Image via Pixabay.
There are more ways to say “Be my Valentine” than we can count, and purveyors of all things romantic will be out in full force trying to win hearts this February 14. If February’s second week has you scrambling for a worthy celebration, it might be the perfect time to try something a little bit different. Below, we’ve rounded up 14 unexpected Valentine-inspired events–from whiskey and chocolate to bugs and sewage.
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The two-week-long celebration of Lunar New Year begins next week, considered one of New York City’s most festive events of the year. The welcoming of the Year of the Rat, the first zodiac animal and said to be a sign of wealth, kicks off on Saturday, Jan. 25 and is followed by 15 days of festivities, including lots of parades, performances, and firework displays. With several Chinatowns and many Asian communities found across the five boroughs, there are fun Lunar New Year activities for all New Yorkers, from Lower Manhattan’s 21st annual Chinatown parade to the first-ever Asian comedy festival.
Our favorites ahead
The 2019 MLK celebration at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum; Photo courtesy of Brooklyn Children’s Museum/ Winston Williams
Every third Monday of January, we celebrate the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his legacy of activism and unity. Recognized as a federal holiday since 1983, MLK Day gives New Yorkers who get the day off from work a chance to honor King’s life through live performances, panel discussions, and storytelling. As one of two federal holidays designated as a national day of service, the January 20 holiday, seen as a “day on, not a day off,” also provides an opportunity to volunteer in communities across the city. We’ve found MLK Day activities, events, and service opportunities for New Yorkers of all ages, from a walking tour of historic Harlem to community-building workshops in South Brooklyn.
Get the full list
Image by Anthony Quintano via Flickr
Tomorrow roughly one million people will brave the cold and uncomfortable conditions to witness a quintessential New York celebration: New Year’s Eve in Times Square. The event is free and open to the public but NYPD will begin restricting traffic in the area as early as 4 a.m. and the viewing areas will start filling up around 11 a.m. so planning ahead is crucial. Here’s what you need to know.
All the NYE details here
Photo by Kohei Kanno on Flickr
Every year as the clock nears midnight on December 31, anticipation runs high as the world holds its breath waiting for the sparkling New Year’s Eve Ball to descend from its flagpole atop One Times Square. We all know that the countdown starts at 10, but there are a handful of other fun facts to muse over when it comes to the city’s most lauded tradition. From the wattage of the ball to the weight of trash produced to how long it takes to get it all cleaned up, see what we’ve rounded up, in numbers, ahead!
More on New Year’s Eve in Times Square here
The 2007 Times Square Ball during construction. Image courtesy of Focus Lighting.
When midnight hits this New Year’s Eve, the Times Square Ball will dazzle people just the same from five feet away or on their television. Making this magic happen is no easy feat, though. To learn a bit more about how the nearly 12,000-pound ball was created, we chatted with principal designer Christine Hope of Focus Lighting, the architectural lighting design firm who conceptualized the current ball more than 10 years ago. From engineering a new system to make all 2,688 Waterford Crystal triangles sparkle to dreaming up the magical light show that plays leading up to the ball drop, Focus Lighting shares the inside scoop on this world-famous tradition.
Photo: NYC Parks / D. Avila
Not quite sure how to get rid of that Christmas Tree? From December 26 to January 11, NYC will be hosting its annual Mulchfest so that you can recycle your tree at a local park. With 67 total drop-off sites throughout the five boroughs—32 of which are chipping sites—it’s easier than ever to get your tree turned into mulch that will be used to help nourish trees and plants across the city.
How to participate this year
Image of the first Christmas tree in City Hall park in 1913; via Library of Congress
In 1912, the nation’s first public Christmas tree went up in Madison Square Park and sparked a new trend that would soon spread to parks across the city and beyond. The following year, acting Mayor Ardolph Kline initiated a similar tradition when he asked a young boy to help him light a Christmas tree in City Hall Park. By 1934, tree lighting celebrations became a citywide effort, with the Parks Department putting up 14 fifty-foot Norway Spruce trees throughout the city. Mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia dedicated the trees from City Hall Park and broadcasted the ceremony to sites across the city.
Photo ©AMNH/ R. Mickens
On Thursday, the week-long holiday Kwanzaa kicks off as a celebration of African American culture and heritage in the United States. From Dec. 26, through Jan. 1, New Yorkers can learn about the seven principles of Kwanzaa, or Nguzo Saba, through traditional music and dancing, kinara lighting, African folklore storytime, and a bar crawl featuring only black-owned businesses. Ahead, find the best places in NYC to celebrate Kwanzaa, from family-friendly arts and crafts and lectures at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum to live performances at Harlem’s iconic Apollo Theater.
The full list, ahead
Photo by cottonbro from Pexels
New Year’s Eve is one of those events where it seems all of humanity has converged upon New York City. If you fancy rubbing shoulders (or more) with at least a million of them, Times Square is your best bet. But if you’d rather enjoy a more curated, yet still public, experience, check out any of the many events happening in the city as the second decade of the millennium lurches to a close; below is just a sampling. Debauch responsibly–hindsight, as they say, is 2020.
2020, this way