New York does everything big, and the holiday season is no exception. Lights, decorations and good cheer take over the city for the next few weeks, making this, as they say, the most wonderful time of the year. Here are our top holiday picks to get you and your little ones filled with the holiday sprit, NYC-style — all month long.
photo: Justina Wong
The Three Bears Holiday Bash
Songs, dancing, puppets, and all in Central Park…what more could you ask for in a holiday show? “The Three Bears Holiday Bash” returns to the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theater with its festive puppet show celebrating Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa. Mama and Papa Bear’s holiday show, along with the audience sing-a-long of “12 Days of Christmas,” is guaranteed to get your whole family in the holiday spirit.
photo: Charles16e via Flickr
Origami Holiday Tree
Looking for a new way to decorate your tree this year? Get inspired by the Origami Holiday Tree at the American Museum of Natural History. For more than 40 years, this museum tradition displays a tree that is decorated with more than 500 hand-folded models created by origami artists from all around the world. With the help of volunteers from OrigamiUSA, your little artists will have the chance to make their own origami to spice up your tree at home.
photo: Filip Wolak
The 15th annual Winter’s Eve at Lincoln Square has something for every one of your holiday helpers to enjoy. The celebration begins with the beautiful Upper West Side tree lighting, which is followed by a list of festive activities to choose from for the rest of the evening. Your little ones can decorate mini-cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery, watch performances from the Big Apple Circus, make holiday cards, get their faces painted, listen to Suzy Shelton band sing their catchy tunes, and watch Okamoto carve ice into a sculptures of a giant polar bear and nutcracker.
Dec. 1, 5:30 – 9 p.m.
Broadway from Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle to 68th Street
photo: Bronx Museum of Arts
Family Affair: Winter Wonderland
The Bronx Museum of Arts is helping families celebrate the holidays with its Winter Wonderland event. The whole afternoon will be filled with art activities for the entire family to enjoy. This is a great opportunity to craft some hand-made gifts for friends and family. Register here ahead of time to skip the line.
Dec. 6, 1- 4 p.m.
Tickets: Free for children under 12 accompanied by a parent or guardian
Bronx Museum of Arts
1040 Grand Concourse
photo: Play Me a Story
MetLife Early Learner Performance Series: Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins
This interactive musical performance at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum will get your little one ready to spin the dreidel and light the menorah. Play Me a Story will perform this story from the popular children’s book for one afternoon, inviting the kids in the audience to join in the fun. They will learn about the magic of Hanukkah by acting out the characters and singing and dancing along.
Sun., Dec. 7, 1 & 2:30 p.m.
Tickets: $9 for museum admittance; free for members & children under 1
Brooklyn Children’s Museum
145 Brooklyn Ave.
Online: Brooklyn Children’s Museum
photo: Historic Richmond Town
Christmas in Richmond Town
Nostalgic for an old-fashioned Christmas? Historic Richmond Town will give you a traditional holiday experience that will fill your whole family with joy. With carolers singing in the streets and horse-drawn carriages rolling past, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time. There will also be story-telling, tours of historic homes, a choir performance, plus a visit from Santa (arriving on a fire engine!) for you and your little elves to enjoy. Be sure not to miss the free traditional tree lighting at 5 p.m.
Dec. 7, 11 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Tickets: $2/person; free for children six & under
Historic Richmond Town
441 Clarke Avenue
photo: Joshua Winata
Winter Family Day at the Morgan Library & Museum
The annual Winter Family Day is an afternoon filled with holiday fun. This year’s theme celebrates the Middle Ages. Little knights and princesses will get to truly transform themselves by dressing in handmade costumes and creating their own holiday cards with inspiration from the museum’s manuscripts. There will also be a heartwarming puppet show of The Magic of Hans Christian Anderson, and the afternoon comes to an end with a strolling reading of Dickens’ classic, A Christmas Carol.
Holiday Train Show
Take your family on a magical trip through New York landmarks at the The New York Botanical Garden’s 23rd annual Holiday Train Show. With over 20 large-scale model trains and trolleys as well as models of favorite NYC destinations such as Rockefeller Center and Yankee Stadium, your little ones will be enchanted by seeing their (mini) city covered in sparkling lights. A variety of children’s activities such as scavenger hunts and puppet making, plus a performance of All Aboard with Thomas and Friends makes this an event that will be sure to become one of your family’s favorite holiday traditions. Tickets can sell out quick, so make sure to plan ahead!
photo: Alan Miles via Flickr
Madison Square Holiday
Everyone knows about the giant tree at Rockefeller Center, but what about the one in Madison Square Park? For over 100 years, the park has celebrated its own holiday tree tradition, and this year is gearing up to be tons of fun! There will be performances from Broadway’s Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella and Audra Rox. Your little ones can also listen to festive stories, learn how to plant Red Twig Dogwoods and enjoy yummy holiday treats. It’s all topped off by the Tree of Light illumination.
Dec. 9, 3:30-5:30 p.m.
Madison Square Park
photo: City Winery New York
Holiday Sing-A-Long with Dan Zanes & Friends
Looking for something a little different to get you in the spirit this season? Sing in the holidays at City Winery for their 4th annual Holiday Sing-A-Long with Dan Zanes & Friends. This interactive musical performance will have you and your kindie rocker singing and dancing with the Grammy winning band, whose music has been featured on Sesame Street and Nickelodeon, just to name a few.
Dec. 14, 11 a.m.
155 Varick St.
photo: Nicole Capatasto
Doctor Kaboom’s The Science of Santa
Are your little elves curious about how Santa works his magic? Doctor Kaboom in NYU Skirball’s show wonders the same thing, and decides that Santa Claus must be the greatest scientist in the world! He performs experiments to try and explain how Santa climbs down those skinny chimneys, how his reindeer can fly around the whole world and how he knows which boys and girls have been naughty or nice.
photo: Queens County Farm Museum
Holiday Open House
Don’t let the after-holiday blues get you down! Visit the Holiday Open House at the Queens County Farm Museum to keep the merriment going. There will be tours of the festively-decorated Adriance Farmhouse, as well as craft activities for children. Plus: mulled cider to keep visitors nice and cozy.
Dec. 26, 27 & 28, noon – 4 p.m.
Queens County Farm Museum
73-50 Little Neck Pkwy.
photo: New York Hall of Science via Flickr
Four words: underground candy subway station. That’s just one amazing element of the Queens New York Hall of Science’s massive Gingerbread Lane exhibit. The 300-square-foot village made entirely of edible gingerbread, royal icing and candy, is drafted, designed, baked and built over the course of an entire year. The village includes an estimated 1,900 pounds of icing, 400 pounds of candy and 500 popunds of gingerbread dough, and is (not surprisingly) a contender for the Guinness World Record for the largest gingerbread exhibit. Intrigued? Check out GingerBread Lane special events, like workshops to make your own gingerbread house! GingerBread Lane is free with museum admission.
New York Hall of Science
Through Jan. 11
47-01 111th St.
What’s your favorite NYC holiday season tradition? Tell us about it in the comments below!