Want fun and low-cost things to do with your kids in Manhattan this month? We've got you covered! Get all the details on family-friendly shows coming to town, the boat and motorcycle shows at the Javits Center, Dan Zanes' special appearance at the New York Guitar Festival, MLK weekend highlights, a special camp fair, and more!
For even more upcoming family activities in NYC and the surrounding area, check out our full (searchable!) calendar of events.
Boats and Bikes
If all this cold weather has caused a case of cabin fever in your household, brings your dreams of summer to the 107th annual Progressive® Insurance New York Boat Show. On-the-water enthusiasts and those just discovering the boating lifestyle can shop and compare boat brands side by side to find competitive deals on everything from luxury motor yachts and sport fishers to performance boats, sailboats, and thousands of marine accessories. Visitors can meet and greet the Keszey brothers of Discovery Channel's hit show Swamp Brothers and perfect their paddling skills at the new Paddlepalooza. Kids can also take part in the Power Boat Docking Challenge and get the change to meet and snap a picture with Spider-Man (January 4, 5-7pm) and Patrick Star, best friend and neighbor of SpongeBob SquarePants (January 7-8, 12-4pm). January 4-6, 12-9pm; January 7, 10am-9pm; January 8, 10am-6pm. $14; free for ages 15 and younger. Jacob Javits Center, 655 W. 34th Street. 212-216-2000. www.nyboatshow.com.
If you've got some landlubbers in your brood, head back to the Javits Center January 20-22 for the Progressive® International Motorcycle Show, which will feature the hottest new two-wheeled rides plus live stunt shows, a gaming lounge, and tons of bikes for kids to climb on. For more information, visit www.motorcycleshows.com.
Wearable Art Workshops
The Children's Museum of the Arts hosts several art workshops this month in which kids and tweens can work side-by-side with street artist Tranqui Yanqui (Spanish for "Chill American"), who is well known for his vibrant wearable art that merges American popular culture, Latin icons, and the tropical symbols of his native Miami. The workshops are as follows:
Workshops are free with museum admission: $10; free for seniors and infants. Children's Museum of the Arts, 103 Charlton Street, SoHo. 212-274-0986. www.cmany.org.
Keaton Gets Zany
The New York Guitar Festival, an annual festival that produces multi-genre concerts, commission new works, and supports innovative collaborations among outstanding artists, presents a series called Silent Films/Live Guitars this month, which gives audiences a rare opportunity to see silent comedies by one of the greatest comic actor-directors in the history of cinema, Buster Keaton, on a big screen, accompanied by some of today's most distinctive and influential guitarists. On January 10, rockers Dan Zanes (pictured) and Gyan Riley will take the stage to premiere original film scores for Keaton comedies. Zanes, a favorite on the family music scene, premieres his original score for Keaton's Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928), in which a young Mississippi steamboat captain falls in love with the daughter of his father's business rival. And the versatile Riley premieres a score for The Goat (1921), in which Keaton's character gets mistaken for a murderer with a price on his head. 7:30pm. $25; $15 students with ID (in-person sales only).
Merkin Concert Hall at Kaufman Center, 129 W. 67th Street. 212-501-3300. www.kaufman-center.org/merkin-concert-hall.
MLK Day Highlights
Learn what Martin Luther King, Jr.'s childhood was like and hear about his family and upbringing at Sunday Story Hour: A Child Named Martin. January 15. 11:30am-12:30pm. Free with museum admission: $15; $12 teachers and seniors; $10 students; $5 children 7-13; free children younger than 7. Barbara K. Lipman Children's History Library at New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, Upper West Side. 212-873-3400. www.nyhistory.org.
At the Children's Museum of Manhattan, little ones can explore Martin Luther King, Jr.'s legacy and the role they can play in making a difference in their neighborhood in the Make a Difference Pledge workshop. January 15-16. On the hour from 12-4pm. On January 16, stay to listen to the world-famous Harlem Gospel Choir, who will perform inspirational gospel music to "bring people and nations together." 3pm and 4pm. Both programs are free with museum admission: $11; $7 seniors; free children younger than 1. Children's Museum of Manhattan, 212 W. 83rd Street, Upper West Side. 212-721-1223. www.cmom.org.
