Best Things to Do with NYC Kids: January 2013
Although we certainly list a lot of events on Mommy Poppins, our goal isn't just to keep you busy. We carefully curate our calendar and posts so that we send you to the best new and offbeat cultural and artistic experiences New York City has to offer.
Of course not all experiences are created equal. In addition to our annual favorites, we're always hearing about new shows, exhibits, festivals and one-offs that sound so cool we immediately add them to our personal calendars. And now you can plan ahead, too. In honor of the New Year, we'll be highlighting our top things to do with kids every month. That means no more cursing when you read our weekend event roundups because you're already all booked up, and a smaller chance of special events selling out before you can snag tickets. Unlike a traditional calendar, we're not trying to fill up every single day with some random activity. Instead, we're focusing on the most memorable and enriching experiences for New York City families, all worth your time and money (although we try to make most of our picks free or inexpensive).
Here are our 15 absolute favorite things to do with kids in NYC this January. Click through to the full listings and you can automatically add them to your calendar. So get planning!
KamiKaze FireFlies – Upper West Side
Peter Jay Sharp Theatre at Symphony Space, 95th Street and Broadway
Saturday, January 12 at 11am and 2pm
$25 for adults, $15 for children (but there's currently a deal for $12 tickets)
This vaudeville duo consists of acrobat Casey Martin and all-around loon Rob Williams, formerly of one of my favorite comedy troupes The Flaming Idiots (his signature act was making a sandwich with his feet, gross and hilarious). While I'm not exactly sure what these two have in store, it's sure to be wacky, silly, daring (I hear there will be giant cube juggling, fire breathing and wild contortions) and very, very funny.
Family Day at How Much Do I Owe You? – Long Island City
29-27 41st Avenue near Northern Boulevard
Saturday, January 12 at 1pm
I've been dying to see No Longer Empty's new site-specific immersive installation, which is located throughout the former Bank of Manhattan building in Long Island City, Queens. Twenty-six different artists tackle themes of finance, debt and job insecurity. Sound too intense for your kids? You'd be surprised at how playful the works are. I took my seven-year-old to see the organization's last exhibit in the Andrew Freedman Home in the Bronx and we had a blast roaming from room to room, checking out the different art on display. While How Much Do I Owe You? is on view through March 13, on January 12 families can enjoy special art-making activities, including a workshop in Sumi-e, the East Asian art of ink wash-painting.
Hibernators Pajama Pop-In – the Bronx
Wave Hill, 249th Street and Independence Avenue
Saturday, January 12-Sunday, January 13 10am-1pm
While this stunning garden and cultural center in Riverdale hosts family art projects every single weekend, on January 12 and 13 all of the activities are free thanks to Target. Families are encouraged to come in their pajamas to make animal masks, listen to stories about hibernating creatures and dance to nature-themed tunes by kid rocker Jon Samson.
Film Forum Jr.: Classics For Kids and Their Families – Greenwich Village
Film Forum, 209 West Houston Street between Varick Street and Sixth Avenue
Sundays at 11am through March 31
Film Forum just kicked off this Sunday morning film series for families and we really love the lineup. It's a mix of oft-seen movies and flicks your kids (and you!) have probably never watched, at least not on the big screen. All of January's offerings are cool: January 13 is Buster Keaton's silent comedy Sherlock Jr. and January 20 is the Marx Brothers in Horse Feathers. But our favorite screening this month is the 1954 B-movie Creature from the Black Lagoon on January 27, which is being shown in old-school pre-Avatar 3-D!
Unfortunately, this event was cancelled at the last minute.
The NYC Twinkie Festival – Dumbo
46 Bridge Street near Plymouth Street
Sunday, January 13 noon-6pm
In advance: $10 for adults, free for children under 7; at the door: $12 for adults, free for children under 7
Far be it from us to promote junk food but this first annual fest sounds pretty sweet (and sugary and fattening). Attendees can learn how Twinkies are (were?) made, and also see pickle and beer brewing demos. Families are welcome and there will be a crafts table for the kids, as well as live music and eats like deep-fries Twinkies.
The Big Family Quiz Thing – Tribeca
92YTribeca, 200 Hudson Street between Desbrosses and Vestry Streets
Sunday, January 13 at 2pm
In advance: $15 per person, family four-pack $50; day of: $20 for adults, $15 for children, family four-pack $60 (but there's currently a deal for $40 family four-packs)
Full disclosure: I've known Big Quiz Thing creator/host Noah Tarnow since, well, before I had a kid. And up until now, his hilarious and challenging live trivia competitions have been strictly for the over-21 set. But for the first time ever he's creating a show just for families featuring five rounds of multimedia trivia aimed at children ages eight and up, and their adults. Queries run the gamut from pop culture to sports to history and beyond, and the winning team snags a prize package.
Erth's Dinosaur Zoo – Midtown West
New Victory Theater, 209 West 42nd Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues
Friday, January 18-Sunday, January 27. Visit the website for schedule.
