The Very Best of NYC Special Events

Radio City Christmas Spectacular, Kwanzaa

Feel like a little kid again and go to the Radio City Christmas Spectacular this holiday season! It’s truly one of the magical, can’t-miss highlights of NYC from Thanksgiving to the New Year. This popular song-and-dance show, featuring the legendary Rockettes (and fireworks!), mingles Christmas classics with all-new numbers, and heightens the experience using cutting-edge digital projection technology. Now thru Jan 3.

Now thru Christmas Eve, Grand Central’s Holiday Fair is a merry cornucopia of wares from 74 artists, craftspeople and local businesses. Start checking off your gift list with handmade arts and crafts, toys, clothing, jewelry, specialty foods, bath and body items, holiday swag and cheerful home décor.  

Visit Winter Village at Bryant Park this season for some free ice-skating (but remember to bring your own skates—there are no rentals!), holiday shopping at over a hundred shops and delicious comfort food from kiosks such as Wafels & Dinges.

On Dec 27, celebrate Kwanzaa and soak up a family-friendly festival of African heritage and culture, including a screening of the Maya Angelou–narrated documentary The Black Candle: A Kwanzaa Celebration, at the American Museum of Natural History. Highlights include performances by Doug E. Fresh with reggae rapper Vicious, as well as DJs Barry B and Will Chill.

Make your plans now for Dec 31 if you haven’t already.  This year, Thirsty Girl Productions and Drom present Prohibition Masquerade Ball, a New Year’s Eve you won’t soon forget. Transport yourself back to the Roaring ‘20s while ringing in 2016 at a delightful ball hosted by drag star Sweetie and featuring music by The Holy Crow Jazz Band with crooner Jessy Carolina, plus DJ Spinach. A lusty burlesque lineup will also entertain you, including Jenny Rocha and Her Painted Ladies, and Tansy and her ferocious lion. Dust off your flapper dress; costumes encouraged!

On the weekend of Jan 9-10, recycle, or rather “treecycle” your Christmas tree, Hanukkah bush or whatever you decorated this holiday season at MulchFest 2016. Around 80 NYC parks are designated as drop-off points; check for locations in your neighborhood. NYC Parks hosts the annual two-day event to recycle trees into mulch that’ll help cultivate plants throughout the city—or in your own urban garden.

Jersey City’s 3rd Annual LGBT Wedding Expo happens Jan 10, and we look forward to it all year! Join Rainbow Wedding Network for a highly anticipated, fun-filled afternoon while you enjoy breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline at the elegant Liberty House Restaurant. Over 30 LGBT-friendly wedding vendors will be on hand to give you wedding planning tips while showcasing their wares and services. Other highlights include live entertainment, free samples, raffles, keynote speakers and much more!

This year Martin Luther King Day is Jan 18, and what a better way to spend it than to share in the Annual MLK Tribute at BAM. With a choir and a keynote speaker to be announced, this yearly celebration is the city’s biggest public tribute to Dr. King’s life, vision and legacy.

The winter edition of the SAGE Women's Dance is slated for Jan 24 at the Copacabana. Come with a partner, meet a new one or simply chase away those winter blues at this all-ages women’s dance, featuring a talented DJ to be announced. All proceeds benefit SAGE, so your partying and mingling will go to a great cause.

On Jan 31 at the Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts, the impressive Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company presents an all-new celebration of Chinese culture commemorating the Year of the Monkey. According to Chinese astrology and culture, 2016 will be a year characterized by cleverness, curiosity and playful mischief—just like its simian symbol. The festive, family-friendly event will showcase electrifying choreography inspired by shadow puppetry, Peking Opera performers in dazzling costumes, live music performed by the Chinese Music Ensemble of New York and a traditional Chinese marketplace.

It’s that special time of year again when HRC Greater New York hosts its signature winter gala at the Waldorf Astoria. This year it’s called Stronger Together, and it promises to be a grand affair on Feb 6! Celebrate with other members of the community from the tri-state area while raising money for HRC. The evening includes a cocktail reception, silent auction, dinner, keynote speakers and a festive after-party.

The same night, Feb 6, dress to impress (black tie optional; masks encouraged!) at The Center’s super-sexy, annual masquerade party, MASQ. All proceeds will benefit The Center’s life-changing, lifesaving programs and services. This year’s festivities—with burlesque entertainment!—will take place once again at The Bowery Hotel. Open vodka bar all night. Other details to be announced soon.

This Valentine’s Day, check out the Chinatown Lunar New Year Celebration and Parade. The Chinese Lunar New Year falls on Feb 8 (with the Firecracker Ceremony and Cultural Festival) but the annual parade in Chinatown happens on Feb 14. See flamboyant floats, dancers in vibrant costumes, marching bands and an assortment of live performers. Then pick up some cool merch in Chinatown for a different twist on humdrum cards, flowers and candy.

Also on Feb 14, Love Songs for the V-DAY Foundation is back at 54 Below! The third edition of this wonderful (and romantic) concert features a dynamic cast of performers from the Broadway and NYC theater communities, who will sing an exciting mishmash of songs from different periods of theater history about, well, love. A portion of the proceeds benefit the V-DAY Foundation, a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls.

Winter can get pretty gloomy, so keep your spirits up by heading to The Butterfly Conservatory at the American Museum of Natural History. It’s hard to be sad when you see one of nature’s most beautiful creatures fluttering around in all their colorful, spotted glory. An annual favorite, this exhibit features hundreds of different butterfly specimens. Ticket includes museum admission as well as the Rose Center for Earth and Space, and timed entrance to the butterflies. You can enjoy these delicate little creatures all winter and spring; it’s open thru May 29.

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