The holidays are upon us and so are cold days perfect for sipping hot cocoa and apple cider. That doesn’t mean you should stay indoors! Head out to any of these awesome free events for kids and families around NYC and you’ll have a blast this December without spending a dime.

Tree Lightings Around Town

Tree Lightings, from giant and televised, to local and cozy happen all over the city and are a great, no-cost way to get in the holiday spirit. Find the perfect one for you here! 


Menorah Lightings Around Town

Pack in even more lights with a festive menorah lighting. NYC is home to two of the largest in the world! Click here for where you can light up the night during Hanukkah.

Saturday Morning Show at Brookfield Place

Visit Hudson Eats at Brookfield Place on the first three Saturdays in December for an interactive children's show featuring fun performances and entertainers. Shows will be put on by magicians and storytellers, with performances from the fantastical to the educational featuring dancing, singing, and other fun for kids.

Sat., Dec. 1, 8, & 15
10 a.m-12 p.m.
Brookfield Place
230 Vesey St.
Battery Park City

The Playroom by Fatherly

This popup is full of activities for kids of all ages, featuring LEGO activities and an art gallery, a super-hero inspired littleBits workshop, a jump pit, and more. The popup location will also feature live music, storytime, arts and crafts events, and cool workshops provided by local businesses like Private Picassos, Puppetsburg, Treasure Trunk Theater, and more. Visit on Sunday for a meet-and-greet and photo session with Santa.

Thurs., Dec. 6-Sun., Dec. 9
10 a.m.
140 W. Broadway Btwn. Duane and Thomas St.

Merry Tuba Christmas

Nothing says Christmas like... tubas? A group of tuba players of all ages will congregate under the tree at Rockefeller Center for a spectacular performance featuring well-known carols and other holiday favorites. This tradition dates back to 1974 an is a uniquely festive way to ring in the holiday season. Visitors are encouraged to sing along!

Sun., Dec. 9
3:30 p.m.
The Rink at Rockefeller Center
49th & 50th St. btwn. Fifth and Sixth Ave.

Al Smith Holiday Celebration

Celebrate with the community as you listen to carols performed by the Al Smith Choir. Watch the tree lighting and enjoy some hot cocoa, then take part in holiday-themed arts and crafts.

Fri., Dec. 14
5-7:30 p.m.
Alfred E. Smith Recreation Center in Alfred E. Smith Playground
80 Catherine Street
Two Bridges

WBO Winter Wonderland

Make the Winter Wonderland a part of your holiday tradition no matter what holiday you celebrate. This all-inclusive holiday and winter celebration will feature arts and crafts, carnival games, photo-ops with Santa, and more.

Sat., Dec. 15
12:30-2:30 p.m.
Williamsbridge Oval Recreation Center in Williamsbridge Oval
3225 Reservoir Oval East

Discovery Walks for Families in Central Park

Explore the Ramble and the North Woods in this series of discovery walks created specifically with families in mind. These guided mini-hikes through two of the park's iconic locations will teach visitors about the history, ecology, and nature of the spots.

Kids can get hands-on with nature by borrowing the included Discover Kids backpacks, which contain kid-sized binoculars, field guides, and magnifying glasses for up-close-and-personal encounters.

Sat, Dec. 15, Fri., Dec. 28, & Sat., Dec.29
2-3:30 p.m. on Dec. 15 & 29, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. on Dec. 28
Charles A. Dana Discovery Center on Dec. 15
Loeb Boathouse on Dec. 28 & 29
Central Park

Unsilent Night

Remember the days of the boombox? You will, thanks to this one night celebration! On Unsilent Night, participants can either bring their own boomboxes or borrow a limited number of vintage machine. Then, using pre-downloaded tracks the procession will parade from Washington Square Park to Thompkins Square Park, blasting four tracks in unison to create a special kind of musical performance. It's a loud and fun time for everyone.

Sun., Dec. 16
6 p.m. (meet at 5:45)
The Arch at Washington Square Park to Thompkins Square Park
West and East Village

Make Music Winter Across the City

Celebrate winter on the winter solstice, during the shortest day and longest night of the year. Make Music Winter is a free outdoor musical festival that takes place across genres and in a number of locations. Performances are interactive and visitors are encouraged to participate. Locations will include Columbus Circle, Flatbush, the High Line, Melrose in the Bronx, the East Village, and lots of other spots around the city. Visit the website for specific times and locations.

Fri., Dec. 21
Various times and locations

ReMake the Holidays at the NY Hall of Science

What do you do with all the leftover junk you have from Christmas? Recycle them into a beautiful (or functional) artwork! Across a series of family workshops, participants will sculpt, rethink, and create special projects out of wrapping materials, lights, and other Christmas leftovers. Please note that some workshops require a small material fee.

Thurs., Dec. 27
12-4 p.m.
Free with museum admission
NY Hall of Science
47-01 111th St.

—Yuliya Geikhman

featured photo: Bones64 via Pixabay 


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