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51 awesome things to do in NYC in January

Written by
Jennifer Picht

Things to do

Annual Lord of the Rings Marathon Videology Bar & Cinema; Jan 1; free
Bring a sword, a bow, an ax and a hangover to this daylong fan viewing, at which Videology screens all three extended editions of the legendary Middle-earth trilogy. With a total 726 minutes (that’s 12 hours) of screen time to watch, there’s no braver way for you to start your New Year than by surviving this saga. Just try to pace yourself: Not everyone can hold their liquor as gracefully as Legolas does. Rohirrim!

2018 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic Citi Field; Jan 1; various prices
Hockey fans, assemble! The 10th anniversary of the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic will be big, especially for Gothamites. The match is between two Empire State teams, the Buffalo Sabres and the New York Rangers. What makes this game so special is that it’s being played outdoors: Citi Field is bringing in an ice truck to create a temporary rink. Before the stick smackdown, there’s a free pregame festival for fans with giveaways, food and drinks at Lot F in Citi Field’s parking lot (9am to 1pm).

Thank you for Everything: House of Yes Two Year Anniversary; Jan 5-6; free–$20
Brooklyn disco palace House of Yes expresses gratitude to its regular revelers with a night of jubilant dancing, circus acts and psychedelia. This two-part edition marks the nightlife hot spot's second birthday, so count on especially lively affairs, thanks in no small part to an excellent DJ lineup that includes Eli Escobar and Lauren Flax.

Built Ford Tough Series: Professional Bull Riders; Madison Square Garden; Jan 5–7 at various times; tickets start at $31
Get a taste of the wild west when the top 35 bull riders in the world come to New York City for the PBR Majors. If the bucking bulls aren’t enough of a thrill for you, the massive pyrotechnics show ought to do it. 

NPR’s Ask Me Another The Bell House; Jan 8; $20–$25
Put your brain to the test at this popular hour-long NPR show, in which host Ophira Eisenberg and house musician Jonathan Coulton challenge puzzle masters, audience members and special guests with brainteasers and trivia tidbits. The Mon 8 edition features special guest Elizabeth Marvel.

Shotz Kraine Theater; Jan 8; advance $13 ticket includes a beer, at the door $15
ADD theatergoers get their fill at this manic and magical night, at which six groups of performers each perform original ten-minute plays to live music. This month's edition holds its participants to three rules: each play must include a sport or competition, at least 15 seconds of the "Chariots of Fire" theme song and the line, "You're almost there!" Let the games begin.

Distant Worlds: The Music from Final Fantasy; Carnegie Hall; Jan 13 at 2pm and 8pm; tickets start at $127
Hear the sweeping soundtrack from the iconic Final Fantasy video games performed live by the the Distant Worlds Philharmonic Orchestra and the Dessoff Choirs for the series’ 30th anniversary. It’s a surreal experience that serious gamers won’t want to miss.

Brooklyn Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM); Jan 15; free
At BAM’s 32nd celebration, there's a speech from a notable keynote speaker followed with musical performances by the gospel legends.

Dancing With the Stars; Radio City Music Hall; Jan 18 at 8pm; tickets start at $61
If you tune into ABC religiously for every season of Dancing With the Stars, you have to catch show’s live tour when it comes to New York City for one night only. Several of the show’s professional dancers will recreate favorite routines from the show’s 25 seasons and debut never-before-seen performances.

JP Morgan Tournament of Champions; Grand Central Terminal; Jan 18–25 at various times; tickets start at $165
Squash players have been vying for the Tournament of Champions trophy since 1930, when it was known as the U.S. Professional Championships. Though it has been staged in 17 different cities since, Grand Central Terminal has hosted the tournament since 1999.

Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen; Beacon Theatre; Jan 26, 27 at 8pm; tickets start at $114
Real-life best friends Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen bring their AC2: Deep Talk and Shallow Tales show to the Beacon Theatre at the end of the month. The two TV personalities will share their uncensored thoughts on pop culture, breaking news and much more during the unscripted conversation.

Food and Drink

Fine Wine and Food Fest Exhibition Hall, Long Island; Jan 20, $49 general admission, $65 at the door
Sample more than 150 wines from the New Jersey and New York regions, including the burgeoning North Fork in Long Island. There's also booze from state distilleries, cideries and breweries and bites from LI and NYC restaurants and food trucks.

