Our NYC events in January calendar is the perfect tonic for a holiday hangover. Start the year off right by checking out the best events at popular New York attractions, including the best NYC concerts in January and new theater performances. From taking a chilly dip in the ocean at the Polar Bear Club New Year’s Day Swim in Coney Island to celebrating Martin Luther King Day, or freeing your legs from the tyranny of trousers at Improv Everywhere's No Pants Subway Ride, there are so many wonderful things to do in the winter here.
RECOMMENDED: Full NYC events calendar for 2017
Featured events in January 2017
There is plenty to do in NYC on New Year’s Day, so shake off your hangover and get ready to start off 2017 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 Benefit Reading and more.
Lost in New York? Every Christmas, thousands of New Yorkers (and tourists) find their way to the bright and brilliant nexus of town, the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. Whether you’re stopping by the tree for ice-skating, the Radio City Christmas Spectacular you’re certain to feel the magic when you witness the wonder of the Norway Spruce illuminated in over 50,000 LED lights.
The Public presents edgy new works in a top-notch festival curated by Mark Russell. Among the American offerings are new pieces by 600 Highwaymen, Waterwell, Nikki Appino and Saori Tsukada, the Bengsons, Keith A. Wallace and Deborah Stein, Manual Cinema and Marga Gomez. Offerings at partner venues include work by multiple international artists: Belarus Free Theatre, Tania El Khoury, Eko Nugroho and Wayang Bocor and Philippe Quesne, as well as German troupe Rimini Protokoll’s Top Secret International (State 1), staged in the Egyptian Wing of the Brooklyn Museum.
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.
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.
We don’t know about you, but our inner child could always use a snow day, and that’s where Central Park Winter Jam comes in. We’ve eagerly marked our calendars for the annual sports event located at one of the best NYC parks—Central Park. The NYC Parks and Recreation event includes ice-skating, sledding, snowboarding, grub and more, so get ready to join New Yorkers of all ages for one of the best things to do in winter.
Free NYC events in January 2017
Jeffrey Emerson, Jill Weiner and Brian Moran host this weekly night of stellar stand-up featuring a diverse range of comedians, including known names like Matteo Lane and Farah Brook and newcomers like Menuhin Hart and Melissa Diaz. The May 15 edition features Sally Ann Hall, Chanel Ali, Ryan Mulholland, Ethan Hall, Cres Hernandez and Sonja Savanovic.
Think you’re a resident of Broad City? Grab a ferry from North Brother Island, study up on those Kirk Steele videos, and prove it at this intense trivia night dedicated to NYC’s baddest kweens. Reserve a spot for a team of up to four frands, and get there early: This showdown will be more packed than a rat party at Ilana and Jaime’s apartment.
At this massive grub hub, there’s only one rule: Come hungry. The Brooklyn Flea spin-off draws more than 10,000 visitors per day with a slew of 75 to 100 incredible food vendors. Our pro tip? Make sure you peruse the lineup before you go—those mouthwatering scents and the bevy of choices can make you dizzy (and the dense crowds can make you hangry).
The Night Shift, which describes itself as a “working class theater” group, hosts this inebriated monthly reading of Shakespearean monologues. Want to see if you can recite Hamlet’s “To be, or not to be” after a few brews? Step up to the mike, or just sit back and soak in the iambs.
Immerse yourself in the cultural delights of the Jewish, Chinese and Puerto Rican communities of Chinatown and the Lower East Side at this block party. While Peking Opera performers and klezmer bands take the outdoor stage, you can catch free language lessons, master your mah-jongg game and, best of all, learn how to prepare empanadas, Chinese dumplings and kreplachandchallah bread. Endless grub will be available for sale.
Nothing strengthens a relationship like wading into water and having to count on your partner to keep a skinny boat afloat, so bring your dad along to kayak on the Hudson. You'll get to go out on the water for 20-minute sessions, after a brief lesson, of course, which is just enough time to bond before your arms get tired.
This Lower East Side flea, now in it's eighth season, hosts one of the best collections of vendors in Manhattan, with more upstarts joining the fray each week. Standouts from recent years and who have gotten their start at the fair include include Macaron Parlour, Petee’s Pie Company, Melt Bakery, La New Yorkina, Arancini Bros and Cheeky Sandwich.
