Offbeat Holiday Events and Multicultural Celebrations for NYC Kids 2012
[UPDATED: NOVEMBER 11, 2012]
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 9 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, 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 go on sale November 14 and can be purchased by phone, in person or online.
Tuba Christmas – Midtown East
The Rink at Rockefeller Center, Fifth Avenue between 49th and 50th Streets
Sunday, December 9 at 3:30pm
Five hundred tuba players toot holiday songs on the iconic ice-skating rink. It's truly a sight to behold...and hear. This offbeat concert is always crowded, but if you show up around 12:30pm instead, you can catch their rehearsal and avoid the hordes.
SantaCon – Citywide
Various locations. Visit the website for more info.
Saturday, December 15 all day
If you've ever noticed hundreds of mostly young people in cheap Santa suits in early December, marauding around the city singing naughty carols, hitting bars, and spreading holiday cheer and mayhem, then you've experienced SantaCon. Look for them all over Manhattan on Saturday, December 15 (they're hard to miss), or sign up for the event's Twitter feed to find out where they'll be invading. Note: This event and its website are not for families, although a few do participate. But you're better off ogling than joining.
Unsilent Night – Greenwich Village
The Arch at Washington Square Park, Fifth Avenue and Washington Square North
Saturday, December 15 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.
Posadas y Pastorelas – East Harlem
Museum of the City of New York, 1220 Fifth Avenue at 104th Street
Sunday, December 16 noon-5pm
Free with suggested admission: $20 for families, $10 for adults, free for children under age 13
Mano a Mano, the organization behind the Day of the Dead festivities at Saint Mark's Church, co-hosts this tenth annual Mexican family celebration. A posada is a traditional singing procession and a pastorela is a classic shepherds' play. Get into the holiday spirit Mexican-style with an afternoon of crafts, music and food.
East Meets West Christmas Parade – Chinatown
Canal and Mulberry Streets
Saturday, December 22 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, and other entertainers parade down the street. The parade starts at Canal and Mulberry Streets, heads north on Mulberry Street to Prince Street, and then returns south on Mott Street ending at Chatham Square.
Klez for Kids – Lower East Side
Museum at Eldridge Street, 12 Eldridge Street between Canal and Division Streets
Tuesday, December 25 at 1pm
$12 for adults, $6 for children ages 5-18
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.
Kwanzaa 2012 – Upper West Side
American Museum of Natural History, Central Park West at 79th Street
Saturday, December 29 noon-5pm
Free with suggested admission: $19 for adults, $10.50 for children ages 2-12, free for kids under 2
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
Friday, January 4 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.