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58 wonderful things opening in New York City this December

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree 2013
Photograph: Filip Wolak Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

COOL THINGS TO DO

Dec 1
Winter's Eve Holiday Festival; Lincoln Square; free
Yes, NYC winter weather is brutal. That's why you should warm your heart at this annual holiday fest where there's be stilt walkers, live music, dancing, food and darling elves. Okay, no elves, but we wish there would be. 

Metamorphosis Lighting; Brookfield Place; free
We like lights. A lot. And this 10-story installation created by artist and veteran theater designer Anne Militello will definitely not disappoint. 

Dec 7
Bill Nye "The Science Guy": Evolution and the Science of Creation; Buttenweiser Hall
♫ Bill, Bill, Bill! ♫ is back, and these days his focus is on raising awareness about evolution with his book Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation. Evolution? Yeah, you know, that real thing that happened, and continues to happen, on Earth that some people still don't believe in. 

Dec 19
Love Actually, An Interactive Drink Along; Videology; free
It's that time of year again to start watching Love Actually alone in your apartment with a glass of wine, accompanied by no one but your tears. Or! See the rom-com with others while taking a sip of beer every time Colin Firth curses or Bill Nighy sings. Much more enjoyable.

Dec 31
New Year's Eve Fireworks; Grand Army Plaza
Ring in the New Year under the stars at Grand Army Plaza in Park Slope. First you'll hear live music, then the thrilling fireworks begin at 11pm. Boom!

AWESOME THINGS TO SEE

Dec 5
Top Five opens in theaters
Written, directed by and starring Chris Rock, this deceptively deep comedy is a big step up for him—a Woody Allen–esque love letter to NYC.

Dec 12
Inherent Vice opens in theaters
Paul Thomas Anderson's latest, a stoner noir set during the paranoid dawn of the 1970s, is unlike anything he's ever done.

Dec 17
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies opens in theaters
After five epic films and a boatload of Oscars, of course we're stoked for Peter Jackson's final journey to Middle-earth, a battle-packed conclusion.

Dec 25
American Sniper opens in theaters
The best Christmas present for film lovers, Clint Eastwood's strongest movie in years stars an utterly transformed Bradley Cooper as a celebrated Iraq War sniper dealing with post-traumatic stress.

Dec 31
A Most Violent Year opens in theaters
J.C. Chandor's new drama, about competing gas companies sparring in a frigid, violent New York City of 1981, confirms the writer-director as an heir to the late, great Sidney Lumet. 

TASTY PLACES TO EAT

Dec 1
15th Annual Winter’s Eve at Lincoln Square; Lincoln Square
Enjoy smoked chestnut chowder from Asiate and pork-sausage orecchiette from Landmarc at this annual winter fête complete with a folk-singing show by Arlo Guthrie.

Dec 6
Fifth Annual Battle of the Belgians; Jimmy’s No. 43
Dig into a whole smoked hog while sampling more than 20 Belgian beers before voting for your favorite brews.

Dec 6–7
2014 Cookie Takedown; The Bell House
Takedown master Matt Timms brings cookie-makers from across the boroughs to the Bell House for sampling and judging along with endless eggnog and holiday festivities.

Dec 15
Sixth Annual Latke Festival; Metropolitan Pavilion
Get Hanukkah ready and enjoy New York’s best latke creations as chefs vie for best latke at this fried-up competition.

ASTONISHING DANCE PERFORMANCES

Dec 3
Neil Greenberg; New York Live Arts
The experimental choreographer explores the idea of dance as an expression of the present moment in This.

Dec 3
Ann Liv Young in Jail; Jack 
The daring performance artist and choreographer is placed in a jail cell for four evenings not as Sherry, her blond-wigged alter ego, but as herself.

Dec 12
American Ballet Theatre's The Nutcracker; BAM Howard Gilman Opera House
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 and a little mouse nearly steals the show.

Through Dec 31
Radio City Christmas Spectacular 2014; Radio City Music Hall
The holiday season is back, and with it the Rockettes in the Christmas Spectacular, which features the transcendent "Parade of the Wooden Soldiers," choreographed by Russell Markert with costumes by Vincente Minnelli.

Through Jan 3
George Balanchine's The Nutcracker; David H. Koch Theater (at Lincoln Center)
New York City Ballet presents the 60th-anniversary season of George Balanchine's The Nutcracker.

FANTASTIC SHOWS TO SEE

Dec 4
The IllusionistsMarquis Theatre
Seven magic men from around the world open for a limited, but jaw-dropping, engagement full of magic and spectacle.

