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What to Do in New York This December: Tree Lighting Skate-tacular & Hip Hop Nutcracker

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Make Music Winter

Photo by Darial Sneed

Make Music Winter

The best of what to do in and around New York this month.

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Celebrate the last month of 2017 with holiday events from tree lightings to performances to eating all the latkes. If football is your religion, then you will enjoy a new spin on (indoor!) tailgating with an accompanying chili cook-off. Or just appreciate all the culture this great city offers with some truly unique musical offerings.

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

December 1 | Holiday event
Bryant Park Tree Lighting Skate-tacular
Rockefeller Center may get all the glory, but there are fun and festive tree lighting ceremonies throughout the city this month. Stop by the Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park for its annual Tree Lighting Skate-tacular that combines the tradition with live, Olympic-level theatrical ice-skating narrated by actress Jane Krakowski. Following the performance, the ice-skating rink will be open to all (bring your own skates or rent them for $20). Taking place on World AIDS Day, Winter Village is partnering with AIDS advocacy non-profit (RED) for the fourth year with a pop-up shop, proceeds from which will go to support the organization.
6:00 PM | Bryant Park, W. 42nd St. and Sixth Ave., New York | Free | website

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December 3 | Music & art
Sight and Sound Series at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Lovers of art and music will want to check out the third season of the Sight and Sound Series at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, performed by The Orchestra Now (TŌN), a group of 80 musicians from around the world whose aim is to make orchestral music relevant to modern listeners. Using visual and musical elements, this multifaceted program—which corresponds with the current exhibit Edvard Munch: Between the Clock and the Bed—they will explore connections between the musical work of Schoenberg and the artistic endeavors of Munch.
2:00 PM | Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium, 1000 Fifth Ave., New York | $30 | website

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December 10 | Music & philanthropy
Cyndi Lauper & Friends: Home for the Holidays
Get in the holiday spirit with a concert from the queen of ’80s pop, Cyndi Lauper. We don’t know who the special guests will be at this year’s annual holiday concert, but past years have welcomed everyone from P!nk to 50 Cent, and from Adam Lambert to Boy George, so it’s sure to be a killer lineup. Plus, you can feel extra good about bopping away since 100 percent of the net proceeds from the concert will go to Cyndi Lauper’s philanthropic organization, The True Colors Fund, which works nationally to help end homelessness among LGBT youth.
8:00 PM | Beacon Theatre, 2124 Broadway, New York | From $50 | website

December 10 | Food
InsideHook Chili Bowl
Take your tailgating to the next—much warmer—level with this pregame chili cook-off. Spend the afternoon sampling chili prepared by local chefs like Lawrence Duda of Sweet Chick and Alonzo Santiago of Mexicue accompanied by an open bar. Play tailgating games, get silly in the photo booth, and feel like a baller with the on-site cigar roller. Then either stick around to watch the Giants-Cowboys game on a massive outdoor projection screen, or, if you’ve splurged for VIP tickets, hop on a shuttle to MetLife Stadium to watch the game live.
1:00 PM - 8:00 PM | The Terrace at Second Floor, 849 Sixth Ave., New York | | From $60 | website

December 14 | Dance
Hip Hop Nutcracker
The Nutcracker is a holiday classic for good reason, but if you’re looking for a fresh take, then check out the Hip Hop Nutcracker. The ultimate mash-up, this electric performance takes Tchaikovsky’s classical score and reimagines the dance with hip-hop in place of traditional ballet. If you miss it at the United Palace of Cultural Arts, there is one more New York stop—on December 16 at Kings Theater in Brooklyn—on its cross-country tour. The show features dancers, of course, as well as a DJ, violinist, and digital scenery, with “King of Rap” Kurtis Blow MCing the evening.
2:00 PM - 7:00 PM | The United Palace of Cultural Arts, 4140 Broadway, New York | From $15 | website

Bryant Park during the holidays

December 18 | Food
Latke Festival
You don’t need to be Jewish to appreciate a good latke; it’s hard to go wrong with fried potato pancakes. If you’re in agreement, then check out the ninth annual Latke Festival at the Brooklyn Museum. Entry will grant you access to unlimited latkes, from the traditional to the uber modern, not to mention beer, wine, cocktails, and non-alcoholic beverages. A panel of celebrity judges will decree best latke, and net proceeds will support the Sylvia Center, a nonprofit dedicated to addressing childhood obesity and food-related diseases.
6:00 PM - 8:30 PM | Brooklyn Museum, 200 Eastern Parkway, New York | From $70 | website

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December 21 | Music
Make Music Winter
Celebrate the winter solstice with a free, citywide music festival. Choose your own time and location, because Make Music Winter consists of 12 different participatory musical parades happening around the city from the Highline to Flatbush. In Tompkins Square Park, artist Tom Peyton will hand out 96 color-coded bells that correspond to particular notes. Or join Composer J.C. King for a kalimba procession through Madison Square. Regardless of musical ability, everyone is welcome to participate or spectate.
Times & locations vary | Free | website

December 30 | Holiday event
Kwanzaa Celebration: Regeneration Night
Support the seven principles of Kwanzaa (such as community and supporting African American ventures) by attending the annual Kwanzaa Celebration: Regeneration Night at the Apollo Theater. Kwanzaa is December 26 through January 1, so this performance falls smack in the middle of the holiday. The family-friendly program features dance and music, including performances by New York-based dance company Abdel Salaam’s Forces of Nature Dance Theatre.
2:00 PM - 7:30 PM | Apollo Theater, 253 W. 125 St., New York | From $20 | website

December 31 | Outdoor event
Midnight run
To get a head start on those New Year’s resolutions, skip the parties and head to Central Park for the New York Road Runners’ four-mile Midnight Run. The festivities begin at 10 p.m. with music and dancing, and include a countdown to midnight. The race begins at the stroke of midnight, along with a fun firework display to cheer you on. Happy running!
10:00 PM | Rumsey Playfield, Central Park, New York | From $20 | website

February 22 | Plan ahead: Theater
“Frozen” on Broadway
If the hype for the Broadway show is anything like the movie, then you’re going to want to be ahead of the curve on this one. Previews for Frozen on Broadway start February 22, and the show officially opens March 22—but tickets are on sale now. The Broadway version of the popular Disney film features a score by Oscar winners Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, choreography by Tony winner Rob Ashford, and direction by Tony winner Michael Grandage.
St. James Theatre, 246 W. 44th St., New York | From $110 | 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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