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51 amazing things to do in NYC in January

Written by
Jennifer Picht

Dynamite things to do

Coney Island Polar Bear Club New Year’s Day Swim Coney Island Boardwalk; Jan 1; $40 suggested donation
Would you believe us if we told you a dip in the Atlantic is great for a hangover? Even if you don’t buy it, cheering those brave—or crazy—enough to take the plunge will stir you from your stupor. The Coney Island Polar Bear Club’s annual New Year's Day Swim invites hundreds of swimmers (without the benefit of blubber, underfur or guard hairs) to venture out into the ocean. All that’s required to take part in this brisk tradition are warm clothes, sneakers you don’t mind ruining (or surf boots, if you’ve got them) and the fortitude to actually go through with it. Membership is not required, but if you're planning on taking the plunge, help the organization raise funds for Camp Sunshine, a charity that supports children (and their families) who have life-threatening illnesses. Meet on the Boardwalk at Stillwell Ave, Coney Island, Brooklyn. Suggested donation $40. 

43rd Annual Poetry Project Marathon St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery; Jan 1; $25, seniors, students and members $20
Chances are your attention will be shorter than normal today, which is just fine: This 43th anniversary of the 12-hour literary soiree features bite-size readings and performances by around 150 poets, dancers and musicians.  

No Pants Subway Ride; locations TBA a week before the event; Jan 8; free
One of the best and most amusing NYC events in January is the No Pants Subway Ride, created by Improv Everywhere’s Charlie Todd. In 2002, the funny fella produced the first-ever event and posted it on YouTube, where the short clip quickly gained popularity. Now it has turned into one of the group's most anticipated events, as thousands of New Yorkers continue the funny tradition on subway cars across Gotham. The official after party will be at Bar 13 (13th St and University Place). See Improv Everywhere's Twitter page (use #NPSR @ImprovEvery) or do so on the Facebook event page. R.S.V.P. is not required to participate.

Vogue Knitting LIVE! New York Marriott Marquis; Jan 13-15; various times and price points
Times Square, the obvious place to take your interests to an almost unhealthy extreme, becomes a veritable temple to knitting for a full weekend during Vogue Knitting LIVE!. Craft nuts can shop for patterns, hooks, needles and every kind of yarn (care for some bison or possum fiber?) at an international marketplace or check out dozens of classes and lectures catering to all levels of stitching mastery.

New York Boat Show Javits Center; Jan 25-29; various times; $16, kids 15 and under free
If your life, your love and your lady is the sea, then you'll be more than satisfied by this five-day nautical convention, which features a vast variety of yachts, sailboats and more. Plus, you'll have an opportunity to sharpen your boating skills with interactive workshops, test the waters on land through a boating simulator and more. 

AC2: An Intimate Evening With Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen, Beacon Theatre; Jan 27 at 8pm; tickets start at $152
Fun fact: a mutual friend set the two TV personalities up on a blind date years ago. A romantic connection didn’t happen, but surprisingly enough, Cooper and Cohen became best friends since then. Catch their touring talk show when it comes to the city for a no-holds-barred conversation that’s sure to be entertaining. 

Hilarious comedy shows 

Jerry Seinfeld: The Homecoming, Beacon Theatre; Jan 5 at 9:30pm; tickets start at $123
The Long Island–raised comedian and creator of “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” started a yearlong residency at the Beacon in early 2017. Lucky for us, he decided to extend it into the new year.  

We Are Thomasse Peoples Improv Theater; Jan 5; $5
We Are Thomasse, the British-American duo that's been compared to both Monty Python and Key & Peele, serves up sharp wit and lightning-quick sketch comedy at its monthly show.

Nothing Important! One and One; Jan 6, 13, 20, 27; free
One and One hosts this local talent showcase every Friday, with Phil Stamato, Daniel Raderstrong and Matt Leary wrangling acts from across town to headline the bill. Past guests have included Myq Kaplan, Shane Torres and Aparna Nancherla. After the show, performers get the weekend started by joining the audience for a lively afterparty. 

