The best things to do in the winter in NYC

The weather outside may be frightful, but the best things to do in winter in NYC are just so delightful
Photograph: Pixabay
By Jillian Anthony and Time Out New York contributors |
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There are a lot of incredible things to do in winter, which only reinstates how the city that never sleeps certainly doesn’t hibernate during the colder months. There are many exciting events during the snowiest time of year, 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.

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 new rink-side pop-up restaurant The Lodge with an indoor beer garden. 

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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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Fleetwood Mac
Photograph: Courtesy Randee St. Nicholas
Music, Pop

Fleetwood Mac

icon-location-pin Multiple venues
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After reviving the Rumours lineup in 2014, the Mac is back. But all is not well in the land of dreams and crystal visions: Guitarist Lindsey Buckingham is on the outs with the group after scheduling disagreements with his band mates. In his place, ax slingers Mike Campbell (Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers) and Neil Finn (Crowded House) join the crew for this tour. As a result, you can expect a few covers and rarities, like the bluesy "Oh Well" from the band's earlier, pre-Buckingham/Nicks incarnation, as well as a steady stream of hits.

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How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical (2014)
Photograph: Courtesy BlueMoon Studios
Theater, Musicals

How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical

icon-location-pin Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden, Midtown West
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Mel Marvin and Timothy Mason's musical take on Dr. Seuss's yuletide fable, in which a selfish creature overcomes his chronic cardiac deficiency, played two holiday seasons on Broadway during the Great White Way's green-monster craze of the 2000s. Now it returns to MSG in a production directed by Matt August and starring Gavin Lee, who recently shone as another green grump in Broadway's SpongeBob SquarePants.

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Harry Potter: A History of Magic
Photograph: Courtesy Jim Kay, Bloomsbury Publishing
Things to do

"Harry Potter: A History of Magic"

icon-location-pin New-York Historical Society | Manhattan, NY, Upper West Side
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Dive into the ancestors of the world’s most-beloved magical saga at this spectacular exhibition, which collects artifacts from the British Library, the New-York Historical Society and J.K. Rowling’s own archives. You’ll learn about the history of dragons, griffins and other essentials of Hogwarts lore, peer at rare notes and art from Rowling and illustrator Mary GrandPré, and view costumes from the current production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Brace yourself for a museum gift shop more packed than Honeydukes.

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15th annual Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade & Festival, Chinese New Year
Photograph: Filip Wolak
Things to do

Chinese New Year

Get ready for one of the best NYC events in February: Chinese New Year! NYC will be chock-full of dragon dances, vibrant floats and yummy vendor foods during the annual celebration. Make sure to head to Chinatown for one of the best things to do in the winter, including annual Lunar New Year Parade & Festival. 

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Dove Cameron
Photograph: Courtesy Martina Tolot
Theater, Musicals

Clueless, The Musical

icon-location-pin New Group, Hell's Kitchen
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Amy Heckerling adapts her own lovable 1995 movie, a Beverly Hills update of Jane Austen's Emma, into a jukebox musical comedy that repurposes '90s hits into character songs. Kristin Hanggi (Rock of Ages) directs; Dove Cameron, of Disney Channel's Liv and Maddie, stars as would-be matchmaker Cher.

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

Nutcracker Rouge

icon-location-pin Théâtre XIV, Bushwick
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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 to witness a truly wild spin. 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.

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New Vibe Yoga
Sports and fitness, Yoga & Pilates

Ashtanga Yoga

icon-location-pin New Vibe Yoga, East Village
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Revive your senses and find peace from the chaos of city life at this spacious, aromatic new yoga studio that offers self-guided and instructor-led ashtanga lessons, along with an infrared sauna, reiki sessions and more.

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Holiday Train Show 2013 at the New York Botanical Garden
Things to do, Exhibitions

Holiday Train Show

icon-location-pin New York Botanical Garden | Bronx, NY, The Bronx
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The garden lights up with its collection of trains that chug along a nearly half-mile track by 150 miniature NYC landmarks like the Empire State Building and Radio City Music Hall, all made of natural materials such as leaves, twigs, bark and berries.  

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Andy Warhol, Marilyn Diptych, 1962
Photograph: Tate, London, © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc./Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Art, Contemporary art

“Andy Warhol—From A to B and Back Again”

icon-location-pin Whitney Museum of American Art, Meatpacking District
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In a certain sense, the Whitney’s retrospective of Andy Warhol (1928–1987) is redundant: If you want to see his work, just look around you. Warhol anticipated our free-market landscape of short attention spans and narcissistic social media engagements. His oft-quoted insight, “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes,” nailed our penchant for disposable celebrity, foreseeing our Instagram influencers, YouTube stars and other assorted meme-sters. Another utterance—“Business is the best art”—predicated a contemporary art world in which meaning is subsumed by the global flow of capital. Warhol’s observations became an augury because we, as a society, wound up with the superficial culture we so richly deserve. Interestingly, Warhol was unabashed about indicting his own art for being part of the problem. “If you want to know all about Andy Warhol,” he once said, “just look at the surface of my paintings and films and me, and there I am. There’s nothing behind it.” Gnomic pronouncements were of apiece with Warhol’s sphinxlike persona, yet there was more behind the mask than he let on. His transformation from Andrew Warhola, son of working-class Slovakian transplants to Pittsburgh, to Andy Warhol, avatar of downtown midcentury cool, was a classic American tale of self-invention filtered through popular culture. Inspired by his mother’s kitchen, he elevated food packaging to fine art. He brought the ethos of mass production, that medium of blue-collar life, to hi

