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NYC events in January 2020

Make the new year great by attending the best NYC events in January 2020 from concerts to new exhibitions

Photograph: Shutterstock
By Time Out editors, compiled by Tazi Phillips |

Start the new year on the right foot by using our list of NYC events in January 2020 to plan your month. We’ve included the best NYC concerts in January as well as can’t-miss happenings as popular New York attractions. From taking a chilly dip in the ocean at the Polar Bear Club New Year’s Day Swim on Coney Island to ways you can celebrate Martin Luther King Day, check out these events and more sensational things to do in the winter.

RECOMMENDED: Full NYC events calendar for 2020

Featured events in January 2020

Things to do

New Year’s Day in New York

There is plenty to do in NYC on New Year’s Day, so shake off your hangover and get ready to start off 2019 with a bang. Strip down to your skivvies and take part in the annual New Year’s Day Swim at Coney Island, indulge in verse and good food at the annual New Year’s Day Marathon Reading and more.

Adam O'Farrill
Photograph: Courtesy Gilbert Ludwig

Winter Jazzfest

Each January, Winter Jazzfest hosts a stellar lineup over five nights. Its signature two-night Greenwich Village marathon brings vets and up-and-comers, hordes of music fans and a palpable air of excitement to an array of cozy downtown venues. The shows aren’t individually ticketed, so a wristband grants you access to any of each night’s shows—as long as a given club doesn’t hit capacity, that is.

Things to do, Festivals

No Pants Subway Ride

In January 2002, Improv Everywhere’s Charlie Todd produced the first-ever No Pants Subway Ride and posted the event 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 all across Gotham. Donning winter clothes, minus their pants, the straphangers share the same goal: to confuse bystanders.

Martin Luther King Day Tribute at BAM
Photograph: Elena Olivo
Things to do

Martin Luther King Day in NYC

Since it was first observed nationwide in January of 1986, the holiday commemorating the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has served as a reminder of his legacy to the causes of civil rights, nonviolent opposition and community service.

Music events in January 2019

Craig Taborn
Photograph: John Rogers/ECM Records
Music, Jazz

Jan 4–12: Winter Jazzfest

Each January, Winter Jazzfest offers a crash course for anyone interest in exploring NYC's jazz scene. Its signature two-night Greenwich Village marathon brings vets and up-and-comers, hordes of music fans and a palpable air of excitement to an array of cozy downtown venues. The shows aren't individually ticketed, so a wristband grants you access to any of each night's shows—as long as a given club doesn’t hit capacity, that is.

Zola Jesus
Photograph: Jeff Elstone
Music, Rock and indie

Jan 7: Zola Jesus, wild Up and William Brittelle

Working under the name Zola Jesus, Nika Roza Danilova creates unapologetically dramatic tunes that craftily balance arty texture with poppy drive. Expect tunes from her most recent album, Okovi, which marks her return to beloved local imprint Sacred Bones, as she kicks off the inaugural night of the 2019 Ecstatic Music Festival.

Big Freedia
Photograph: Koury Angelo
Music, Funk, soul and disco

Jan 11, 12: Big Freedia

Bow down before NOLA’s queen diva of bounce, the hip-hop style so named for its high spirits and the frenzied ass-shaking it inspires on the dance floor. You’ve heard Freedia’s voice on Beyoncé’s “Formation”and Drake’s “Nice for What,” now experience the veritable booty-quake live. We trust she'll keep the megafun alive all night as she brings her talents Brooklyn for a two-night stint.

Photograph: Shawn Brackbill

Jan 16: TEEN

The always captivating local art-pop act balances kaleidoscopic arrangements with crisp drumming and tight harmonies. Listen for new material from its forthcoming album, Good Fruit, due in March.

best new artists
Photograph: Phobymo
Music, Rock and indie

Jan 17, 18: Japanese Breakfast

While her first album soared through majestic dream pop summits, Michelle Zauner's stellar latest, Soft Sounds from Another Planet, features a revamped sound that veers from shoegaze into ’80s synth-pop. Her band has been filling bigger and bigger venues, and deservedly so: Zauner is a confident and captivating performer.

Juan Wauters
Photograph: courtesy Captured Tracks
Music, Rock and indie

Jan 18: Juan Wauters

The Queens-via-Uruguay songsmith pretty much charmed the whole city at the helm of local DIY folk-punk institution the Beets. Here, he celebrates his latest album, La Onda de Juan Pablo, a wide-ranging collection of Spanish-language songs written while traveling in South America.

King Tuff
Photograph: Courtesy Olivia Bee
Music, Rock and indie

Jan 19: King Tuff

Kyle Thomas, the Vermont longhair who writes ditties as King Tuff, comes to town toting the glittery glam-rock and deep-funk boogie of his 2018 album, The Other. Tuffy may be serving up something wholly different from the catchy garage rock we know and love. If he decides to unleash more of the funk swagger demonstrated on "Pycho Star," we certainly wouldn't complain.

Photograph: Courtesy Paco M
Music, Latin and world

Jan 24: Laraaji + Rachika S

Given the recent huge resurgence in meditative synthesizer music among certain indie circles, it's not surprise to learn New Age music is experiencing something of a comeback. Laraaji is a zither player best remembered for his splendid Brian Eno–produced 1980 LP, Ambient 3: Day of Radiance. He's been active in the borough the past couple years performing in spaces ranging from BAMcafé Live to Brooklyn churches (like at this particular gig). Local ambient-electronic composer Rachika S—a recipient of an emerging artists fellowship with massive new Hudson-Yards art space The Shed—plays the opening set.

See more NYC concerts in January

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