Cassoulet Cook-Off The Brooklyn Kitchen; Jan 20, $45
It's a bit of an odd pairing for the beer-soaked pub Jimmy's No 43 to sponsor this French comfort-food cook-off, but hey, it's now in its 10th year. New and returning chefs gather to cook different versions of the slow-cooked white beans and meat dish for lucky guests to eat. 

Cochon 555 SECOND floor; Jan 21, $130 general admission, $200 VIP
Pig out at this festival where five notable chefs have one week to prepare a 200lb pig from a local family farm and present it to a panel of judges and participants whose tastebuds determine which one will to be crowned the Prince or Princess of Pork.

Beer, Bourbon and BBQ Festival The Tunnel; Jan 27, $99—$229
The ninth annual fest wants to "put a little south in your mouth" with the big three down-home staples of beer, bourbon and barbecue (not to mention there will also be bacon, biscuits and bluegrass). Indulge in all-you-can-eat and drink from NYC and southern chefs while listening to live music and mingling with other southern stans.

Speed Rack Melrose Ballroom; Jan 7, $25
Drink 25 different cocktails made by all-female bartenders from around the tri-state area. And you're getting drunk for a good cause, the speed-based competition raises money to fight breast cancer.


Cole Escola: Help! I’m Stuck Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater; Jan 2-3, Jan 5; $15 plus $12 minimum
Some stars are made to shine over New York, and in the case of the Cole Escola, the disturbingly talented character incubator was meant to rule downtown. Witness the Difficult People star as he unleashes new and beloved characters like "Oh, Jeremiah" and broken-down cabaret legend Maven Crawford in this demented solo show.

The Roast of Your 15 Year-Old Self Baby’s All Right; Jan 9; $10
If you can’t hate yourself, how in the hell are you going to hate somebody else? Comedians exorcise their shame over their teen years through scorching receipts of the hair, music and bad kissing that once defined them. Alise Morales—NYC’s loveliest roastmaster—welcomes Marcia Belsky, Akilah Hughes, John Everett Trowbridge, Dylan Marron, Chris Burns and Ziwe Fumudoh to take deep, dark looks into their high school diaries.

The Exhibition Public Hotel; Jan 13; $10
While we're always down to see familiar faces performing comedy at dimly lit, unheated Bushwick bars, sometimes it's nice to go fancy. Badass buddies Mary Beth Barone and Michael Cruz Kayne invite you to the Public Hotel for this well-curated get-down for the cool kids. The opening edition boasts Aaron Jackson, Drew Michael, Mitra Jouhari, Rae Sanni, Gina Yashere and Patti Harrison. Stay after to mix it up with performers, hotel guests and fans at a free party.

DoublePlusGood Comedy Show Salzy; Jan 17; $5
For true comedy connoisseurs tired of seeing their favorite comics squeeze their sets into five minutes, this monthly showcase provides full-length sets and a chill atmosphere for diverse acts to thrive in. At the December edition, host Ben Asher curates a stellar lineup including Aparna Nancherla, Sharron Paul, Jacqueline Novak and CW Headley.

Go Ricki! Q.E.D; Jan 17; $8
Hosted by comedian Matt Smith McCormick, this outrageous show gives an affectionate nod to the queen of riotous daytime talk, Ricki Lake. Watch as Brantley Brice, Alex Broome, Lauren Hope Krass, Chrissie Mayr and Sydnee Washington bring their most deliciously catty material for this month’s theme, “I’m Getting Plastic Surgery and You Can’t Stop Me!”


The Late Late Show at Hardware Bar; ongoing; free
Marti Gould Cummings—one of the sharpest drag MCs in town—reigns supreme over this weekly getdown at Hardware, featuring guest diva performers, drink specials and beats from DJ Kiki Darling.

Cafe con Crema Saturdays Boxers HK; ongoing free
Hell’s Kitchen mixes up the crowd at this weekly Latino night, at which DJ Alex spins Top 40, Latin jams, R&B, house and hip-hop while host Monica Monroe introduces special guests on the main floor. Head downstairs for some dirty dancing and old-school vogue battles (after 1am).

Lesbo-a-GoGo The Stonewall Inn; ongoing; free
Gay ladies pack the upstairs dance floor at Stonewall for this Friday night party featuring cheap drinks with visiting guests rotating on the decks.

