101 things to do in the winter in New York City 2011

Mark your calendar for classic holiday events, warming treats, cultural highlights and more!

  • Photograph: Jan Erik Svendsen


  • Carsten Holler at the New Museum

  • Photograph: Brigette Lacombe

    Adam Gopnik, host of "Home for the Holidays: Stories of Family Gatherings and Ungatherings"

  • It's a Wonderful Life, showing at IFC Center

  • Winter Jazz Festival

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nels

  • Photographer: Nick Heavican/Metropolitan Opera

    The Enchanted Island

  • Photograph: Tom Caravaglia

    Streb Extreme Action at the Armory

  • Photograph: Jackie Weisberg

    Brooklyn Flea

  • Get a hot shave

Photograph: Jan Erik Svendsen


11. See a different kind of Radio City extravaganza
The voice of singer Antony sounds radiant with the barest accompaniment, which is why his upcoming show Swanlights, with a 60-piece orchestra, should be even more of an aural treat. The onetime performance will draw from Antony's four-album oeuvre and feature arrangements by composers Nico Muhly, Rob Moose and frequent Antony collaborator Maxim Moston. The visuals, which were commissioned by the Museum of Modern Art, should be equally impressive. Radio City Music Hall, 1260 Sixth Ave at 50th St (212-247-4777, radiocity.com). Jan 26 at 8pm; $35--$70.

12. Reconnect with your inner kid at the New Museum
In 2010, Marina Abramovic's exhibit "The Artist Is Present" cemented the concept of fine art as an interactive public attraction. German artist Carsten Hller's wide-ranging show at the New Museum has some of that same energy: Visitors can hurtle down a slide that runs from the institution's fourth to second floors, or float inside a water-filled "sensory-deprivation" tank. The artistic value may be diminished by these gimmicks—Art critic Howard Halle says that the show is "stocked with come-ons"—but there's still something perversely fun about winding along a playground staple in an art museum. Be prepared to wait—the queue is regularly an hour or more. The New Museum, 235 Bowery at Prince St (212-219-1222, newmuseum.org). Wed, Fri--Sun 11am--6pm; Thu 11am--9pm. $16, seniors $14, students $12, children under 18 free. Through Jan 15, slide open through Jan 22.

13. Listen to cheerful (and not-so-cheerful) holiday stories
NYC's storytelling powerhouse the Moth takes over the historic Players Club for a night of tales titled "Home for the Holidays: Stories of Family Gatherings and Ungatherings." Hosted by New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik, the evening promises riffs on the pleasures and horrors of reuniting with the fam during the holidays, courtesy of Shalom Auslander (This American Life), authors Bruce Feiler and Marie Walsh, and other notable scribes. The Players Club, 16 Gramercy Park South between Park Ave South and Irving Pl (212-475-6116, theplayersnyc.org). Dec 8 at 7:30pm, doors at 6:30pm; $40.

14. Take a visit to Bedford Falls
During the long, cold winter nights, no film raises our spirits quite like Frank Capra's 1946 classic It's a Wonderful Life. George Bailey, played by Jimmy Stewart, sets a high standard for honest bankers everywhere, and the "Pottersville" scenario practically prefigures the entire plot of Back to the Future Part II. It'll be on television more times than you can count in December, but this is one movie that needs to be seen writ large on the big screen. IFC Center, 323 Sixth Ave at 3rd St (212-924-7771, ifccenter.com). Wed 21--Tue 27; times vary. $13, children and seniors $9, members $8.

15. Warm up with a hot night at the Winter Jazz Festival
Now in its eighth annual iteration, this multivenue affair pulls some of the top horn-blowers and ivory-ticklers from the city's vibrant jazz scene. Pianist Vijay Iyer, bassist Bill Laswell and guitarist Marc Ribot will be among the established names performing, but also look out for sets by hungry up-and-comers. The fest's home base is Le Poisson Rouge (158 Bleecker St at Thompson St), and its reach will expand to five other venues along Bleecker Street. Be prepared to move from spot to spot: The all-access ticketing—which gets you into any of each night's venues, capacity pending—encourages sampling. Locations and times vary; visit winterjazzfest.com for details. Jan 6, 7; $35, two-day pass $45.

16. Pet the potential Best in Show
See pampered pooches strut their stuff during the 136th annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. The cuteness-packed convention and contest will anoint the top dogs in dozens of categories, but only one can take home the grand prize—last year, a Scottish deerhound named Hickory was named Best in Show. To see how closely life mimics a Christopher Guest film, go behind the scenes to the benching area, where owners primp their canine friends. Madison Square Garden, 4 Pennsylvania Plaza (Seventh Ave) between 31st and 33rd Sts (212-465-6741, thegarden.com). Feb 13, 14; $25--$140.

17. Old ideas beget a new work at the Metropolitan Opera
The Enchanted Island
is an ambitious project even by the artistic institution's grand standards. For the work, British multihyphenate Jeremy Sams combined lyrics from Shakespearean comedies and music by 17th-century masters. William Christie—founder of Baroque supergroup Les Arts Florissants—leads an operagoer's dream cast, including David Daniels, Joyce DiDonato, Plcido Domingo, Danielle de Niese and the rising countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo. Metropolitan Opera House, Lincoln Center Plaza at 65th St (212-362-6000, metoperafamily.org). Times vary; $25--$415. Dec 31--Jan 30.

18. Check out Streb's acrobatics at the Armory
The massive Park Avenue Armory is one of New York City's most breathtaking venues. For one week in December, it'll be the setting for "Kiss the Air!," a program of acrobatic performances by Brooklyn's Streb Extreme Action. Using techniques inspired by action-film stunts and the circus, the company stages a site-specific show that utilizes the Armory's unique spatial potential. Expect more than a few gasps as dancers fly though the air. 643 Park Ave between 66th and 67th Sts (212-616-3930, armoryonpark.org). Dec 14--16, 20, 22 at 7pm; Dec 17, 21 at 2, 7pm; Dec 18 at 3pm. $35, children under 12 $25.

19. Search for vintage treasures at the Brooklyn Flea
The view of Manhattan from the flea's summer location in Williamsburg is nice, but we prefer the vaulted Art Deco glory of the former Williamsburgh Savings Bank (and the thick doors of the safe leading to the food hall in the basement) in Fort Greene. Although the Flea's holiday market won't be returning this year, you'll still find plenty of unique gifts for everyone on your shopping list. Pick through vintage duds, funky jewelry, quirky furnishings and more handmade fare from a variety of local vendors. To find out who will be selling there each weekend, check Brooklyn Flea's site the Friday before doors open. Skylight at One Hanson, 1 Hanson Pl at Ashland Pl, Fort Greene, Brooklyn (brooklynflea.com). Sat, Sun 10am--5pm; through Apr 1.

20. Get a hot shave

Bros, winter can be rough on that beautiful mug of yours. Help revitalize your face and indulge in some retro-cool pampering by settling in for a hot shave at the tiny East Village storefront Barbiere NYC. We suggest opting for the Classica ($30), which includes a hot-towel treatment, a shave using lather that's made in the shop, and—best of all—a beer or a shot of Jameson. Barbiere NYC, 246 E 5th St between Second Ave and Cooper Sq (646-649-2640, barbierenyc.com)