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15 badass things to do in NYC this weekend

Written by
Jennifer Picht

Friday 25

It’s a Wonderful Life IFC TheaterCenter; Various times; $14

Despite countless knockoffs and that wacky Rugrats episode, Frank Capra’s 1946 Christmas classic can’t be beat. If unseasonably warm weather, GOP debates and SantaCon trauma have left you feeling blue this Christmas, then get a shot of life with one of cinema’s happiest endings, as Jimmy Stewart’s George Bailey (and his distinctive voice) learns the value of his existence with the help of a punchy guardian angel. IFC screens the family-friendly gem throughout the day, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to soak up the feel-good vibes.

Big Apple Circus: The Grand Tour Damrosch Park (at Lincoln Center); Various times; $25

Gotham's favorite circus troupe kicks off its 38th season with a brand-new production, transporting families to the Roaring 20s when ships, planes, trains and automobiles transformed travel as we knew it. Under the direction of Ringmaster John Kennedy Kane, the professional performers will wow young circusgoers with acts inspired by far-flung places like Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and South America. Duck under the Big Top to witness fearless aerialists, gravity-defying acrobats, impressive jugglers and silly clowns perform alongside talented ponies and pups, accompanied by live tunes from the seven-piece Big Apple Circus Band. Families with special needs can attend autism-friendly shows (Oct 28–29, Nov 17). On select days, grab two-for-one tickets for a 75-minute show with no intermission.

Star Wars and the Power of Costume” Discovery Times Square; 10am; $27.50

Enter fan Valhalla and feast your eyes upon more than 70 impeccably preserved original costumes from the first two Star Wars trilogies, along with seven pieces from The Force Awakens. You'll be able to see yourself reflected in Vader's helmet, wish you were Naboo royalty when passing Queen Amidala's regal gowns and cringe in disbelief at Princess Leia's bikini. Just try to keep your arguments over midi-chlorian counts to a minimum. 

Christmas dinner at Artisanal Artisanal Bistro; 5pm; $95

Don't feel like cooking for the holidays? The folks at cheese haven and swanky brasserie Artisanal have you covered. Max McCalman, America’s foremost cheese expert, returns as the restaurant’s fromager, serving up 280 varieties of European cheese while chef John Creger has put together lavish feasts for both Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. On Christmas, tuck into a four-course prix fixe menu, featuring stand-out dishes like duck confit rillettes, tuna steak au poivre, and Artisanal’s classic slow-roasted goose with toasted rye bread stuffing and fresh local winter vegetables. Then on New Year’s Eve, go all out with a five-course prix fixe meal, with the chef's personal favorites like the caviar egg (poached egg with caviar), seared Hudson valley foie gras "sandwich," and Australian wagyu filet mignon. We're feeling merrier already.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens in theaters now; prices vary

Not only expert homage for the fans but a first-rate, energized piece of mega-Hollywood adventure, the hugely anticipated Star Wars: The Force Awakens stirs more to life than just the Force. The rollicking, space-opera spirit of George Lucas’s original trilogy (you can safely forget the second trio of cynical, tricked-up prequels) emanates from every frame of J.J. Abrams's euphoric sequel. It’s also got an infusion of modern-day humor that sometimes steers the movie this close to self-parody—but never sarcastically, nor at the expense of a terrific time.

Saturday 26

JEWMONGOUS’ Holiday Comedy Songfest The Cutting Room; 6:30pm; $20

Ex-Rockapella harmonizer Sean Altman (a.k.a Jewmongous) is a writer of witty and irreverent “unkosher” tunes about—yep, you guessed it—Judaism. But don’t worry, there will be plenty of acoustic jams and bawdy cracks for Jews and gentiles alike. So, sit back and laugh your tochis off during Altman’s classic Passover hit, “They Tried to Kill Us (We Survived, Let’s Eat),” and enjoy an upbeat performance by his other persona, Pope Antisemiticus, titled “Blame the Jews.”