Time Out says
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Paul Winter’s 37th Annual Winter Solstice Celebration
Photograph: Courtesy Winter Solstice Celebration
Things to do, Performances

Paul Winter’s Winter Solstice Celebration

icon-location-pin Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, Morningside Heights
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Cathedral of St. John the Divine is the largest cathedral in New York City and one of the loveliest; entering its elegant confines could cheer up even the grinchiest among us. At this nonreligious celebration of the season, watch dancers and musicians reenact ancient solstice rituals for a modern audience. 

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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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Duo Fusion in BIG APPLE CIRCUS
Photograph: Courtesy Juliana Crawford
Theater, Circuses & magic

Big Apple Circus

icon-location-pin Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Upper West Side
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After declaring bankruptcy in 2016 to widespread lamentations, the family-friendly circus came bouncing back to life at Lincoln Center last year, and now returns for its 41st season with a show that aim to throw some spotlights on women. New ringmaster Stephanie Monseu presides over a spectacle that includes a trapeze routine by the Flying Tunizianis, a trampoline act created by Andréanne Quintal, and an acrobatic duet, performed by Virginia Tuells and Ihosvanys Perez, in which she does most of the heavy lifting.

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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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Viator
Things to do

Dyker Heights Holiday Lights

icon-location-pin Row NYC, Midtown West
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Dyker Heights residents take the holidays very seriously: The houses in this nabe are decked out with thousands of lights, life-size toy soldiers, inflatable Santas and more. Take in all the best displays on this 3.5-hour bus tour.

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Roy Hargrove Quintet
Music, Jazz

Roy Hargrove

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Fiery trumpeter Hargrove, who's played with the likes of Erykah Badu and Common, airs his soulful neobop in an all-star quintet format consisting of saxophonist Jaleel Shaw, pianist Orrin Evans, drummer Nasheet Waits and bassist Eric Revis.

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Bruce Nauman, Human Nature/Life Death/Knows Doesn’t Know, 1983
Photograph: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, © 2018 Bruce Nauman/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Art, Contemporary art

“Bruce Nauman: Disappearing Acts”

icon-location-pin Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Midtown West
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The Museum of Modern Art’s much-anticipated Bruce Nauman retrospective is here, and to call it exhaustive would be an understatement. If the show’s organizers haven’t assembled the entirety of Nauman’s output over 50 years, they’ve accomplished something pretty damn close. Occupying MoMA PS1 from top to bottom, with a floor at the Midtown Modern thrown in for good measure, the exhibit covers Nauman’s essential role in U.S. art, especially during the late 1960s, a period which produced video, installation, performance, body and conceptual art. Nauman had a hand in developing them all. Starting out as a painter, Nauman switched to sculpture, though not in the conventional sense. Initially perplexed about which direction to take, he concluded that, since he worked in an art studio, anything he did there could be considered art—a performative corollary to Marcel Duchamp’s notion of the Readymade. In this respect, Nauman was his own Readymade, and because he treated himself as an object, effacing his subjectivity in the bargain, he became, in effect, the anti–Marina Abramovic: not a dramatic actor in his work, but a kind of void—hence this show’s title, “Disappearing Acts.” An early filmed performance from 1967–68 serves as a prime example, with Nauman, seen shirtless from the waist up, applying makeup to his face and body­—first in white, then in pink, next in green and finally in black. The result is something of a paradox, as Nauman stands out from the wall behind him while

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Photograph: Raydene Salinas
Shopping

New York Fashion Week

Get camera-ready for Fashion Week. 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. 

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Empress Of
Photograph: Courtesy Adam Elramly
Music, Pop

Empress Of

icon-location-pin Elsewhere, Bushwick
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Floating electronic beats, meticulously layered samples and dream-pop melodies—sounds like a common synth-pop formula these days, but as Empress Of, singer-songwriter Lorely Rodriguez sounds nothing short of singular. The artist follows her stellar 2015 debut, Me, with another stunner, Us. From the lush groove of "Love for Me" to the moody funk of "When I'm With Him," Rodriguez excercises restraint, leaving ample space in her arrangements to highlight her strong vocals. Across ten expertly deployed tracks, she finds a new softness without losing her music's danceable pulse for a sound that's well matched to her intimate, bilingual missives on romance, friendship and fitting in.

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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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Billy Joel
Photograph: Kevin Mazur
Music, Rock and indie

Billy Joel

icon-location-pin Madison Square Garden, Midtown West
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The erstwhile angry young man—since 2014, an official Madison Square Garden franchise, like the Knicks and Rangers—is tacking on date after date in what’s threatening to become an endless run.

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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 show up for the annual spectacle. 

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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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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.

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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.

More winter things to do

Windham Mountain
Photograph: Courtesy Windham Mountain
Things to do

The best ski trips near NYC

Interested in ski trips near NYC? Take the bus or train to hit the slopes in ski paradises near New York in no time.

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Winter food & drink

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Winter events guides

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Archive things to do in the winter content

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