Check out our roundup of the best family events happening this December throughout Manhattan. Whether you're looking to catch a kid-friendly holiday show or celebrate the season in style, we've got all the information an NYC family needs.
The Mama Doni Band brings its special brand of "funky music with a Jewish twist" to Chanukah Fever!, an all-ages Chanukah show. December 8 at 5pm. The performance space at 100 Reade Street. For more information or tickets: 646-510-3109 or www.sohojewishlife.com.
Skate with Santa
Celebrate the arrival of the snowy season by strapping on a pair of skates and visiting with jolly Old St. Nick. During Breakfast with Santa at the Rock Center Café, families can enjoy a hardy breakfast then hit the ice for a skating session with Santa on the historical rink under the famed Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, which celebrates its 79th anniversary this season. Each child will also receive an early Christmas gift from Santa and his elves. Breakfast seatings are 7:30am and 9:15am on Saturdays and Sundays throughout the month, as well as December 22-24, plus one 8:30am breakfast seating December 4-5 and 20-21. Starts at $47; $42 children. Rock Center Café is at 20 West 50th Street.
The Rink at Rockefeller Center is open daily through January 7, 2011. 8:30am-midnight, with occasional half-hour cleaning sessions. $19; $12:50 children under 11. Skate rental $9. 5th Avenue between 49th and 50th Streets. 212-332-7654.
Holiday festivities abound throughout the city this month. Catch some of our family-friendly favorites:
Bryant Park will hold its Annual Tree Lighting ceremony on December 2. Watch the lighting of the park's 50-feet-tall tree and enjoy musical and ice skating performances. FREE. Check website for start time. The park also offers free ice skating and a plethora of festive holiday shops. Bryant Park, between 40th and 42nd Streets and Fifth and Sixth Avenues. 212-768-4242.
The New York City Police Museum's Holiday Party is a day of fun activities for families featuring crafts that celebrate holidays from diverse cultures in New York, including Christmas, Hanukkah, Eid, Kwanzaa, and more. Also, visitors learn about policing around the world and can try on the museum's collection of international police service uniforms. December 4, 11am-2pm. Museum admission $7; $5 children, students, and seniors; FREE children under 2. New York City Police Museum, 100 Old Slip. 212-480-3100.
During Central Park Conservancy's 14th Annual Victorian Holiday Lighting (pictured), families can enjoy hot cocoa, live carolers, and crafts, and children will have the opportunity to meet and take photographs with Father Christmas. The event will culminate with the lighting of thousands of tiny LED lights strung along the Victorian-style Charles A. Dana Discovery Center. December 5, 3-5pm (rain or shine). FREE. Inside the park at 110th Street, between Fifth and Lenox Avenues. 212-860-1370.
Join in a Kwanzaa Celebration, a vibrant, all-day event that includes African dance, spoken word, live musical performances, and traditional crafts. A bustling Kwanzaa Marketplace will feature vendors, visual artists, and craftspeople, as well as representatives from major cultural institutions. Special Kwanzaa foods will also be available. December 26, 10am-5:45pm. Suggested admission $16; $12 students; $9 children ages 2-12. American Museum of Natural History, Central Park West at 79th Street. 212-769-5100.
Holiday Shopping Galore
The Grand Central Holiday Fair returns for this year's gift-giving season with 76 specially selected vendors selling an array of unique merchandise, all under one roof in the station's historic Vanderbilt Hall. Items range from one-of-a kind jewelry, handmade clothing, and home accessories, to children's toys, imported crafts, and holiday ornaments. Through December 24. Monday-Saturday 10am-8pm; Sunday 11am-7pm. Grand Central Terminal, Vanderbilt Hall, Lexington Avenue at 42nd Street. 212-340-2345.
Cirque du Soleil will return to New York for the final season of its holiday family show, Wintuk. An exciting winter adventure about a boy's quest for snow, Wintuk weaves acrobatics, theatrical effects, and memorable songs into a journey to an imaginary land. The boy and his companions deliver excitement, exhilaration, and intrigue. Wednesdays-Saturdays through January 2, 2011; show times vary. No performances December 21, 27-28. $30-$220. Madison Square Garden, 4 Pennsylvania Plaza (Seventh Avenue and 32nd Street). 866-858-0008. www.ticketmaster.com.
Mummenschanz, the internationally renowned Swiss pantomime performance troupe, will bring a special engagement of 22 performances to NYC this holiday season. Last seen on Broadway in 2003, the group's family-friendly show creates a surreal, comic universe that induces wonder and reveals timeless truths about human relationships. In a visually stunning experience, performers play with the boundaries of form and space to make everyday objects such as toilet paper, boxes, and wires come to life as humorous characters. December 20 through January 8, 2011. $45-$75. NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, 566 LaGuardia Place at Washington Square South. 212-352-3101.
Holiday Train Show
The New York Botanical Garden's 19th annual Holiday Train Show with Gingerbread Adventures presents an enchanted New York wrapped in the glow of twinkling lights. More than a dozen large-scale model railway trains - from late-1800s American steam engines, streetcars, whimsical ladybugs, and circus cars, to modern freight and high-speed passenger trains and trolleys - traverse nearly a quarter-mile of track across rustic bridges, along overhead trestles, through tunnels, and past waterfalls that cascade into flowing creeks. Open through January 9, 2011, Tuesday-Sunday 10am-6pm; check website for the complete schedule. $10-$25. New York Botanical Garden, Bronx River Parkway (exit 7W) and Fordham Road, Bronx. 718-817-8700.
The Big Apple Circus is celebrating its 33rd season with its new show, Dance On! The "World's Greatest Circus" artists swing into action in the spotlight under the Big Top, where no seat is more than 50 feet from the ring. See a troupe of monocyclists and lasso twirlers from China, a group of Mongolian contortionists, Kenyan athletes who shimmy up a pole as though gravity were a joke, a herd of hoofers - 12 miniature horses in an equine chorus line, and an Ethiopian juggler with a lively up-tempo act. Plus, star clowns Rob Torres and Grandma join Ringmaster Kevin Venardos, the Big Apple Circus Band, and the rest of the cast for a memorable experience. Through January 9, 2011. Show times vary. $15-$92. Damrosch Park in Lincoln Center, 62nd Street between Amsterdam and Columbus Avenues. 888-541-3750.