The weekend following the holiday marks the opening of The History Mystery, a musical time-travel adventure in which you'll meet Martin Luther King, Jr., Eleanor Roosevelt, and the Wright Brothers as children and imagine why they grew up to do the things they did. January 20 through February 19. Saturday-Sunday at 2pm and 4pm, see website for additional show times. $20-$25; $8-$15 children. TADA! Youth Theater, 15 W. 28th Street. 212-252-1619. www.tadatheater.com.
If you haven't been to see "The Snowy Day" and the Art of Ezra Jack Keats, catch it before it closes at the end of the month. The first major U.S. exhibition to pay tribute to award-winning author and illustrator Ezra Jack Keats (1916-1983), this exhibition features more than 80 original works-from preliminary sketches and dummy books to final paintings and collages-for the artist's most popular books, including The Snowy Day, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Published at the height of the American civil-rights movement and winner of the prestigious Caldecott Medal, the book became a milestone, featuring the first African-American protagonist in a full-color picture book. Open through January 29. 11am-5:45pm Friday-Tuesday; 11am-8pm Thursdays. Museum admission: $12; $10 seniors; $7.50 students; free children under 12. The Jewish Museum, 1109 Fifth Avenue. 212-423-3337. www.thejewishmuseum.org.
And at nearby Wave Hill, the public garden and cultural center in the Bronx, the whole family can make Freedom Pillows. Participants will make a pillow that expresses their personal dream of freedom, drawing on the spirit of Dr. King and traditional African-American quilts. January 14-15. 10am-1pm. The program is free both days, but Sunday admission to the grounds is $8; $4 students and seniors; $2 ages 6-18; free for children younger than 6. Wave Hill, 675 West 252nd Street, Bronx. 718-549-3200. www.wavehill.org.
With expressive eyes that bulge, blink, and bashfully bat, the finger puppets of Lejo-a regular on Sesamstraat (the Dutch cousin of Sesame Street)-conjure a vast collection of kooky, quirky, and oh-so-clever characters. Accompanied by an animated soundtrack and simple props, Lejo's dynamic digits take on a life of their own to form a finger-munching monster, a high-strung pianist, an absurd bird, and other funny friends in Hands Up!, a wordless and joyful jaunt for wide-eyed little ones. January 21-22. 10:30am, 12:30pm, and 2:30pm (get there early for pre-show arts and crafts). Best for ages 3-6. $9-$38. This show is part of the New Victory's Zoem! New Dutch Theater festival, a celebration of Dutch productions that also features Rumplestiltskin (January 6-8; best for ages 8 and older) and Miss Ophelia (January 13-15; ages 6 and older).
The New Victory Theater, New 42nd Street Studios, 229 West 42nd Street, Manhattan. 646-223-3010. www.newvictory.org.
Camps for Special Kids
The Special Camp Fair 2012, sponsored by Resources for Children with Special Needs (RCSN), is a one-stop shop for local summer programs for kids with disabilities. More than 60 camps will participate, including day camps from the five boroughs of NYC and sleepaway camps from the tri-state area. Attendees will learn about appropriate summer programs for children with special needs, meet camp directors, and receive a free guide to area camps (in English and Spanish). Sign language will be provided. January 28. 11am-3pm. FREE.
Church of St. Paul the Apostle, entrance on Columbus Avenue near West 60th Street, Manhattan. 212-677-4650 ext. 34. www.resourcesnyc.org/event/rcsn-camp-fair-2012.
In Circus in a Trunk, a trio of clowns arrives at Canal Park Playhouse ready to watch the circus that never arrives. This enterprising troupe decides to perform the show themselves, literally pulling an amazing and hilarious performance full of clever surprises out of an antique trunk. Combining contemporary and classic European-style clowning, The Piccolini Trio brings to life a repertoire of routines using music, acrobatics, physical comedy, juggling, pantomime, and poetic whimsy. Saturdays and Sundays throughout the month at 2pm and 4pm. $20.
Part of Canal Park Playhouse's Classic Brunch Matinee series, audience members can enjoy a selection of items from The Waffle Iron Café, open from 10am-6:30pm on weekends for ticket holders only. The pre-fixe brunch is available for an additional $8 in advance or $10 at the door.
Canal Park Playhouse, 508 Canal Street, Tribeca. 866-811-4111. www.canalparkplayhouse.com.