December’s just beginning, but the winter holiday season is already in full swing in New York City. Get in the spirit with a holiday happy hour fundraiser or a reimagined, contemporary take on The Nutcracker. If you’re not quite ready to embrace the holidays, check out the dramatic play A Life before it closes or learn about the role of food in the Chinese American journey. Alternately, escape to sunny Cuba now that direct commercial flights from the United States can get you to Havana in just a few hours.
AFAR Local is our weekly insider guide to the best of what’s happening in cities around the U.S.
September 30 - December 4 | Theater
Extended through December 4, the premiere of Adam Bock’s play A Life has been met with rave reviews. Nate Martin (played by David Hyde Pierce of Frasier fame) is a hopelessly single guy who turns to astrology after a breakup. As he questions his place in the universe, he reaches an obvious yet completely unpredictable conclusion. A mid-show curveball will leave viewers reeling for the remainder of the incredible performance.
Playwright Horizons, 416 W. 42nd St., New York | From $59 | website
December 1 | Fundraiser
Behind the Book’s Holiday Happy Hour Fundraiser
Put your Thursday happy hour to a good cause with Behind the Book’s Holiday Happy Hour Fundraiser. The youth literacy nonprofit brings authors into underserved NYC public schools to conduct reading, writing, and art workshops with the kids in an effort to foster a lifelong love of literature. Proceeds from fundraiser ticket sales go to benefit Behind the Book’s school programs and include two coupons toward a glass of wine or beer. Plus, there will be a raffle with prizes ranging frm New York Knicks tickets to fitness packages.
6:00 PM - 9:00 PM | Black Door, 127 W. 26th St., New York | $50 | website
December 3 | Dance
The Hip-Hop Nutcracker
For a fun twist on a holiday classic, don’t miss The Hip-Hop Nutcracker, which reimagines Tchaikovsky’s score through hip-hop instead of ballet. Returning for the third year to The United Palace of Cultural Arts, this is the only New York stop on the show’s 23-city tour. In addition to dancers, the show features a DJ, violinist, and digital scenery, with “King of Rap” Kurtis Blow emceeing the evening.
2:00 PM - 7:00 PM | The United Palace of Cultural Arts, 4140 Broadway, New York | From $10 | website
December 3 - 4 | Escape the city
Now that restrictions have been lifted and commercial flights are officially (and legally!) underway from the United States to Cuba, why not see what all the fuss is about? About a 3.5-hour flight from NYC, Cuba’s capital city, Havana, is a colorful whirlwind of sights and sounds. Take in the Spanish colonial architecture, the historic Great Theatre of Havana, the eerily beautiful Colon Cemetery, and even the Havana Club Museum of Rum. If you can, stay at the grandiose Hotel Nacional, which has been frequented by notable names, including Ernest Hemingway and Frank Sinatra.
December 7 | Food
Food and the Chinese American Journey
Anne Mendelson discusses her new book, Chow Chop Suey: Food and the Chinese American Journey, with Kian Lam Kho, cocurator of the exhibition Sour, Sweet, Bitter, Spicy: Stories of Chinese Food and Identity in America at the Museum of Chinese in America. The conversation will revolve around the history and impact of American Chinese food—with steamed pork buns and cold eggplant as tasteful accompaniments.
6:30 PM - 8:30 PM | Museum of Chinese in America, 215 Centre St., New York | $40 | 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.