Art School Acid Dropout The Creek and the Cave; Jan 20; free
Artist Grand Lindahl invites you to laugh, drink and draw at his monthly show. While comedians tell stories, audience members draw what they hear with paper and crayon. Plus, a guest artist graces each show (like New Yorker cartoonist Erik Bergstrom) to talk about their work and play a game, like an impromptu caption contest. That dreamer creative locked deep inside can live again for one sweet night. 

Test Pilots The Creek and the Cave; Jan 21; free
Hardworking funnyman Dan King writes a pilot script for a new sitcom every month. Watch as fellow comedians help him bring his doomed-yet-hilarious ideas to life in a late night table reading.

We Might Just Kiss: A Female Improv Event Magnet Theater; Jan 30; $7
Seasoned improvisers Megan Gray and Christina Dabney host this ongoing night of girl-on-girl comedy at celebrated improv haven Magnet Theater.

Can't-miss LGBT events 

Divine Decadence The Glove; Jan 1; free
This queer party, from the mad men and women behind the drag collective Bushwig, is so hot that it doesn’t start until after midnight. (If your friend’s after-party proves to be lame—and it’s always lame, right?—this is a more than worthy alternative.) To keep your eyes open all hours, Divine Decadence promises oodles of drag performers like Merrie Cherry and CiCi Quinn; pulsing beats from DJs including Horrorchata, DiCap and Gloryhole’17; and even a mezzanine for chilling out and taking a break between all that dancing. 

Battle of the Divas Union Hall; Jan 3; $6–$8
Local comics Christi Chiello and Matteo Lane host debates, screaming matches, roasts and drag performances to determine the millennium’s one true queen of pop. For the January edition, they welcome Molly Austin, Liza Treyger, Matt Rodgers, Dusty Boxx and other guests to answer one of the great questions of the Y2K era: Britney or Christina? You can count on Lane to eviscerate both queens with his spot-on impressions.  

Judy: Rock ‘n Roll Dance Party for Queers & Co. Brooklyn Bazaar; Jan 5, 12, 19, 26; free
Hosts Jessica Louise Dye and Jamie McCarty welcome you to toss on your baddest leather jacket and Mary Janes and dance to the Pretenders, Peaches and other riotous musical revolutionaries at this weekly bash.  

Bedlam Paddles; Jan 6; $20
Every month, this hardcore fetish party takes over Chelsea for uncensored physical expression that defies the "family friendly" mandates issued on NYC in recent decades. With sex educators and trained performers on hand, guests can explore their most deviant desires with gear, cages and plenty of rope, and play safely with fire, wax and more. Leave your inhibitions at coat check. 

Queen of the Ride Party Bus Pieces; Jan 7, 14, 21, 28; $39-$49
Eat your heart out, Priscilla! Join this insane gay party bus as it travels to Pieces, Rise, Hardware and other bars around town. You'll get to guzzle on-board drinks, dance on the bus to thumping beats and laugh to acerbic commentary from caravan directors Shequida or Lady Bunny (depending on which ride you select). Gentlemen, start your engines...

Delicious food and drink opportunities 

Cassoulet Cookoff At Jimmy’s No 43; Jan 15; $20
The ninth annual celebration of the slow-cooked French casserole is back with a cook-out featuring both amateur and professional chefs, who compete for both people’s and judges’ choice awards.

Valrhona Hot Chocolate Festival various locations; Jan 18, 21–Feb 5; $35
The 2nd annual cocoa festival kicks off with a toasty bash at Laduree’s Soho parlor, with hot chocolate from participating venues like Lafayette, Mah-Ze-dahr and Dominique Ansel Kitchen.

Cochon555 Weylin; Jan 29; $125–$400
This nose-to-tail competition and gourmet swine tasting brings together 1,500 pounds of heritage-breed pork and dozens of chefs and butchers, like Erika Nakamura and Jocelyn Guest from Salvation Burger.

Beer Bourbon BBQ Festival the Tunnel; Jan 28; $109-$229
The 8th annual fest is back and brings with it its signature South-fried good time, from all-you-can-drink bourbon tastings to live bluegrass performances to barbecue from some of New Year’s finest pitmasters.

