Good afternoon, this is W42ST Lifestyle Editor Sarah Beling with “Make Way For The Weekend” — your curated guide to the best of New York events in one convenient newsletter!
For some people (and some radio stations!!), the holiday season starts on November 1st, the twinkling bells that open All I Want for Christmas Is You serving as a veritable call to action. For others, the day after Thanksgiving means lining up outside suburban department stores, lusting over the thrill of chasing a good deal (you know who you are). And for others still, the holiday season means dissenting entirely from perky, cheery sentimentality.
Which category am I? I’ll never tell!!!
Look, you don’t need me to tell you that the holiday season is complicated. Christmas (secular and otherwise) unfairly dominates the months of November and December. Thanksgiving has great food and a pretty ROUGH origin story!!! Everyone interrogates you about your life and dating history at parties!!! Our credit card bills stare back at us in horror!!
But…and maybe this is a tell on my end…there’s something magical about the holiday season in the city. The twinkling lights, the music, the holiday window displays, the feeling of warmth after leaving a seasonal cocktail party or gift exchange. It’s…dare I say it…jolly.
More than anything, I think it’s a time where New Yorkers extend each other a bit more good will (unless you block them on the sidewalk) and everyone treats the month like the last day of school before vacation.
It’s a long season, and I promise to include plenty of non-holiday related suggestions, but — for all its complications — I invite you to join me in rocking around New York City.
And if not, it’s all good!! Festivus (“for the rest of us!”) is December 23.
Do you have a favorite NYC holiday tradition that I should know about??
🩰 waltz of the flowers
Full disclosure: after performing in it for nearly a decade, The Nutcracker has a tightly wound psychological nostalgic chokehold on me (yes, even after sweating it out one year in a mouse costume). But listen, there’s a reason the holiday ETA Hoffmann story makes its way into nearly every ballet company’s repertoire annually — the music, as the kids say, slaps, OK!!! Just try not to get amped up when (spoiler alert) the magical Christmas tree transforms as Tschaikovsky’s score swells!! You can’t!! It’s magic!!! Btw George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker is opening tonight and running through New Year’s Eve.
🎤 this time in verse
The Irish Arts Center hosts The 13th Annual Poetryfest Friday December 2 through Sunday December 4 with a full weekend of performances, panels and readings chock-full of special guests like Bill Irwin, Consul General Helena Nolan, J Hope Stein, Mary Lou Quinlan and more!
🎶 super new singalong
When you can’t listen to Dominick the Donkey one more time, Broadway’s Future New Holiday Songs is here to save the day — featuring musical theater’s most exciting new performers and composers debuting brand-new holiday tunes in the New York Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center Sunday November 28!
While I’m here waxing nostalgic…Fiddler on the Roof was the first musical I was ever in, and it set the bar pretty damn high. A very specific tale of a Jewish Russian milkman and his family in 1905 that somehow maintains its universal emotional relevance regardless of your heritage and regardless of how much time goes by since its inception? Directed by the incomparable (and unstoppable, he’s 90!!) Joel Grey?? In Yiddish??? Let’s go!!!!!!!!!!! Fiddler on the Roof plays now through January 1 at New World Stages.
🎭 inside the actors studio…literally
The venerable Hell’s Kitchen acting studio celebrates its 75th anniversary by opening its doors in a series of rare public events this month, starting with a panel discussion and performance series on creating solo work on Friday December 2, a screening and panel discussion with some of the stars of Tennessee Williams’ 1956 film Baby Doll (directed by Actors Studio co-founder Elia Kazan) Thursday December 8 and an evening of works in progress by current Studio members on Friday December 9 and Saturday December 10. All events are free!
👯♀️ march of the wooden soldiers
Listen, Santa works hard but the Rockettes work harder. The incredibly precise performers premiere this year’s The Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes now through January 2. Check them out (along with the rest of the talented ensemble, including the camels!!!) for a classic New York holiday activity.
🎭 distinctly non-holiday content
Ok, let’s get this out there upfront. Downstate playing now through December 22 at Playwrights Horizons is a play about a group of men convicted of sex crimes living in a halfway house. It’s not an upper, but the gripping, boundary-pushing new play from Bruce Norris has been nearly universally lauded as a fascinating meditation on the extremely complicated nature of who is deserving of compassion.
