Offbeat Holiday Events and Multicultural Celebrations for NYC Kids 2013
The holiday season is a great time to expose our kids to what it means when we say, "It takes all kinds."
From a traditional Mexican celebration to boombox Christmas caroling, you know you're in New York City when your family's holiday traditions include some of these fun, multicultural, artsy or just plain wacky events. Enjoy!
Santa Rescue – Soho
New York City Fire Museum, 278 Spring Street between Hudson and Varick Streets
Sunday, December 8 at 11:30am
$10 for adults, $2 for children under 12
Firefighters rescue Santa from the roof of the museum, and then head inside for a lively party. Kids can pose for pics with the big red guy (until 2pm only), and enjoy hot cocoa and hot dogs (for a fee), and live music. Yes, you can watch the rescue for free and skip the party, but you won't get any face time with Saint Nick if you do that. Tickets can be purchased by phone, in person or online.
SantaCon – Citywide
Various locations. Visit the website for more info.
Saturday, December 14 10am-all hours
What started off a decade ago as a kind of Santa version of the Mermaid Parade, sadly devolved into an annoying drunken bar crawl with 20-somethings in cheap red hats marauding around the city singing naughty carols and spreading holiday fear and mayhem. It's gotten so bad over the past few years that the NYPD is encouraging bars to ban all the St. Nicks this year. The good news? The original organizers (who long since fled) are holding a SantaCon Detour this year, which will start at the same time and place and then take a different route and attitude. It sounds a lot cooler and more family-friendly. Follow SantaCon via text to find out where they'll be starting. Note: The main SantaCon and its website are not for families!
Unsilent Night – Greenwich Village
The Arch at Washington Square Park, Fifth Avenue and Washington Square North
Saturday, December 14 at 7pm
A musical mob parades from Washington Square Park to Tompkins Square Park carrying boomboxes to create a "sound sculpture." It's a really cool alternative to traditional Christmas caroling. Download the music online, download the free app or show up early to snag a free CD or cassette tape (assuming you still have one of those players). All participants should arrive at least 15 minutes before the kickoff.
Tuba Christmas – Midtown East
The Rink at Rockefeller Center, Fifth Avenue between 49th and 50th Streets
Sunday, December 15 at 3:30pm
It's the 40th anniversary of this kooky concert featuring 500 tuba players tooting holiday songs on the iconic ice-skating rink. It's truly a sight to behold...and hear. While this official performance is always crowded, if you show up at 12:30pm you can catch their rehearsal and avoid the hordes.
Posadas y Pastorelas – Washington Heights
550 West 155th Street between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue
Saturday, December 21 1-5:30pm
FREE but donations encouraged
Mano a Mano, the organization behind the Day of the Dead festivities at Saint Mark's Church, hosts this 11th annual Mexican holiday celebration. But this year it has moved from the Museum of the City of New York to Washington Heights. Enjoy music and eats, learn how to make your own piñatas, join a posada, a singing procession through the streets, and see a Pastorela, a traditional shepherds' play.
East Meets West Christmas Parade – Chinatown
Starts at Canal and Mulberry Streets
Saturday, December 21 at 2pm
One of our only-in-NYC favorites: Adjacent communities Chinatown and Little Italy come together to celebrate the holidays. Watch marching bands, Chinese Lion and Dragon Dance troupes, half a dozen floats, a gondola on wheels, and more entertainers and attractions parade down the street. The procession starts at Canal and Mulberry Streets, heads north on Mulberry Street to Houston Street, turns east to Mott Street and goes south to Kimlau Square.
Klez for Kids – Lower East Side
Museum at Eldridge Street, 12 Eldridge Street between Canal and Division Streets
Wednesday, December 25 at 1pm
$12 for adults, $6 for children ages 3-17
If you don't celebrate Christmas, this is the place to be. Clarinetist Greg Wall and his band Klezmerfest will lead a musical tour of Eastern European Jewish culture, culminating in a festive interactive shtetl wedding. There will also be family-friendly scavenger hunts and Yiddish workshops throughout the day from 10am to 3pm.
Kwanzaa 2013 – Upper West Side
American Museum of Natural History, Central Park West at 79th Street
Saturday, December 28 noon-5pm
Free with suggested admission: $22 for adults, $12.50 for children ages 2-12
The seven guiding principles of Kwanzaa are celebrated at this vibrant annual festival. Buy traditional gifts and special food at the international marketplace, and enjoy amazing music, dance and storytelling under the museum's big blue whale.
Three Kings Day Parade – East Harlem
Starts at 106th Street and Madison Avenue and ends at 115th Street and Park Avenue
Monday, January 6, 2014 at 10:30am
Who doesn’t love a parade, especially one with camels and giant puppets? El Museo del Barrio sponsors this lively procession of music, colorful dancing and floats that fills the streets of East Harlem in honor of Epiphany. It's a jubilant community celebration and a fitting close to the holiday season.