Best Things to Do with NYC Kids: January Go List
Happy New Year... of Go Lists! This post marks the first anniversary since we debuted our inaugural NYC Go List back in January 2013. Since then, we've published 12 carefully curated roundups highlighting the absolute best things to do with kids every single month and we're back at it for 2014.
Even though our calendar and daily posts are always packed with fun and enriching events, our Go List helps families like you plan ahead so you don't miss the very best NYC has to offer—even I end up putting a bunch of the picks on my own personal calendar. While January may seem like a mellow time, especially when compared to the nonstop action of the holiday season, you'd be surprised how many must-dos are coming up this month including the Three Kings Day Parade in East Harlem, Central Park's annual Winter Jam and Beam Center's hands-on Inventgenuity Festival.
As always, if an event piques your interest, be sure to click through to our listing for all the details, including address and time. And keep in mind: In NYC, really cool things to do with kids often get booked up quickly. So buy your tickets ASAP or, in the case of FREE events, arrive as early as possible to try to beat the crowds.
So get out your calendar: Here are the top 12 things to do with kids in New York City this January.
Three Kings Day Parade – East Harlem
Friday, January 6
While there are plenty of ways to celebrate Three Kings Day (a.k.a. the "12th day of Christmas") in NYC, El Museo del Barrio's annual procession is our favorite. Watch as lots of local school kids march by alongside colorful floats, festive bands, live camels and the massive Three Kings Day puppets, which lead the procession and stay on display in the museum after the event. My daughter and I have been many times and it's fun though modest. Find a spot at the start on 106th Street and Lexington Avenue (there's usually room), watch for 15 minutes or so and then continue celebrating with a great Mexican meal at the nearby El Paso Restaurante. FREE
Family Fun Art Workshop: What Is Performance Art? – Upper East Side
Saturdays, January 11 and 25
Performance art is one of those genres even adults have trouble wrapping their heads around. Find out what it's all about in this workshop inspired by the Whitney Museum of Art's exhibit Rituals of Rented Island: Object Theater, Loft Performance, and the New Psychodrama—Manhattan, 1970–1980. After a kid-friendly tour, families will come up with their own performance art pieces. These Whitney Family Fun Art Workshops are an incredible deal since the $10 fee includes admission to the museum for the whole family (regular adult tickets cost $20). The one downside: They tend to sell out fast so advance registration is required. $10 per family
DiNO-Light: A Glow-in-the-Dark Dinosaur Adventure – Upper West Side
Saturday, January 11
Glow-in-the-dark dinosaurs—what's not to love? The eye-popping Lightwire Theater (of America's Got Talent fame) is behind this high-tech stage spectacle, which brings the extinct creatures to life via illuminated costumes and puppets. My daughter and I saw the troupe's wonderful adaptations of The Ugly Duckling and The Tortoise and the Hare back in 2012 and were wowed by the special effects and simple wordless storytelling. We expect more of the same from DiNO-Light, an original show at Symphony Space that features an incongruous dinosaur light saber battle... but I doubt any kids are going to complain about the anachronism. $25 for adults, $15 for children
The Gift of Winter – Chelsea
Saturday, January 18-Sunday, February 9
Out of all the shows my daughter and I see together, the ones at TADA! Youth Theater make the biggest impression on her, because she loves watching her peers on stage. Local youngsters ages 8 to 18 perform in original musicals that are quirky and thought-provoking. The company's latest musical, The Gift of Winter, is inspired by John Leach and Jean Rankin's '70s book and animated short of the same name about a bunch of townsfolk who travel to the Ministry of Winter to lodge a formal complaint against the freezing season. That's a protest we can get behind. $20 for adults, $8 for children
Report on the Construction of a Spaceship Module – Lower East Side
Wednesday, January 22-Sunday, April 13
Note: Due to negative reader feedback, we decided to take Report on the Construction of a Spaceship Module at the New Museum off of our list due to mature content.
