This week in New York is all about unconventional holiday celebrations: a burlesque Christmas with House of Yes, a performance art take on caroling, and a reimagined holiday musical at the Apollo are some of the more noteworthy happenings. It's also your last chance to visit the pop-up Museum of Feelings, which is closing this week. And if you want to leave the city but still stay in the holiday spirit, make a visit to the decked out historical mansions of the Brandywine Valley.
December 10–13 | Variety show
House of Yes Christmas Spectacular
Sure, the Rockettes have a monopoly on the traditional Christmas Spectacular over at Radio City Music Hall, but for something a little more funky, check out the version put on by Bushwick artist collective House of Yes. Expect dance numbers, aerial acrobatics, burlesque, comedy, circus acts, and plenty of pasties. The show is normally annual, but House of Yes has taken the past two years off. This year's show is sure to be a dazzling comeback.
7 p.m. | House of Yes, 2 Wycoff St., Brooklyn | (646) 838-4937| From $30 | website
December 11–31 | Holiday musical
First Noel at the Apollo
This brand new musical, which marks the debut of the Classical Theatre of Harlem at the world-renowned Apollo, puts a new spin on traditional Christmas carols. The heartwarming story about three generations of a Harlem family who have lost a loved one illustrates the power of community and the generosity of the holiday spirit, and the music, which is a mix of reimagined carols and original compositions, crosses genres from disco to gospel. The show will be in the more intimate 200-seat Soundstage on the third floor of the Apollo, as opposed to the main theater.
Times vary | Apollo Theater, 253 W. 125 St. | From $25 | website
December 12 | Performance art
This interactive performance is the brainchild of composer Phil Kline, who originally conceived it as an artistic take on caroling. It’s centered on an original electronic music composition (by Kline) that has been prerecorded and separated into four tracks that are meant to be played in sync. Participants carry boomboxes, iPhones, or anything else that plays music, and each chooses a track to play. Then everyone hits play at the same time and marches from Washington Square Park to the East Village, creating a “unique mobile sound sculpture.” As part of the performance, Kline will hand out a limited number of vintage boomboxes from his collection as well as cassettes and CDs. The music is also available for free download. Now in its 24th year, Unsilent Night has expanded to 35 cities, but New York will always be its real home.
7 p.m. | Begins at Washington Square Park, New York | Free | website
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Through December 15 | Pop-up museum last chance
Museum of Feelings
This pop-up museum, open through December 15, has taken the selfie obsession to the next level. Claiming to be the first museum “that reacts to emotions—and turns them into art,” the project invites visitors to upload a photo and use their biometric data to create a MoodLens, or “unique emotional selfie.” The outside of the museum also changes color in response to the “mood” of the city, which is determined by compiling data from the weather, noise, and, somehow, social media posts. Installations—like an emotion-driven kaleidoscope and a lavender cloud—are entirely interactive and are supposed to engage all the senses.
11 a.m.–9 p.m. (till 7 p.m. Sun) | 230 Vesey St., New York | Free | website
Just over two hours from NYC, the Brandywine Valley (straddling Delaware and Pennsylvania) is a delightful place to visit any time of year. The area boasts mansions and museums built by aristocratic families like the du Ponts as well as historical sites and plenty of natural beauty. Winterthur, a 982-acre du Pont estate that has been turned into a museum, dresses up for the holidays with recreated table settings, displays, and Christmas trees that take inspiration from the paintings in the museum's massive collection. Stay at the elegant Brandywine Valley Inn in Wilmington, DE and ask for the museum package, which includes tickets to Winterthur as well as to Longwood Gardens and Hagley Museum, both of which are also worth a visit.
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.