Free & Fun Things to Do this Weekend for NYC Kids: Hanukkah Festivals, Christmas Celebrations, Dan Zanes December 8-9

Best Weekend Events for New York City Kids and Families

The holiday season is in full swing in NYC and many of our favorite annual seasonal celebrations take place this weekend. See Santa get rescued by some of New York's Bravest at the New York City Fire Museum. Hear a no-cost concert of Christmas carols tooted out at Tuba Christmas. And celebrate Hanukkah with giant menorah lightings in Central and Prospect Parks, and at The Jewish Museum with candles, candy and songs by Yosi and the Superdads.

Other fun on tap this weekend includes a concert by Dan Zanes and Friends, holiday storytime with Mommy Poppins founder Anna Fader at the Children's Museum of Manhattan and the Guggenheim's annual production of Peter and the Wolf.

Those are just a few of the great things going on this weekend. Read on for all of our picks. You can find additional options in our Event Calendar and our Holiday Fun Guide.

All Weekend

Santa's Winter Garden – Battery Park City
This isn't your average department store Saint Nick. Visit with Santa, reindeer and some lively elves, and then have your picture taken by a professional photographer in the Winter Garden's stunning glass atrium, which is decked out with thousands of lights for the season. All proceeds go to support New York Theatre Ballet. Warning: Arrive early as the lines get really long! Photo packages start at $20

A Charlie Brown Christmas – Park Slope
The Pig Brooch Theatre Company brings its live stage adaptation of the classic TV special to the Brooklyn Lyceum. Extremely faithful to the source material (right down to the 30-minute running time), the show features Charlie, Lucy, Linus, Snoopy and the rest of the Peanuts gang along with that sad little Christmas tree. A lively jazz trio plays Vince Guaraldi's memorable Charlie Brown music. $11, $33 for a family four-pack

Peter and the Wolf with Isaac Mizrahi – Upper East Side
The Guggenheim's annual holiday performance of Prokofiev's timeless children’s classic returns. As usual, Isaac Mizrahi narrates and this year Will Cotton's fabulous set is a gingerbread chalet. $35.

The Yorkville Nutcracker – Upper East Side
Set in New York City in 1895, Dances Patrelle's Nutcracker dances its way through iconic NYC sites, including Gracie Mansion, Wollman Rink in Central Park and the New York Botanical Garden. $45-$85

Saturday, December 8

Imaginary Brands with MakerBot – Tribeca
With 3D printers, you can design something on a computer (jewelry, dishware, clothes, you name it) and then watch it literally print out into that object. Today, children ages 7 to 12 can experiment with this cutting-edge technology at apexart with the help of pros from MakerBot. RSVP required. In advance: $7, at the door: $10.

Dan Zanes and Friends Holiday Sing-along – Tribeca
The famous kid rocker celebrates the release of his first-ever holiday album, Christmas in Concord, with a hopping family concert at City Winery. $20

Happy Concerts: Babes in Toyland – Upper West Side
The Little Orchestra Society kicks off its season of Happy Concerts with a contemporary take on the classic operetta Babes in Toyland at Lincoln Center. $15-$55

Dr. Seuss Storytime – Upper West Side
Mommy Poppins founder Anna Fader will read How the Grinch Stole Christmas! and other Dr. Seuss favorites at the Children's Museum of Manhattan's Grinch's Holiday Workshop. Free with admission: $11

Santa Brunch and Parade – Greenpoint
Head to the Greenpoint Beacon Center to munch on pancakes, make holiday-themed arts and crafts, and pose for pics with the man of the season. Afterward, burn off those calories at a no-cost Santa parade to McCarren Park, where local families will trim the tree and sing Christmas carols. $10 per person for brunch; free for the parade.

Family Films: Rock, Paper, Scissors: Let’s Play! – Midtown West
Enjoy an hour-long program of international shorts themed around play at MoMA The lineup includes B/W Races, Ludovic—A Crocodile in My Garden and Runaway Bathtub. Afterward, stay and enjoy the museum at no additional cost. FREE but tickets are distributed first come, first served beginning at 10am.

