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: Joan Marcus

    Hugh Jackman: Back on Broadway

  • Photographer: Eric Harvey Brown

    Firecracker Ceremony and Parade

  • Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Ramen at Ippudo

  • God's Love We Deliver

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Dyker Heights Christmas lights

  • Photograph: Chiara Marinai

    Roasted chestnuts

Photograph: Joan Marcus

Hugh Jackman: Back on Broadway

51. Get serenaded at Hugh Jackman: Back on Broadway
He sings! He dances! He's ridiculously good-looking! All of Jackman's talents will be on display when the charming performer returns to the Great White Way, showcasing songs from The Boy from Oz, Oklahoma! and other tuners. Broadhurst Theatre, 235 W 44th St between Broadway and Eighth Ave (hughjackmanonbroadway.com). $68.50--$156.50; premium $251.50--$351.50. Through Jan 1.

52. Ring in the Year of the Dragon at the Firecracker Ceremony and Parade
Celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year (which takes place January 23) at two massive celebrations in Chinatown: During the Firecracker Ceremony (Sara D. Roosevelt Park, Chrystie St between E Houston and Canal Sts; betterchinatown.com; Jan 23 at noon; free), half a million firecrackers will be set off to ward away bad spirits for the year. The following week, 16 floats and 6,000 marching band members will traverse the neighborhood during the Lunar New Year Parade and Festival (begins at Canal and Mott Sts; 917-660-2402, betterchinatown.com; Jan 29 at 1pm; free).

53. Attend (or crash) Fashion Week
After two successful seasons in Lincoln Center, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week returns to the arts complex in February to show off designers' Fall 2012 collections. If you're not a celeb, socialite or otherwise well-connected person, you may have to use slightly unscrupulous means to get into the shows. (One way to fit in: wear all-black and look annoyed constantly.) Lincoln Center (mbfashionweek.com). Feb 9--16.

54. Hunker over a bowl of steaming-hot ramen
When temperatures drop, all we want to do is eat comfort food—and few dishes are quite as soul-warming as the Japanese staple. Sample a bowl of the noodle-packed soup at some of the city's best ramen joints, including Ippudo NY (65 Fourth Ave between E 9th and E 10th Sts, 212-388-0088) and Hide-Chan Ramen (248 E 52nd St between Second and Third Aves; 212-813-1800)—find out what to order by consulting our list of the city's 20 essential ramen dishes.

55. Volunteer with God's Love We Deliver
Put hours upon hours of watching the Food Network to good use: The charitable organization needs volunteers to assemble thousands of nutritious meals for New Yorkers in need—volunteers are most needed to make deliveries throughout the city. The organization asks that participants make one shift commitment for 2--3 months. For more information, visit glwd.org or e-mail volunteer@glwd.org.

56. Hear a choir sing at St. Thomas Church
Based on 16th-century texts, Benjamin Britten's enchanting nine-song sequence, A Ceremony of Carols, sounds especially glorious when performed by the renowned St. Thomas choristers. John Rutter's Dancing Day, a song cycle that incorporates elements of both religious and secular carols, rounds out the program. St. Thomas Church, 1 W 53rd St at Fifth Ave (212-757-7013, sainthomaschurch.org). Dec 15 at 5:30pm; $40.

57. Gawk at the Christmas lights in Dyker Heights
Plan an evening trip to this south Brooklyn 'hood, where a tacit and cutthroat competition exists among residents to have the most over-the-top holiday displays. Expect to see outrageous decorations like life-size nutcrackers, reindeer, gigantic inflatable snowmen and large gingerbread houses. Or book a spot on the Christmas Lights and Cannoli bus tour (meet at E 13th St at Fourth Ave; asliceofbrooklyn.com; daily 7--10:30pm; $55, children under 12 $45), which travels through the neighborhood before stopping at the Mona Lisa Pastry Shop for cappuccino and cannoli. 82nd to 85th Sts between Tenth and Twelfth Aves, Dyker Heights, Brooklyn; the biggest concentration of lights is on 83rd and 84th Sts between Tenth and Twelfth Aves. Through Dec 31.

58. Go seal-spotting
Beginning in the fall, hundreds of seals travel south from Maine to spend their winter in the relatively warmer waters of New York. Between December and March, they hang out by the local beaches, such as Orchard Beach in the Bronx, during low tide. Each winter, the New York City Parks Department hosts a Seal Shore Safari, a guided lookout from that spot; check the website for updates. Orchard Beach, Pelham Bay Park, Bronx (718-378-2061, nycgovparks.org). Date and time TBA; free.

59. Watch the season's finest flicks
Escape the cold by ducking into a movie theater (try one of our favorites) and catching one of this winter's most promising films. We're particularly pumped to see masterful director David Fincher's sure-to-be-high-octane thriller The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (opens Dec 21), starring Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara; Steven Soderbergh's action flick Haywire (opens Jan 20); and the indie-horror effort The Innkeepers (opens Feb 3). For a complete list of films to check out this season, consult our winter film preview.

60. Snack on a bag of roasted chestnuts
There are just a few spots in the city where the quintessential holiday treat can be found: You'll see a couple of street carts in tourist-packed midtown (Fifth Avenue between 53rd and 55th Streets and 34th Street near Herald Square are reliable spots). We also recommend heading to Main Street near 40th Street in Flushing, Queens, where you'll find carts peddling a Chinese variety that's cooked over hot pebbles.