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 is traditionally 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 annual 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 brand-new, exceptional-sounding shows, concerts and other special experiences for kids.
If an event piques your interest, click through to our listing for all the details, including address, time and recommended ages. And remember: Cool things to do with kids in NYC often get booked up quickly. So buy your tickets ASAP, or, in the case of FREE events, arrive as early as possible.
MakeFest 1716-2016 — Staten Island
Saturday, January 2
Hit NYC's only living history museum, Historic Richmond Town, for an evening of cool and creative projects, both old school and high-tech. Craft a retro paper lantern with a modern LED light and use it on your do-it-yourself maker's journey through the village. Digital Polaroids, 3D printing, tinsmithing, hearth cooking and fashioning retro holiday ornaments are some of the other activities on tap. On the way, chat with crafts people from various eras, enjoy live dancing and music and sip on homemade hot chocolate, or mulled wine for grown-ups—score!
Sonia de los Santos Concert with Dan Zanes — Upper West Side
Saturday, January 2
Introduce the kids to the multicultural music of Sonia de los Santos. Born and raised in Mexico, this bilingual singer/songwriter is best known for collaborations with kindie rock icon Dan Zanes. So it's no surprise that he's guest-starring at her first Symphony Space solo concert, where she'll play tunes from her new family album, Mi Viaje: De Nuevo León to the New York Island. Expect uplifting numbers about the challenges of immigrating to this country while maintaining your heritage.
RELATED: NYC Kid Classes Guide: Sports, Music, Theater, Cooking
El Museo del Barrio organizes the annual Three Kings Parade in East Harlem. Photo by the post author.
Three Kings Day Parade — East Harlem
Wednesday, 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 39th annual procession is the biggest celebration. Watch as local school 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, where there will be live music and delicious eats from local vendors. FREE
The Pop Ups' performances are more like theater shows than concerts. Photo by Jonathan Janis/courtesy the Pop Ups.
The Pop Ups in Concert — Upper West Side
Saturday, January 9
This Grammy-nominated, Brooklyn-based duo puts on interactive shows filled with songs, costumes, props, sets and whimsical handcrafted puppets. Best of all, their tunes run the gamut from synth-pop to reggae and soul and never sound watered-down. At this performance, they'll do some of their greatest hits ("Box of Crayons," "Radio Jungle" and "All These Shapes") and play songs off their latest album, Great Pretenders Club.
The Titanosaur — Upper West Side
Opens Friday, January 15
The American Museum of Natural History has long been famous for its life-size dinosaur skeletons, and this January it welcomes its largest dino ever when the Titanosaur roars into town. This recently discovered herbivore is about 19-feet high and 122-feet long. It is so long in fact that its neck and head will be the first things you see as you exit the elevators on the dinosaur floor. This grand specimen is sure to wow the budding paleontologists in your family. It also kicks off AMNH's yearlong celebration of the prehistoric creatures, which includes the upcoming installation Dinosaurs Among Us in March. Free with museum admission.
RELATED: NYC Children's Museum and Art Guide
Be sure to bring tissues to this eye-popping adaptation of The Velveteen Rabbit at the New Vic. Photo by Manuel Harlan/courtesy the New Victory Theater.
The Velveteen Rabbit — Midtown West
Friday, January 22-Sunday, January 31
Yes, we know: Margery Williams' beloved picture book about a toy bunny who longs to be real has been adapted for the stage many, many, many times. However, we're particularly intrigued by this production by London's Unicorn Theatre at the New Victory Theater, which eschews cutesy animal costumes in favor of poignant characterizations and surrealist sets. Bonus: Mommy Poppins is sponsoring the 7pm performance on Saturday, January 30, so our readers save 20 percent on tickets and enjoy exclusive post-show activities, including a pop-up Imagination Playground and a bead bunny craft, with our friends from Gate Hill Day Camp. See our event listing for all the details.
The Gumball Gang: Crime-Solving Kids — Chelsea
Friday, January 22-Monday, February 15
Of all the shows my daughter and I see together, those at TADA! Youth Theater make the biggest impression, because she loves watching her peers on stage. Local youngsters ages 8 to 18 perform in original musicals that are quirky and thought-provoking. In the company's latest tuner, aspiring sleuths try to solve the mystery of what happened to the missing masterpiece. Expect comedic songs and lots of hijinks in this little-kid-friendly hour-long show.
Get ready for a snow day in Central Park at the annual Winter Jam. Photo by Daniel Avila/courtesy NYC Parks.