After spending nearly a year getting sequins and glitter out of their bedsheets, NYC’s mermaids and seamen are ready to undo all their hard work. Join a packed crowd on Coney Island’s streets for an epic procession of wild floats, barely clad revelers and beachside celebrating. Now in its 35th year, the world’s largest arts parade welcomes partyers of all ages to rejoice in kitsch, camp and craft, but those who are serious about their scales can register to win iconic titles, including best sea creature, best motorized float, King Neptune and Queen Mermaid.
Music events in January 2017
Fifity songs written on 50 instruments celebrating 50 years of life—what more would you expect from the guy whose musical project centers on taking mundane concepts to the extreme? In what feels like the spiritual successor to the monumental 69 Love Songs, Stephin Merritt's upcoming 50 Song Memoir is another vast conceptual collection of charming yet cuttingly sardonic diddies, which the singer-songwriter will play in its entirety over the course of these two nights.
Justin Vernon's ascendancy—from recording the debut Bon Iver album alone in a Wisconsin cabin to meeting up with Kanye West in Hawaii to collaborate on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy—might just be the quintessential indie-rock success story. His new album 22, A Million caught us all unawares, though, with its bizarre witchhouse-esque song titles and unexpected left-turns from folk-pop uplift into stuttering experimental electronics. Songs like "10 d E A T h b R e a s T" see the ex-folkster driving for full-throttle sonic maximalism while retaining his unmistakeable ear for intimate, heartfelt lyricism—or in other words, Yeezus seems to have left quite a mark on Vernon, and we are oh so thankful.
Brothers Max and Andrew Savage, along with their bandmates, are doing the once-a-generation job of stripping rock & roll back to something tight, primal and brilliant. Tonight the prolific, fruitfully quirky local indie-rock faves play a special year-end multimedia event with X_____X (Craig Bell of Rocket From The Tombs), and Flasher. Also on the menu is a sound installation by Eaters, a gallery of Andrew Savage‘s artwork, films by Joey Pizza Slice, a Dull Toolsrecord shop and other TBA pop-ups.
Endlessly inventive MC Young Thug is nothing short of high-powered. The Atlanta native exploded in 2014 with the potent, unhinged “Danny Glover” and the sticky, triumphant “Lifestyle” that made more seasoned rappers look old-fashioned. Never one to pronounce a syllable the same way twince, listening to Thugger is like watching someone invent a new language in real time. His newest release, JEFFREY, demonstrates both his endless talent for conjuring earwormy hooks as well as a piercing eye for transgressive fashion. Recent XXL Freshman pick 21 Savage opens.
Hyped young MC Miller's artistry progressed leaps and bounds in the period between his critically-maligned debut and much-improved sophomore effort. The upward mobility seems to have resulted in some lofty artistic ambitions with this year's utterly surprising concept album, The Divine Feminine, a record which forgoes his original subject matters of Nikes, senior skip days and pizza to explicate the nuances of intimacy, distance and the "divine feminine energy of the planet." Okay.
Connoisseurs of primo psychedelic fuzz rawk, everything from Hendrix's Band of Gypsys to contemporary heavyweights such as Clutch, will find sweet release in the molten jams of Earthless. Here the San Diego trio sets out to solidify their reputation for delivering adrenaline-inducing sets that will leave you reverberating all the way home.
Boston indie label Run For Cover Records is taking over Webster Hall for its inaugural festival, and they're bringing some of their favorite bands with them. The line-up includes British rockers Basement, dream pop group Turnover and lo-fi band Elvis Depressedly.
The artist formerly known as Mos Def—and before that, Dante Terrell Smith—Bey visits the Apollo for a show that's billed as one of his last US performances. The rapper has been out of the spotlight in recent years, living in South Africa and making news after attempting to leave the country with a world passport. On the music front, he announced forthcoming releases with collaborators including Ferrari Sheppard and Mannie Fresh. While this gig was set to celebrate one of his previous albums, Bey has since stated he'll be debuting new music here.
Kurt Vile is a tuneful Philadelphia psych-pop artist whose work tilts at times toward the disconcertingly raw. Expect tunes from b’lieve i'm goin down, the excellent follow-up to his much-hyped 2013 release Wakin on a Pretty Daze. Filling out the bill is Brooklyn mainstays Woods: Their latest, City Sun Eater in the River of Light, incorporates Ethiopian jazz and jammy reggae grooves into the band's fuzz-fried sound.