Essential holiday events

The season's unmissable shows and festivities.


Kwanzaa at the American Museum of Natural History

101st Annual Reading of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas
Jazz bassist Ron Carter will lead a reading of Clement Clarke Moore's beloved poem at a historic Gothic Revival church, which has hosted this tradition for a century. Hard-core Christmas fans should stick around afterward for a lantern procession, wreath-laying and hot-chocolate reception at Moore's grave site, across the street at Trinity Church cemetery. Church of the Intercession, 550 W 155th St between Amsterdam Ave and Broadway (212-283-6200, Dec 18 at 4pm; free.
Kwanzaa at the American Museum of Natural History
Kwanzaa begins on December 26, and the museum celebrates it with a marketplace of crafts, arts and various vendors opens in the Hall of Ocean Life. Performances from Something Positive Inc. and storyteller Linda Humes (who acts as the event's emcee) reflect the holiday's principles. Central Park West at 79th St (212-769-5200, Dec 31 noon--4pm; free with museum admission ($14.50--$19).
New York Transit Museum's Holiday Train Show
The train setup at the Transit Museum's Gallery Annex in Grand Central Terminal represents every variety of rail travel in NYC, including the LIRR, Metro-North and the subway. Watching these cars tool around the minicity on their way to the North Pole is much more enjoyable than your real commute. Grand Central Terminal, Main Concourse, 42nd St at Vanderbilt Ave (212-878-0106, Mon--Fri 8am--8pm; Sat, Sun 10am--6pm. Free. Nov 19--Jan 16.
Big Apple Chorus at South Street Seaport
Nothing says Christmas like 30 singing men in a tree. Watch the spectacle unfold as the members of the Big Apple Chorus arrange themselves like the ornaments of the South Street Seaport Christmas tree, then belt out barbershop-style renditions of your favorite carols. Pier 17, Fulton St between Front and Water Sts ( Nov 25, Dec 23 at 6, 7pm; Nov 26, 27, Dec 24 at 3, 4pm. Free.

It's a Wonderful Life at IFC Center
Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without this tale of redemption: Sink into the IFC Center's comfy chairs with one of the best buckets of popcorn in town and revisit Frank Capra's holiday staple. Mary Owen, the daughter of star Donna Reed, will introduce select shows. In true Christmas spirit, some of the proceeds from ticket sales will go to charity, namely the Donna Reed Foundation for the Performing Arts. 323 Sixth Ave at 3rd St (212-924-7771, Dec 21--27, various times; $13, seniors and children $9, members $8.

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