own artistic gems inspired by the late icon. Check the museum's website to see when its Open Studios (Saturdays and Sundays from 10:30am–3pm in November and December, minus holidays) will dedicate its weekly kids’ project to all-things Warhol. All ages. 

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Eloise at the Plaza
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Things to do

Tea with Santa

icon-location-pin The Plaza, Midtown West
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Little ones should don their best tea-time garb for this stylish holiday event at the Eloise at The Plaza shop. They'll sip lemonade and holiday teas, munch on fresh fruit kabobs and assorted mini sandwiches, and sample sweet treats for dessert. After the kiddies fill their bellies, they can gather ‘round to hear a cozy Christmas story and take pictures with Santa, for a holiday experience they’re sure to remember. Reservations required. All ages.

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Photograph courtesy the American Museum of Natural History
Things to do, Festivals

Kwanzaa 2018

icon-location-pin American Museum of Natural History, Upper West Side
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Take in the sights and sounds of African-American arts and culture at this annual afternoon fest honoring the holiday’s seven principles (unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith). During this year’s celebration, watch live musical performances and shop in the marketplace for goods made by local artisans from the African-American community. All ages.

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Photograph courtesy Children's Museum of the Arts
Things to do, Classes and workshops

CMA Winter Art Colony: Lunar New Year

icon-location-pin Children's Museum of the Arts, West Village
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Kids can spend the school holiday learning about one of their favorite subjects at this full-day class: comic books! In this session children will learn everything that's necessary to make a comic strip from the fundamentals of storytelling to character design and other illustration skills. Ages 6–12. 

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How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical (2014)
Photograph: Courtesy BlueMoon Studios
Theater, Musicals

How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical

icon-location-pin Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden, Midtown West
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Mel Marvin and Timothy Mason's musical take on Dr. Seuss's yuletide fable, in which a selfish creature overcomes his chronic cardiac deficiency, played two holiday seasons on Broadway during the Great White Way's green-monster craze of the 2000s. Now it returns to MSG in a production directed by Matt August and starring Gavin Lee, who recently shone as another green grump in Broadway's SpongeBob SquarePants.

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Photograph: Courtesy Cathedral of St. John the Divine
Things to do

New Year's Eve Concert for Peace

icon-location-pin Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, Morningside Heights
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Usher in the New Year in a positive manner at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, a bona fide New York institution. The annual tradition—founded by Leonard Bernstein—will include the Cathedral Choir and Orchestra's performance William Boyce’s Symphony No. 1 in B-flat, as well as Bach, Mozart and other composers. This year will be the premiere of Wayne Oquin’s Allelulia. There will also be a variety of guest apperances throughout the evening. Get your tickets now. All ages.

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Photograph: Courtesy Symphony Space Just Kidding
Theater

Just Kidding Concerts at Symphony Space

icon-location-pin Symphony Space, Upper West Side
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When it comes to family-friendly entertainment, Symphony Space has it down to a science with its "Just Kidding" series, complete with an extensive lineup of performers and musicians that everyone in your crew will love. Enjoy a morning of Wild West fun with Frogtown Mountain Puppeteers' show The Legend of The Banana Kid (Nov 10 at 11am, 2pm); swing and sway along with Lucy Kalantari and the Jazz Cats (Dec 1 at 11am); learn about a little girl and her insect BFF thanks to I Spy Butterfly (Dec 15 11am, 2 pm); feel wowed during the dance extravaganza STAM-PEDE (Jan 6 at 3pm) and so much more. The schedule has something for everyone, so check out the full list of offerings here. All ages. 

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Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in Alvin Ailey's Revelations
Photograph courtesy Donna Ward
Dance, Contemporary and experimental

Alvin Ailey Family Matinees

icon-location-pin New York City Center, Midtown West
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Treat the kids to a dynamic performance at Alvin Ailey this December with special family matinees. Each matinee includes a performance of Alvin Ailey's signature African gospel– and sermon–inspired work, "Revelations" as well as other modern masterpieces that will inspire young imaginations like Ella, a duet set to Ella Fitzgerald scatting in "Airmail Special" and The Golden Section, which features a rock score by David Byrne and Twyla Tharp. All ages.

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Rockefeller Center
Things to do, Ice skating

Breakfast with Santa at Rock Center Cafe or the Sea Grill

icon-location-pin Multiple venues
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Flanked by glittery angel sculptures and New York’s famously giant Christmas tree, Rockefeller Center is the backdrop to this merry holiday breakfast with Santa. At this festive breakfast for families, you'll meet Santa and his elves (and if your kid is on the nice list, you might even get a little gift, too). The Sea Grill experience boasts made-to-order omelettes and a decadent chocolate fountain, and Santa will come to your table for photos. At Rock Center Cafe, there's a candy bar where kids can assemble their own treat bags to take home after sitting on Santa's Lap in the Throne Room. Don't forget to go for a spin on the ice rink when you're through, since free admission is included with your meal. *Breakfast available at Rock Center Cafe and The Sea Grill. All ages.

