It’s not even Thanksgiving yet, but the holiday season is already in full swing. Get in the spirit with an afterhours party at the New York Botanical Garden’s Holiday Train Show or with some shopping at the Union Square Holiday Market. If you’re looking for something a little different, then check out The Princess Bride live drinking game at Littlefield (you’re sure to make some new friends), or catch musical legend Stevie Wonder in concert. For a weekend getaway, discover what Hartford, CT has to offer—you might be surprised!
November 19–December 24 | Seasonal shopping
Union Square Holiday Market
Every year Union Square is transformed into a European-style open-air market decked out in holiday lights and bows. Over 150 vendors will set up shop once again starting this week, and the market promises to be bigger and better than ever. There’s raw honey and locally made saltwater taffy; organic baby clothing and handcrafted jewelry; fine art and funny coasters. Of course, with stalls from local eateries like Delaney BBQ, Bar Suzette, Arancini Brothers, Milk Bar, Doughnuttery, and more, the food is almost as much of a draw as the shopping. The market is open daily until Christmas Eve.
Hours vary | Union Square | Free | website
November 19 | Thespian drinking game
A Drinking Game NYC Presents: The Princess Bride
See the 1980s cult favorite film The Princess Bride like never before: performed live as a drinking game where everybody—even the actors—drink. The audience will be given a list of popular words and phrases from the film (how much do you want to bet “inconceivable” makes the cut?) and whenever they’re said, a bell rings and everyone takes a drink. To make things extra interesting, when an actor says another character’s name they drink too, so the reading may become a bit improvised as the night goes on. Either way, things will definitely get silly. Have fun stormin’ da castle!
7:30 p.m. | Littlefield, 622 Degraw St., Brooklyn | From $8 | website
November 21–January 16 | Holiday party
Bar Car Nights
November 21 marks the opening of the annual Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Garden, a wonderland for kids and adults alike with model trains that zip past replicas of 150 NYC landmarks in a whimsical holiday setting. If you’d like a cocktail to wash down that nostalgia, then check out the garden's Bar Car Nights, a festive afterhours party that gives the 21+ crowd a chance to see the show in a new way. Admission includes a complimentary cocktail that you can enjoy while admiring ice sculpture carving demonstrations, listening to live jazz, and watching a dazzling fire show from Cirque de Light. There is also a new Bavarian-themed dining area as well as treats available at Frosty's Schnapps Haus. Bar Car Nights takes place on select evenings through January 16, 2016.
7–10 p.m. | New York Botanical Garden, Bronx | From $25 | website
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November 24 | Music legend
Stevie Wonder: Songs in the Key of Life Performance
There are pop stars and then there are music legends; Stevie Wonder is the latter, often considered one of the most important musicians of our time. He’s already had over 50 top 40 singles in his luminous career, and the 65-year-old singer-songwriter shows no signs of slowing down. At this Madison Square Garden show, expect old favorites alongside his newer gospel– and hip hop–inspired tracks, and—as the title of the tour suggests—a complete performance of his 1976 album, Songs in the Key of Life. This is a bucket list performance if ever there was one.
8 p.m. | Madison Sq. Garden, 4 Pennsylvania Plaza | From $49.50 | website
Connecticut might be a popular weekend spot for New Yorkers, but most people would never think of the state's capital, Hartford, as a getaway destination. That needs to change. This historic city has become home to a dynamic, enthusiastic group of young creatives who are working hard to re-energize the area, and they’ve made Hartford a pretty exciting place to visit. For a good laugh, be sure to catch Sea Tea Improv’s monthly longform comedy showcase on November 20, maybe after dinner at the farm-to-table restaurant Firebox, one of the best eateries in Hartford. Real Art Ways, an indie contemporary art space and movie theater, is well worth a visit, as is the more established Wadsworth Museum, which just completed a massive renovation. Finally, check out the Mark Twain House and Museum and the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center, which are right next to each other, for a slice of literary history. Stay at the Silas W. Robbins House Bed and Breakfast in nearby Wethersfield for some Victorian charm and luxe accommodations.
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.