The Very Best of NYC Holiday Celebrations

The Hard Nut, Bethelem or Bust and other unique holiday gems

The Hard Nut is a hilarious yet reverent holiday rendition of The Nutcracker taking place Dec 10 through 19 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. Mark Morris updates the classic tale by setting it in the swinging 1960s and ’70s, complete with go-go boots, G.I. Joe soldiers, dancing Barbie dolls and gender-bending casting. The Hard Nut’s story follows the evil Rat Queen, who disfigures Princess Pirlipat and offers an impossible challenge: the girl will regain her beauty if a young man can crack the “hard ­nut” with his teeth. Drosselmeier, a kind family friend, searches the world over for a suitor up to the challenge—who finally emerges in an expected place.

Bethlehem or Bust: How the Three Kings Teamed Up to Deliver the World’s Very First Christmas Presents. Everyone knows about the Three Kings and their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, but not so many people know about the adventures they had on their way to the manger. Bethlehem or Bust is a family show playing Dec 17-19 that envisions the Wise Men as swashbucklers on an action-packed journey where they need to brave all sorts of robbers, monsters, Roman soldiers – and the occasional shepherd – on their way to meet one of history’s most famous babies. (Great for kids age 7 and up!)

New Year’s Eve on the Hudson, a cruise for a diverse mix of young professionals presented by Affairs Afloat, debarks on the Queen of Hearts Dec 31 for mixing, mingling, dancing and drinking in the New Year. Sail to the Statue of Liberty to view the fireworks and enjoy a champagne toast with friends at midnight. Two DJs on two levels spin a party-friendly mashup of R&B, house, old school hip hop and top 40. Enjoy hors d’oeuvres and a dockside continental breakfast after 1am.

Load up on caffeine for the Poetry Project’s 37th annual New Year’s Day Marathon Reading at St. Marks Church Jan 1. Poets and performers for 2011 include John Giorno, Patti Smith, Lenny Kaye, Philip Glass, Suzanne Vega, Taylor Mead, Eric Bogosian, Anne Waldman and Ambrose Bye, Anselm Berrigan, Ariana Reines, Ted Greenwald, The Church of Betty, Thom Donovan, Tim Griffin, Todd Colby, Tom Savage, David Shapiro, Jonas Mekas and dozens more performers reading poetry and music in various permutations.

Celebrate the new year and the 17th annual Dark Matters: The Alternative New Year’s Day Spoken Word/Performance Extravaganza at the Bowery Poetry Club Jan 1. This free, all-day showcase for spoken word artists and other performers features more than 150 participants from the NYC area. Start off 2011 with a good deed and donate canned food for Urban Pathways or paperbacks for Books Through Bars.

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