This week in New York, eat and shop to your heart’s content, then catch some great films and a holiday performance. Sample more than 75 cheeses at The Great Northeast Cheese Fest and get your gift shopping done in one fell swoop at the Etsy Handmade Cavalcade. Then catch a performance of the musical The First Noel at the Apollo, or see one of the many films being screened as part of the African Diaspora International Film Festival. To trade the cold for warmer weather, hop a flight to sunny Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic.

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

December 1 - 11 | Film festival
African Diaspora International Film Festival
With the goal of highlighting emerging and established filmmakers of color from Africa and the African diaspora, this international film festival is screening dozens of films as well as hosting discussions and Q&As. This week catch the end of the festival, which includes films such as Montreal, White City about an Algerian taxi driver in Montreal who picks up an Algerian pop star he thought was dead, and Mercy’s Blessing, which follows a young boy in Malawi attempting to rise, with his sister, out of poverty.
Times & locations vary | From $13 | website

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December 5 - 11 | Shopping
Etsy Handmade Cavalcade
Get a leg up on your holiday shopping with this year’s Etsy Holiday Cavalcade. Browse a wide selection of locally made items, including jewelry, clothing, and art. Last year’s event drew more than 16,000 people looking to support local artisans and small businesses. Also check out the free holiday Sip ‘n’ Shop event on December 8 from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Etsy Handmade Cavalcade is free if you RSVP ahead of time, or $2 at the door.
10:00 AM - 7:30 PM | Chelsea Market, 410 W. 16th St., New York | Free | website

December 10 | Food
The Great Northeast Cheese Fest
Cheese fans rejoice! NY Epicurean Events is putting on a cheese festival at Flushing Town Hall for the second year running. Here, you’ll be able to sample more than 75 cheeses from New York and other Northeast producers, as well as cheese-centered dishes from some of the city’s most popular restaurants (last year, chef Will Horowitz of Harry & Ida’s and Duck’s served a cheese and goat soup). The entry fee gets you unlimited samples of cheese and cheese-related dishes, as well as beverage pairings.
6:00 PM - 9:00 PM | Flushing Town Hall, 137-35 Northern Blvd., Queens | From $60 | website

The Great Northeast Cheese Fest

December 10 - 18 | Holiday musical
“The First Noel”
After a successful run last year, the Classical Theatre of Harlem is bringing back The First Noel at the world-famous Apollo Theater. Crossing genres from pop to gospel, the Harlem-based musical follows three generations of a family after the loss of a loved one and an unexpected visit from Grandma that starts to turn things around. It’s about a community coming together during the holidays to spread the love.
Apollo Theater, 253 W. 125th St., New York | From $33.50 | website

December 10 - 11 | Escape the city
Punta Cana
If the winter weather is getting you down, escape to the sunnier shores of Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, just a four-hour flight from JFK. Located at the intersection of the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean, the region is known for its clear blue waters and soft sand beaches. Dive or snorkel at the Marine Ecological Preserve Underwater Museum, swim with dolphins at Dolphin Island Park, or stay dry as you track hawks at the Indigenous Eyes Ecological Park and Reserve. There are no shortage of fabulous hotels and resorts to call home for the weekend; check out the Tortuga Bay Hotel or the Puntacana Resort and Club.

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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