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
Artist Grand Lindahl invites you to laugh, drink and draw at his monthly show. While comedians tell stories, audience members draw what they hear with paper and crayon. Plus, a guest artist graces each show (like New Yorker cartoonist Erik Bergstrom) to talk about their work and play a game, like an impromptu caption contest. That dreamer creative locked deep inside can live again for one sweet night.
After it was canceled because of high winds last year, the Ice Festival returns with ice-carving artists from Astoria-based Okamoto Studio, who transform 6,000 pounds of the cold stuff into replicas of statues in New York’s backyard. No big deal, right? The real party starts after, though. A free silent disco (with live DJs) lets you choose between ’80s, ’90s and Top 40 hits so you can dance the night away.
No St. Patrick's Day in NYC would be complete without staking out a spot at this parade, which makes another glorious march up Fifth Avenue. (The event is even older than the United States; it was started by a group of homesick Irish conscripts from the British army in 1762.) More than 2 million onlookers are expected to show up for the annual spectacle. Fifth Ave from 44th St to 79th St.
For its first birthday party, this always-chill queer throwback party is hosting a Three Kings (and Kweens) Day Celebration. While you jam to Britney Spears and Tiffany, you can revisit classic N64 games, snag cheap drink specials and even play some sloppy beer pong, with prizes from Smirnoff Sourced.
Rooftop igloos are pretty cool, but an ice castle is way cooler (pun intended). Well, guess what? There will be a frozen fortress at Bryant Park Winter Village's upcoming Winter Carnival on January 27! The the formally weekend-only festival has been extended to a nine-day, frosty celebration that is jam-packed with entertainment including free curling lessons, a silent disco, a cozy sweater pup meet-up, an outdoor winter brew house and more. There’s even an "Ice Ball" where folks can don their fanciest attire and waltz (or, er, try to) on the park's ice-skating rink. Damn, winter isn’t so bad after all.
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.
Arts events in January 2017
Francis Picabia was born in Paris to a French mother and an aristocratic Cuban father whose fortune afforded the artist a life of fast cars, fabulous parties and frequent amorous conquests. According to the catalog for MoMA’s fantastic retrospective, Picabia (1879–1953) was “singularly wealthy” among his avant-garde cohort, but more pertinent, perhaps, was the sense of entitlement that allowed him to upend convention—apparently, for the hell of it. A self-styled “funny guy,” Picabia was the great-granddaddy of bad-boy art, a restive genius and check-writing machine for later artists who cashed in on his accomplishments—though his work, like that of frequent co-conspirator Marcel Duchamp, wasn’t fully appreciated until the 1960s. Unlike Duchamp, Picabia remained a painter and, as such, was both gadfly and butterfly, confounding critics by mixing high and low culture while flitting between abstraction and representation. He embraced Impressionism, Cubism, Dadaism and photo-based realism and also oscillated between revolutionary and reactionary impulses in ways that complicate our understanding of his political inclinations. Though disgusted by the carnage of World War I, for example, he remained in Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II, living in Vichy France. MoMA wrangles Picabia’s fractious career with a chronological approach that brings order out of stylistic chaos. The show begins in the early 1900s with Picabia the late-blooming Impressionist, who, rather antithetic
Every now and then, an exhibit reveals an artist of rare intelligence and clarity. Such is the case with “Mastry,” the Met Breuer’s survey of African-American artist Kerry James Marshall. I’ve followed Marshall’s career for more than 20 years, having interviewed him during the Whitney Biennial (1997)—the one that finally included him after previously passing him over for insufficiently hewing to the identity politics of the time. I always thought I knew his work, and considered it some of the best being made today, but coming away from this show, I’m astounded by the depth of his drive and vision in challenging the Caucasian character of Western painting. There’s more going on than that, but with respect to the matter of black lives and their representation in history (both in art and in American society), Marshall’s approach is far more profound and humanistic than, say, Kara Walker’s charnel-house visions of the antebellum South. That’s mainly due to the fact that, like any radical conservative, Marshall breaks the rules by adhering to them, giving his work the richness of tradition while subverting it. He begins with a 1980 self-portrait in a wide-brimmed hat, his skin nearly matched to a dark brown background so that the whites of his eyes—and a broad grin missing a front tooth—pop out. Titled A Portrait of the Artist as a Shadow of His Former Self, the piece fairly traffics in racist caricature while evoking Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. It resembles one of those spo