Dec 5
How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical; Madison Square Garden
Dr. Seuss's grouchy, nasty, green-furred malcontent sings and dances at Madison Square Garden.

Dec 7
The Elephant Man; Booth Theatre
Bradley Cooper stars in this revival of the beloved drama about a man with a stunning medical condition.

Dec 8
The Invisible Hand; New York Theatre Workshop
Pulitzer-winning playwright Ayad Akhtar (Disgraced) takes on Pakistani-American relations and the banking system.

Dec 14
Soul DoctorActors Temple Theatre
Off Broadway welcomes back Daniel S. Wise and David Schechter's musical about Jewish music star Shlomo Carlebach.

Dec 15
"The Forever Now: Contemporary Painting in an Atemporal World"; Museum of Modern Art
Though tedious arguments persist that painting is dead, the medium has been happily thriving where it counts most: in the hands of artists.

Through Dec 19
Kiki Kogelnik, "Cuts, Fissures and Identity: Works from the 1960s and 1970s"; Simone Subal Gallery
Kogelnik (1935–1997), an Austrian artist who lived and worked in New York, is the latest previously overlooked female artist associated with '60s Pop Art to enjoy a revival as part of a wave of resuscitated careers that have included Evelyne Axell, Marjorie Strider and Alina Szapocznikow, to name a few.

Through Dec 22
John Baldessari, "Movie Scripts/Art"; Marian Goodman Gallery
In a new series of works, Baldessari pairs photographic details from Old Masters paintings with bits of dialogue excerpted from movie scripts where the scenes play out in a gallery of some sort.

Through Dec 28
"Early Man"; The Hole
This wryly titled roundup features familiar and less familiar names on the LES exhibition circuit, all of which share a predilection for neoprimitive or faux-naïf style, or at the very least, an interest in primordial subject matter.

CONCERTS TO GO CRAZY AT

Dec 3
New Build, Museum of Love; Mercury Lounge
It's dance music SAT question time! Question: New Build is to Hot Chip as Museum of Love is to what? Answer: LCD Soundsystem. Both former bands contain members of the latter bands, who are now touring together behind new records. Got it?

Dec 4–6
The Daptone Super Soul Revue; Apollo Theater
NYC's coolest homegrown R&B label takes over Harlem's swankiest theater.

Dec 5
Lemonade & Tim and Ben of Cut Copy; Glasslands
Tim Hoey and Ben Browning of anthemic Aussie dance-rockers Cut Copy bring a rare DJ set to the U.S. at Glasslands. Joined by JDH of Fixed and local weirdos Lemonade playing live. Expect anything. 

Dec 6
Cyndi Lauper and Friends: Home for the Holidays; Beacon Theater
The Queens-born pop icon hosts her annual benefit for homeless LGBT youth.

Dec 9
Matmos performs Robert Ashley's "Perfect Lives"; Issue Project Room
Electronic production duo Matmos perform scenes from Perfect Lives, Robert Ashley's late '70s/early '80s comic opera, which was a precursor to music-television. A mash-up of two generations of experimental maestros.

Dec 12
Animal Collective; Brooklyn Bowl
Half of psych-noiseniks Animal Collective (that's two people) pop into Brooklyn Bowl for a late-night DJ set. The only thing you can expect is the unexpected.

Dec 14
Justin Timberlake; Barclays Center
The ever dapper pop-R&B songman shows off his timeless charm at this Brooklyn headlining date.

Dec 15, 16, 18, 20
Mariah Carey; Beacon Theater
Mimi's seasonal smash, "Merry Christmas," turns 20 this year, and she's celebrating with a holiday-themed Upper West Side run.

Dec 31
Jack U; Madison Square Garden
EDM overlords Skrillex and Diplo blast your booty into 2015.

Dec 31
The Bunker LTD NYE with Prosumer, Mike Servito, Bryan Kasenic; Trans Pecos
Former resident at famed Berlin clubs Panorama Bar and Berghain, the Scottish-dwelling Prosumer comes to NYC for a rare visit to get your 2015 started off just right!

INTERESTING AUTHOR EVENTS

Dec 8
Franklin Park Reading Series; Franklin Park
Every month, we look forward to host Penina Roth’s impeccable reading lineup, and we’ve never been disappointed. Drop by tonight for the talents of Rivka Galchen, Jess Row, Bridgett M. Davis and more.

Dec 11
Mary Ruefle and Christian Wiman; 92Y
Some folks may argue that Mary Ruefle is our greatest living American poet. We wouldn’t disagree, so don’t miss her reading and conversation with fellow bard Christian Wiman.

