Things to Do With Kids in Manhattan on December 23

Find fun things to do today with kids in the NYC area in our Calendar of Events

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free and low-cost things to do with kids in Manhattan Find free and low-cost things to do with kids in Manhattan today, December 23, including fun activities and events the whole family can enjoy. See what's going on today in Manhattan's museums, galleries, and libraries for some educational fun; in the parks, for outdoor and nature activities; and in the theaters, for children's concerts and performances. Plus, get details and directions on any street fairs or holiday festivals happening December 23. For even more free and low-cost upcoming events in Manhattan, check out our complete calendar of events.

Breakfast with Santa Sing-A-Long and Elfprov - Broadway Comedy Club
Through December 23, 2017 - Midtown

From Thanksgiving to Christmas, Santa is dropping by the Broadway Comedy Club every Saturday morning with elves. Each family will get personal time with Santa, eat a continental breakfast, enjoy a holiday sing-a-long and Elfprov, the interactive musical comedy from the North Pole.

'Jack & the Beanstalk' - Abrons Arts Center
Through December 23, 2017 - Lower East Side

A radical, joyful, uproarious family extravaganza promoting equality in all forms, featuring a spectacular cast of 20 talented Lower East Siders. Written by disabled actor and writer Mat Fraser and directed by feminist art star Julie Atlas Muz, Jack & the Beanstalk brings tap-dancing animals, puppets, pie fights, pop music, cross-dressing characters, and the most glittery of sets to the Lower East Side. This riotous all-ages morality tale brings together the whole family.

Holiday Market - Union Square Park
Through December 24, 2017 - Union Square

An internationally renowned holiday market with unique gifts created by local craftsmen and artists. Expect to find exciting new sections like Little Brooklyn and Urbanspace Provisions, a warming station, a kid’s craft studio by partners at CMA, and live music.

Grand Central Holiday Fair - Grand Central Terminal's Vanderbilt Hall
Through December 24, 2017 - Midtown

The Grand Central Holiday Fair returns for almost six weeks with 40 artisans selling art and home goods; holiday-themed items; bath and body products; toys; and clothing and accessories for men, women, and children on the east side of Vanderbilt Hall. Since 1993, the Grand Central Holiday Fair has been a must-shop destination during the holiday season. Holiday Fair organizers make a concerted effort to present unique and local craftsmanship with a focus on American-made and handmade products with locally sourced materials or a socially conscious business model.

Columbus Circle Holiday Market - Columbus Circle
Through December 24, 2017 - Midtown

Shop for gifts, including artisan food and drink and designer jewelry, at this holiday market that pops up on the corner of Central Park for another year.

Breakfast with Santa - The Rink at Rockefeller Center
Through December 24, 2017 - Rockefeller Center

Treat your family to a beloved holiday tradition by enjoying pastries and eggs with Santa at Rock Center Café or The Sea Grill (prices vary). Take advantage of all the photo ops at this breakfast set amidst one of the season’s most iconic destinations.

Santaland - Macy's
Through December 24, 2017 - Midtown

An annual tradition for so many families, visiting Santaland at Macy's means entering a fantasy world of glittering pine trees, snow-capped mountains, twinkling lights, cuddly animals, and gingerbread cookies. The 13,000-square-foot Christmas Village is filled with holiday treasures, the biggest of which is Santa Claus himself. After meeting Santa, guests can buy a photo package with images taken by on-site staff. This year, visits are by reservation only.

Open Construction Challenge - Children's Museum of the Arts
Through December 24, 2017 - Greenwich Village

Using upcycled materials like cardboard and cone cups, visitors will challenge themselves to build the construction of their dreams. What can you use to create a skyscraper, sailboat, or Tyrannosaurus rex? The sky is the limit. 

Gingerbread House Workshops - Taste Buds Kitchen
Through December 27, 2017 - Chelsea

Parent and child pairs work together to design and decorate their very own gingerbread house. Enjoy endless decorating options, from frosted candy roofs to pretzel picket fences, and cheerful holiday tunes while sipping hot chocolate.