Hot Rabbit Drom; ongoing; $10
One of our favorite parties in NYC continues its total domination of Friday nightlife with a new residency at Drom. Step into a wicked, wild arena for women-identifying revelers and their queer buddies, featuring aerialists, dope DJs, late-night food and drink specials and go-go dancers of different genders ready to entice you.

M U T H U R Alphaville; Jan 5; $10
The fabulously satanic Chris of Hur unites with buddies Lee VaLone, Macy Rodman and the Sis Privilege Band for a rowdy night of punk and riotgrrrrl dancing and performances with a no–lip-synching policy. Prepare to watch a lot of bearded drag queens belt it out for real.


Insidious: The Last Key
With Get Out, Split and The Purge behind it, low-budget horror studio Blumhouse can do no wrong at the moment. Its supernatural horror franchise Insidious is back with a fourth installment and will probably make a zillion dollars. Jan 5

Proud Mary
Female African-American action heroes have been few and far between lately. Hidden Figures’ Taraji P. Henson fills the void as an assassin who meets a young boy and discovers that life isn’t just about neutralizing targets. Jan 12

Den of Thieves
A hard-bitten group of robbers target the Federal Reserve Bank in an L.A. heist thriller that features Gerard Butler and O’Shea Jackson, Jr. 50 Cent is their co-star rather than the amount of money they get away with. Jan 19

Forever My Girl
Happy Death Day’s Jessica Rothe swaps horror for an indie romance in which she plays the jilted bride of a country superstar. The pair reconnect when he returns to his hometown, but will forgiveness follow? Spoiler: probably. Jan 19

White Boy Rick
This gritty crime drama from Yann Demange—recently linked with directing the next Bond movie—tells the true story of Detroit resident Richard Wershe, Jr., who became an FBI informant at age 14 and a cocaine kingpin soon after. Jan 26


RJD2 Brooklyn Bowl; Jan 3; $22
The turntable whiz brings dense, party-fueling beats to Brooklyn Bowl for a surefire dance party.

Winter Jazzfest Various locations; Jan 10–17; prices vary
This annual festival, which celebrates NYC’s local jazz scene and brings in talented musicians from around the world, takes over several downtown venues for a can’t-miss week of cutting-edge sounds.

Say Anything Irving Plaza; Jan 14, 15; $23
Frontman-songwriter Max Bemis has a knack for transforming his neurotic woes and exceedingly dirty thoughts into an ongoing alt-rock opera that's brash, barbed and frequently hilarious.

Destroyer Brooklyn Steel; Jan 27; $25
Idiosyncratic Canadian singer-songwriter Dan Bejar brings his dynamic, mature interpretation of ‘80s soft-rock—full of smoky, monochrome synths, cryptic murmurings and muted sax lines—to Brooklyn.

Tennis Brooklyn Steel; Jan 23; $20
The husband-and-wife vintage-pop duo marry sun-soaked rock & roll sounds with ’60s girl group shimmer on its newest album, Yours Conditionally.    


The Shanghai Dance Theatre: Soaring Wings—Journey of the Crested Ibis at the David H. Koch Theater; Jan 5–7; $37–$107
Directed and choreographed by Tong Ruirui, whose work reflects a commitment to traditional Chinese dance, this lavishly costumed piece explores the relationship between human beings and nature, as reflected in the history of an endangered species of bird.

American Realness 2018 at Abrons Arts Center and Gibney Dance; Jan 9–16; $25
This downtown festival pushes our ideas of performance forward, usually by means of avant-queer and dance-theater works. This year the roster includes new works by Moriah Evans, keyon gaskin and Marissa Perel, Neal Medlyn and many more.

American Dance Platform at the Joyce Theatre; Jan 9–14; $20–$55
The Joyce presents its annual showcase for dance from across America. Eight companies are paired off into four programs; troupes that have performed at the venue before are matched with ones that are making their Joyce debuts, like the hula group Hālau O Kekuhi.

New York City Ballet Winter 2018 at the David H. Koch Theater; Jan 23–Mar 4; $30–$185
NYCB returns to Lincoln Center with a six-week lineup that includes multiple collections of dances by George Balanchine and, just in time for Valentine's Day, Ballet Master Peter Martins's Romeo + Juliet.

Lumberyard in the City Winter Festival at New York Live Arts; Jan 25–Feb 10; $25
Lumberyard's third annual winter festival of dance and theater begins with a rare New York appearance by Kei Takei and her Japanese company, Moving Earth Orient Sphere, who present a solo from 1974's LIGHT Part 8 and the U.S. premiere of LIGHT, Part 44 (Bamboo Forest).


