The best things to do in NYC this weekend

There are a ton of great things to do in NYC this weekend, but don't worry—we've whittled the list down to our top recs
NYC skyline
Photograph: Shutterstock NYC skyline
By Jennifer Picht and Time Out New York contributors |

TGIF! There are some incredible things to do in NYC this weekend including some of the best things to do during the holidays. (We have a full list of Christmas things to do in NYC, by the way.) Aside from all the concerts, comedy shows and parties you'll find on this list, make sure to get a jumpstart on your gift shopping at the city's best holiday markets, too.

RECOMMENDED: Full list of the best things to do in NYC

Things to do in NYC this weekend

Things to do, Quirky events

Jazz Age Tea Dance

icon-location-pin The Bell House, Gowanus

Return to the Gowanus of old at this true throwback bash, celebrating the Prohibition era. Don a flapper gown or a top hat, and try exotic teas and treats while getting down to big band numbers by Michael Arenella & His Dreamland Orchestra. Better start rehearsing your tango, foxtrot and Charleston now. 

Things to do

The Bliss Plaza Holiday Market

icon-location-pin Bliss Plaza Holiday Market, Midtown West

The Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District teams up with Queens International Night Market to host an alfresco shopping market including more than 30 ever-changing vendors on Saturdays and Sundays. Go for: The merch from local Queens businesses including 3D printed jewels, photography, ceramics, handmade candles, gifts for foodies and parents-to-be and more. Stay for: The Hearty food vendors selling Burmese palatas, Romanian-Hungarian chimney cakes and German bratwurst. Also, when you go, you'll receive a holiday shopping "passport" containing coupons to other neighborhood businesses in the area. It's also your ticket to ride a free trolley bus on December 8 to transport folks around Sunnyside. 

Phil Kline's Unsilent Night
Music, Classical and opera

Unsilent Night

icon-location-pin Washington Square Park, Greenwich Village

This trippy musical performance piece, dreamed up by composer Phil Kline, is downtown’s decidedly arty, secular answer to Christmas caroling. Boombox-toting participants gather under the Washington Square arch, where they are given a cassette or CD of one of four different atmospheric tracks; you can also download the Unsilent Night app and sync up via smartphone. Everyone presses play at the same time and marches through the streets of New York together, blending their music and filling the air with a beautiful, echoing 45-minute piece. 

Natalie Wall
Photograph: Courtesy Damon Scheleur
Comedy, Storytelling

Awkward Sex... and the City

icon-location-pin The Pleasure Chest, Lenox Hill

Skip the dark comedy club and head to a stylish sex shop for Natalie Wall's always-dope, perfectly curated sex storytelling show, which offers cringe-inducing, heartbreaking and gut-busting tales every month. Joining Wall for some drinks and stories this go ’round are Catherine Cohen, E.T. Chong and Jess Salomon. Audience members get free beer and wine and a 15% discount on Pleasure Chest merch—so the fun won't stop when the show is over.  

Rebecca Vigil, Evan Kaufman
Photograph: Courtesy Alex Schaefer
Comedy, Improv

Your Love, Our Musical!

icon-location-pin Caveat, Lower East Side

As musical comedians, Rebecca Vigil and Evan Kaufman have played just about every room in NYC, and at their beloved monthly show, they play your heartstrings. Watch as the manically inventive duo interviews a couple in the audience about how they met, then spins their love story into an epic, totally-improvised musical extravaganza. 

Photograph: Shutterstock
Things to do

Brooklyn Cookie Takedown

icon-location-pin Lot 45, Bushwick

Drown your sorrows in dough at this amateur bakeoff, where you'll be partaking in confections with oddball flavors like blue cheese and bacon (past prizes have gone to a saltine covered in fudge and caramel). “People aren’t trying to be weird as much as they’re trying to be yummy,” says Takedown founder Matt Timms. If you've got your own cookie creation to show off, you can still register on the Takedowns site. 

Manchester Orchestra
Photograph: Courtesy the artist
Music, Rock and indie

Manchester Orchestra

icon-location-pin Brooklyn Steel, Williamsburg

This American band, which is neither from Manchester nor an orchestra, plays swelling rock songs with dramatic shades of Built to Spill. The group hits Brooklyn behind the new A Black Mile to the Surface, which features a nearly total turnover of the group's original members aside from guitarist and singer Andy Hull.

Nutcracker Rouge
Photograph: Courtesy Mark Shelby Perry
Things to do, Performances

Nutcracker Rouge

icon-location-pin Théâtre XIV, Bushwick

Sure, you can catch Tchaikovsky's beloved ballet at the theater, or even at the multiplex with Disney's new adaptation. But for a distinctly NYC take on the Christmas classic, head to Bushwick's fabulously gothic Théâtre XIV. You may know Company XIV as the burlesque bastion behind shows like "Ferdinand: Boylesque Bullfight," and their ribald spin on Tchaikovsky promises the same level of high-drama choreography, tassel-twirling and magnificent costumes. Met Opera choreographer and company co-founder Austin McCormick assembles a lit team of opera singers, aerialists, circus performers and burlesque artists for this year's spectacle, running through January. Beyond the dazzling show, you're sure to be awed by the baroque theater space, which looks like a set from the Phantom of the Opera, along with the cheeky cocktail menu. Just be sure to keep an eye out for whoever (and whatever) comes crawling out from under Mother Ginger’s dress.