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George Balanchine's The Nutcracker at New York City Ballet
Things to do

George Balanchine's The Nutcracker

icon-location-pin David H. Koch Theater (at Lincoln Center), Upper West Side
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This enchanting production is the one people have in mind when they ask, "Have you been to The Nutcracker?" The New York City Ballet's full roster of ballerinas, danseurs and musicians—plus children from the School of American Ballet—perform Balanchine's classic choreography. Princess-smitten tots will fall for the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Snow Queen, but all kids will get a kick out of the one-ton Christmas tree that "grows" to 40 feet onstage, and Mother Ginger, who hides little dancers under her nine-foot-wide skirt. 

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Radio City Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall
Things to do

Radio City Christmas Spectacular

icon-location-pin Radio City Music Hall, Midtown West
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Every year, this holiday stalwart gets families in the spirit with Santa appearances, colorful sets and, of course, one-of-a-kind dance numbers from the impressive Rockettes. Enjoy classic routines like "Parade of the Wooden Soldiers" and "New York at Christmas," in which dancers journey through the city on a double-decker bus, and keep an eye out for exciting new additions as well. The show now incorporates advanced technology throughout, taking the audience on a wild ride via 3D glasses and a flying LED screen, and one number even sends a host of helium-filled, GPS-enabled iridescent snowflakes floating high above the audience, transforming Radio City into a sparkling winter wonderland! Get ready for a new finale scene! All ages.

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nybgholidaytrainshow01.jpg
Things to do

Holiday Train Show

icon-location-pin New York Botanical Garden | Bronx, NY, The Bronx
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Some 140 landmarks featured in NYBG's wildly popular diorama are made entirely out of plant-based materials such as twigs, acorns and berries. Little locomotives zip along their tracks against a backdrop of small sights that kids should recognize, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty among them. Tickets must be purchased in advance. There's no better way to ring in the holiday season! All ages.

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Things to do, Ice skating

Santa's Winter Wonderland at Brookfield Place

icon-location-pin Multiple venues
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Explore Santa Claus’ Winter Wonderland at Brookfield place this holiday season! Your kids can play in a special children's activity center (and partake in ice-skating, shopping and dining options for various prices) prior to their visit with Santa. Photo packages start at $29 (further pricing details TBD), and you can find Santa at 230 Vesey St, Level 2. Other great offerings include Sensory-Friendly Santa with Autism Speaks (Dec 9 8:30–10am) and Santa Paws! (Nov 25, Dec 2 6:30–7:30pm; dogs must be under 25lbs and carried or in carrier at all times, except service animals). All ages.

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Photo courtesy Amanda Gentile
Things to do

Holiday Tea at Wave Hill

icon-location-pin Wave Hill, The Bronx
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Cozy up in the historic Wave Hill House for a traditional Holiday Tea. Snack on scrumptious scones, tea sandwiches and other sweets while sipping freshly-brewed loose-leaf tea. Finish off the day with a peaceful walk through the wintery gardens. Reservations required at least 24 hours in advance. Ages 3 and up.

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Photograph: Courtesy Allison Stock
Theater, Children's

"NOT MY MONSTER"

icon-location-pin The Flea Theater, Tribeca
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The Flea Theatre is celebrating CEREALS, its family-friendly programming, by extending the performances of "NOT MY MONSTER," a story by Nick Gandiello that follows a family on its move from a grandiose penthouse to a cabin deserted in the woods. Is this family really all alone? Did its Domovoi, a protecting spirit, forget to tag along? All ages. 

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Photograph: Courtesy Elizabeth Shrier
Things to do

Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park

icon-location-pin Bryant Park, Midtown West
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Every year, Bryant Park transforms into a winter village complete with an outdoor ice skating rink right at the center. Shop from local vendors selling food and drinks and get an early start on those holiday wish lists. Wonderful pop-up shops for kids include Kubiya Games for those who enjoy a good brainteaser and New York Puzzle Company for jigsaw puzzles based on classic children’s book covers. All ages.

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Butterfly Conservatory at AMNH
Museums

The Butterfly Conservatory: Tropical Butterflies Alive in Winter

icon-location-pin American Museum of Natural History, Upper West Side
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It's a balmy 80 degrees in the museum's 1,200-square-foot vivarium, which houses up to 500 butterflies living among tropical flowers. The free-flying butterflies often land on the shoulders of visitors, allowing tykes to come into direct contact with monarchs, zebra longwings, paper kites other species as they emerge from their chrysalises. Outside the vivarium, youngsters can watch a short film and read displays on the life cycle of butterflies, how to protect their habitats and what kinds of adaptations certain species have. All ages.

