We’re deep in the NYC holiday season, and that means the kids will be off from school for more than a week soon. (NYC public schools are off from December 24 to January 3.) We found lots of things for kids to do in NYC over the holiday break, including in-person camps, outdoor activities, online camps and classes, museum exhibits and more. Read on for ways to keep the kids entertained during school break! (And don’t forget our holidays in NYC Bucket List!)
Go On a Live, Online Interactive Theater Adventure with "Journey Around my Bedroom"
Xavi is a little girl with a big imagination, stranded alone in her bedroom. When a mysterious visitor drops by looking for a missing part to fix his magical flying machine, they explore the hidden depths of her room and use the power of imagination to turn her isolation into an epic indoor voyage.
This online interactive experience borrows techniques of the Victorian toy theatre (like paper cutout characters) and combines them with contemporary style puppetry and original songs. Designed specifically for online viewing, it invites viewers to turn their cameras on to participate in select scenes. Plus: post-show talkback and a paper cutout template.
Suggested price: $25/two viewers
Head to Chelsea Market for Free Candy Canes, Ballet & More
Chelsea Market is keeping things festive and safe, offering holiday-themed ballet performances and various live music offerings including a brass band, guitarist, cellist, and violinist for the New York City community to enjoy outside. Catch a scene from The Nutcracker, listen to holiday tunes and take a photo in a holiday-themed “face in the hole” structure. Performances take place on 15th and 16th Street. Catch the ballet Monday (4–7p.m.), Friday (5–8p.m.) and Sunday (1–4p.m.)
Through Dec. 27
75 Ninth Ave.
Visit DUMBO's Countdown Clock
Head to the waterside Brooklyn neighborhood for shopping, a scavenger hunt and mailing letter Santa in a special mailbox. Then grab a cup of hot chocolate from Jaques Torres and visit the countdown to 2021 clock. Peace out, 2020, indeed! Find the clock in the Archway during the week, and on Washington Street (the Instafamous spot) on weekends, weather permitting.
Check Out Point of Action in the Flatiron District
Explore some public art in the Flatiron District. "Point of Action", designed by Studio Cooke John, invites people to contemplate the experience of seeing one another—and being seen. Six-foot circles affixed onto the Flatiron Public Plazas create nine “spotlights,” each with its own vertical metal frame. Lighting emitted from a halo above each circle strengthens the framing; lights embedded into the sides of each frame add another layer to the viewer.
Through January 1, 2021
Flatiron Public Plazas on Broadway, Fifth Avenue, and 23rd Street
Get Cooking with Freshmade NYC
Cooking school Freshmade NYC is serving up so many fun online cooking classes over the holiday break! Choose from savory or sweet crepes, snowman pizzas, thumbprint cookies, and all kinds of pasta.
Classes are $25.
Take a Ballet Break with New York City Ballet
Real ballet pros from the NYCB will lead your little ones through a warm-up and choreography inspired by George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker®. The 30-minute online lesson is free, and you can also sign up for a Nutcracker Magic Pass for a truly special ballet experience. Advanced registration required.
Dec. 28, 2020
Celebrate Kwanzaa at the Brooklyn Children's Museum
Register in advance for a slot to celebrate Kwanzaa at the Brooklyn Children's Museum. Play Sessions dedicated to the holiday offer the opportunity to learn African dance, play the djembe drum, hear folktales of the African diaspora, create Zawadi gifts for family and friends, and explore Kwanzaa’s seven principles: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, faith, and creativity.
Dec. 26 & 27
Two hour sessions at 10:00 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 3:00 p.m. & 5:30 p.m.
Brooklyn Children's Museum
145 Brooklyn Ave.
Click here for more info!
Visit a Hot Chocolate Bar
Make your way to French café and bakery Maman's Soho location for a tasty treat. Now through December 31, the storefront will be transformed into a winter wonderland, complete with a gourmet Hot Chocolate Bar and a brand new cookie menu exclusive to the pop-up. "Miracle on Centre Street" will offer a Daily Cookie Menu, as well as a surprise exclusive cookie as part of a Maman Cookie Advent Calendar. (Then go try the rest of the best hot chocolate in NYC!)
Through Dec. 31
237 Centre St.
Make Festive Crafts at the Children's Museum of Manhattan
The Children's Museum of Manhattan will be hosting festive crafting sessions the week of the holiday break.
Use recycled collage materials to create a one-of-a-kind tree ornament to take home or give to someone you love on Dec. 21 - 24 & 26 - 27.
Learn about the principles of Kwanzaa and create a paper version of a kinara, the candleholder used during the holiday on Dec. 26 & 27.
Make sure to reserve a ticket for entry to the museum!
Tickets: $15/kids and adults; $12/seniors, free/infants and members
Children’s Museum of Manhattan
212 W. 83rd St.
Upper West Side
Watch My First Nutcracker with Little Ones
New York City Children's Theater's My First Nutcracker is an introduction to the classic holiday story, and was filmed live at Theatre Row in Midtown. Admission includes unlimited streams of the 50-minute performance and pre- and post-show activities. Recommended for kids ages three to eight.
