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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 |
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 joining in on the No Pants Subway Ride to celebrating 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

Lunar New Year Celebration

Queens Botanical Garden, Flushing

Celebrate the Year of thr Rat with colorful performances, activities for all ages and a lucky plant sale. It's free to drop in.

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.

Photograph: Courtesy Ulysse Lemerise for Creos
News, City Life

An installation of huge, glowing seesaws is coming to Broadway

Broadway will morph into a giant playground with 12 illuminated seesaws that passersby can hop on and interact with through the end of the month. The Garment District Alliance is unveiling the seesaw installation, dubbed "Impulse," on Monday, Jan 6, on Broadway between 37th and 38th streets. When activated, the seesaws, which range in length from 16 to 24 feet, radiate light and make music, transforming visitors into musicians and artists, according to the organization. Created by Lateral Office, CS Design Inc., "Impulse" is meant to embody the idea of serialism, repetition and variation to produce zones of intensity and calm, its producer, Creos says. It's been shown around North America, including in Niagara Falls, Boston, Montreal and in other cities. Your inner child will be able to give its own Broadway performance through Jan 31, during which the block will be completely closed to vehicular traffic.

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.

Photograph: Filip Wolak
News, City Life

A shopping cart race

Looking to shake up your weekly Saturday ritual of going to brunch, shopping and grabbing drinks with friends? Here’s a bizarre and whimsical event you can join that is unlike anything you’ve probably done in NYC. It’s a “race” called Idiotarod—a tradition organized by the so-called “Department of Absurdity” and IDIOT Labs. If you’re wondering what the hell this run entails, well, we have questions too. But here’s the gist of what we do know. Costumed teams can sign-up for the unsanctioned race, which involves decking out a shopping cart and running with it through a low-key street in New York. The registration fee is $5, and cash prizes are awarded to the winners during the afterparty. And yes, you must provide your own shopping cart. Good luck obtaining that one. There are a few rules you need to follow as well as last-minute updates (including the meeting location) still on the way. But if this all sounds very appealing to you, R.S.V.P. on Facebook or email to fill out an official request form and obtain more details. The event kicks off this Saturday, January 27 at noon. Godspeed.  Sign up to receive great Time Out deals in your inbox each day.

Things to do, Exhibitions

Holiday Train Show

The garden lights up with its collection of trains that chug along a nearly half-mile track by 150 miniature NYC landmarks like the Empire State Building and Radio City Music Hall, all made of natural materials such as leaves, twigs, bark and berries.  

Music events in January 2019

Music, Dance and electronic

Deli Girls + Nah + Dreamcrusher

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

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.

Mark Guiliana
Photograph: Courtesy the artist
Music, Jazz

Mark Guiliana

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

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.

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."

Photograph: Richard Saunier
Music, Rock and indie

Deerhoof + Gold Dime + Sloppy Jane

Elsewhere, East Williamsburg

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.

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.

See more NYC concerts in January

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