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A previous bodypainting event with painted models in Washington Square Park.
Photograph: By Victor Mirontschuk | A previous bodypainting event with painted models in Washington Square Park.

Let me tell you—these are the best quirky NYC events to bookmark for 2024

Archery? Check. Confetti? Check. Knitted subway? Check.

Rossilynne Skena Culgan
Written by
Rossilynne Skena Culgan

"Let Me Tell You" is a series of columns from our expert editors about NYC living, including the best things to do, where to eat and drink, and what to see at the theater. They publish each Tuesday so you’re hearing from us each week. Last time, Things to Do Editor Rossilynne Skena Culgan explained what it was like to be a Friends fan at the Friends Experience.

As Things to Do Editor at Time Out New York, it's part of my job to, well, do a lot of things. During the past year, I've attended hundreds of events, from gallery shows to comedy shows and pop-ups to programs. But many of my favorite events include something a little quirky, a tinge of the delightful weirdness that makes New York City a place like no other on the globe.

I combed back through my archive of stories and cache of photos to pick out 10 of the best, most unusual events I did this year with hopes you may bookmark some of these for next year. As my friends at Schtick a Pole In It (a pole dancing comedy show that's on my list for 2024) put it: "If you don't see shows like this, why are you even paying the NYC rents?" Amen to that.

10 quirky NYC events to do in 2024 

Without further ado, here are my picks to infuse your 2024 with awe, amazement, wonder and weirdness in our city.

Two women hold books in a garden.
Photograph: By Derrick Cox

1. Books and Burlesque 

Sure, you've heard of wine pairings. But what about books and burlesque pairings? At this burlesque show, award-winning authors read excerpts from their new books. Then, a burlesque or drag performer showcases a new act inspired by the book. 

The event I attended included an acrobatic performance with cash and purses (inspired by Kirstin Chen's Counterfeit), an avant-garde drag performance (dedicated to Elyssa Maxx Goodman's Glitter and Concrete: A Cultural History of Drag in New York City) and lots more. The show's both bubbly and meaningful, making for a joyful and affirming night.

The next show is on Saturday, March 9, 2024, at Caveat on the Lower East Side.

A Ninja Turtles sculpture made of cans.
Photograph: By Niall Cronin / Courtesy of Canstruction New York | KowaHUNGA by Gensler

2. Canstruction

This free event flips the script on the traditional Thanksgiving canned food drive. Instead of leaving cans of food to languish in boxes until they’re distributed to those in need, the cans are transformed into art. Local architecture and design firms use the cans as building blocks to create intricate sculptures. This year’s larger-than-life sculptures included a Ninja Turtle, Pooh Bear and a riff on the painting “Under the Wave off Kanagawa” (my personal favorite).

Canstruction is usually presented at Brookfield Place around Thanksgiving, so keep an eye out in the fall. It's free to visit, but remember to bring some canned goods to donate. All the canned foods are donated after the display ends. 

A person dances on an oversized record player, cast in pink light and haze.
Photograph: By Carlos Hano | Inside The Euphorium

3. THC NYC, the weed museum 

Whether you're a toker or a non-smoker, visiting NYC's new weed museum promises a trippy experience. While the museum boasts plenty of mind-bending multi-sensory bells and whistles, it also showcases art, highlights science and confronts the social justice issues baked into cannabis prosecution.

The space is beautifully designed with immersive experiences around every corner. I'm still dreaming about The Euphorium, where you can lay down on a massive spinning record while it plays music important to stoner culture, from The Doors to Santana. 

THC NYC is now open with tickets on sale here starting at $39.

Installation view of ED RUSCHA / NOW THEN, on view at The Museum of Modern Art
Photograph: By Jonathan Dorado | Ed Ruscha's Chocolate Room.

4. Chocolate Room at MoMA

You know how sometimes you can smell a good restaurant before you see it? Well, this is kind of like that, but it's art. 

For Ed Ruscha's Chocolate Room, an entire room at MoMA is covered in chocolate for a mouthwateringly beautiful display created on-site. While immersive art is nothing new these days, Ruscha created his first Chocolate Room back in 1970, long before the days of Instagram. It still maintains its off-beat attitude today—and it sure is refreshing to experience immersive art that doesn’t rely on digital projections on a wall. 

See it before the show closes on January 13, 2024. 