Hip-Hop Holidays - Children's Museum of Manhattan
Through December 29, 2017 - Upper West Side

Throughout December, CMOM is hosting some hip-hop holiday fun with thematic events including hip-hop hat design workshops, a performance by The School at Steps, a Hip-Hop Holiday Dance Party with Neil Fernando, a Hip-Hop Performance with the world’s first African-American Orthodox hip-hop artist, Y-Love, a Wearable Art workshop with Chris Colon and his famous handpainted baseball caps, a graffiti-inspired gingerbread house installation, a Kwanzaa Unity Cup, instruction and a mini-break dancing competition with Victor “Kid Glyde” Alicea and his Dynamic Rockers crew, a workshop with breaking legend B-girl Rockafella, and a magic show by Champumagic.

Some events have limited space and require sign-up or tickets for entry. See website for details.

Community Cowpokes with Hopalong Andrew - Whole Foods Tribeca
Through December 29, 2017 - Tribeca

Catch a free drop-in music class with Hopalong Andrew every Friday this fall and early winter. He'll bring his guitar, banjo, harmonica, and suitcase drum kit to get babies and tots rocking to his modern adaptations of classic cowboy tunes. Audience participation and interaction is encouraged to help the littles learn music, rhythm, and social skills.

'Elf the Musical' - The Theater at Madison Square Garden
Through December 29, 2017 - Chelsea

Based on the popular 2003 Christmas movie, this is the hilarious tale of Buddy, a young orphan who crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts and is brought to the North Pole only to discover his enormous size and sub-par toy-making abilities make him a poor excuse for an an elf. With Santa’s permission, Buddy embarks on a journey to New York City to find his birth father and discover his true identity.

'A Christmas Carol' - The Players Theatre
Through December 30, 2017 - Greenwich Village

A lively musical adaptation of the classic Dickens tale. Follow along with Ebenezer Scrooge as he is visited by four ghosts; his old business partner Marley, the ghost of Christmas past, present, and future. See what happens when he gets a glimpse of his own future if he doesn't change his life.

In addition to the one hour musical, before the Sunday Family Matinee, the audience receives a special treat: interactive arts workshops prior to the performance. Here the audience learns about the original book and how it's turned into a musical while discussing the themes of the show. Then the kids and their families make a special art project and take it home as a souvenir

'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe' - St. Luke's Theatre
Through December 30, 2017 - Midtown

In this inventive and highly theatrical adaptation of C.S. Lewis' classic, two actors give a tour-de-force performance that's sure to delight children and adults alike. Through the magic of theatre, Peter and Lucy will take you to Narnia, where The White Witch has cast a spell that makes it always winter and never Christmas. See them meet Mr. Tumnus the faun and conspire with talking animals to save Narnia. Come face to face with Aslan the Great Lion, and cheer as Peter, Susan, Lucy, and Edmund courageously battle the forces of evil, discovering that love is the deepest magic of all. Open to everyone, most suitable for ages 5 and older.

Jason Bishop: Believe in Magic - The New Victory Theater
Through December 30, 2017 - Midtown

This kid-friendly master of illusion will magically make it snow, perform a disappearance onstage, and execute an amazing appearance in the audience.

History Detective Briefcases for Families - DiMenna Children's Museum at New-York Historical Society
Through December 31, 2017 - Upper West Side

Celebrate the opening of the new exhibition 'Hotbed' with those who led the crusade for women’s rights 100 years ago. Meet suffragists who won the vote in New York in November 1917?three years before the 19th Amendment! Portrayed by Living Historians, the suffragists will share stories all about how they each contributed to the battle for the ballot. Ask about their early 20th-century wardrobe, learn how they marched in parades, and make a suffrage cockade.

'George Balanchine's The Nutcracker' - David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center
Through December 31, 2017 - Upper West Side

From Swan Lake to sugarplum fairies, the music of Tchaikovsky rings beautiful and clear in New York City thanks to this classic holiday performance. Watch stunning ballerinas flit across the stage in a magical world where mischievous mice besiege a battalion of soldiers and a blizzard leads to an enchanted Land of Sweets. 