NYC Scotch Walk various locations; Jan 21; $55
Scotch sippers can warm up with one-ounce tastings of six premium Scotches at this daylong whiskey crawl.

Major movie premieres 

Split (Jan 20)
M. Night Shyamalan disappoints us over and over again (it’s been a long time since The Sixth Sense), but we’re still holding out hope for his latest: a thriller about a psychotic child abductor who has 24 different personalities.

xXx: Return of Xander Cage (Jan 20)
The original 2002 action movie, about the adventures of an extreme-sports doofus/spy (Vin Diesel), was deliriously dumb. All this sequel has to be is in the ballpark. The Fast and Furious–like trailer suggests as much.  

Gold (Jan 27)
Matthew McConaughey goes bald with hair plugs as the real-life gold digger who discovered a mine that turned out to be the greatest hoax of the ‘90s. You know what you’re in for: Scorsese-like montages, a vertiginous rise and fall, etc. 

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (Jan 27)
One day, the fierce Milla Jovovich will get her due as the only woman to front a billion-dollar-grossing action series. But that day better be soon, because it’s rumored this will be her last time slaying zombies.

The Salesman (Jan 27)
Iranian writer-director Asghar Farhadi, an Oscar winner for A Separation, is back with another skillfully woven domestic drama, loosely based on Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman.

Marvelous theater experiences 

The Present Barrymore Theatre; through March 19. $79-$149
Cate Blanchett headlines an updated version of Anton Chekhov’s first play, about old flames and a birthday party.

Jitney Samuel J. Friedman Theatre; through March 12. $60-$140
Hard to believe, but this is the Broadway premiere of the great August Wilson’s play about unlicensed cab drivers in Pittsburgh. 

The Encounter John Golden Theatre; through Jan 8; $89-$155
Simon McBurney takes audiences on a mind-bending journey through sound and storytelling. Show closes this month.

The Humans Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre; through Jan 15; $39-$145
It’s your last few weeks to catch Stephen Karam’s sympathetic yet unnerving portrait of a family fallen on hard times.

The Color Purple Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre; trough Jan 9; $75–$145
The triumphant revival of a soul-stirring musical, featuring the powerhouse Tony-winning Cynthia Erivo, ends this month.

Wicked: Behind the Emerald Curtain, Gershwin Theatre; Jan 7 at 10am; tickets start at $54
Attention “Defying Gravity” fans: You’re going to want to sign up for this behind-the-scenes tour run by Wicked cast-members. It’s your chance to get a close-up look at some of the grand set pieces, elaborate costumes and more.

Awesome concerts 

BadBadNotGood Highline Ballroom; Jan 5 at 7pm; $29.50–$59
The Toronto outfit slings its hip-hop-scented progressive jazz at this summer preview showcase hosted by SummerStage. The night also boasts the sultry grooves of Cuban singer Daymé Arocena and the classic R&B stylings of Lady Wray.

Whitney Rough Trade; Jan 5 at 9pm; $18–$20
January is the perfect time to gaze out of a window, sip a steamy beverage and reflect on life. While Chicago indie duo Whitney's airy brand of rock is perfect for such an activity, it's even better live.

Winter Jazzfest 2017 Various locations; Jan 5–10; weekend marathon: $45, two-day pass $75; other events various prices
The annual five-day fest returns with more than 140 acts, among them Yonatan Gat, Pharaoh Sanders and the Donny McCaslin Group. This year marks Thelonious Monk's 100th birthday; fans won't want to miss the improv tribute the groundbreaking pianist at Littlefield on Jan 8 (8pm, $20–$25). 

Shannon and the Clams Baby's All Right; Jan 15, 16 at 8pm; $20
Get a dose of scrappy garage-pop from the Oakland outfit when it hits Brooklyn for a pair of shows. The band is reportedly just about to head into recording a new album; expect to hear plenty of fresh tunes.

D.R.A.M. Music Hall of Williamsburg, Jan 20 at 9pm; Bowery Ballroom, Jan 21 at 9pm; $20–$25
The genial Virginia rapper-singer peddles his off-kilter rhymes behind a strong debut LP, Big Baby D.R.A.M. Between his viral hit "Cha Cha" and the Grammy-nominated chart topper "Broccoli," these shows are guaranteed to wipe out even the most-stubborn winter blues. 

