The holiday season takes many different forms this week in New York. Start Hanukkah off right with the lighting of the world’s largest menorah, get in the Christmas spirit with a celebration and tree lighting at a historic farm, or groove to Indian-based beats at the Basement Bhangra holiday party. If you just need a good laugh, Night Train with Wyatt Cenac is the place to be. For a city escape, Beacon, NY, is lovely any time of year.
December 3 | Dance
Basement Bhangra Holiday Party
If you’re not familiar with South Asian bhangra music and dancing, then DJ Rhekha’s energetic monthly parties are an excellent introduction. If you need a visual, think of the stylish choreographed dance moves of Bollywood movies translated to the dance floor. Basement Bhangra always starts with a brief dance lesson, and people of all skill levels are welcome. No matter what style of dance you prefer, there’s no way you won’t be moving to the music as DJ Rheka flawlessly spins bhangra mixed with hip-hop, dancehall, and electronica.
7 p.m. | Le Poisson Rouge, 158 Bleecker St., New York | (718) 207-0058 | Free before 8 p.m.; $10 after | website
December 6 | Historic celebration
Christmas in Richmond Town
One of Staten Island’s best-kept secrets is Richmond Town, an original 100-acre town and farm complex dating back to the mid-17th century. With more than 30 original structures, thousands of artifacts on display, and interpreters in period costume, it’s worth a visit any time of year. During the Christmas celebration, check out the quaint decorations, shop for handmade gifts at the holiday market, visit with Santa, enjoy a tour of the village, and be sure to stay for the tree lighting in the evening.
11 a.m.–7 p.m. | Historic Richmond Town, 441 Clarke Ave., Staten Island | $2 | website
December 6 | First night of Hanukkah
World’s Largest Menorah
It’s the first night of Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights. Kick it off with latkes, a live concert with Pey Dalid, and the lighting of the world’s largest menorah. A Hanukkah institution at Grand Army Plaza since 1985, the 4,000-pound menorah stands 32 feet tall (the most allowed by Jewish law) and must be lit using an industrial cherry picker. Festivities will continue throughout all eight nights of the holiday; note that times vary to accommodate shabbat. All are welcome.
5 p.m. | Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn | (646) 298-9909| Free | website
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December 7–9 | Comedy
Night Train with Wyatt Cenac
This weekly comedy showcase is hosted by Wyatt Cenac, formerly of The Daily Show, every Monday night at Littlefield in Brooklyn. This week, instead of one show, they are doing six over three days, which will be filmed for Seeso TV (a new web platform launch that’s like Netflix for comedy). So you can expect the performances to be that much more polished and the guest appearances that much more exciting. The confirmed lineup already includes such stellar comedians as Jo Firestone, Aparna Nancherla, Brooke Van Poppelen, Jeffrey Joseph, and others.
7 p.m. & 10 p.m. | Littlefield, 622 Degraw St., Brooklyn | $8 | website
About 90 minutes north of the city in Dutchess County, Beacon is a sweet Hudson Valley town with plenty of charm. The main draw is Dia:Beacon, the offshoot of the Manhattan-based contemporary gallery that opened in 2003 in an abandoned Nabisco factory. Having successfully revitalized the area and attracted artists, it's no longer the only show in town; check out Hudson Beach Glass for vases and sculptures, Clay Wood & Cotton for handcrafted gifts, and Matteawan Gallery for compelling group shows (note that Storm King and Bannerman Castle are closed for the season). This weekend be sure to catch the work:shop holiday artisan market, featuring small works by local designers. And if you stay Sunday evening, you can ring in the first night of Hanukkah with the unique BeaconArts bicycle menorah. Try the Botsford Briar Bed & Breakfast, a restored Queen Anne Victorian home overlooking the Hudson River.
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.