Gottscheer Beer Hall makes last minute holiday shopping more bearable with an artisan night market and, of course, beer. Celebrate crossing everyone off your list at the annual Latke Festival with mouthfuls of potato pancakes, or, if the holidays have frayed your nerves, try some laughter therapy at the People’s Improv Theater. And don’t miss one of Yasiin Bey’s final performances: The artist, formerly known as Mos Def, is (supposedly) retiring from the music world. For a pleasant escape, check out the colonial city of Frederick, Maryland, which is full of holiday spirit this weekend.

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

December 17 | Shopping
Ridgewood Market Winter Holiday Bazaar
If you’re still searching for the perfect gifts, head to the Holiday Night Bazaar at Ridgewood Market, located inside Gottscheer Beer Hall. Over 40 artisan vendors will be hawking their wares, and there will be music, entertainment, raffles, food, and lots of beer—this is one of the city’s favorite beer halls, after all.
5:00 PM - 11:00 PM | Ridgewood Market, Gottscheer Hall, 657 Fairview Ave., Ridgewood, Queens | Free | website

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December 17 - 18 | Escape the city
Frederick, Maryland
About an hour east of Baltimore, Frederick is an attractive colonial city chock full of history and beautiful architecture, with a small town vibe and big city culture. It’s an excellent place to escape to get into the holiday spirit. This weekend, check out festive happenings like the Festival of Lights, a carriage ride through the historic district, the Holiday Village Bazaar, caroling, or a Christmas in the Hospital talk at the National Museum of Civil War Medicine. If you only have one meal in Frederick, splurge for the tasting menu at chef Bryan Voltaggio’s acclaimed Volt restaurant.

December 19 | Hanukkah festival
Latke Festival
Whether you celebrate Hanukkah or not, latkes are undeniably delicious and should be enjoyed by all. Or at least that’s what the folks at the annual Latke Festival, now in its eighth year, believe. Head to the Brooklyn Museum for this tasting event featuring all manner of potato pancakes, from the traditional to the creatively reimagined. There will be a panel of celebrity judges to crown the best latke, and net proceeds from the event will support the Sylvia Center, a nonprofit dedicated to addressing childhood obesity and food-related diseases.
6:00 PM - 9:00 PM | Brooklyn Museum, 200 Eastern Parkway, New York | From $70 | website

Latke Festival

December 19 | Comedy
“Shrink: Puppet Therapy”
Puppets, comedy, and therapy may not seem like things that go together, but comedy troupe Doppelskope focuses on exactly that mix. “Shrink: Puppet Therapy” is a longform improv comedy show that claims—in tongue-in-cheek fashion—that it “will accomplish what it would take a lifetime to work out in regular therapy.” This week is the last time to catch the show after a month-long run at the People’s Improv Theater, so get your comedy therapy while you still can.
9:30 PM | The Striker at PIT, 123 E. 24th St., New York | $5 | website

December 21 | Music
Yasiin Bey and Friends at the Apollo
Yasiin Bey—the rapper and actor formerly known as Mos Def—has finally been released from South Africa (long story) and is retiring from music after one final tour. Head to Harlem’s famed Apollo Theater to catch one of his last performances, where he has said he will premiere music from his new albums. Bey’s latest album, Dec 99th, in collaboration with Ferrari Sheppard, was just released, and he recently announced that he has plans for two further albums: Negus in Natural Person and As Promised, which he will purportedly premier at this Apollo performance.
8:00 PM | The Apollo Theater, 253 W. 125th St., New York | From $65 | 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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