The Very Best Of NYC Holiday Events

Winter Solstice Celebration, A Murray Little Christmas and more!

For the first time in seven years the Winter Solstice Celebration at Saint John the Divine will take place in the fully reopened cathedral. Hosted by Grammy Award-winning musician Paul Winter, with his orchestra and several special guests, this beautiful ceremony marks the beginning of winter in one of the only NYC cathedrals to celebrate non-Christian holidays, complete with a menorah on the high altar. Ceremonies will be held on both Dec 18 and 19. 

Santa Claus is Coming to Downtown! Dec 12–14 kids can have their picture taken on Santa’s lap in the Winter Garden at the World Financial Center. All proceeds will go to Project Sunshine, a non-profit providing educational, recreational and social services to children and families living with medical challenges.

Also taking place in the Winter Garden until Jan 9 is the Festival of Light and Sound, named for the 100,000 lights adorning the palm trees inside the World Financial Center and the numerous musical performances that occur on selected nights. Also, on sporadic weekday afternoons there will be a capella caroling by The Accidentals.

On display at the Museum of Natural History from now through Jan 1 is the Origami Holiday Tree, which is covered in approximately 500 folded animals including a Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton and lots and lots of horses in honor of the soon-to-be-over Horses exhibit. Volunteers have been folding paper for the tree since July, and are on hand to teach visitors the art of origami.

For one night only on Dec 20 the Simply Barbara Holiday Spectacular, takes place at Symphony Space, to benefit the Ali Forney Center. Bistro and MAC Award-winner Steven Brinberg performs as the incomparable Babs along with special guests Julie Wilson, Tituss Burgess, and the Broadway Boys. This is sure to be a spectacle you won’t soon forget, and your dollars will be going towards an incredibly important cause.

Murray Hill will be doing his very best to make this holiday season one you won’t forget, with two great shows: A Murray Little Christmas and Murray Hill’s New Year’s Eve Extravaganza! The first takes place on Dec 13 and 20, and begs the question: Can Murray Save Christmas? The New Year’s Eve Extravaganza is, of course, on Dec 31, and is bound to be packed with circus antics as Murray ringleads various burlesque acts, trapeze artists and singers, with plenty of hilarious hijinks from Murray himself. Don’t miss either of these anything-goes events at the Zipper Factory.

Over at the rink at Rockefeller Center on Dec 13 is the 34th Annual Merry Tuba Christmas, which, if you’ve never seen it before, is definitely worth checking out. Hundreds of tuba players of all ages from throughout the NYC area will gather around the tree and play Christmas carols and other famous songs while the spectators sing along. Started in honor of the late William J Bell in honor of his Christmas Day birth date (in 1902!), this event now takes place in cities all across the world.

Carnegie Hall is presenting its annual holiday lineup for your aural pleasure, and the line-up is top notch! Opening the festivities on Dec 16 is soprano sensation Deborah Voigt and the St. Luke’s Orchestra, who will perform a special program of memorable holiday tunes. On Dec 19 and 20 the New York Pops will be joining The King’s Singers for a program of music that ranges from medieval times to the Renaissance and onward through contemporary pop and jazz favorites. Rounding out the holiday season on Dec 24 and 28 are the New York String Orchestra, a 62-member ensemble of 15–22-year-old musicians from across the country. They perform an all-Mozart program on Christmas Eve and then return with three pianists on the Dec 28 to play a variety of favorites.

“Schticking it to the man,” as they say, are Nice Jewish Girls Gone Bad, at the Zipper Factory on Dec 24. With a brand new line up of chosen ones, these ladies are bound to have you laughing your tookus off. This show has played to sold-out crowds all across the country and has received rave reviews from numerous media outlets, so if the holidays have driven you to the brink of madness, let these ladies help reel you back in…or push you over the edge.

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