Gulliver's Gate - Times Square
Through December 31, 2017 - Times Square

Artists from eight countries took part in building this fantastic miniature world, featuring cities from across the globe, all built to scale. You can also step back in time to see famous historical scenes and interact with the exhibit using a special key.

Annual Wreath Interpretations Exhibit - Arsenal Gallery
Through January 04, 2018 - Central Park

Celebrate the holiday season with the 35th annual exhibition of inventive, unconventional wreaths crafted by a diverse selection of more than 40 fine artists, designers, and other creative contributors. Enlivening this timeless holiday symbol, the participating artists employ a variety of unusual materials like beer cans, eyeglasses, kitchen utensils, and gardening tools to examine themes ranging from climate change to family heritage.

Luminaries - Brookfield Place
Through January 05, 2018 - Battery Park City

Luminaries is a mesmerizing holiday light installation designed by the LAB at Rockwell Group, based on the season’s traditions of sharing, giving, and community. Visitors are immersed in a canopy of glowing lanterns suspended within the Winter Garden at Brookfield Place, each changing color and intensity. For every wish sent by the public during the holiday season, Brookfield will donate $1, up to $25,000, to the GRAMMY Museum and its music education programs.

'Hansel and Gretel' - Metropolitan Opera House
Through January 06, 2018 - Upper West Side

A Met English-language holiday presentation, Richard Jones’s clever production of Humperdinck’s fairy-tale opera is based on the Brothers Grimm story. Donald Runnicles conducts the sweeping score and a delightful cast, including the legendary Dolora Zajick as the wayward siblings’ mother. Tara Erraught and Ingeborg Gillebo share the role of Hansel, and Lisette Oropesa and Maureen McKay share the role of Gretel.

Holiday Market at the Oculus presented by Chase Pay and Westfield World Trade Center - Westfield World Trade Center
Through January 06, 2018 - Battery Park City

Enter an enchanted forest with a gorgeous Christmas tree and 20’-high snowman full of shopping opportunities, live performances, tasty treats, arts programs, holiday carolers, and festive experiences for visitors of all ages. Also check out the animated GIF photo booth, storytelling with local community groups and free showings of movie classics, plus special celebrity appearances. Another very special part of Westfield’s holiday display will be the unveiling of a one-of-a-kind Hanukkah menorah constructed out of steel taken from the original World Trade Center towers after September 11th. 

2017 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree (and Lighting) - Rockefeller Center
Through January 07, 2018 - Midtown

Bundle up and squeeze through the crowded sidewalks to see this year's towering Christmas tree. As always, it will be a sight to behold whether you're shoping, dining, skating, or just passing through Rockefeller Center. If you're keen on seeing the tree lighting, join tens of thousands to see the performances and lighting live, or watch it on TV (tune in to NBC). The annual tree lighting ceremony is on a first-come, first-served basis and starts at 7pm so try to get there early.

Millions: Migrants and Millionaires aboard the Great Liners, 1900-1914 - South Street Seaport Museum
Through January 07, 2018 - South Street Seaport

Learn all about 20th-century ocean liners, like Titanic and Lusitania, and the differences between traveling aboard as a first- or third-class passenger. Featuring both original and reproduced artifacts, this thought-provoking exhibit highlights immigrant life at the turn of the century.

'Cinderella' - Rag Tag Theatre
Through January 07, 2018 - Midtown

Follow a poor troupe of actors as they present a hilarious musical romp through the well-known fairy tale Cinderella, with daffy llamas, roller-skating fairy godmothers, selfie-taking step sisters, Carol Channing, and furry kicks standing in for the traditional glass slippers. This adaptation is performed in the street theater style known as Commedia dell’arte with larger-than-life characters, colorful song and dance numbers, tons of pop culture references, and a great message on self-worth for kids.

Big Apple Circus - Damrosch Park at Lincoln Center
Through January 07, 2018 - Upper West Side

Celebrate 40 years with the circus at a performance full of talent and heart. Ringmaster Tyron "Ty" McFarlan leads the show featuring a world-renowned contortionist, acrobats and jugglers, many multi-generational performers, plus plenty of animal stars.

