The best things to do in the winter in NYC

Not even a little sleet or snow will stop New Yorkers from enjoying the best things to do in the winter, so bundle up
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Anthony Quintano
By Jillian Anthony and Time Out New York contributors |
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There are so many awesome things to do in winter, which only reinstates this fact: the city that never sleeps certainly doesn’t hibernate during the colder months. There’s a plethora of exciting events, including a winter carnival and festivals to keep everybody entertained. For something a bit more snuggly, check out the coziest restaurants and bars in NYC or lounge inside a sauna at one of the best spas. Don’t forget that New York is absolutely gorgeous in winter, so bundle up and go out to admire all the snow-covered trees at the best NYC parks, and enjoy fun winter celebrations including dog shows, book fairs and Winter Jam.

Best things to do in the winter

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Photograph: Courtesy Elizabeth Shrier
Things to do, Markets and fairs

The Bryant Park Winter Village guide

The Winter Village at Bryant Park is worth braving the cold for. Not only is there free ice-skating on Bryant Park's 17,000-square-foot outdoor rink (you may bring your own skates or rent for $20), there's a bunch of new kiosks and eateries where you can grab a bite. There is also the aforementioned rink-side pop-up restaurant Public Fare (open daily from 8am–10pm), serving coffee, snack, sandwiches and soup during the day as well as dinner and drinks during the evening.

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Things to do, Sport events

2018 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic

Hockey fans, assemble! The 10th anniversary of the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic will be big, especially for Gothamites. The match is between two Empire State teams, the Buffalo Sabres and the New York Rangers. What makes this game so special is that it’s being played outdoors: Citi Field is bringing in an ice truck to create a temporary rink. Before the stick smackdown, there’s a free pregame festival for fans with giveaways, food and drinks at Lot F in Citi Field’s parking lot (9am to 1pm).

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Apollo Theater
Photograph: Shahar Azran
Things to do, Performances

Kwanzaa Celebration: Regeneration Night

The Apollo Theater's annual Kwanzaa celebration returns for its eleventh year, once again hosting Abdel Salaam’s Forces of Nature Dance Theatre for two Saturday shows. The dance company combines modern dance, traditional West African dance and martial arts to explore the principles of Kwanzaa—family, community and culture—in a vibrant and uplifting performance held in one of the bastions of the city’s Black culture. 

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Photograph: Courtesy Damian Santucci/Times Square Alliance
Things to do

Good Riddance Day

Rid yourself of 2017’s baggage at the tenth annual Good Riddance Day, inspired by the Latin American tradition of burning dolls that represent issues from the year before. Bring the things you want to forget to Times Square—the Times Square Alliance will provide shredders, dumpsters and sledgehammers. Goodbye to all that! 

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Art Pop @HOY 10..6.17
Kenny Rodriguez
Things to do

Thank You for Everything: Thanksgiving Edition

Brooklyn disco palace House of Yes expresses gratitude to its regular revelers with a night of jubilant dancing, circus acts and psychedelia. You’re guaranteed an endorphin rush that will see you through all the emotional ups and downs of your family reunion.

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Winter Jazzfest 2017
Photograph: Courtesy Gulnara Khamatova
Music

Winter Jazzfest

Each January, Winter Jazzfest, perennially one of the best concerts in NYC, hosts the genre’s top talent over several nights. Its signature two-night Greenwich Village marathon brings vets and up-and-comers, hordes of music fans and a palpable air of excitement to an array of cozy downtown venues.

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Chinese New Year, Chinese New Year Firecracker Ceremony and Cultural Festival
Things to do

Chinese New Year Firecracker Ceremony and Cultural Festival

Unfriendly ghosts should steer clear of Sara D. Roosevelt Park on February 16 when the Better Chinatown Society lights 600,000 firecrackers to welcome the Year of the Dog and ward off evil spirits. In addition to the pyrotechnics, there will be lion dances and decorations giveaways, plus craft vendors and food booths where you can get your fill of traditional delicacies. It’s said that the more dumplings you eat at the celebration, the more money you’ll make in the year ahead. Grand St at Forsyth St.

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138th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show
Photograph: Filip Wolak
Things to do, Exhibitions

Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show

These pups may be cute, but their owners have spent tens of thousands of dollars to train, primp and groom them for this moment. Coo over more than 3,000 dogs representing hundreds of breeds and varieties at this annual caninefest, where dogs are judged across seven divisions (hound, toy, nonsporting, herding, sporting, working and terrier). If you can’t score a ticket, you can still get your fix via online streaming during the day and TV coverage of the evening competitions.

