Best Things to Do with NYC Kids: January GoList

The Best Family Events in New York City in January Include a Central Park Snow Day, a Maker Fest, and More

Get your calendars ready. Here are the top 12 things to do with kids in New York City this January, three of which are FREE.

While January traditionally is a mellow time—especially when compared with the nonstop action of the holidays—there's no way you can hibernate all month, not with kids around. Luckily, you don't have to. Our January GoList is packed with favorites such as the Three Kings Day Parade in East Harlem, Central Park's Winter Jam sports fest and Beam Center's hands-on Inventgenuity Festival, plus some new, exceptional-sounding shows, concerts and other special experiences for kids.

Find more seasonal fun in our NYC Winter Guide for Families.

If an event piques your interest, click through to our listing for all the details, including addresses, times and recommended ages. And remember: Cool things to do with kids in NYC often book up quickly. So buy your tickets ASAP, or, in the case of FREE events, arrive as early as possible.

RELATED: NYC Kid Classes Guide: Sports, Music, Theater, Cooking

The massive Wise Men puppets headline the Three Kings Parade in East Harlem. Photo by Carucha L. Meuse/courtesy of El Museo del Barrio.

Three Kings Day Parade — East Harlem
Friday, January 6
While there are many ways to mark Three Kings Day (aka the "12th day of Christmas" or the feast of the Epiphany) in NYC, El Museo del Barrio's 40th annual procession is the biggest celebration. Watch as kids march alongside colorful floats, festive bands, live camels, and the massive Three Wise Men puppets, which lead the parade and stay on display in the museum after the event. Find a spot at the start, on 106th Street and Lexington Avenue—there's always room—and then head to the end at La Marqueta for live music and delicious eats from local vendors. When it's all over, visit El Museo, where admission fees are waived all day. FREE

Billy Kelly Family Comedy Show — Gramercy
Saturday, January 7
Families can enjoy stand-up comedy together without worrying about inappropriate content thanks to Grammy-nominated kindie rocker Billy Kelly. The witty songwriter recorded a G-rated comedy album just for families called My First Comedy Album, and is celebrating its release with a three-month residency at the Peoples Improv Theater. Catch Kelly's funny, clean, multigenerational show on the first Saturday of January, February, and March. Best for kids 8 and older. 

Just Kidding: Les Parfaits Inconnus — Upper West Side
Saturday, January 7 
Symphony Space kicks off 2017 with the NYC debut of the Montreal-based circus arts troupe Las Parfaits Inconnus. These seven performers fill the stage with their stylish second production Retour. The show is packed with juggling, cycling, acrobatics, and studded with music and dance—there is even a live rock band on the stage. Perfect for all ages, this one-hour show is awe-inspiring for the whole family. Don't forget, Symphony Space continues its Saturday kid series throughout the winter; this is just one show among many! See the full slate of family programming here.

The History Mystery — Chelsea
Friday, January 20-Monday, February 20
Of all the shows my son and I see together, those at TADA! Youth Theater make the biggest impression: He loves watching his peers on stage. Youngsters ages 8 to 18 perform in original musicals that are quirky and thought-provoking. In the company's latest tuner, meet some famous folks during their childhood, before they went on to make history. Find out what Eleanor Roosevelt, Martin Luther King Jr., and Ben Franklin were like as youngsters in this little-kid-friendly hourlong show.

Beam Center's Inventgenuity Festival — Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn
Saturday, January 21-Sunday, January 22
We've raved about Beam Center's annual maker fest since we discovered it back in 2011. Again this year, the fest will be held off-site at Brooklyn's MS 442, offering a full weekend of low- and high-tech projects. All are overseen by professional educators, artists and partner organizations, including groups such as, as Raspberry Pi, Nerdy Derby and DBA Arcade Cabinets. The 2017 edition also will display the first-ever Beam Team Brooklyn project. Interested? Register for FREE here starting January 5 and receive an email when the workshop schedule is available. Don't wait; this one always sells out. Also, drop-ins most likely won't be accommodated. FREE admission, but nominal materials fees for workshops apply.

RELATED: Indoor Family Fun Guide to NYC Play Spaces and Sports Zones

Learn about surviving in the wild at the interactive Wilderness Camp exhibit at Brooklyn Children's Museum. Photo courtesy of the museum.

Wilderness Camp — Crown Heights, Brooklyn
Saturday, January 21-Sunday, June 4
The Brooklyn Children's Museum wants families to explore the great outdoors with this soon to open exhibit, Wilderness Camp. The interactive display developed in partnership with local, contemporary artist Tattfoo Tan, whose passions include ecology, sustainability, and healthy living, gives kids a taste of camping in the dead of winter. Kids don backpacks stocked with survival tools, including a compass, canteen, mess kit, magnifying glass, net, and blanket. They then peruse a map of hiking trails and head into the faux wilderness to discover how to build a shelter, transform natural materials into necessary items, and tell tales around the campfire. Next month, the museum will host "Survival Skills Workshops" for little ones. Included in museum admission. 