It's Holiday Time In PaleyLand! - The Paley Center for Media
Through January 07, 2018 - Midtown

Come in from the cold, warm up with complimentary hot cocoa and special holiday treats, enjoy nonstop screenings of beloved holiday TV classics, craft activities, and a visit from Santa at this holiday wonderland. At the center of the experience is a display of the iconic Parade of the Wooden Soldiers costumes worn by the Radio City Rockettes in their long-standing production of the Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes.

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'The Wizard of Oz' - Harlem Rep
Through January 13, 2018 - Harlem

The classic musical "The Wizard of Oz" is being performed by a multi-racial cast with a jazzy underscore and authoritative dramaturgy by representatives of the Yip Harburg Foundation.

'Addy & Uno' - Theatre Row
Through January 14, 2018 - Midtown

Uno has plenty of mathematical ability, but he also has a disability: autism. In this new musical featuring a cast of puppets and people, Uno gains the courage to enter his school’s math competition with help from friends who face challenges of their own: Addy has attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder; Melody is visually impaired; Seemore has hearing loss; and RJ uses a wheelchair. Addy & Uno is a heartfelt and hilarious journey celebrating hope, big dreams, and the beauty of differences. 

'Puffs, Or: Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic & Magic' - New World Stages
Through January 14, 2018 - Midtown West

Harry Potter fans who like to laugh will appreciate this lighthearted yet witty take on all that time spent learning spells and sorcery. "Puffs" is the story of some Hogwarts underdogs and how their experience at the magical wizarding school was a far cry from Harry's. As a special treat for parents and families, all matinee performances are appropriate for young children ages 8 and older.

The Amazing Max - Theater at Blessed Sacrament
Through January 28, 2018 - Upper West Side

Magician and entertainer Max Darwin mixes magic and comedy to work apparent miracles during the show. He makes objects appear and disappear and defies the laws of physics to the amazement of his audiences. It's a high-energy, interactive performance.

Radiant with Color & Art: McLoughlin Brothers and the Business of Picture Books, 1858-1920 - The Grolier Club
Through February 03, 2018 - Upper East Side

Check out more than 200 vibrantly colored children’s illustrated picture books, drawings, watercolors, and ephemera on view. The exhibition focuses on the accomplishments and technological innovations of McLoughlin Brothers, the influential late 19th-century children’s book publishing firm.

16th Annual Holiday Train Show - Transit Museum Gallery Annex & Store, Grand Central Terminal
Through February 04, 2018 - Midtown

Kids can watch in awe as little Lionel trains roll along a 34-foot-long, two-level track that looks just like a mini NYC with a nearby countryside. The scenery even includes its very own North Pole. Plus, parents will love spying vintage trains from the Transit Museum’s collection.

'The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show' - DR2 Theatre
Through February 04, 2018 - Gramercy Park

A theatrical recreation of Eric Carle’s beautifully imaginative stories, The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show, features a menagerie enchanting puppets during a magical 60-minute show that faithfully adapts four of Carle’s beloved books for the stage. This new edition of The Very Hungry Caterpillar includes the world premiere of Brown Bear, Brown Bear celebrating its 50th Anniversary, 10 Little Rubber Ducks, The Very Lonely Firefly, and, of course, The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Studio PSK: Polyphonic Playground - The Museum of Arts and Design
Through February 11, 2018 - Columbus Circle

Sonic Arcade: Shaping Space with Sound is a multi-component exhibition featuring interactive installations, immersive environments, and performing objects that explore how the ephemeral and abstract nature of sound is made material. The Polyphonic Playground feature, a project by Studio PSK, is an abstract, monumental, climbing frame with swings, a slide, and monkey bars. Affixed with pads that emit electronic sounds and a warm blue glow at the lightest of touch, the piece will act as a giant 3D synthesizer for anyone who interacts with it. MAD has invited experimental choreographers to activate the piece, while engaging visitors to do the same.

Rise and Ride the Holiday Express - DiMenna Children's Museum at New-York Historical Society
Through February 23, 2018 - Upper West Side

Get an early train fix with your little one at the beloved exhibition Holiday Express: Toys and Trains from the Jerni Collection, read fun train tales, and enjoy coffee and breakfast treats, available for purchase from the Parliament Espresso & Coffee Bar.

