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: Paul Kolnik

    New York City Ballet's The Nutcracker

  • Photograph: Gene Schiavone

    ABT's The Nutcracker

  • Winter Antiques Show

  • Brooklyn Borough Hall tree

  • Photograph: Colleen Farrell

    New York Cares coat drive

  • BiblioBall

  • Le Parker Meridien's annual Gingerbread Masterpieces display

  • Photograph: Courtesy the Metropolitan Museum of Art

    The Waverly Consort perform The Christmas Story at The Cloisters

Photograph: Paul Kolnik

New York City Ballet's The Nutcracker

41. See George Balanchine's choreography in The Nutcracker...
New York City Ballet's production of Tchaikovsky's holiday classic remains a perennial favorite. In addition to Balanchine's iconic choreography, the spectacle includes a nine-foot-wide Mother Ginger costume, a one-ton Christmas tree and a faux snowstorm at the end of Act I. But if you can't make it to Lincoln Center, the production will also be broadcast in movie theaters on December 13 (schedule varies; visit fathomevents.com for more details) as well as PBS on December 14. David H. Koch Theater (at Lincoln Center), 20 Lincoln Center Plaza at 63rd St (212-496-0600, nycballet.com). Times vary; $29--$225. Through Dec 31.

42. ...or catch a new version of The Nutcracker in Brooklyn
Alexei Ratmansky's acclaimed production of the ballet returns after a triumphant debut last winter. The cast rotates every day: Veronika Part and Marcelo Gomes headline opening night as Clara and the Nutcracker, while ABT performers Hee Seo, Sarah Lane, Eric Tamm and Joseph Gorak, among others, take on those roles later in the production. BAM Howard Gilman Opera House, 30 Lafayette Ave between Ashland Pl and St. Felix St, Fort Greene, Brooklyn (718-636-4100, abt.org). Times vary; $15--$90. Dec 14--31.

43. Learn about New York's history at the Winter Antiques Show
In addition to the usual vendors selling fancy-pants wares, the 58th edition of this annual exposition features a special loan exhibition, "Celebrating Historic Hudson Valley at 60: Rockefeller Patronage in Sleepy Hollow Country," which displays items culled from the collections of five Hudson Valley historic houses. The show includes artwork from Sunnyside, the home of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" author Washington Irving. Park Avenue Armory, 643 Park Ave between 66th and 67th Sts (718-292-7392, winterantiquesshow.com). Mon--Wed, Fri, Sat noon--8pm; Sun, Thu noon--6pm. $20. Jan 20--29.

44. Dine out for less during Restaurant Week
Find affordable prix-fixe deals at some of NYC's high-end eateries during this annual food extravaganza. Participating eateries include EN Japanese Brasserie, Hill Country Barbecue, and new entrants like Boulud Sud and Marble Lane. You can make reservations now, but be sure to book soon—spots tend to go fast. Locations vary; visit nycgo.com/restaurantweek for details. Jan 16--Feb 10; three-course prix-fixe lunch $24.07, prix-fixe dinner $35.

45. Watch the tree lighting at Brooklyn Borough Hall
If the crowds at Rockefeller Center make you twitchy, here's another chance to see a massive conifer lit for the holiday season: Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz will flip the switch to light a 40-foot-tall Balsam fir at Brooklyn Borough Hall's annual celebration, featuring multicultural holiday music and a visit from Santa. Brooklyn Borough Hall, 209 Joralemon St between Adams and Court Sts, Brooklyn Heights (718-802-3700, brooklyn-usa.org). Dec 5 at 5:30pm; free.

46. Donate to the New York Cares Coat Drive
Help fellow New Yorkers stay warm through record frigid temps by donating gently used and freshly cleaned coats to New York Cares (locations and times vary; call 212-402-1173 or visit newyorkcares.org for more information; through Dec 31). This year the organization has set a goal of 100,000 donations, and you can drop your outerwear off at more than 200 locations, including Penn Station, Grand Central Terminal and Citi Pond at Bryant Park. Several other organizations are also hosting coat drives this year; check out our roundup of New York City coat drives to find out where to donate.

47. Party like a smarty at the 2011 BiblioBall
For four years running, the librarians who run the Desk Set, a charitable meet-up group, have been letting down their tight little chignons and cutting loose at this annual winter formal. The offerings are, of course, meticulously curated: Country-rockers the Nouvellas will play a live set and aerialist Jean Loscalzo will show off her tricks. Plus, you can catch a screening of the short film "S Is for Shhhh...," a noir starring librarians. The Bell House, 149 7th St between Second and Third Aves, Gowanus, Brooklyn (718-643-6510, thedeskset.org). Dec 3 8pm--3am; $20--$40.

48. Peep elaborate gingerbread creations
You can look at (but, sadly, not taste) the edible structures featured in Le Parker Meridien's annual Gingerbread Masterpieces display, a recent addition to the midtown holiday gawking rounds. Seven pastry chefs from local restaurants—including Gramercy Tarvern, BLT Steak and Norma's—go for over-the-top gingerbread splendor with these edible dream homes. Viewers can also shell out a buck to cast a vote for your favorite creation; all proceeds benefit City Harvest. Le Parker Meridien, 119 W 56th St between Sixth and Seventh Aves (212-245-5000, parkermeridien.com). Dec 1--Jan 6. Free to view, $1 to vote.

49. Chase away winter's chill with whiskey
Few things warm us on cold evenings as effectively as a few drams of whiskey. Williamsburg's Kings County Distillery (35 Meadow St between Bogart and Waterbury Sts, Williamsburg, Brooklyn; kingscountydistillery.com; Dec 10 2:30--5:30pm; tours free, tastings $3) opens its doors on December 10 for tours, as well as tastings of its signature bourbon and moonshine. Or head to Cobble Hill's Char No. 4 (196 Smith St between Baltic and Warren Sts, Cobble Hill, Brooklyn; 718-643-2106, charno4.com), where you can sip your way through a deep selection of more than 200 types of bourbon, scotch, rye and other international varieties.

50. Listen to carols from the Middle Ages at the Cloisters
If the thought of hearing "Last Christmas" one more time this season makes you want to smash something, head to this outpost of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where the holiday festivities have a distinctly medieval flavor. First, see the Waverly Consort perform The Christmas Story, which premiered at the Met 31 years ago (Dec 10 at 1, 3pm; Dec 11 at 1, 3pm; $45). Later in the month, the six-man a cappella group Lionheart will perform Christmas songs from the Middle Ages (Dec 18 at 1, 3pm; $35). 99 Margaret Corbin Dr, Fort Tryon Park (212-650-2290, metmuseum.org)