Ruby Ray, Pat Bag and Alice Bag, 1978
Photograph: Courtesy of the artist and Museum of Sex
Things to do, Exhibitions

"Punk Lust: Raw Provocation, 1971–1985"

icon-location-pin Museum of Sex (MoSex), Flatiron

For over a decade, the hot cultural miasma of punk erupted right out of New York City. It was an era of explosive rock & roll, swirling gender boundaries, fierce women and game-changing fashion—rooted in the sex work industry, counter-culture and iconic performance venues of ’70s NYC. Explore how the movement was born out of—and forever changed—cultural understandings of gender and sex work at this new exhibition, curated by cultural critic Carlo McCormick, artist Lissa Rivera and "punk professor" Vivien Goldman. At areas like "Art and Film," "Deconstructing Gender," "Sex/Work," "Fetish and Fashion" and "Rebellion and Provocation," you can see rare costumes, photographs, flyers, letters and films from icons of the era like Johnny Thunder, Malcolm McLaren and Sable Starr. NYC has certainly changed since the heyday of Blondie and Suicide. But there's no touching the city's immortal legacy as the birthplace of cultural rebellion.

What the Dickens? Third Annual A Chrstmas Carol Marathon
Photograph: Amanda Bullock
Things to do, Literary events

What the Dickens? Ninth Annual A Christmas Carol Marathon

icon-location-pin Housing Works Thrift Store, Soho

Housing Works welcomes musicians, writers and performers to invoke Ebenezer Scrooge and his ghosts. The event begins at noon with caroling from the New York City Master Chorale, followed by a three-and-a-half-hour reading (approximately) with writers giving their take on the infamous miser. Seasonal treats like hot chocolate and mulled wine are available at the cafe, plus store items are 10 percent off, so bring your holiday list. Bah, humbug! 

Courtney Maginnis and Chris Calogero
Photograph: Courtesy Mindy Tucker

Not Quite Midnight

icon-location-pin Littlefield, Gowanus

Chris Calogero and Courtney Maginnis welcome comedians to show off their best sets, then join them at the hot seat for a delightfully-off talk show. And the Holiday X-travaganza promises to be a legendary banger, with sets from Kate Willett, Josh Gondelman, Casey James Salengo, Emily Winter, Carmen Lagala, Sam Evans, Max Wittert, Ethan Simmons Patterson, Ayo Edibiri, Joe Rumrill, Julia Shiplett and Sam Taggart. 

Photograph: Courtesy Dave Vann
Music, Rock and indie


icon-location-pin The Capitol Theatre,

For some three decades, the Pennsylvanian institution helmed by Aaron Freeman and Mickey Melchiondo, a.k.a. Gene and Dean Ween, has maintained its ability to project its virtuosic talent onto virtually any genre and goofily make it its own. The band hits the Capitol Theatre for a pair of holiday dates, though, truth be told, for Ween's sizable fan base, every concert is a holy event. 

Photograph: Courtesy Grand Bazaar NYC
Things to do, Markets and fairs

Grand Holiday Bazaar

icon-location-pin Grand Bazaar NYC, Upper West Side

This weekly Upper West Side marketplace, one of NYC’s oldest, goes all out every holiday season. From Nov 25 through Dec 30, drop by any Sunday to shop photographs, jewelry, furniture, beauty products, antiques and tasty eats from more than 150 local merchants—and feel really good doing it: the market supports local businesses by donating 100 percent of its profits to four of the neighborhood's public schools.

Harry and the Potters at the Harry Potter Yule Ball
Photograph: Courtesy Harry and the Potters
Things to do

Harry and the Potters: Yule Ball

icon-location-pin The Bell House, Gowanus

The annual themed Yule Ball transforms the Bell House into Hogsmeade’s raviest tavern with live performances, loads of cosplay and plenty of flowing butterbeer. On top of the night’s hosts, Harry and the Potters, you can also catch wizard-rock bands like the Whomping Willows or Tonks and the Aurors over the course of the magic night.

Apollo Theater Salutes Harlem Week/Amateur Nights
Photograph: Courtesy Shahar Azran

Amateur Night Holiday Special

icon-location-pin Apollo Theater, Harlem

The legendary weekly Apollo amateur night toasts the season at this family-friendly party, featuring the recent winners of the show’s “Apollo Stars of Tomorrow” category: a host of gifted instrumentalists, singers and dancers all under 18.

More things to do in NYC this weekend


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