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: Courtesy 92nd Street Y

    "Will to Create, the Will to Live: The Culture of TerezIn" at 92nd Street Y

  • Photograph: Courtesy the artist and Metro Pictures

    Cindy Sherman at MoMA

  • Photograph: Brad Mehlenbacher

    Harry Potter Yule Ball

  • Photograph: Marielle Solan

    Holiday windows

  • Photograph: TONY Photo Department


  • Patti Smith at the Bowery Ballroom

  • Photograph: David Rosenzweig

    The Rockettes

  • Photograph: Alex Vanhee

    Merrill Garbus of Tune-Yards

  • Photograph: Rhonda Dorsett

    Winter Solstice Concert

  • Major League Dreidel

Photograph: Courtesy 92nd Street Y

"Will to Create, the Will to Live: The Culture of TerezIn" at 92nd Street Y

31. Appreciate art that comes from tragedy
The 92nd Street Y's upcoming program "Will to Create, the Will to Live: The Culture of TerezIn," examines how a group of Jewish internees at a German concentration camp produced music, sketches, plays, literature and opera in spite of their dire situation. The organization will mount a series of concerts, talks, gallery shows and readings that examine the history and legacy of the Terezin. 92nd Street Y, 1395 Lexington Ave between 91st and 92nd Sts (212-415-5500, 92y.org). Times and prices vary; Jan 11--Feb 16.

32. See a master of disguise at MoMA
Artist Cindy Sherman is best known for transforming herself in her work—using a variety of costumes, Sherman has turned into clowns, historic figures and wealthy socialites. In February, the Museum of Modern Art mounts a retrospective of her work from the '70s onward, including a series of photos she created in 2010 that will be shown in the U.S. for the first time. 11 W 53rd St between Fifth and Sixth Aves (212-708-9400, moma.org). Mon, Wed, Thu, Sat, Sun 10:30am--5:30pm; Fri 10:30am--8pm. $25, seniors $18, students $14, children under 16 free. Fri 4--8pm free. Feb 26--June 11.

33. Wrock out with devoted Potterheads in Brooklyn
Don your finest dress robes and pretend like you're at Hogwarts during the Harry Potter Yule Ball, a celebration of the Boy Who Lived. Catch live sets from wizard-rockers such as Harry and the Potters, Draco and the Malfoys (which will play its second-to-last show) and Potter Puppet Pals. If you're hungrier than Ron Weasley after a trip on the Hogwarts Express, visit the on-site food cart, which will sell Golden Snitchwitches. The concoction—a peanut-butter and Golden Graham sandwich—can be shaped into a Quidditch Snitch, which eager participants can try to catch in their mouths. The Bell House, 149 7th St between Second and Third Aves, Gowanus, Brooklyn (718-643-6510, thebellhouseny.com). Dec 17 at 5pm; $18.

34. Peep department-store holiday displays
Spend an afternoon strolling along Fifth Avenue to take a look at the extravagant ground-floor scenes. Start at Macy's (151 W 34th St at Broadway; 212-695-4400, macys.com) and work your way north to Lord & Taylor (424 Fifth Ave between 38th and 39th Sts; 212-391-3344, lordandtaylor.com). Continue on to Bergdorf Goodman's "Carnival of the Animals"--themed windows (754 Fifth Ave between 57th and 58th Sts; 212-753-7300, bergdorfgoodman.com) and the New York--centric windows at Bloomingdale's (1000 Third Ave at 59th St; 212-705-2000, bloomingdales.com), before wrapping up at Barneys New York (660 Madison Ave between 60th and 61st Sts; 212-826-8900, barneys.com), which gave Lady Gaga free rein over this year's displays. If it's too cold to walk, start your trek at the southern end of Central Park and hop on the M2, M3 or M5 going downtown on Fifth Avenue—you'll see nearly as many displays without freezing your butt off. For a preview, take a look at our guide to this year's holiday windows.

35. Go sledding
Flying saucers slide even faster than you remember, so as soon as it starts to snow, go sledding! Some of our favorite spots: Central Park's famous Pilgrim Hill (near 72nd St and Fifth Ave), Riverside Park's Hippo Playground (91st St at Riverside Dr) and Clove Lakes Park (Clove Rd at Victory Blvd, Staten Island), where rangers have been known to organize races. For more info, go to nyc.gov/parks.

36. Ring in the New Year with a New York legend
It's been 14 years since Patti Smith played her first New Year's Eve concert at the Bowery Ballroom, creating a holiday tradition that continues this year with a three-night run of shows. The iconic artist is joined by her band, and you can expect surprise guests (Michael Stipe showed up during one of last year's shows). Tickets for all three dates are sold out, but we're sure you can find a way to get your hands on a pair. 6 Delancey St between Bowery and Chrystie St (212-533-2111, boweryballroom.com). Dec 29--31 at 9pm; sold out.

37. Watch the Rockettes do high kicks at Radio City
The 79-year-old Radio City Christmas Spectacular underwent a makeover this year, with six new scenes—including a brand-new Rockettes number—added to the show. But old favorites, such as "The Parade of the Wooden Soldiers," remain, and are as delightfully cheesy and awe-inspiring to watch as ever. Radio City Music Hall, 1260 Sixth Ave at 50th St (866-858-0007, radiocitychristmas.com). Times vary; $45--$250. Through Jan 2.

38. Hear singers and songwriters interpret the American Songbook
Lincoln Center's monthlong concert series welcomes performers from all genres, including Broadway bums and indie-rock mainstays. The former include British musical-theater queen Elaine Paige (Feb 10 at 8:30pm) and In the Heights composer Lin-Manuel Miranda (Jan 11 at 8:30pm), while the latter brings an acoustic set from Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore (Feb 2 at 8:30pm) and a set from experimentalist Merrill Garbus, better known as Tune-Yards (Feb 9 at 8:30pm). The Allen Room (at Frederick P. Rose Hall), 33 W 60th St at Broadway (212-721-6500, americansongbook.org). Times vary; $35--$95. Jan 11--Feb 11.

39. Spend the longest night of the year at the Winter Solstice Concert
Musician Paul Winter has hosted this celebration of the seasonal change for more than three decades. Winter will be joined by gospel singer Theresa Thomason, the Forces of Nature Dance Theatre and African mbira (a thumb piano) player Chris Berry. The concert also boasts the world's largest gong (the massive instrument measures 80 inches in diameter), which ascends 12 stories to the vault of the cathedral and is played at the end of the first half of the concert. Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, 1047 Amsterdam Ave at 112th St (866-811-4111, solsticeconcert.com). Dec 15, 16 at 8pm; Dec 17 at 2, 7:30pm; $35--$80.

40. Kick some tochis at Major League Dreidel's annual competition
Reigning champion Juspin Bieber will defend his title (if not his name—it's indefensible) against 123 challenger during Major League Dreidel's 2011 tournament. Competitors will battle it out in the Spinagogue to determine who is the greatest dreidel-spinner in the land. (To participate, sign up at nogeltnoglory.com.) The festivities begin with a practice session for newbies, and continue with a Hanukkah-themed performance by metal band Gods of Fire (sample song: "Spin for the Blood of Our Elders") before the tourney takes place. Knitting Factory, 361 Metropolitan Ave at Havemeyer St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (347-529-6696, knittingfactory.com). Dec 17 at 6:30pm; $15, advance $10.