Seven models stand with their backs toward the camera; each one is painted from head to toe.
Photograph: By Susan Baggett

5. Naked Bodypainting Day

On a sweltering day this July, dozens of fully nude models stood very still in Union Square while being painted from head to toe as part of Naked Bodypainting Day. The event celebrated the human body in all of its beautiful shapes, sizes, genders, ethnicities and ages (ranging from the 20s to the 80s at the event).

While I heard some suppressed giggles or gasps upon seeing the models, most onlookers stood in quiet awe of the artists and in respect for an event that organizer Andy Golub says is all about “spreading joy and feeling joy.”

While this year's event was the last NYC Naked Bodypainting Day, Golub's Human Connection Arts is in talks to create an event called BodyFest this spring. If it happens—and we really hope it does—you definitely won't want to miss it. 

Wolf pup Silas, born on April 21, 2023.
Photograph: Courtesy of the Wolf Conservation Center | Wolf pup Silas, born on April 21, 2023.

6. A Sleepover With Wolves

New York City may be the "city that never sleeps," but there's a spot in Westchester County that may prove a formidable opponent for that title. This summer, I booked an experience called "Sleeping With Wolves" at the Wolf Conservation Center about an hour north of Manhattan. I slept in a pretty posh tent, all things considered, and happily stayed awake while listening to the wolves howl away.

The sleepover includes a pizza dinner, a chance to see the wolves … and a movie. It’s extremely memorable—and it helps an important cause. Bookings are available from May through October 2023. Here’s my full rundown on the one-of-a-kind experience and how to make the most of it.

The author with confetti around her.
Photograph: By Sean Howard

7. Celebration Lab

After attending an event called Celebration Lab this past spring, I sometimes still find bits of colorful confetti in my purse, and it makes me smile every time because this event is magic. It's hosted by joy-in-human-form Jelena Aleksich, who walks participants through meditation, journaling and movement. 

Strangers quickly become friends at this event, which culminates in a "let it all go and receive" dance circle. You'll even get a runway moment where everyone cheers and throws confetti on you while a photographer documents the moment. 

The next event is on February 3, 2024; tickets are on sale here for $99.

Tombstones in a cemetery in Manhattan.
Photograph: By Rossilynne Skena Culgan / Time Out

8. Death in New York walking tour 

Forbidden stories lurk beneath the sidewalk and around every corner in New York City, and a series of walking tours by Purefinder spotlights these tales. I took the "Death in New York" walking tour, which explores Battery Park, the Financial District, Tribeca, the Civic Center and Chinatown in Lower Manhattan.

The author behind these tours, K. Krombie, also offers tours called "The Psychiatric History of New York," "Hell Gate," and "Oppenheimer in New York." Each one offers its own twist, but they all promise meticulously researched and theatrically presented historical narratives that you won't find in the guidebooks.

Tickets are on sale here starting at $36. 

Kendall Tichner holds a bow and arrow inside Wild Captives studio.
Photograph: By Rossilynne Skena Culgan / Time Out | Kendall Tichner holds a bow and arrow inside Wild Captives studio.

9. Archery at Wild Captives

Archery is no longer just something you did at summer camp as a kid. Instead, a new archery company in Brooklyn's Industry City is changing the game for this sport. 

Wild Captives, led by Kendall Tichner, is the nation's first female- and LGBTQ-owned archery studio where she hopes everyone can "be their own superhero." I definitely felt that way while learning how to shoot the bow to pop a balloon pinned onto the target. 

The studio in Brooklyn’s Industry City offers an hour-long introduction to archery classes every weekend for $45/person for an empowering and unique way to spend a day.

A fabric version of pizza rat.
Photograph: By Rossilynne Skena Culgan / Time Out | A fabric version of pizza rat.

10. The Straphangers Lounge, a knitted subway

If the actual New York City subway had cloth seats, I definitely wouldn't sit on them, but at this super special sewing pop-up, you'll want to make an exception. The creative duo of knitters Sue Hunter and Karima Sundarji built The Straphangers Lounge, in which they created an entire subway car interior made out of textiles. You'll see uncannily realistic orange seats, advertisements, a spilled coffee cup and even a pizza rat.

I got to check out the pop-up during its debut last winter, and it’s a sight to see. They're bringing it back again this year between January 26-28, 2024, at the New York Marriott Marquis. It’s free to visit. 

Schtick a pole in it
Photograph: courtesy Schtick a Pole in It


As for next year, here are a few quirky events on my personal NYC to-do list: Schtick a Pole In It, a Behind-the-scenes tour of the abandoned Ellis Island Hospital, Drunken Laboratory, and an ice sculpture show at Governors Island. Hope to see you out there! 

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