Holiday Express: Toys and Trains from the Jerni Collection - DiMenna Children's Museum at New-York Historical Society
Through February 25, 2018 - Upper West Side

Discover the wonder of hundreds of toy trains, figurines, and miniature models from the renowned Jerni Collection at this annual holiday exhibition. Immersive scenes and displays captivate children and adults as they hearken back to a bygone era in our shared transportation history. Holiday Express begins at the West 77th Street entrance, where trains appear to roar through the museum with the help of four large-scale multimedia screens, and extends through the first floor.

Gazillion Bubble Show - New World Stages / Stage 2
Through February 25, 2018 - Midtown West

Got bubbles? Families will get a kick out of watching bubbles expand, float, and take over the room at this Gazillion Bubble Show featuring so much more than soap spheres. Help celebrate the show in its tenth year of eye-catching, pop-able, reach-out-and-grab-them fun. Show runs more than 60 minutes without an intermission. Lasers and strobe lights are part of the performance.

Public Ice Skating - Wollman Rink
Through February 28, 2018 - Central Park

Ice skating out in the crisp city air with an amazing view of the Manhattan skyline is a classic NYC winter experience. And Central Park's famous rink is a tourist favorite, but completely worth doing even if you are a local. There is also a skating school, a hockey program, and birthday party offerings on the ice. Check out the nearby carousel for $3 a ride in between skates. 

Bank of America Winter Village - Bryant Park
Through March 04, 2018 - Midtown

The park becomes a winter wonderland with an outdoor ice skating rink (free entry!), a European inspired open-air market for holiday shopping, rinkside dining, and even an observation deck full of games and art supplies.

Earthflight - The American Museum of Natural History
Through March 08, 2018 - Upper West Side

Narrated by Academy Award-winning actress Cate Blanchett, Earthflight is a totally immersive experience, taking the audience on an incredible flight across the world on the wings of birds. Filmed across four continents and 11 countries, with revolutionary aerial techniques and state-of-the-art 3D cameras, viewers join a variety of different avian species on their seasonal journeys. The audience will discover the fascinating science of flight and how birds maneuver simultaneously in flocks a million strong, navigate across whole continents, and collaborate with other animals to find food.

R&R Shabbat Diversity Day - JCC Manhattan
Through March 17, 2018 - Upper West Side

Make your Shabbat afternoon special and share in the community with art, yoga, and meditation workshops, creative art projects, music, food, and spa experiences, plus indoor and outdoor play. Program offerings for both children and adults.


PAUSE/PLAY - The 14th Street Y
Through March 17, 2018 - East Village

All are welcome in the community for a day of relaxation and renewal. From family yoga and story time to whiskey tastings and open swim, PAUSE/PLAY events feature activities for the whole family. And each month, you can spend time with local rabbi's at 'Rabbi's on the Rocks.'

Ocean Odyssey - National Geographic Encounter
Through March 31, 2018 - Times Square

This newly opened, immersive entertainment experience takes families on a simulated underwater adventure to witness Pacific Ocean life firsthand. It's an interactive journey across a 60,000-square-foot marine attraction to meet sea lions, humpback whales, and great white sharks. Catch sight a stunning coral reef and other awe-inspiring sights and sounds thanks to an incredible visual effects team and award-winning designers and sound engineers. This walk-through experience lasts approximately 90 minutes. Buy tickets online for a reserved entry time. A portion of proceeds supports the National Geographic Society's nonprofit work in conservation, exploration, research, and education.

Sea of Light - South Street Seaport
Through March 31, 2018 - Seaport District

Sea of Light installation will be like no winter light show you have ever seen before. Explore a fully immersive sensory adventure of light and sound activated by proximity and touch. 

Ice Skating Season - The Rink at Rockefeller Center
Through April 01, 2018 - Midtown

The new season opens with this ceremonial first skate hosted by the reigning Olympic Ice Dance Champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White. Youth skaters of Ice Theatre of New York and Figure Skating in Harlemwill join for this celebratory session. 