Under the Radar at various locations; Jan 4–15; $25
The Public Theater presents edgy new works in its top-notch annual festival. Among the international offerings are shows by Andrew Schneider, Adam Gopnik, Split Britches, Roger Guenveur Smith, Motus, Théâtre du Rêve Expérimental, Satoshi Miyagi and Nature Theater of Oklahoma.

Cardinal at Second Stage Theater; Jan 9–Feb 25; $30–$109
In the world premiere of a play by Greg Pierce, a woman's plan to literally paint her town red leads to rivalry and conflict among the local residents. The cast, directed by Kate Whoriskey, includes Anna Chlumsky (Veep), Becky Ann Baker (Girls) and Adam Pally (The Mindy Project).

Miles for Mary at Playwrights Horizons; Jan 11–Feb 4; $40–$65
The Mad Ones' bittersweet comedy, about high-school faculty members organizing a 1989 charity telethon, stuns us with period particulars and cleverly conceals its plot under a welter of naturalistic conversation. Pure delight in 2016, it now returns for an encore run.

Hangmen at Atlantic Theater Company; Jan 18–Mar 4; $70
Irish shock dramatist Martin McDonagh (The Pillowman) returns to the Atlantic with his first new play to hit New York since 2010. The story focuses on a Northern English executioner (Mark Addy) on the day the U.K. abolishes hanging; expect gallows humor.

Jerry Springer—The Opera at New Group; Jan 23–Mar 11; $40–$125
Fifteen years after its U.K. debut, Richard Thomas and Stewart Lee's outrageous, extravagantly profane musical finally gets an Off Broadway run. Terrence Mann (Les Misérables) plays Springer, the ringmaster of the 1990s' trashiest talk show, and Will Swenson (Hair) plays Satan.


“Birds of a Feather: Joseph Cornell's Homage to Juan Gris”
Metropolitan Museum of Art; Jan 23–Apr 15, suggested donation $25, seniors $17, students $12, members and children under 12 free
As the 2016 election demonstrated, the United States’ culture wars, and the battle over identity politics, is far from finished. With developments like the ban on transgender people in the military hanging in the air, New Museum has assembled an intergenerational roster of more than 40 contemporary artists whose works explore the perennially contested issue of gender fluidity.

“Before/On/After: William Wegman and California Conceptualism” Metropolitan Museum of Art; Jan 17–July 15, suggested donation $25, seniors $17, students $12, members and children under 12 free  
With the help of his canine collaborator Man Ray, William Wegman deflated the pretension of Conceptual Art with lo-fi videos and photos documenting the various performative shenanigans—starring the aforementioned Man Ray—produced in Wegman’s studio. The tongue-in-cheek tone of his work was in keeping with the overall vibe of SoCal Conceptualism, revisited here in this show pairing Wegman with some of his L.A.-based contemporaries.

Laura Owens Whitney Museum of American Art; through Feb 4, $22; seniors, students $18, 18 and under free
No one does meta better than L.A. artist Owens, whose Pop-slash-abstract paintings play Scrabble with art history and taste. This midcareer roundup of her work is the most comprehensive to date.

“Jimmie Durham: At the Center of the World” Whitney Museum of American Art; through Jan 28, $22; seniors, students $18, 18 and under free
A former member of the American Indian Movement, Durham began making art in the ’80s in NYC as one of the first artists to inject identity politics into contemporary art. This show looks back at his career.

“Club 57: Film, Performance, and Art in the East Village, 1978–1983” Museum of Modern Art (MoMA); through Apr 1, $25, seniors $18, students $14, children under 16 free. For discounts, order tickets in advance at Fri 4–8pm free. Film tickets free with museum admission; screenings-only admission $12, seniors $10, students $8, children under 16 free
Forty years ago, dirt-cheap rents and an edgy vibe lured arty types to swarm downtown venues like CBGB’s and the Mudd Club. One such place was Club 57 on St. Marks Place, which hosted evenings “Monster Movie Club” “Name That Noise: A Punk Rock Game Show,” and attracted artists and performers such as Keith Haring, Kenny Scharf, John Sex and Ann Magnuson. The scrappy venue is now the subject of this MoMA retrospective, which looks back to a moment when New York was dirtier and more dangerous—but also more alive with creative possibilities.

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