12 alternative holiday events, exhibits, and outings in NYC

December 10, 2016

From the swarms of tourists, long lines at stores, and increased prices on everything from theater tickets to cocktails, the holidays in New York can be more of a headache than anything. But fear not–there are plenty more ways to get festive other than battling the crowds at Rockefeller Center or paying an arm and a leg to see the Rockettes. 6sqft has rounded up a dozen alternative events, including a sexy rendition of the Nutcracker, an exhibit of Santa’s history in NYC, a latke festival, and a special Kwanzaa dance performance.


A Christmas Carol at the Merchant’s House ↑
29 East 4th Street

* This event is currently sold out

The perfect event for history lovers, this reenactment of “A Christmas Carol” takes place at the Merchant’s House, the city’s only preserved and intact 19th century family home. It’s set in the elegant Greek Revival parlor of the 1832 house, surrounded by holiday decorations from the 1800s, period furnishings, and flickering candles.

Hand-drawn Christmas card by Victor Perard, 1945; via Museum of the City of New York

Santa and the City ↑
Museum of the City of New York, 1220 Fifth Avenue
Daily through January 8th, 10:00am-6:00pm
$14 for adult entry

Here’s one more for history buffs. The Museum of the City of New York has put together a seasonal exhibit that looks back at how four 19th century New Yorkers “shaped the image of Santa Claus as we know him today:” Clement Clark Moore wrote “The Night Before Christmas” while living in Chelsea; John Pintard made St. Nicholas the patron saint of the city; Washington Irving popularized this character of St. Nick in his “Knickerbocker’s History of New York,” where he first climbs down chimneys; and Thomas Nast drew what’s considered the modern-day depiction of Santa in Harper’s Weekly. As DNAinfo notes, on view will be items such as an original Christmas poem by Moore from the mid 1800s, a 1904 Christmas dinner menu from The New Cadillac Hotel, and various historic images of Santa.

Photo via Mark Shelby Perry

Nutcracker Rouge ↑
Irondale Theater, 85 South Oxford Street, Brooklyn
Mondays through Saturdays, 8:00pm

If you’re looking to spice up your holiday, this may be the performance for you. Put on by Company XIV–a cross-genre company that blends dance, theater, circus, opera, burlesque, and decadent design–Nutcracker Rouge is a “sexy and romantic take on the classical ballet” that combines classical music with Madonna, trapeze acts with traditional dance, and opulent lighting with baroque costumes.


Naughty or Nice Gingerbread House Workshop ↑
Davio’s, 447 Lexington Avenue
Saturday, December 10th, 1:00-4:00pm

Another event that falls into the adults-only category is taking place this weekend at Midtown East steakhouse Davio’s. A gingerbread house workshop may sound innocent enough, but Metro let’s us in on the little secret that pastry chef Luis Rojas will also include instruction on making “scandalous cookies.” Ticket prices include all the cookie construction materials, as well as two alcoholic beverages.

Taste of Home’s Gingerbread Boulevard ↑
Madison Square Park
Through December 18th, Monday-Friday 2:00-8:00pm and Saturday-Sunday 12:00-8:00pm

For the third year in a row, food and entertainment company Taste of Home brings a life-size gingerbread village to Madison Square Park, complete with cookie bricks, frosting roofs, and gum drop details. And you can even go inside one of the houses, where you’ll be able to decorate an interactive Christmas tree and receive a greeting from a virtual marshmallow snowman. While you’re there, check out the park’s 40-foot Christmas tree.


Posadas: A Traditional Mexican Holiday Celebration ↑
Saturday, December 17th, 1:00pm
Industry City, 241 37th Street, 2nd Floor, Brooklyn

Mano a Mano is a nonprofit that celebrates and promotes Mexican culture through arts programming. For Christmas, they’re putting on Posadas, Mexican celebrations that date back to the colonial period and commemorate Mary and Joseph’s journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Traditionally they take place in private homes over nine nights, but for this public, family-friendly event you’ll be treated to traditional music workshops, a Mexican craft and food fair, and a culminating party that includes the breaking of candy-filled piñatas.

unsilent night

Unsilent Night ↑
Sunday, December 18th, 5:45pm
Washington Square Arch

Composer Phil Kline has been taking New Yorkers on an offbeat caroling jaunt since 1992, the first year that he gathered a group to walk down lower Fifth Avenue carrying boomboxes playing his twinkling, holiday-themed music pieces. Today, the event has become smart phone-friendly, and the crowd can now reach nearly 2,000, but it still embodies the same “luminous soundscape” and magical holiday spirit.


Waverly Consort’s The Christmas Story ↑
The Met Cloisters, The Fuentidueña Chapel, 1000 Fifth Avenue
Saturday, December 10th, 1:00pm; Saturday, December 10th, 3:00pm; Sunday, December 11th, 1:00 and 3:00pm
$40, including museum admission

For a more traditional music experience, head up to the Cloisters, the Met’s branch in Fort Tryon Park that’s dedicated to the art, architecture, and gardens of medieval Europe. The Waverly Consort’s 13 vocal and instrumental musicians will perform “a sonic pageantry evoking the liturgical calendar and a deeply immersive experience of Christmastide,” complete with hymns, processionals, and antiphons.


House of Holiday ↑
90-2 Atlantic Avenue, Queens
Hours vary

The city has no shortage of holiday markets, but if you’re looking for a more traditional seasonal store, head on over to Ozone Park. House of Holiday is located in a former artificial tree factory from the 1800s, and, fittingly, claims to have the largest selection of live and artificial Christmas trees in the country. It’s the biggest Christmas store in New York City, and you’ll also find everything from ornaments and lights to elf and angel costumes to nativity scenes and winter villages.


Latke Festival ↑
Monday, December 19th, 6:00-9:00pm
Brooklyn Museum, 200 Eastern Parkway

Pig out on traditional and modern takes on the potato pancake at the eighth annual Latke Festival. Eat the tasty treats, enjoy a drink, and vote for the best latke in the city. Among the 21 participating restaurants are Veselka, Jacob’s Pickles, the Bedford, and Orwasher’s, and among the 12 celebrity judges are Jake Dell of Kat’s Deli, Food Network’s Angela Moore, creator of New York Fashion Week Fern Mallis, and Deputy Mayor of New York Alicia Glen. Proceeds will benefit the Sylvia Center, a nonprofit that addresses childhood obesity and food-related diseases through programs in the kitchen and on the farm.


Matzoball ↑
Saturday, December 24th, 9:00am-4:00pm
Capitale, 130 Bowery

Now in its 30th year, Matzoball is the nation’s leading Jewish single’s event. The giant party will take place at Capitale, the former Bowery Savings Bank building, so you can dance the night away under the art glass skylight and elaborate coffered ceiling.


Kwanzaa Celebration: Regeneration Night ↑
Saturday, December 31st, 2:00pm and 7:30pm
Apollo Theater, 253 West 125th Street

Harlem’s historic Apollo Theater is hosting two performances to celebrate Kwanzaa. Abdel Salaam’s Forces of Nature Dance Theatre will take to the stage with joyful dance and music “honoring the principles of Kwanzaa—family, community, and culture.” The energetic company fuses contemporary modern dance, traditional West African dance, ballet, hip-hop, live and recorded music, and martial arts. Radio personality Imhotep Gary Byrd will host both events.



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