The Rink at Rockefeller Center is always the first New York rink to open each year and is open to the public daily from 8:30am-12am, from Columbus Day to Easter. First designed as a temporary attraction, The Rink has evolved into one of the city’s most legendary landmarks and one of the most visited sites in Manhattan.


Ornaments and Other Refrigerator Magnets - Children's Museum of the Arts
Through April 29, 2018 - Greenwich Village

Through her exploration of the human inclination to decorate, embellish, and adorn our surroundings, Ellen Harvey has created an immersive installation featuring large-scale works that apply ornamentation to scenes from both city life and nature.

StoryDance Playgroup - Downtown Dance Factory
Through May 03, 2018 - Tribeca

Walking tots and preschoolers are invited to take part in story time, a craft, dance games and activities, plus free play time. It's a great way for grown-ups to introduce their children to the wonderful world of performing arts in a nurturing and creative environment.

RSVP required. Space is limited. 

Not Your Typical Story Hour - 92nd Street Y
Through May 17, 2018 - Upper East Side

Look at books with your child, listen to stories, create an art project, and dance to the music with Petra as part of this imaginative, interactive story time. You can even bring your lunch to enjoy as part of the class.

Jazz for Kids - Jazz Standard
Through May 27, 2018 - Kips Bay

The Jazz Standard Youth Orchestra (JSYO) will get families grooving every Sunday throughout the school year at Jazz Standard's popular JAZZ FOR KIDS brunch. Talented musicians between the ages of 11 and 18 dish out jazz classics such as "Cherokee," "How Insensitive," and "Billie's Bounce," as family audiences devour the goods off Blue Smoke's southern barbecue lunch menu. Babies welcome!

The Butterfly Conservatory: Tropical Butterflies Alive in Winter - American Museum of Natural History
Through May 28, 2018 - Upper West Side

The butterflies are back! For the 20th year, families can hang with as many as 500 fluttering butterflies at the museum's 80-degree warm vivarium full of tropical flowers too. The insects come from farms in Australia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Florida, Kenya, Malaysia, and Thailand and species include iridescent blue morpho butterflies, scarlet swallowtails, large owl butterflies, and green birdwings.

Chalk - Kraine Theater
Through August 11, 2018 - East Village

A playful and poignant homage to classic silent-film era comedians, Chalk invites audiences into a hand-drawn world where imagination is made real and anything can happen.

Access+Ability - Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
Through September 03, 2018 - Upper East Side

This powerful new exhibit displays products, projects, and services developed by and with people with disabilities—physical, cognitive, and sensory—that expand their ability to lead independent lives and engage more fully in the world. The Access+Ability exhibition features more than 70 works, from adaptive clothing and eating implements that assist with daily routines to apps and “smart” technologies that aid in social interactions and navigating the environment. A variety of interactive elements will be installed throughout the exhibition to engage visitors, underscoring the importance of prioritizing users throughout the design process.

Sacred Spaces: The Road To … and the Tibetan Buddhist Shrine Room - Rubin Museum of Art
Through October 15, 2018 - Chelsea

Featuring artist Ghiora Aharoni’s series “The Road to Sanchi” and two video works by artist Arthur Liou, the exhibition engages time as a medium and challenges viewers to consider the sacred and think about their own experiences with meaningful journeys. These installations continue the exhibition’s focus on devotional activities in awe-inspiring places.

Aharoni’s series of sculptures reimagines vintage taxi meters, now obsolete, from India. Video screens embedded in the meters capture the artist’s rickshaw rides in India to sacred sites for Hindus, Jews, Muslims, and Buddhists. Each sculpture, whose form simultaneously references a time capsule and the silhouette of a stupa, becomes the oculus of a pilgrimage. 

The videos “Kora” and “Saga Dawa,” created by Arthur Liou, explore aspects of Tibetan Buddhist ritual and celebration as they take place in the breathtaking environment around Tibet’s holiest mountain, Mount Kailash.

Visitors can take a pause inside the Tibetan Buddhist Shrine Room, an immersive installation inspired by traditional Tibetan household shrines. They are also invited to write letters to future museumgoers in a dedicated area in the gallery.