Extinct creatures rule the stage during this hour-long spectacle, as reptile wranglers introduce families to a parade of puppet dinosaurs, and explain how they eat, play and survive (or, you know, not). But here's the super-cool part: After the show, kids get a 30-minute dino meet and greet. Sure beats building a time machine or trekking to Secaucus. Recommended for ages six and up.
BAMfamily Launch Party: Down the Rabbit Hole – Fort Greene
BAM Fisher, 321 Ashland Place between Lafayette Avenue and Hanson Place
Saturday, January 19 11am-4pm
Last November we wrote an entire post about BAM's expanded lineup of family programming for 2013. And on Saturday, January 19, it kicks off with a five-hour launch party featuring musical sketch comedy from the Story Pirates, Urban Stages’ interactive show Blown Away by Poetry, puppet and poetry workshops, face painting and a chance to win BAMfamily season tickets.
The Little Moon Theater – Chelsea
15 West 28th Street between Fifth Avenue and Broadway
Saturday, January 19-Saturday, February 16. Visit the website for schedule.
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 Little Moon Theater sounds almost like a revue of greatest TADA hits, as a traveling troupe of actors comes across a variety of offbeat characters.
Thunderbird American Indian Dancers Annual Dance Concert and Pow-wow – East Village
Theater for the New City, 155 First Avenue between 9th and 10th Streets
Friday, January 25-Sunday, February 3. Visit the website for schedule.
$10 for adults, $1 for children under 12 for matinees
At this 28th annual cultural event, families can enjoy dances, stories and traditional music from the Iroquois and Native Peoples of the Northwest Coast, the Southwest, the Plains, and the Arctic 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.
Winter Jam – Upper East Side
Saturday, January 26 11am-3pm
Central Park Bandshell, enter at 72nd Street and Fifth Avenue
In 2012, the Parks Department's annual winter sports festival was canceled because it was just too darn hot. We doubt that will be an issue this year. Enjoy fresh fake snow and try out cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and snowboarding—there's even a separate snow zone for off-leash dogs. Non-winter-specific activities include Quidditch demos, animal tracking and live entertainment.
American Legends Family Opening – Upper East Side
Whitney Museum of American Art, 945 Madison Avenue at 75th Street
Saturday, January 26 noon-3pm
Free with admission: $18 for adults, free for children under 19
In honor of the American Legends exhibit, the museum is hosting a party specifically for families with children ages 5 to 10. Enjoy a kid-friendly introduction to the works on display by the likes of Alexander Calder, Georgia O’Keeffe and Edward Hopper, an art workshop and complimentary refreshments.
Family Day: Carnival of the Elephants at Circus and the City: New York, 1793-2010 – Upper West Side
The Bard Graduate Center, 18 West 86th Street between Columbus Avenue and Central Park West
Saturday, January 26 11am-4pm
$15 per family
This exhibit, which explores the history of the circus in our city through images, artifacts, posters and ephemera, is on view through February 3. But the Carnival of the Elephants is the best day for families to go. In addition to kid-friendly tours, there will also be a pachyderm-themed shadow puppet show, crafts and a visit from a zookeeper.
Beam Center's Inventgenuity Festival – Cobble Hill
51 Bergen Street between Smith Street and Boerum Place
Saturday, January 26-Sunday, January 27 11am-5pm
Free admission but there are material fees and preregistration is required
We first heard about Beam Center's annual fest three years ago and the 2013 edition promises more of the same inventive hands-on activities for families. This year's theme is Digital by Hand and while the complete schedule isn't yet available, there will be collaborative and individual projects, all overseen by professional educators and artists. This fest always books up in advance so be sure to register online ASAP. And note: While admission is free, there are material fees for certain workshops.
Spacewar! Video Games Blast Off – Astoria
Museum of the Moving Image, 36-01 35 Avenue between 37th and 38th Streets
Through Sunday, March 3
Free with admission: $12 for adults, $9 for students, $6 for children ages 3-12
MoMI has so many cool exhibits right now it's hard to choose one. In conjunction with The Art of the Rise of the Guardians, you can catch screenings of DreamWorks' animated movies and old Muppet Show episodes are being shown in the Red Grooms installation Tut's Fever Movie Palace. But our pick this month is the museum's new video game exhibit, which explores their history beginning with Spacewar!, the first-ever digital video game developed a half century ago. And of course the show includes 20 playable video games, no quarters required.
- Free and Cheap Indoor Movies for NYC Kids
- Free & Fun Things to Do for NYC Kids this Weekend: Winter Jam, Inventgenuity Festival, Kids' Concerts & Family Art January 26-27
- Three Kings Day Parade and Celebrations for NYC Kids 2013
- Free & Fun Things to Do this Weekend for NYC Kids: Thomas the Tank Engine, Dinosaur Day, KamiKaze FireFlies January 12-13