Dec. 21- Jan. 10
Or Watch the Hip Hop Nutcracker with Older Kids
You can watch the hip hop take on this holiday classic from December 16 to January 3. A unique and joyful show, this evening-length production is performed by a supercharged cast of a dozen all-star dancers, a DJ, a violinist, and MC Kurtis Blow, one of hip hopʼs founding fathers, who opens the show with a short set.
See a Light Festival
Just because it's late December doesn't mean the holiday lights are gone. In fact, there are several festivals of lights and lanterns ready to wow you and the kids. Click here for the full rundown!
Visit Watermark on Pier 15
Watermark is a multi-faceted holiday experience with food, views, photo ops and more. The Winter Wonderland on the pier features a tunnel of lights, 40 15-foot evergreens and even the occasional "Snow Show" thanks to a snow machine. Plus: a jumbo screen showing holiday classics. Take a seat in the Watermark Sleigh to get a photo op with the Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg Bridges behind you. Then head to your private, heated (and sanitized) "glass house" and enjoy fondue, s'mores, seasonal drinks and more!
78 South St.
Head to Camp with Trailblazers
Trailblazers camp is in session when school is out, and there are limited spots available for Holiday Day Camp. Campers spend time outside in Prospect Park, exploring nature and playing in the snow, then go indoors to warm up with holiday crafts and story time. You must sign up for all four days. Registration closes Monday, 12/21. Camp is Dec. 28-31.
Check Out a Cool Museum Exhibit
"Holiday Adventure" (shown above), a festive exhibit that combines fun and facts, is at the Liberty Science Center until January 3rd.
See more museum exhibits for kids happening around town here!
Go On a Holiday-themed Scavenger Hunt
Join Watson Adventures on a virtual sleigh ride across the internet! This virtual scavenger hunt takes you to holiday markets and festivals, amazing museums and many scenic places around the world, in search of answers to fun, holiday-related questions. Whether it’s for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or even Boxing Day, it’s a fun game to unite families and friends. (Recommended age is 10 and up.)
Click here for more info!
Click Some Bricks Online with Snapology of Manhattan & LIC
Choose from two, three-hour online camps from Snapology of Manhattan and Long Island City. Kids can build wizards, castles and kingdoms or compete (and learn) while playing an "Amazing Race"-inspired game. (Players take a trip around the world to discover unique aspects of different cultures, and while they explore, they will be challenged to work with a partner to solve different tasks in various “countries." Recommended for kids ages five to 11.
Dec. 28-Jan. 1
Get Your Sled On
If there's still snow(or more arrives) grab your sled, bundle up, and get ready to to sled a hill or two. If you're not sure where to go, check out our list of great sledding spots in NYC.
Or Head for the Hills for Snowtubing!
There may or may not be snow here, but up north, it's falling—and they make their own, too. Check out our favorite places to tube here!
Still haven't gone ice skating with the kids? Click here to find the rink for you!
Get Cozy with a New Book
Head to one of our favorite NYC indie bookstores for kids —like the new Powerhouse Books in Industry City, shown here—to stock up for some winter reading! (May we suggest one of our favorite kid's books set in New York City?)
Or Settle In for One of Our Favorite Movies Set in NYC
More than one takes place during the holiday season...Click here to see them all!
Visit Euphoria: A Holiday Experience
Let this immersive experience from the Absurd Conclave fill you with the holiday spirit. Galleries assembled by hand sparkle, glitter and shimmer as you make your way through. Expect a winter forest wonderland, a waterfall of gifts on a bed of pine, a collection of handmade wreaths and more.
Daily, noon- 9 p.m., through mid-January
Tickets: $20/adults; $10/kids under 12
360 Jefferson St.
Visit NYC's Most Famous Tree
If you really want to see the Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center, you still can—it's up until early January. Just know there are some new rules, including how to access the tree, a five-minute viewing time, mandatory masks, etc.
Get all the info here! (Where you can also see a nice livestream of the tree and some of the rink as well!)
Head to Industry City & Go Roller Skating
Everyone's favorite roller girl Lola Star has returned to Industry City! Drop in for family skating fun or a lesson.
Hear Pros Play Piano—or Play One Yourself at Hudson Yards
For the month of December, Hudson Yards is hosting Sing for Hope, featuring performances by Broadway musicians and The Juilliard School. Each piano is decorated by a local artist, with work inspired by the art, architecture and experiences of Hudson Yards. Got a piano player in the family? You can sign up for a slot to play yourself!
Create In-Person with Creatively Wild Art Studio
This DUMBO art studio is holding small holiday day camps with lots of Covid precautions. Kids ages 5 to 8 or 9 to 16 can enroll in half-day or full-day camps working on projects with fun engaging themes. Activities include painting, drawing, mixed-media, 3D & found object art, collage, cartooning, manga, illustration & more.
Dec. 21-24 & Dec. 28-Jan. 1
98 Water St.
Take a Hike!
Bundle up and take a stroll either in NYC or further afield. These are our favorite winter hikes for families nearby.
Tour NYC From the Couch
Stay in and tour NYC via webcam. Click here to get started!
feature image: mariob via flickr