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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

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

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
Music

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.

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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

Music, Rock and indie

Mister Lies + Rachika S + Tobias

Elsewhere, East Williamsburg

Producer Mister Lies (Nick Zanca) winds between the smooth and somnolent, and the sinuous annd jagged in his electronic beat-music with equal measure. Most compellingly on his newly released self-titled, though, he redirects those atmospheric textures towards lyrical pop territories to great, earwormy effect.

Motion City Soundtrack
Photograph: Lindsey Byrnes
Music, Pop

Motion City Soundtrack

Webster Hall, East Village

Forget the normal slew of post-emo labels: Motion City Soundtrack is a straight-up power-pop band, in which vocalist Justin Pierre unpretentiously soars and slides through gently eloquent anthems of romantic distress. Reclaim your yesteryear angst as the band touches down on its reunion tour.

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Music, Dance and electronic

Deli Girls + Nah + Dreamcrusher

Saint Vitus, Greenpoint

Vocalist Danny Orlowski and producer Tommi Kelly, who make up harsh noise duo Deli Girls, are the unsung luminaries of Brooklyn's music underground. Crouched over an arsenal of drum machines, Kelly pumps out shredded, brutalized beats as Orlowski storms through the crowd, veering between unhinged cackles and splintered screams: "It’s my body and I’ll fucking kill you.” Unlike so much of the bro-dominated harsh noise world, Deli Girls is far more than just its punishing aesthetics. Rather, it's a crucial model of queer release, refusal, and rage—and one of the greatest bands to emerge from the city's electronic scene in years.

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

Winter Jazzfest

Various locations, Hell's Kitchen

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. Some shows are individually ticketed, but a one or two-day pass grants you access to to the immense "Marathon" events in Manhattan Jan 10 and 11, and Brooklyn on Jan 17.

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Mark Guiliana
Photograph: Courtesy the artist
Music, Jazz

Mark Guiliana

The Sultan Room, Bushwick

An acclaimed contemporary innovator behind the set, Guiliana has developed an erratic, explosive style of groove that turns the pocket inside-out as often as it nestles deep within it. He plays here with an unannounced "special surprise guest

Webster Hall, 2011. Webster Hall New Years Eve Ball
Photograph: Noah Devereaux
Music, Rock and indie

Caroline Polachek

Warsaw, Greenpoint

Though the recently released Pang is this pop singer's ostensible debut, her artistic fingerprints crop up in every corner of the cultural sphere from over the past decade— whether that's soundtracking 2008 iPod commercials with her brilliant electropop duo Chairlift or writing and producing Beyoncé's "No Angel." Prolific career aside, Pang proves Polacheck is a masterful songwriter in her own right: tight vocal leaps, wry humor and genre-crossing instrumentation spanning country slide guitar and Arca-esque synth majesty. It's another reminder to pay attention—today's most compelling pop music is happening in its fringes.

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Snoop Dogg
Photograph: Courtesy Josh Telles
Music, Rap, hip-hop and R&B

Snoop Dogg

Gramercy Theatre, Flatiron

Recent years have featured the notoriously blunted rapper releasing reggae tunes as Rastafari-convert "Snoop Lion," a gospel album titled Bible of Lifeand a Dam-Funk collaboration under the moniker "Snoopzilla." In other words, he's lost no steam (or smoke) over the past few decades. He plays here behind the his new 2019 album, I Wanna Thank Me. Expect songs from it and perhaps a rendition of "The Next Episode."

Deerhoof
Photograph: Richard Saunier
Music, Rock and indie

Deerhoof + Gold Dime + Sloppy Jane

Elsewhere, Hell's Kitchen

The irrepressible Deerhoof, a.k.a. the world’s premier art-pop band, hits Brooklyn to purvey its sublime mixture of the anthemic and the angular. Opening is local outfit Gold Dime, the brainchild of Andrya Ambro—a blazing drummer best known as a former member of acclaimed noise rock duo Talk Normal.

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Clubs, House, disco and techno

Sentimental Rave

Elsewhere, East Williamsburg

This Parisian DJ peddles stripped down amalgamations of gabber, techno, and industrial with an ear for emotive melodies.

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