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!

  • Andy Watson

    Professional Bull Riders tour

  • Bust Craftacular and Food Fair Holiday Market

  • Etsy Labs Craft Night

  • David Baltzer

    Under the Radar

  • Photograph: Andrew Eccles

    Alvin Ailey Dance Theater

  • Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

Andy Watson

Professional Bull Riders tour

81. Pay homage to the Godfather of Soul
It's been five years since James Brown passed away on Christmas Day, and five since mega-DJ Nickodemus and Brooklyn's Nappy G started their annual funk-soul extravaganza featuring original tunes, covers of Brown's songs and mash-ups. Bring a friend who'll reenact the musician's famous "cape routine" for extra dance-floor brownie points. Drom, 85 Ave A between 5th and 6th Sts (212-777-1157, dromnyc.com). Dec 23 at 10pm; $10, before midnight $5.

82. Head to the rodeo in Midtown
Yee-haw! Forty professional bull riders (and the bucking creatures they'll attempt to stay atop) take over MSG for a three-day spell during the NYC stop on the PBR 2012 Built Ford Tough Series tour. And yes, donning a cowboy hat is totally encouraged. Madison Square Garden, 4 Pennsylvania Plaza (Seventh Ave) between 31st and 33rd Sts (212-465-6741, thegarden.com). Jan 6--7 8pm; Jan 8 1pm. $15--$205.

83. Shop for gifts at indie holiday markets...
Ladycentric magazine Bust hosts its annual Craftacular and Food Fair Holiday Market (82 Mercer St between Broome and Spring Sts; bust.com/craftacular; Dec 10 11am--8pm, Dec 11 11am--7pm; $3), with hundreds of vendors selling handmade and vintage items, and a beer garden selling Blue Point brews ($3--$4). Or head to Williamsburg for 3rd Ward's Handmade Holiday Craft Fair (195 Morgan Ave between Meadow and Stagg Sts, Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 3rdward.com/2011craftfair; Dec 10 noon--6pm; free), featuring live music and cheap drinks, in addition to dozens of jewelry, clothing and housewares vendors from around the country. For more places to find unique gifts, check out our list of New York's best holiday markets, or our 2011 gift guide.

84. ...Or learn to make your own presents at a craft class
Skip the checkout lines by creating homemade holiday presents with the help of a few local organizations. Online craft market Etsy has teamed with 3rd Ward to host courses on everything from millinery to perfume blending (3rd Ward, 195 Morgan Ave between Meadow and Stagg Sts, Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 718-715-4961, 3rdward.com; times and prices vary). Or head to Craft Night at Etsy Labs (55 Washington St between Front and Water Sts, suite 712, Dumbo, Brooklyn; etsy.com/labs, Mondays 4--8pm; free), a community craft night with different themes. Stop by on December 12 to get a tutorial in holiday card-making.

85. Get down at a Hanukkah-themed bash
Attend the second installment of the monthly event the Wind Up at the Jewish Museum, where Brooklyn art collective CHERYL throws a multimedia dance party that includes a beer-and-wine open bar for the first hour, DJ sets, video projections and dreidel games. The Jewish Museum New York, 1109 Fifth Ave at 92nd St (212-423-3200, thejewishmuseum.org). Dec 15 8--11pm. $15, advance $12.

86. Go around the world with Under the Radar
Producer Mark Russell's festival of avant-garde theater will feature 16 new plays from companies across the world. The offerings include Goodbar, a collaboration between New York company Waterwell and rock band Bamb (featuring Ira Glass in a video performance); The Table, by U.K. puppeteers Blind Summit; and Sontag: Reborn, a piece by the Builders Association based on the late author's early diaries. Locations and times vary; visit undertheradarfestival.com for details. $20--$25, festival pass $75; Jan 4--15.

87. Celebrate renewal with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
For its latest season, the dance company appointed choreographer Robert Battle as the new artistic director. Slated for this season are several new pieces, including the world premiere of Home, Rennie Harris's hip-hop piece inspired by the stories of those living with or affected by HIV. The company will also perform its signature piece, Revelations, which was choreographed by Ailey himself. New York City Center, 131 West 55th St between Sixth and Seventh Aves (212-581-1212, alvinailey.org). Schedule varies; check the website for details. $25--$135. Through Jan 1.

88. Warm up at a water spa
The quickest way to beat the shivers is a good old-fashioned shvitz. Luckily, the city abounds with some of the best therapeutic spas this side of Moscow. Queens' Spa Castle has four heated mineral pools, wet and dry saunas, and an outdoor heated Hinoki bath (131-10 11th Ave at 131st St, College Point, Queens; 718-939-6300, nyspacastle.com; Mon--Sun 6am--midnight; weekdays $35, weekend $45). In the East Village, the Russian and Turkish Baths warm you up in three kinds of saunas, then challenge you to dip into the ice-cold plunge pool (268 E 10th St between First Ave and Ave A; 212-674-9250, russianturkishbaths.com; hours vary, check the website for details; $35). Or, get the total Russian treatment at Brooklyn Banya (602 Coney Island Ave between Beverly Rd and Ave C, Flatbush, Brooklyn; 718-853-1300, brooklynbanya.com; Mon--Fri 9am--midnight; Sat, Sun 8am--midnight; $30), where you can follow a salt body scrub with pierogi from the on-site cafe (ten for $7).

89. Play squash
The threat of extreme cold and snowstorms has put the kibosh on outdoor sports for the next few months. Instead, try your hand at squash: The indoor racquet sport involves smacking a rubber ball around an enclosed room with a partner. Much of the New York squash scene happens at private pro clubs, but those who are merely curious can try out the game at a few public clubs, including CityView Racquet Club (43-34 32nd Pl at Hunters Point Ave, Long Island City, Queens; 718-389-6252, cityviewracquet.com; Thu 7:45pm, Sat 2pm; $40), which hosts twice-weekly round-robins for varying skill levels. BYO gear, including a racquet, safety goggles, indoor court shoes and ball (available at City Sports, 390 Fifth Ave at 36th St, 212-695-0171). True beginners would fare best by opting for private lessons with a teaching pro at a squash club; for more details, visit msra.net.

90. Gather 'round the hearth at a bar with a fireplace
Keep warm during the long, cold winter months at some of the city's finest fireplace bars. At Alewife Queens (5-14 51st Ave between Vernon Blvd and 5th St, Long Island City, Queens; 718-937-7494, alewifequeens.com), a new two-story gastropub, the upstairs fireplace boasts a gas-fueled setup with a minimalist white-brick mantel. For cool-weather flame-watching, we prefer the hot "punch" for two (mulled wine, spiked cider or hot eggnog, depending on the month), delivered in a teakettle ($22). Or head to Lani Kai (525 Broome St between Sixth Ave and Thompson St; 646-596-8778, lanikainy.com), where a sizable gas hearthstone filled with a bed of lava rock evokes the volcanoes of the bar owner's Hawaiian homeland. For more cozy drinkeries, check out our list of the city's best fireplace bars.