PJS ‘N DJS Union Hall, 10pm; Free

For many of us, the days after Christmas are a welcome break from reality where we can lounge around the house in our comfiest clothing, never giving a damn about our appearance. Well, imagine that level of comfort—plus indie and electropop music and a ton of other dancing people in their jammies. That's exactly what you'll find at this Park Slope party. Plus, it's free. No cover and the best dress code ever—now that's how to shake off the post-Christmas blues.

Sandra Bernhard: Feel the Bernhard Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater; 7:30pm, 9:30pm; $65 plus a two-drink minimum

The Divine Sandra is a mouthy actress, comedian and singer whose best work gives pop culture a big, sloppy kiss, while simultaneously biting it on the lip. She returns for her annual year-capping residency at Joe’s Pub, where's she'll wrap up 2015 with her blend of sentimentality, caustic wit, wistfulness and sarcasm and belt out plenty of tongue-in-cheek (or are they?) rock songs.

Winter Flea + Smorgasburg at Industry City 10am; Free

When the weather gets really cold, this alfresco flea is held indoors for warmth. Don’t fret—apart from a new location in Sunset Park and an enclosed shopping space, not too much has changed. The market still hosts more than 100 vendors, including popular eateries from Smorgasburg. Remember, this is among the most visited fleas in the city, so arrive before noon to fulfill your vintage dreams.

Saturday Drag Brunch Boxers HK; 2pm; Free

Drag personalities Anita Buffem and Gina Marie Rittale, aka the Haus of Mimosa, host this weekly Hell's Kitchen show with brunch and drink specials. 

Zombie Escape Bucket List Productions; Various times; $28

You and 11 other daredevils have just one hour and a few solid clues to escape a bloodthirsty zombie who—every five minutes—has his restraints loosened ever-so-slightly. Succeed or die! Okay, you won’t die, but you’ll definitely be further freaked out.

Sunday 27

Branagh Theatre Live: A Winter’s Tale Peter Jay Sharp Theater (at the Julliard School); 7pm; $16–$24

For those of us who were unable to book it to London to see Judi Dench dominate as Paulina of Sicily in Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, we have got the next best thing: an onscreen broadcast of the sold-out show. Stage shows altered for the screen can turn sloppy, but with directing duties in the hands of live musical maven Rob Ashford (The Sound of Music Live!) and modern-day Shakespeare spokesman Kenneth Branagh (Much Ado About Nothing, Thor), this screening is sure to sparkle.

Obsolete Cinema Presents The Farce Awakens Freddy’s Bar; 3pm; Free

Are you totally over all the hype surrounding the new Star Wars flick? Obsolete Cinema wants you to join its mockery Rebel Alliance for “enough spoofs and parodies to sink an Imperial fleet.” The marathon lineup incudes Hardware WarsSpaceballsThe Star Wars Holiday Special and more on VHS.  May the farce be with you. 

Kwanzaa 2015: Energize, Recognize! American Museum of Natural History; 12pm, 3pm; Free with museum admission

Hanukkah and Christmas may be over, but the 2015 holiday season isn’t done yet: Saturday December 26 through Friday January 1 marks Kwanzaa, a week long commemoration of African heritage and culture. At this family-friendly fest you can catch dance, theater and an unbelievable beat-box performance by Doug E. Fresh; peruse arts, crafts and food vendors at an International Marketplace; and learn about the 48-year-old holiday at a screening of Maya Angelou–narrated documentary The Black Candle: A Kwanzaa Celebration, introduced by director MK Asante and followed with a tribute to Angelou.

Kwanzaa Celebration: Regeneration Night Apollo Theater; 2pm; $20

Radio personality, poet and songwriter Imhotep Gary Byrd hosts this annual Kwanzaa showcase of music and dance. This year’s roster includes Abdel Salaam’s Forces of Nature Dance Theatre.

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