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New York City Feb 4–10: Mardi Gras, Chinese New Year & a Boozy Musical History

This week is basically seven days of celebration in New York. There’s the Bryant Park Winter Carnival, Mardi Gras festivities that might rival New Orleans, extreme firecracker displays for Chinese New Year, and an immersive play about the history of booze. More on each below.

 AFAR Local is our weekly insider guide to the best of what's happening in cities around the U.S.

February 56 | Carnival
Bryant Park Winter Carnival
If you’ve passed by Bryant Park in the last few weeks, chances are you’ve noticed that it’s been transformed into the Bank of America Winter Village, complete with a (free) ice skating rink and a glass-enclosed pop-up restaurant. This weekend B of A will also host the second annual Bryant Park Winter Carnival, which adds curling lessons, an outdoor winter brewhouse, and ice golf into the mix. Check out themed events like the “Ice Ball,” in which folks dress to the nines and skate to waltz music, and the “Silent Disco,” a dance party where attendees listen to the same songs in their individual headphones instead of on speakers.
Times vary | Bryant Park, between 40th and 42nd St. & Fifth and Sixth Ave., New York | Free | website

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February 59 | Food and music
Nolafunk Mardi Gras Madness
For a Mardi Gras done up to make New Orleans proud, head to Brooklyn. Nolafunk, a concert promoter based in NYC with a love for NOLA culture, is hosting a series of music and food events that are sure to put a smile on your face. There’s the tenth annual Nolafunk Mardis Gras Ball, a legit crawfish boil series, and boozy brunches. Notable chef Michael Psilakis is behind the food, and music will range from New Orleans brass bands to zydeco, an accordian heavy genre that originated in southern Louisiana.
Times vary | The Hall Brooklyn, 470 Driggs Ave., Brooklyn | From $15 | website

February 6–9 | Escape the city
New Orleans
Speaking of Mardi Gras, if you want to experience the real deal live and in person, hop on a plane down to the Big Easy (it’s only a 3.5 hour flight). Though Mardi Gras itself is on Fat Tuesday (this year that's February 9), the days leading up to it are like one continuous party. Even if you can only make it for the weekend you’ll still be able to catch some of the most popular parades, including Endymion, Bacchus, Zulu, and Rex. Hotels book up quickly this time of year, so consult the AFAR Guide to New Orleans now for recommendations on where to stay.
Times vary | Check online for parade routes | Free | website

Costumed Mardi Gras partiers in New Orleans

February 8 | Chinese New Year
Firecracker Ceremony and Cultural Festival
Monday marks a new cycle on the Chinese lunar calendar, the beginning of the year of the monkey. For the 17th year running, the Better Chinatown Society will be lighting a whopping 600,000 firecrackers in an effort to ward off evil spirits (note that it is techinally illegal for individuals to light fireworks in New York City). There will also be cultural performances (like traditional lion dancing), a parade, craft vendors, and food stalls which, since many restaurants in Chinatown will be closed for the holiday, might be your best bet for sustenence.
125 p.m. | Sara Roosevelt Park, Grand St. and Forsyth St., New York | Free | website

Ongoing | Boozy Off-Broadway show
The Imbible: A Spirited History of Drinking
Two words: free cocktails. That's the draw of The Imbible, a musical comedy that gives you a lesson in booze while you enjoy a few drinks on the house. The play is the brainchild of mixologist Anthony Caporale, whose script traces the history of drinks that go back 10,000 years, all set to the vocal stylings of an a capella group. It's held inside a notorious speakeasy–the very one frequented by members of the Tammany Society during Prohibition (now the Huron Room at the SoHo Playhouse). Your ticket price includes three drinks, served throughout as part of the performance.
Times vary | SoHo Playhouse, 15 Vandam St., New York | From $55 | website

A native New Yorker, Katherine is a freelance food and travel writer who has eaten her way across the globe and is always on the lookout for her next great meal. She is an avid reader, insatiable traveler, sometimes photographer, and mom to an inquisitive toddler.

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