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New York Jan 14–20: Sci-fi, Balkan Music, and Whiskey Festival

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Raya Brass Band at Zlatne Uste Golden Festival 2011
Oresti Tsonopoulos

Raya Brass Band at Zlatne Uste Golden Festival 2011

What to do in and around New York this week

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It’s finally starting to feel like winter in New York! Warm up by dancing to infectiously upbeat Balkan music at the Golden Festival or by trying a whiskey (or 100) at the East Ville des Folies Beer and Whiskey Festival. If you’re more of an indoor kid, then the science fiction–oriented Philip K. Dick Film Festival might be up your alley, while the newly opened Momofuku Nishi is the place to see and be seen. To escape it all, head to Ulster County and spend time eating, drinking, skiing, and relaxing by the fireplace.

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

January 14–17 | Sci-fi nerd alert
Philip K. Dick Film Festival
Sci-fi fans and film buffs alike will want to check out the fourth annual Philip K. Dick Film Festival in the East Village. The festival seeks to give independent science fiction filmmakers an outlet for their work, and includes feature films, documentaries, shorts, animations, filmmaker Q&As, panel discussions, and an awards ceremony to cap it all off. There is a pre-festival Blade Runner Reception at Lovecraft Bar on Wednesday night and an after-party there on Saturday.
Times vary | The Village East Cinema, 181–189 2nd Ave., New York | (212) 529-6998 | From $20 | website

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January 15–16 | Balkan beats
The Zlatne Uste Golden Festival
You might not be familiar with Balkan music, but once you hear it you won’t be able to keep yourself from dancing. The music is big, bold, and foot-stomping, with a heavy emphasis on brass instruments but also featuring drums, guitars, accordions, and more. The Zlatne Uste Golden Festival, now in its 31st year, is hosted by the Zlatne Uste Brass Band and includes more than 50 bands performing on four stages over two days. There will also be Balkan and Middle Eastern snacks and refreshments, regional art vendors, and a display of Balkan textiles.
Times vary | The Grand Prospect Hall, 263 Prospect Ave., Brooklyn | (646) 844-4653 | From $35 | website

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January 16 | Beer & whiskey festival
East Ville des Folies
This isn’t just any beer and whiskey tasting, though that would be draw enough. This Prohibition-themed spectacle, now in its fourth year, takes place on the four floors of massive Webster Hall, which was a bona fide hotspot back in the day (it was supposedly owned by Al Capone at one time). The 40,000-square-foot space can pack in more than 1,500 people and will have a variety of performances spread throughout, including aerialists, trapeze artists, flappers, burlesque, and 1920s-inspired bands. There will be more than 100 varieties each of beer and whiskey  to sample, so be sure to pace yourself.
1:30–5:30 p.m. | Webster Hall, 125 E. 11th St., New York | From $50 | website

Cooper Lake, Ulster County

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January 16–17 | Escape the city
Ulster County, NY
About an hour and a half from the city, across the Hudson River from Poughkeepsie, sits Ulster County. For fans of outdoor winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding, Belleayre Mountain is one of the top draws in the area, with 50 trails, a vertical drop of 1,404 feet, eight lifts, and four lodges. There are a surprising number of farms, wineries, distilleries, breweries, and cideries, most of which welcome visitors. The Buttermilk Falls Inn, built in 1764, is worth the trip alone. Its 10 cozy rooms feature fireplaces and views of gardens or the Hudson River, plus there are four cottages and even a renovated barn with seven suites. Trails lead to Buttermilk Falls right from the property, and visitors can enjoy a stellar spa, an excellent restaurant, and a working farm complete with animals and organic produce.

Restaurant opening
Momofuku Nishi
You may already be familiar with the name David Chang. The notoriously potty-mouthed chef behind the seemingly unstoppable Momofuku empire has just unveiled his newest restaurant, and the buzz is already deafening. A Korean-Italian mash-up—imagine dishes like cacio e pepe with fermented chickpea paste instead of parmesan—this is Chang’s first foray into Chelsea and into the world of tip-free, gratuity-inclusive dining. Former Ko chefs Josh Pinsky and Carey Hynes will be running the show. The restaurant opened just last week, doesn’t take reservations, and is open only for dinner, five nights a week, so expect crowds and a long wait.
Tue–Sat 6–11 p.m. | 232 Eighth Ave., New York | (646) 518-1919 | 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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