It’s officially the holiday season, and there are plenty of opportunities to get festive—often while supporting a good cause (like a bicycle scavenger hunt and food drive). It’s also performing arts festival season, with an event for every interest from films made by women to comedy, and from podcasts to whiskey.
AFAR Local is our monthly insider guide to the best of what’s happening in cities around the U.S.
November 2 - 15 | Art
For the 25th year running, the Canstruction New York Competition—organized by the Society for Design Administrators—brings together architects, engineers, and contractors to build the biggest, most elaborate “cansculptures” exclusively from full cans of food. At the end of the competition, the sculptures will be disassembled and, along with food donations from the public, donated to City Harvest.
10:00 AM - 8:00 PM | Brookfield Place, 230 Vesey St., New York | Free | website
November 4 - 5 | Film
Imagine This Women’s International Film Festival
Celebrate the work of women filmmakers from around the world at the second annual Imagine This Women’s International Film Festival (ITWIFF) in Brooklyn. During two packed days, the festival offers screenings of 45 shorts, web series, and feature-length films from over 15 countries, plus an opening night mixer and open bar award ceremony.
Wythe Hotel, 80 Wythe St., Brooklyn | From $8 | website
November 6 | Food
The Jewish Food Society is teaming up with the Greenwich Village Historical Society for Schmaltzy, a night of storytelling and food, all from Village-based poets and chefs. Hosted by Mitchell Davis of the James Beard Foundation with an appearance by famed former New York Times restaurant critic Mimi Sheraton, the evening will include nibbles and stories from local folks like Ed Schoenfeld of Red Farm and Zohar Zohar of Zucker Bakery. Pastrami egg rolls, anyone?
7:00 PM - 9:00 PM | Salmagundi Club, 47 Fifth Ave., New York | $49 | website
November 7 - 12 | Comedy
New York Comedy Festival
Whether you’re a comedy nerd or just need a good laugh (don’t we all?), the New York Comedy Festival is coming to your rescue with six days of hilarity. Taking place at 28 different venues in Manhattan and Brooklyn, the festival includes big-name performers like Kevin Smith, live podcast recordings like “How Did This Get Made,” comedic plays such as Hidden Fences, and a stand-up competition.
Times, venues, and prices vary | website
November 11 | Outdoor event & philanthropy
If you’re looking for a way to do some good this holiday season that’s a little more, well, fun, then consider participating in Cranksgiving. Equal parts bike ride, food drive, and scavenger hunt, this entertaining outing has it all—which is probably why it’s been a hit since its first ride in 1999. The organizers say to bring a bike, a bag, a lock, and $10-$20 to buy food at grocery stores along the way. At the end, all the food will be donated to a local charity to provide families in need with food for Thanksgiving. There are now 80 Cranksgiving events happening around the country, including those in Manhattan and Brooklyn, so check the main website for more info.
1:00 PM | Gun Hill Tavern, 780 E. 133rd St., Bronx | Free | website
November 14 - 19 | Performing arts
Brooklyn Podcast Festival
There’s now a podcast for every weird, wonderful interest, and that’s a good thing. The Brooklyn Podcast Festival brings podcasts out of the recording studio and onto the stage for a series of live shows around the city spread over six days. From established programs like “We Hate Movies” to brand new ones, like “Good Christian Fun,” this cross-genre festival covers all podcast bases.
Times, venues, and prices vary | website
November 16 | Drink
Sample whiskies from around the world and attend seminars led by experts at the 20th annual WhiskyFest, organized by Whisky Advocate. The steep admission price comes with a commemorative Glencairn crystal nosing glass, gift bag, admission to all seminars, a gourmet buffet, and access to over 350 whiskies available to sample. Learn from distillers and master blenders while tasting a vast selection of single-malt and blended whiskies as well as other high-end spirits.
5:30 PM - 9:30 PM | Marriot Marquis Times Square, 1535 Broadway, New York | From $275 | website
November 23 | Holiday event
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
Whether you show up to brave the crowds, find a coveted spot with a view in an adjacent building, or watch from the comfort of your home, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is a decades-old New York tradition. For the best view of the oversized balloons, diehard parade goers start lining up at the crack of dawn. Another fun option is to watch the balloons being inflated the day before starting around 3 p.m. near the Museum of Natural History.
9:00 AM | From 75th St. and Central Park West to 38th St. and Sixth Ave., New York | Free | website
November 27 | Holiday event
Winter’s Eve at Lincoln Center
With the holiday season officially in full swing, there is no shortage of tree lightings and other festivities around the city. But for something a little less intense than Rockefeller Center, check out Winter’s Eve at Lincoln Center, which runs along Broadway from Columbus Circle to 70th Street. Enjoy the live music, tree lighting, food tastings, kids’ activities, and more.
5:30 PM - 9:00 PM | Broadway from Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle to 70th St., New York | Free | website
December 4 - 5 | Plan ahead: Music
Mariah Carey Concert
To truly get in the holiday spirit, nothing has quite the same effect as Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” Which is why you should jump on the opportunity to see her All I Want Is You Christmas tour, which lands at the Beacon Theatre for four nights. If you miss the November dates (the 27th and 28th), try to snag a ticket for one of the final two performances on December 4th and 5th.
8:00 PM | Beacon Theatre, 2124 Broadway, New York | From $60.50 | 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.