“The past is never dead. It’s not even past,” William Faulkner wrote, and Kai Althoff’s exhibition at MoMA seems to echo that sentiment as it stretches before the viewer like a ghostly attic of memories. Though the show is billed as a midcareer survey, the Cologne, Germany–born artist mashes the works together into a single installation inside a vast white tent. While the arrangement may appear to be random, it is anything but, as objects ebb and flow like a river that pools into eddies before dissipating as runoff. A ramp leads to a room-size platform, also painted white. Light filtering through the fabric enclosure gives the space a twilighty, pinkish hue, while the discordant sound of a vocalist accompanied by guitar plays over speakers, amplifying the sensation that you’ve stumbled into a dream. The pieces include paintings, sculptures, works on paper, personal ephemera and found items like an antique gynecological examination chair with glass plates replacing the original seat cushions. It looks uncomfortable, which is probably the point. Everything seems provisional: Paintings are stacked onto the type of rolling A-frame carts used to move artworks; elsewhere, they’re propped up on stepped partitions, while low plinths hold dolls and votive figures. Taken together, the whole recalls a giant Dadaist assemblage from the Weimar era. Which raises the question: Just what are we dealing with? Memory? History? Both? More pertinently, whose? It’s worth noting that the show
One of the more telling works in Mark Leckey’s MoMA PS1 survey isn’t even by the 2008 Turner Prize winner: It’s a painting by German Minimalist/Primitivist Michael Krebber (one of several guest artists appearing at Leckey’s invitation), featuring a crude, handwritten replica of a bad review of Leckey’s 2011 exhibition at London’s Serpentine Gallery. The headline reads, mark leckey’s art creates noise without meaning, and while that’s meant as an insult, it (and the rest of the article) supremely misses the point: Leckey’s art is supposed to be about noise without meaning—or at least effecting that stance to get at larger truths about contemporary culture. Leckey’s multimedia installations dive into the ways in which technology transmits the shared fashions, ideas, ideologies, values and appetites that bind us as a society. The upshot, of course, is that the more this information is accelerated by ever-rapid means, the more it devolves into babble—a point reflected by an often-raucous show in which screens and speakers blare a cacophony of sights and sounds. Leckey’s message may not be new, but he delivers it with panache. The artist’s earliest—and still best-known—piece is an edited compilation of VHS club-scene tapes depicting ravers dancing, spinning and otherwise having out-of-body experiences on ecstasy. Sourced from veteran DJs, the material in “Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore” (1999) spans the late ’70s to the early ’90s in a delirious montage of found footage set to hypnot
Minter had already been working in New York for 30 years before her career breakout in the 2006 Whitney Biennial, and in the ensuing decade, she’s dialed up her exploration of how women are objectified by fashion and the media to a Nigel Tufnel–worthy 11. Focusing on various details of the female anatomy, her photos and hyper-realist paintings demolish cultural conventions of beauty and femininity with increasingly garish élan. As the title of Minter’s first-ever career retrospective suggests, her work draws a connection between "sexy" and "filthy."
The Whitney combs through its collection for this look at one of art history’s oldest genres with a selection of works spanning the first half of the 20th-century to today.
Want to be "in" with the art world on a global level? Then hit up the Outsider Art Fair New York 2017, celebrating its 25th year. Over 60 international exhibitors will be present as well as two curated spaces at the Flatiron District's Metropolitan Pavilion. See works from artists who are pushing the boundaries of creativity at this up-and-comer showcase. Ticket prices vary and there will be a private viewing for those VIP ticket purchases on the opening night, Jan 19. Don't miss this one-of-a-kind art extravaganza.