CANCELED - This event is canceled and will not be rescheduled as per NYC Parks, January 21.
Winter Jam — Central Park
Saturday, January 23
We just enjoyed the warmest NYC Christmas ever. However, regardless of what Mother Nature brings in January, it's going to be a major snow day at the Central Park Bandshell on the 23rd. 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 you can bring your own. Signed waivers are required for certain activities. This fest is traditionally crowded so arrive as early as possible. FREE
Beam Center's Inventgenuity Festival — Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn
Saturday, January 23-Sunday, January 24
We've raved about Beam Center's annual maker fest since we discovered it back in 2011. The 2016 edition boasts a new location, Brooklyn's MS 442. But as in years past, the Inventgenuity Fest is a great way to get a sense of all Beam Center has to offer kids, with a wide range of collaborative and individual low- and high-tech projects. All are overseen by professional educators, artists and partner orgs such as Raspberry Pi, Nerdy Derby and DBA Arcade Cabinets. Interested in going? Register for the festival for FREE ASAP and receive an email when the workshop schedule is available. You must sign up for workshops in advance. Drop-ins most likely won't be accommodated. FREE admission but nominal materials fees for workshops apply.
Hoot & Howl Weekend — the Bronx
Saturday, January 23-Sunday, January 24
Gardens aren't usually a go-to winter destination but the rich programming at Riverdale's Wave Hill is worth bundling up for. During its Hoot & Howl Weekend, families can hear all about local coyotes and owls and hit the culture center to hear stories and create art projects inspired by these creatures. Bonus: Even though not much is growing, the views of the Hudson River are stunning year-round. Most activities are free with admission, which is FREE to all on Saturdays until noon.
Kids in the Kitchen with Dominique Ansel — Williamsburg
Saturday, January 30
Calling all aspiring pastry makers! Brooklyn's recently opened Museum of Food and Drink is hosting a special kids' workshop with celebrated chef Dominique Ansel (aka, the inventor of the cronut). The famous foodie shares some of his favorite chocolate-based treats, and then shows children and their adult companions how to concoct a sweet treat. Advance tickets are highly recommended.
This inventive puppet production brings Eric Carle's colorful tales to life. Photo courtesy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show — Midtown West
Saturday, January 30-Sunday, March 27
Some of Eric Carle's most beloved picture books come alive in this interactive, hour-long show aimed at young theatergoers, including toddlers and preschoolers. The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse, Mister Seahorse, The Very Lonely Firefly and the title tale leap from the page to the stage courtesy of four performers and more than 75 larger-than-life puppets. While there have been other kid shows based on the legendary author-illustrator's stories, this version boasts high production values, great word of mouth—it's been touring its home country of Australia for the past year—and is playing at a full-fledged Off-Broadway theater. At $49.50, it's a splurge, but you can save 40 percent on select performances via Broadwaybox.com.
NYC always has incredible things going on, so it's difficult to choose what to include in our monthly GoList. Here are 10 more cool events that are 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 every Thursday morning.
Watch (or if you're brave, join) the Coney Island Polar Bear Club members on their annual New Year's Day swim in the Atlantic Ocean. FREE, although donations are encouraged for Camp Sunshine.
Keep your eyes peeled for seals with help from the Urban Park Rangers at the Bronx's Orchard Beach on Saturday, January 2. FREE.
Join the Urban Park Rangers in Brooklyn's Salt Marsh Nature Center or Queens' Fort Totten Park to gaze at the Quadrantids meteor shower on Sunday, January 3. FREE
Grab an artistic holiday treat to take home as the New York Hall of Science dismantles its massive GingerBread Lane display on Sunday, January 10.
Check out panels, films, workshops and discussions about African-American comics at the fourth annual Black Comic Book Festival at Harlem's Schomburg Center on Saturday, January 16. FREE
Explore one of the oldest structures in NYC—Brooklyn's Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum—at this no-cost family fun day on Saturday, January 16. FREE
Join eighth-graders from the Manhattan Country School as they march for peace in honor of Martin Luther King Day on Monday, January 18. FREE
Catch the cross-genre sounds of Brooklyn-based string duo Chargaux at BAM on Saturday, January 23.
Celebrate Oshogatsu, aka Japanese New Year, at the Japan Society's annual fete on Sunday, January 24.
Take train-obsessed tots to the New York Botanical Garden to see the mini musical All Aboard with Thomas & Friends, which plays until January 24.