Dec 10
Selected Shorts: Teju Cole and Salman Rushdie; Symphony Space
PEN/Hemingway Award-winning Teju Cole and the legendary Salman Rushdie present tales of exile, heartbreak and home.

Dec 17
Lisa Jarnot and Claudia Rankine; The Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church
The authors of two of our favorite 2014 poetry collections meet to talk about their craft and their new books, Rankine’s extraordinary Citizen and Jarnot’s captivating A Princess Magic Presto Spell.

Dec 20
What the Dickens? Fifth Annual A Christmas Carol Marathon Reading; Housing Works Bookstore Café
Hunker down with a glass of hot cocoa and listen as a slew of authors and performers read through Dickens's classic holiday tale.

COMEDY SHOWS TO CHECK OUT

DEC 4
Stand Up for Peace; The Stand
Give the gift of peace at the Stand's Stand-Up for Peace show, which supports PeacePlayers, an organization that gets kids together and teaches them how to better their communities.

DEC 7
"Oh Everything!"; SubCulture
SubCulture welcomes W. Kamau Bell to stop by on his Oh, Everything! comedy tour. Expect him to perfectly discuss every social topic you're uncomfortable about.

DEC 10
Can We Talk?; Museum of Jewish Heritage
Comedians gather to honor Joan Rivers and hilariously pay tribute to the late comedy icon.

DEC 12
Trivia Night For Cheaters; Bell House
John Hodgman heads over to the Bell House to host Trivia Night For Cheaters, and it very well might be the only trivia game worth playing.

DEC 26-28
Dave Attell; Carolines on Broadway
Dave Attell will be headlining Carolines on Broadway. The best gift you can get yourself this year should not be done with your family.

WONDERFUL LGBT EVENTS

Dec 2
The Ally Coalition Talent Show; New World Stages
Bleachers, Lena Dunham, Ingrid Michaelson and many more take the stage at this star-studded variety benefit for the Ally Coalition.

Dec 7
Celebrating Don Hill: A Night of Live Music in Support of Road Recovery; The Hills
Hedwig and the Angry Inch composer Stephen Trask returns to the club that launched the rock musical along with Broadway star Michael C. Hall, music legend David Johansen and Hedwig's current band, Tits of Clay.

Dec 14
A John Waters Christmas; City Winery
The godfather of filth's Christmas show is rapidly becoming a seasonal tradition. How perverted!

Dec 20, 21
Jackie Beat on Ice; Laurie Beechman Theatre at the West Bank Café
Bitchy drag grinch Jackie Beat is back in town for some delightfully offensive antiholiday hilarity.

Dec 26 - 31
Sandra Bernhard is #blessed; Joe's Pub at the Public Theater
Actor-comedian-singer and alt-cabaret grand dame Sandra Bernhard settles into her annual year-end residency at Joe's Pub.

ACE PLACES TO SHOP

Dec 1
The Hester Street Holiday Fair; One Penn Plaza
This fair usually stays indoors for the winter, but this year, you’ll find vintage wares, crafts and other gifts at its new outdoor location. This one-of-a-kind shopping destination features curated and handmade gifts you won't find in any store.

The Columbus Circle Holiday Market; Upper West Side
This market features handmade items from local artisans and snacks from vendors such as Mrs. Dorsey's Kitchen and Sigmund Pretzel Shop. Look for the market concierge to help you navigate your way through approximately 100 booths.

Dec 7
Queens Botanical Garden’s Winter Solstice Celebration and Holiday Marketplace; Queens Botanical Garden
Enjoy nature, music, food and shopping for a full day at the Queens Botanical Garden’s Winter Solstice Celebration and Holiday Marketplace. Children can participate in a variety of activities from storytelling to interactive crafts, and parents can impress the whole family with unique gifts come holiday season.

Dec 13
Etsy Holiday Homemade Cavalcade; Chelsea Market
Searching for a thoughtful holiday gift? You'll find plenty at Etsy’s seventh annual Holiday Handmade Cavalcade. For one weekend only, 62 of the e-commerce site’s finest local artists, designers and makers set up booths featuring clothing, jewelry, holiday cards, body products and more.

Dec 16
Jingle Holiday Pop-up; Chelsea Market
Accessories designer Jill Schwartz curated this 6,000-square-foot Jingle Holiday Pop-up inside Chelsea Market, featuring local and international goods perfect for gift-giving. Inside, you’ll find stylish wares by Izola and vibrant living sculptures (starting at $60) from Twig Terrariums. Plus, this shop has enough holiday spirit to cheer up even the scroogiest New Yorker.

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