Midtown East

Have Yourself a Merry Victorian Christmas: Six Ways to Enjoy a 19th Century Holiday with NYC Kids

[UPDATED: NOVEMBER 12, 2012]

I was born and bred across the pond, as you Americans say. I try to expose my child to bits of British culture year-round, but when the holidays roll around, I really find myself longing for good old-fashioned Victorian Christmas celebrations, like the ones I used to enjoy growing up.

The Victorian period covers the reign of England's Queen Victoria from 1837 to 1901—and that’s where this history lesson ends. I'm more interested in sharing fun ways for families to enjoy vintage holiday fun that evokes this era. So don't be a Scrooge: From Christmas caroling to Charles Dickens to enjoying high tea, here are six ways to have yourself a merry Victorian Christmas in New York City.

Don't Be a Scrooge: Take Your NYC Kids to See A Christmas Carol this Holiday Season

[UPDATED: NOVEMBER 11, 2012]

There are many wonderful holiday stories but none as iconic as Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. In fact, the tale was so popular when it was first published in 1843 that revelers took the holiday greeting "Merry Christmas" straight from its pages. This spooky Christmas ghost story is the ultimate tale of redemption and it still rings true after two centuries.

So this holiday season, don’t be a Scrooge! Take your Tiny Tim to see a family-friendly adaptation of this treasured classic. Since there are many stage versions of A Christmas Carol around New York City, we've highlighted the ones that are the most family-friendly.

Muppet Mania: 8 Ways to Get Your Muppet On in NYC

Even if you lead a media-challenged life (and if you did, you wouldn't be on this website), you probably know that the new Muppets movie is coming out next week. I can't remember the last time I was so psyched about seeing a film—and not just because I happen to like dressing up as Miss Piggy (yes, that's me in the pic). The Muppets is one of the few family flicks coming out this holiday season that I'm as excited to see as my daughter. (Alvin and the Chipmunks 3... not so much.)

Ever since they came to international fame on Sesame Street, New York City has been the unofficial home of the Muppets. Not only does the iconic PBS series film here in Queens at Astoria Kaufman Studios, its urban set was clearly inspired by the Big Apple, so it's not surprising that we love celebrating the Muppets in this town.

Here are eight fun ways families can get their Muppet on in NYC, besides going to the new movie.

Get Smurfed! Smurftastic Fun for New York City Kids July 25-29

If your kids are anything like mine, they've been begging to see the reboot of The Smurfs since those little CGI blue guys (and one girl) started taking over all the ad space in the city. (They seem to be everywhere! On buses, phone booths, billboards, etc.) 

Although I was a big fan of the Smurfs back in the day and I adore NPH (a.k.a. Neil Patrick Harris, the movie's human star), I don't have the highest hopes. That said, I know where I'll be next Friday, July 29: in a movie theater enjoying the air-conditioning, eating popcorn and watching my son have a good time.

But you know what I actually am excited about? Smurf Week in NYC! NYCGo, New York City's official tourism organization, has partnered with local cultural centers like the Brooklyn Children's Museum and the New York Botanical Garden for five days of smurfy fun for families. Yes, it's a marketing ploy to get you to see the movie, which you'll probably end up doing anyway. But a lot of the activities sound super-smurftastic.

Read on for the smurfiest highlights (and we promise, no more smurfing around).

Free Fun for Families at the New York Public Library's Centennial Festival

One hundred years ago, the main branch of the New York Public Library—you know, the one with those stately lions Patience and Fortitude guarding its entrance—opened on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street. Its construction took more than a decade, and when the stunning Beaux-Arts structure finally welcomed visitors for the first time, tens of thousands streamed through its doors.

These days, local families regularly enjoy the fabulous family programming offered at the branch, officially known as the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, especially in its wonderful Children's Center. The branch marks its birthday on May 23, and the NYPL is celebrating with some fantastic free events. In addition to the retrospective Celebrating 100 Years—which opens this Saturday, May 14 and features a history of the building, and notable items like a Gutenberg Bible and one of Malcolm X's journals—there will be a big festival the weekend of May 21-22 with great events for all ages.

We've rounded up highlights for that weekend, as well as info on related events going on at branches across the NYPL system.

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo 2011 with NYC Kids

Here at Mommy Poppins, we love to party, so we never let a holiday go by without celebrating. That includes Cinco de Mayo, which takes place this Thursday, May 5.

Cinco de Mayo officially commemorates the day the Mexican Army defeated French forces at the Battle of Puebla back on May 5, 1862. But it's also a general celebration of Mexican heritage and pride.

Of course a lot of college students also use the holiday as an excuse to drink way too much tequila. (Pre-kids, we used to raise our margaritas on May 5 as well.) Now that we have families, we skip the bar crawl but still join in the fiesta. Here are some great ways to mark Cinco de Mayo with your family out on the town, or in your own home. 

6 Cool Exhibits for Kids in New York City: Culture Guide Spring 2011

Last week we told you about 11 great stage shows for families. Today, our spring culture roundup continues with six new exhibits that kids will love. (In a couple of cases, they may actually beg you to bring them!) 

From Harry Potter relics to an in-depth look at how Dinosaurs lived to ancient brain teasers from China, these half dozen museum shows will educate and entertain your family.

Hands-On Fun for Kids at The Museum of Modern Art's Material Lab

Visiting the MoMA on a weekend morning is one of our family's favorite, free winter-time activities.  Usually after we have finished one of the kids' programs at the MoMA my girls are burned out and ready to go home. Not last weekend. After completing our program, we went to check out the new Material Lab, a hands-on interactive space where kids can explore and play.  During the next hour and a half my girls were so taken with the space that they forgot that they were "dying of hunger" and I practically had to drag them out the museum doors so we could have lunch before 3pm.

16 Things to Do to Celebrate Dr. Seuss' 107th Birthday in New York City

There once was a man who created a cat.  Atop the cat's head was a red and white hat.  He made up an elephant, and a fox that could rhyme and a grouchy green guy who will live for all time.  That man is no longer.  That man isn’t here.  The Doctor named Seuss would be 107 this year.  Blow out some candles, eat green eggs and ham.  His birthday is Wednesday.  Do you have a plan?

In other words, celebrate the 107th birthday of the incomparable Dr. Seuss with these fun family events going on in NYC:

JapanNYC - Japanese Culture Festival in New York City: Orchestras, Theater, Dance, Drumming, Visual Arts, Workshops and More

One of the coolest things about living and raising children in New York City is that you can experience so many different cultures up close and first hand without ever really leaving home.  This month Carnegie Hall kicks off a huge two part, city-wide festival celebrating the art of Japan, JapanNYC.  The whole thing starts this week and will be taking the city by storm with 65 different events in 22 venues around town, featuring the best of Japan’s art and culture in the form of orchestras, films, visual arts, drumming, Noh theater and pop art.  Read on to find out our family friendly picks for the festival.

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