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Things to do, Quirky events

Intro to Vedic Meditation

Learn how daily meditation may improve your waking (and sleeping) life, alleviate anxiety and insomnia and foster healthy eating habits at this session from Ben Turshen Meditation. You’ll get a feel for the technique and the chance to register for a weeklong meditation course. Try it: You’re out of excuses.

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Cupid's Undie Run 2013
Photograph: Eric H. Brown
Things to do, Quirky events

The Cupid’s Undie Run

Join this scantily clad, one-mile Valentine’s Day dash to raise funds for the Children’s Tumor Foundation, which has raised $94,589 in the past. Make sure to register (and wear some form of undies) to participate.

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Photograph: Filip Wolak
Things to do, Festivals

Madison Street to Madison Avenue Lunar New Year Celebration

Celebrate the Lunar New Year all-day-long during this action-packed festival full of musical performances, shopping discounts from local stores and family entertainment from Madison Street to Madison Ave. Make sure to check out the lineup online—we imagine there will be plenty of lion dancers, calligraphy demos and traditional Chinese face-changing. 

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Photograph: Raydene Salinas
Shopping

New York Fashion Week

Get camera-ready for Fashion Week 2018. NYC will be filled with a stampede of posh editors, bloggers, stylists and shutterbugs. Tickets to some of the major runway shows aren’t available to the general public, but newsflash: you don’t have to be part of the elite fashion world to feel like an insider. Maybe you don’t have a front-row seat to the shows or a spot reserved next to Anna Wintour, but don't fret—we’ve got you covered. From free New York Fashion Week events you can actually attend to tips on how to get noticed by street style photographers, we’ll make sure to keep you in the loop.

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Downton Abbey
Fabian Leow
Things to do, Exhibitions

“Downton Abbey: The Exhibition”

The costumes. The getups. The Maggie Smith burns. Immerse yourself in the world of the post-Edwardian TV phenomenon at this show, which features more than 50 original costumes, along with Downton Abbey sets. Gawk at the table settings, authentic artifacts used on the show and more at this comprehensive show.

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The Orchid Show 2013 at the New York Botanical Garden
Photograph by Cinzia Reale-Castello
Things to do, Exhibitions

The Orchid Show

The New York Botanical Garden explodes into a tropical floral extravaganza for the annual Orchid Show. Take in the thousands of blooms on display, and don’t forget to make a pit stop by the Shop in the Garden for your very own orchid to take home.

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Things to do, Festivals

St. Patrick’s Day Parade

No St. Patrick’s Day in NYC would be complete without staking out a spot at this parade, which makes another glorious march up Fifth Avenue. (The event is even older than the United States; it was started by a group of homesick Irish conscripts from the British army in 1762.) More than 2 million onlookers are expected to show up for the annual spectacle. Fifth Ave from 44th St to 79th St.

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Minton's
Photograph: Zandy Mangold
Restaurants

NYC Restaurant Week

Twice a year, NYC Restaurant Week takes over our fair city, allowing penny-pinchers like us to stuff our guts like royalty at top eateries for only a fraction of the usual cost. With three-course prix-fixe lunch and dinner menus and reservations available via OpenTable, it’s easier than ever to get into that new French bistro you’ve had your eyes on and nearly 400 other mouthwatering gems.

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Trish Parry
Things to do, Performances

Smut Slam 
NYC

Trish Perry invites you to share your real-life sex stories and get curious with an open-minded audience and a panel of kinky celebrity judges (think erotica writers and sex-party hosts). Sign up for a five-minute slot to tell your tale, or drop a question or confession in the Fuckbucket if getting onstage makes you feel a bit sheepish. Either way, you’ll have the chance to win prizes from Njoy and Babeland, so you can keep the fun going well past closing time.

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Photograph: Thomas Donley
Things to do

Mardi Gras

Every year, New York's usual anxiety and chaotic charm turns laissez-faire via the Crescent City for Mardi Gras. NYC’s Fat Tuesday is a typically rambunctious affair, featuring jazz performances at some of the best jazz clubs in the city, plus more funky shows. There also rich cuisine from Cajun restaurants, king cake and some of the best parties in New York.

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Super Bowl Party Food
Things to do

Super Bowl

Whether you dig football or not, the big game is, if anything, an ace excuse to gorge and get sloppy. And if football isn’t really your jam, there’s always the Puppy Bowl, a televised gaggle of adorable doggies in a mock stadium. Who are we kidding? We’re mostly here for the puppies.

More winter things to do

Windham Mountain
Photograph: Courtesy Windham Mountain
Things to do

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