🚶🏼♀️ walk it out
Having spent his life working in the garment industry, Mike Kaback is the perfect person to lead you through a historical tour of the Garment District, now booking through Mike’s Walking Tours Wednesday November 30, Monday December 5, Tuesday December 13 and Thursday December 22!
🎪 oh what a show
Hosting family for the weekend and need to get everyone out of the apartment?? Now in its 45th year, the Big Apple Circus returns to Lincoln Center now through January 1 with a family-friendly evening full of aerialists, acrobats, jugglers and clowns!
🍸 a hazy shade of winter
Looking for seasonal, non denominational fun? Swing by the Snow Globe Pop-Up bar at Ophelia (ongoing this winter) for a bespoke cocktail, snacks and the perfect glittery, glitzy skyline photo-op for your non denominational holiday card.
🎶 rocket kids
When it comes to kids’ tunes, forget the Wiggles, just listen to Crocodile Rock — that chorus was made for kids bop to (just forget the lyrics about Susie and her dress lolol). To that effect, The Rock and Roll Playhouse Plays the Music of Elton John for Kids Sunday November 27 !
🚗 bump it
Need to let out a little holiday stress? Take out your rage productively by trying out the bumper cars at The Standard Hotel, now ongoing. The entire plaza is redone as a tribute to the 80s and a place to “find your inner misfit and let it all out behind the wheel.” Can’t make it downtown? Just try street parking!!!
🛍 something for everyone
Skip the bland gift guides (enough with the leather wallets!!!!!) and find something unique for your friends and family while supporting Small Business Saturday at the Queens Craft Brigade this Saturday November 26, featuring vendors exclusively from the borough.
🎤 real news
Known for somehow managing to keep a straight face among MAGA Q-Anon believers and the like, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah correspondent Jordan Klepper is well acquainted with the absurdity of covering political news. He hosts Shit Show, a panel of fellow late-night writers on Thursday December 1 where they’ll parse through chaos with fun and drinking games.
🚶🏼♀️keep getting those steps in
On a walking kick from taking Mike’s Garment District tour? Try the Keith York City walking tours, featuring richly narrated, themed experiences from NYC historian Keith Tallion like the Gilded Age Tour (Sunday November 27 and Sunday December 11) and the FiDi Seaport Tour (Saturday December 10)!
🍕 don’t need to bring snacks
If you prefer your walks to come with sustenance, there’s a historic West Village Food tour Saturday November 26. Take a break from turkey leftovers and have a smorgasbord of West Side goodies!
🛳 rock the boat
If you need to let loose after sweating through another Thanksgiving dinner full of your cousin’s suspect political opinions (shoutout to my cousins though, y’all are cool 😂), unwind with a strong beverage at the NYC Friendsgiving Sunset Party Cruise Saturday November 26.
Commemorate Native American Heritage month with free, educational events exploring the legacy of the Lenape people at Marine Park in Brooklyn Saturday November 26 and Inwood Hill Park Sunday November 27.
🔥 Hot tip
Did you know there’s a PARADE this week?! lol yes, you did (and if you need the rundown, check out our guide to the day’s programming). But if you’re still in town or sticking around this holiday, why not head up to Central Park West and W72nd Street today from 12-6pm for a bit of backstage magic — you can watch tomorrow’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons being inflated by its many volunteers. Here’s hoping Barney has a better year than he did in 1997.
⚠️ Omg I forgot to tell you
The World Cup is ongoing through December 18 — want to watch in Hell’s Kitchen? Check out our guide here!
Still haven’t planned dinner for tomorrow 👀? There are plenty of Hell’s Kitchen restaurants serving up amazing meals!!
There are over 2 million glittering lights at the Shine Bright display at Hudson Yards on display now
The Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting is Wednesday November 30
There’s a Vivienne Westwood Sample Sale through Sunday in SoHo
Hear that whistle tone? Mariah Carey is coming to town Tuesday December 13
That’s it for now! Call me beep me if you want to reach me! (email@example.com)
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