The Little Prince: A New York Story – Murray Hill
Friday, January 24-Sunday, April 27
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's signature children's novella about a mysterious interstellar traveler has been adapted for the screen and stage. But families can appreciate the story in its original form at the Morgan Library & Museum's new exhibit. In addition to perusing the manuscript and watercolor illustrations, visitors can learn about The Little Prince's unique NYC connection: The French author-illustrator wrote the book while in New York, and it was first published here in both English and French. Since this isn't a hands-on exhibit and involves a good deal of reading, families with younger children may want to check it out during its activity-packed Spring Family Fair in April—we suspect that event will make our April Go List. Free with admission: $18 for adults, $12 for children ages 13-16, free under age 13
Boo! The Winter Spooktacular Ball for Families – Corona
Saturday, January 25
We raved about the overhauled Queens Museum when it reopened in November after a massive renovation. Check it out in high style at this fundraiser, a fun-packed Halloween-themed (why not?) costume party featuring a wiggle dance contest, a shadow puppet show and workshop, spooky storytelling, a scary scavenger hunt, ghoulish goodies and more. Individual tickets are $20 but if you're bringing the kids, you're better off making a $75 contribution, which gets you entry for six people, six raffle tickets and an annual family membership so you can visit regularly at no additional cost. $20 and up
Winter Jam – Upper East Side
Saturday, January 25
Regardless of what Mother Nature brings, it's going to be a major snow day at the Central Park Bandshell. The Parks Department's annual winter sports festival features fresh blown snow courtesy of Gore Mountain so families can try cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and snowboarding, or just frolic in the fluffy white stuff. There's even a separate snow zone for off-leash dogs. All equipment is provided. Signed waivers are required for certain activities. This one gets seriously crowded to arrive as early as possible. FREE
Beam Center's Inventgenuity Festival – Cobble Hill
Saturday, January 25-Sunday, January 26
We first heard about Beam Center's annual hands-on fest in 2011 and many Mommy Poppins families go every year. The 2014 schedule has just been posted and as always there is a range of collaborative and individual low- and high-tech projects, all overseen by professional educators and artists from the popular maker space. The Inventgenuity Festival always books up fast so advance registration is required. It's already open so if you're interested sign up ASAP. Admission is FREE but there are material fees for certain workshops
The Alice-in-Wonderland Follies – Upper East Side
Saturday, January 25-Sunday, January 26
New York Theatre Ballet's Once Upon a Ballet series is the perfect introduction to the art form for young children. The offerings are all adaptations of classic fairy tales, and therefore familiar and easy-to-follow. Plus the running time is about an hour so little ones don't get squirmy. For Alice in Wonderland, the action has been transported to New York’s Palace Theater in 1915 where she runs into the White Rabbit, the Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter and all of Lewis Carroll's other iconic characters. The music and dance styles are appropriately diverse and include ragtime, waltzes and period pop songs, Irish step-dancing, African juba, ballroom and traditional pointe. $39
The Big Family Quiz Thing – East Village
Sunday, January 26
Perhaps you've seen Noah Tarnow's grown-up trivia competition The Big Quiz Thing on NYC TV or at one of the many venues where he hosts live shows. Well on January 26, kids ages 7 and up can get in on the action with the second annual Big Family Quiz Thing at SubCulture. Created specifically for families, the competition features six fast and funny rounds of multimedia trivia that run the gamut from sports to pop culture to history. Last year's prizes were pretty sweet (including Broadway tickets!) but really it's not about winning, it's about how much fun you have playing the game. This one is on my family's calendar. In advance: $15 per person, family four-pack $50; day of: $20 for adults, $15 for children, family four-pack $60.
Thunderbird American Indian Dancers Annual Dance Concert and Pow-wow – East Village
Friday-Sunday: January 31-Sunday, February 9
A beloved wintertime tradition: At the Theater for the New City's 29th annual cultural event, families can enjoy dances, stories and music from the Iroquois and Native Peoples of the Southwest and Great Plains regions. Proceeds benefit college funds for Native American students in need, and on weekend matinees kids get in for just a buck and are invited to interact with the performers during parts of the show. $10, $1 for children under age 12 for matinees only
NYC always has so many incredible things going on that it's difficult to choose. So here are a few more cool events that are worth considering for your January calendar. Be sure to sign up for our FREE newsletters so you can get our weekend picks delivered to your inbox every Thursday morning.
Take train-obsessed tots to the New York Botanical Garden to see the mini musical All Aboard with Thomas & Friends, which plays throughout the month.
Watch (or if you're brave, join!) the Coney Island Polar Bear Club members on their annual New Year's Day swim in the Atlantic Ocean. FREE
Celebrate Chinese New Year a little early at the Children's Museum of Manhattan's Asian American Festival with ethnic art projects and performances the weekends of January 4-5 and 11-12.
Recycle your Christmas tree at the Park Department's annual MulchFest on Saturday, January 11-Sunday, January 12. FREE
Get up close and personal with bugs, snakes and slime at the Brooklyn Children's Museum's annual Icky Fest on Saturday, January 11-Sunday, January 12.
Learn all about Tu B'Shvat (a sort of Jewish Arbor Day) at the Museum at Eldridge Street's WinterGreen Festival on Sunday, January 12.
Catch Bessie's Big Shot, the latest puppet show at the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre in Central Park, which opens on Tuesday, January 14 and runs through June.
Groove to the catchy indie tunes of Recess Monkey at Symphony Space on Saturday, January 18.
Join Mommy Poppins at a special discounted performance of Still Awake Still! at the New Victory Theater on January 18, and enjoy exclusive pre- and post-show activities.
Join eighth graders from the Manhattan Country School as they march for peace in honor of Martin Luther King Day on Monday, January 20. FREE
Ring in the Lunar New Year at the 15th annual Firecracker Ceremony and Cultural Festival in Chinatown on Friday, January 31. FREE (Note: This is not the big Chinese New Year Parade—that takes place on Sunday, February 2 and will definitely be in our February Go List).
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