Winter Spooktacular 2017 — Corona, Queens
Saturday, January 28
Pull your Halloween outfits out of the closet for the Queens Museum's annual fundraiser. The museum's second floor transforms into an eerie version of the New York City skyline, featuring performers from Circus Amok and the Savvy Soul Line Dancers. Festivities include the Staten Island Ghost Ferry, a Menacing Manhattan skyscraper tightrope, a Quaking Queens photo booth, Ghosts and Godzillas scavenger hunt, ghoulish goodies, face painting, and sideshow performers. A family pack of tickets comes with a FREE family membership to the museum.

Lunar New Year — citywide
Saturday, January 28-Sunday, January 29
While many of the Lunar New Year festivities are in February, the Year of the Rooster officially kicks off Saturday, January 28 with a FREE firecracker celebration and cultural festival in Manhattan's Sara D. Roosevelt Park. Other Lunar New Year fetes this month include Oshogatsu at the Japan Society and Midtown East's modest second annual shindig.

Special Open Studio at the Whitney: Jenny Perlin — Meatpacking District
Saturday, January 28
The Whitney Museum of American Art's latest exhibit, the high-tech Dreamlands: Immersive Cinema and Art, 1905–2016, looks incredible, but not among the most kid-friendly displays in town. However, if you want to take in with the family this mashup of motion pictures and art, a visit during its open studio on Saturday, January 28 is in order. Jenny Perlin, the artist behind the full-floor exhibit, will be on hand to help kids create artwork inspired by her films and to answer their questions. Free with paid museum admission. 

RELATED: Ski & Snow Sports Guide for Families

Enjoy a multisport snow day in Central Park at the annual Winter Jam. Photo by Daniel Avila/courtesy NYC Parks.

Winter Jam — Central Park
Saturday, January 28
Regardless of what Mother Nature brings in January, it's going to be a major snow day at the Central Park Bandshell on January 28. The Parks Department's annual winter sports festival features fresh-blown snow courtesy of Gore Mountain, so families can try cross-country skiing, sledding, snowshoeing and snowboarding, or just frolic in the fluffy white stuff. Equipment is provided or bring your own. Signed waivers are required for certain activities. This fest is traditionally crowded, and last year's was canceled due to extra ice temps, so there could be even more fans eager to check it out. Arrive early to beat the crowds. FREE

Elephant & Piggie's We Are in a Play  Midtown West
Saturday, January 28-Sunday, February 5, 2017
Two of Mo Willems' most beloved kid-lit characters leap from the page to the stage at the New Victory Theater in this hourlong musical. Young fans of the Elephant and Piggie book series will love watching these BFFs tackle relatable questions such as, "Should you share your ice cream?" Or "How can two friends play with one toy?" Best of all, the actors aren't saddled with big-headed character costumes, selling the stories and songs with talent and good old imagination.

RELATED: NYC Children's Museum and Art Guide

Catch an indie children's flick and then enjoy the festivities at BAMkids Film Festival. Photo by Greg Kessler/courtesy of BAM.

BAMkids Film Festival – Fort Greene, Brooklyn
Saturday, January 28-Sunday, January 29
BAM Rose Cinemas hosts its annual family film fest, featuring 56 shorts and full-length movies from around the world. Along with films, families can enjoy FREE activities in the Opera House Lobby, including face painters, balloon twisters, roving entertainers, and live performers. Buying tickets in advance is recommended. 

Honorable Mentions

NYC always has incredible things going on, so it's difficult to choose what to include in our monthly GoList. Here are eight more cool events 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 each week for easy planning.

Watch (or if you're brave, join) members of the Coney Island Polar Bear Club on their annual New Year's Day swim in the Atlantic Ocean. FREE, although donations are encouraged for Camp Sunshine.

Take train-obsessed tots to the New York Botanical Garden to see the mini-musical All Aboard with Thomas & Friends, which plays until January 22.

Celebrate J.R.R. Tolkien's birthday by participating in a hobbit village-making workshop at Manhattan's Children's Museum of the Arts on Monday, January 2. 

Now two days! Check out panels, films, workshops, and discussions about African-American comics at the fifth annual Black Comic Book Festival at Harlem's Schomburg Center on Friday, January 13 and Saturday, January 14. FREE

Catch Canada's quirky Michel Lauzière in an interactive show with funky contraptions and homemade musical instruments at Flushing Town Hall on Saturday, January 14.

Grab an artistic holiday treat to take home as the New York Hall of Science dismantles its massive GingerBread Lane display on Monday, January 16.

Join eighth-graders from Manhattan Country School as they march for peace in honor of Martin Luther King Day on Monday, January 16. FREE

Learn how animals spend cold winter days and nights at the Hibernators Pajamas Pop In Weekend at Wave Hill Saturday, January 21 and Sunday, January 22.