Dashboard Confessional, Irving Plaza; Jan 19-21 at 7pm; tickets start at $54
Former emo kids of the early 2000s will be pleased to hear that Dashboard Confessional is kicking off its latest tour with a few shows in New York. Since the band recently released its first song since 2009, you might even hear some new tunes. 

Eric Church, Barclays Center; Jan 27 at 8pm; tickets start at $85
It’s still possible to get your country fix in the concrete jungle, like when singer-songwriter Eric Church comes to town for one night only. Expect plenty of twangy hits, like the chart-topping “Record Year” off his 2015 album Mr. Misunderstood

Spectacular dance performances 

Confucius David H. Koch Theater; Jan 5–8; $22–$167
China National Opera & Dance Theater tells the story of the legendary scholar’s journey through the kingdoms of the Zhou Dynasty in a six-part spectacle, featuring opulent costumes, traditional Chinese music and nearly five dozen dancers.

American Realness Abrons Arts Center/Henry Street Settlement; Jan 5–12; $20
Based at Abrons Arts Center, with a few off-site offerings, the annual Realness festival pushes our ideas of performance forward with a special emphasis on avant-queer and dance-theater works. Expect to see freak flags aflutter. 

Coil Festival 2017 Various locations; Jan 5–22; $20
Dance works in P.S. 122’s annual performance festival include Yara Travieso's La Medea and pieces by Pavel Zustiak/Palissimo, Molly Lieber and Eleanor Smith, Bobbi Jene Smith and Australia's Antony Hamilton and Alistair Macindoe.

Noche Flamenca: Antigone West Park Presbyterian Church; Jan 10–28; $42.50–$62.50
Note Flamenca's astonishing flamenco musical tosses you between delighted states of laughter and awe. The company plays its adaptation of Sophocles with the emotional volume cranked to 11; the glorious Soledad Barrio stars as the tragic heroine. 

New York City Ballet Winter 2017 David H. Koch Theater; Jan 17–26; $30–$175
City Ballet ushers in the new year with a season that includes premieres of works by Pontus Lidberg and Scott Peck, as well as programs celebrating George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Richard Rodgers and Igor Stravinsky.

Complexions Contemporary Ballet Joyce Theater; Jan 24–Feb 5; $26–$66
Complexions returns to the Joyce with three pieces by resident choreographer Dwight Rhoden, including the NYC debut Star Dust, a ballet tribute to David Bowie, and the premiere of Gutter Glitter, set to electronica.

Amazing art shows

"Klimt and the Women of Vienna’s Golden Age, 1900-1918,” Neue Galerie New York; through Jan 16, $20; seniors and students with ID $10
When Klimt wasn’t busy working his 1907 Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I (recently immortalized in the Helen Mirren film, Woman In Gold) he was creating likeness of other female patrons during Vienna’s cultural heyday before World War I. This show brings together 12 such compositions, including another Adele Bloch-Bauer image done in 1912.

Keith Sonnier, “Ebo River and Early Works“Pace Gallery; through Jan 21; free
This show of brilliantly colored neon sculptures by the veteran Postminimalist mingles old work with new. 

Titus Kaphar, “Shifting Skies”Jack Shainman Gallery; through Jan 28; free
Kaphar is known for injecting people of color into paintings that allude to white art history, and his latest offerings—which reference everything from monuments to mug shots—do likewise.

“Chamberlain/De Kooning” Mnuchin Gallery; through Jan 28; free
Sculptures and painting by, respectively, John Chamberlain and Willem de Kooning, engage in a lively dialog of color, gesture and form. 

“A Revolutionary Impulse: The Rise of the Russian Avant-Garde”Museum of Modern Art (MoMA); through Mar 12; $25, seniors $18, students $14, children under 16 free
Even after a century, the work of Russian Avant-Garde looks shockingly new. This survey, drawn from MoMA’s superb collection, covers the movement from its rise during World War I to its suppression under Stalin in the 1930s. On view are paintings, drawings, photographs, posters and ceramics, each a testament to an audacious futuristic aesthetic.

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