Family Affair: Holiday Party – the Bronx
Celebrate the season at the Bronx Museum of the Arts with hands-on art and food workshops, kid-friendly tours of the galleries and other activities. FREE

Saturday Morning Storytelling with the Hans Christian Andersen Storytellers – Murray Hill
Julie Della Torre shares the Icelandic folktale The Night Troll at Scandinavia House. Afterward, stay and play at the Heimbold Family Children's Learning Center. FREE for storytelling, $8 for the center.

See all Saturday events.

Sunday, December 9

Santa Rescue – Hudson Square
Watch members of the FDNY rescue Santa when he gets stranded on the roof of the New York City Fire Museum. Once he is safely inside the refurbished 1904 firehouse, he'll pose for photos with fans while carols are sung. You can watch the rescue for free and skip the party, but you won't get any face time with Saint Nick that way. Buying advance tickets is recommended. $10 for adults, $2 for children under 12.

Tuba Christmas – Midtown East
More wacky seasonal fun: Five hundred tuba players toot holiday songs on the Rink at Rockefeller Center. Bet you've never heard that before. This concert is always crowded, but if you show up around 12:30pm instead, you can catch their rehearsal and avoid the hordes. FREE

Santa Claus' Pajama Storytime – the Bronx
Put on your PJs and head to the historic Van Cortlandt House Museum to enjoy stories and photo ops with Old Saint Nick. FREE Afterward, check out the nearby Van Cortlandt Park Ice Skating Rink, which just recently opened for business.

Hanukkah Family Day – Upper East Side
Head to the Jewish Museum for an afternoon of Hanukkah-themed fun, including make-your-own menorah craft sessions and live tunes by Yosi and the Superdads. Free with admission: $12 for adults, free for children under 12

Poppy Seed Players: Judy and the Maccabees – Upper West Side
The troupe's comical take on the Hanukkah story stars a young girl named Judy who masterminds a plan that lets the Maccabees win the war and return to Jerusalem. $20

Hip Tot Music Fest: Jeremy Plays Guitar – Gowanus
Rock out with Jeremy at this rollicking concert guest starring Sesame Street's Bob McGrath and Santa Claus. Other fun on tap includes animated shorts by Walsh Family Media, Brooklyn kid-lit author Melanie Hope Greenberg reading Aunt Lillie's Laundromat, a dance performance by Jeté Dance Center, face painting and glitter tattoos, and a complimentary goody bag for every kid in attendance. $12 for adults, $8 for children, $35 for a family four-pack.

Circo Comedia – Manhattan Beach
This French-Canadian duo hits Brooklyn's Kingsborough Community College for a one-day only vaudeville-style show. Jean Saucier is the acrobat/trick cyclist/balancer/juggler while his partner yuks it up as an inept clown. When they work together, everything goes hilariously wrong. $12

Met Life Second Sundays for Families – Corona
Families can explore the Queens Museum of Art's latest exhibit Caribbean Crossroads, make holiday crafts and participate in an interactive art project using recycled materials. FREE

Boogie with Brett Family Concert – East Village
Get down and boogie (or sing, dance and play air guitar) with the popular preschool music instructor as he sings pop tunes and Hanukkah favorites at the 14th Street Y. Preregistration recommended. In advance: $25 per family; at the door: $30.

See all Sunday events.

Outside NYC

Enjoy face time with Santa and a hot breakfast buffet before hitting the slides at awesome indoor water park Sahara Sam’s Oasis in West Berlin, New Jersey.

Long Island’s paper of record, Newsday, hosts its annual Holiday Lights Festival in Melville. Visitors can walk through 1,200 feet of twinkling displays, hit the ice rink or enjoy carnival games.

In Greenwich, Connecticut, kids can feed a few of Santa’s reindeer at McArdle’s Flower Shop.

Don't forget: We have additional activity options in our Event Calendar and our Holiday Fun Guide.