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Photograph: Courtesy Ann-Sophie Fjelloe-Jensen/New York Hall of Science.
Things to do

GingerBread Lane

icon-location-pin New York Hall of Science | Queens, NY, Queens
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Get ready to have your mind blown at this massive gingerbread house display. In it, you won’t find just a couple of houses made of gingerbread cookies, candy and icing. That would be child’s play compared to this 500-square-foot village that has won the Guinness World Record for 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. Master builder Jon Lovitch designs, bakes and builds each feature over the course of the year. All ages.

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Camera
Museums, Art and design

"Andy Warhol: From A to B and Back Again"

icon-location-pin Whitney Museum of American Art, Meatpacking District
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Take a look back at Andy Warhol's iconic pieces—portraits, pop and photo silkscreen paintings and other pieces of work—during the Whitney's retrospective that highlights all aspects of his career. During Family Day (Dec 1 from 10:30am–3pm), kids can create their own artistic gems inspired by the late icon. Check the museum's website to see when its Open Studios (Saturdays and Sundays from 10:30am–3pm in November and December, minus holidays) will dedicate its weekly kids’ project to all-things Warhol. All ages. 

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Photograph: Courtesy Eric Lennartson
Art

“TapeScape” at BCM

icon-location-pin Brooklyn Children’s Museum, Crown Heights
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Let your imagination run wild as you climb through a massive playscape made from miles of TAPE! This interactive exhibit by Brooklyn Children’s Museum in collaboration with Eric Lennartson is custom-built for the museum and created from unexpected everyday materials, and it’ll be located in the Visiting Exhibit Gallery. The exhibit will span about 400 square feet (about the size of a studio apartment here in NYC), offering plenty of tunnels to crawl through, and it’s open for anyone to explore, even adults. “TapeScape” encourages creativity, curiosity and gross motor play. The artist, Eric Lennartson, weighed in with Time Out New York Kids: “Because the exhibit is so crazy, it attracts everyone to play in it. One of the reasons I love the exhibit is that I see adults playing with kids in the exhibit. I see older kids playing again like they did when they were younger and didn't have to act so cool. I tell people it lets you act half your age again.” Building the exhibit will take around two weeks: the first will be used to create the skeletal structure, and the second for adding around thirteen miles worth of tape—that’s enough to go back and forth across the Brooklyn Bridge a dozen times! Lennartson continues: "I love that tape is such a common thing that everyone has, but it can do extraordinary things. It is completely unexpected material to build with, right? Why would you think that that roll of tape in your desk drawer could make something as big as a three-dimension

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Frozen
Photo: Courtesy Deen van Meer
Theater, Broadway

Frozen: The Broadway Musical

icon-location-pin St. James Theatre, Midtown West
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For the first time in forever, Disney's "Snow Queen"-inspired movie about sisterly love and a talking snowman is coming to Broadway. Elsa, Anna, Kristoff and the whole gang will turn the St. James Theater into a winter wonderland full of songs from the original soundtrack. Expect phenomenal sets and stage-magic, plus a certain Oscar-winning song to get stuck in your head.

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Courtesy Jim Kay/Bloomsbury Publishing
Museums, Special interest

"Harry Potter: A History of Magic"

icon-location-pin New-York Historical Society | Manhattan, NY, Upper West Side
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Take a trip to Hogwarts—without leaving NYC! Potterheads can experience "Harry Potter: A History of Magic," a British Library exhibit that is coming to the New York Historical Society. Harry Potter: A History of Magic will open at the New-York Historical Society October 5, 2018 and will feature rare books, manuscripts and treasures from the British Library’s collections that relate to the myths and magic behind the series. Original drafts and drawings by author J.K. Rowling and illustrator Jim Kay will also be on display for the first time. All ages. 

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Camera
Things to do, Cultural centers

JCAL Saturday Family Matinee

icon-location-pin Jamaica Performing Arts Center, Harlem
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During Jamaica Center of Arts and Learning's Saturday matinee series, families can enjoy amazing performances from musicians, dancers, and storytellers representing cultures from around the globe. Kids can groove to the afro, futuristic soul of Brooklyn-based duo Soul Science (Oct. 27); be enthralled by The East Village Dance Project's innovative take on the Nutcracker with New Stories of the Shell-Shocked Nut (Dec. 15); be amazed by master storyteller Michael Manswell's tales of the African diaspora and the Caribbean (Jan. 19); and feel inspired by the instruments created out recycled materials and reused stuff at the Family Bash (April 13). All ages, full lineup can be found on website.    

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Music

Jazz for Kids

icon-location-pin Jazz Standard, Flatiron
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Introduce your kids to the joys of jazz at the Jazz Standard's weekly Sunday brunch program. The Jazz Standard Youth Orchestra, made up of talented youngsters between the ages of 11 and 18, provides the music including big band classics like “Cherokee” and “Billie’s Bounce." While your family taps their toes, chow down on a barbecue brunch from Blue Smoke. Doors open at 1pm. All ages.

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