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Fun Things to Do with Kids in Manhattan this December

Fun and low-cost (and free!) things to do with kids in Manhattan this December, including holiday shows, sledding, ice-skating, and more in Lincoln Center, Midtown, SoHo, Upper East Side, and Upper West Side.


Dances Patrelle NutcrackerThe Nutcracker

If gathering your brood to watch this classic ballet is a holiday season tradition for your family (or a tradition you’d like to start this year), you’ve got plenty of options. Check out our full roundup of The Nutcracker performances in NYC.


Grand Central holiday marketGrand Central Terminal Holiday Fair

Grand Central Terminal, Midtown

Through Dec. 24

Arguably the most famous of the city’s fleeting holiday markets is the Grand Central Terminal Holiday Fair, which currently has its 76 vendors spread out across the historic, 12,000-square-feet Vanderbilt Hall. The fair features goods that can’t be found anywhere else in the city, and it’s the only holiday market held entirely indoors. Browse for gifts underneath the 48-foot ceiling and its five gold chandeliers, then stroll out to the adjacent main concourse to watch the holiday laser light show on the terminal ceiling.

Got a lot of gifts to get? Visit for details on all the big holiday markets, including Bryant Park, Columbus Circle, and Union Square.


Circus Oz Holiday ShowCircus Oz Holiday Show

New Victory Theater, Midtown

Through Dec. 30

December is traditionally the most festive month of the year, but sometimes all that holiday cheer can get tiring. It’s okay to want to do some “regular” events during the month of December (good luck finding the time!), to help you wind down from the holiday sprint. We can’t promise that the Circus Oz Holiday Show is “regular” at all, but because it’s filled with jaunty jugglers, astounding acrobats, teasing trapeze artists, sassy ringleaders, and fantastic Australian accents, we can promise that this show will be a ton of fun.


The Barber of Seville, NYC OperaThe Barber of Seville

The Metropolitan Opera, Lincoln Center

Dec. 18 – Jan. 5

Don’t let the word “opera” scare you away from taking the whole family to see Bartlett Sher’s production of Rossini’s comedic masterpiece, The Barber of Seville—yes, you should even bring the kids! The holiday presentation of the almost-200-year-old show runs for an abridged two hours, and the performance is sung entirely in English, so even the tiniest of audience members won’t be intimidated or confused. The perfect beginner opera for both kids and adults, the story contains all the elements of a captivating tale: true love, deception, a bad guy, slapstick comedy, and of course, a happy ending.

Got a little theater lover? See our top 10 list of holiday family shows in the city.


Our Global Kitchen: Food, Nature, Culture

American Museum of Natural History, Upper West Side

Through August 2013

Food is the one thing that unites every culture, race, and generation. Food is used as a social ritual, a holiday tradition, a symbol of comfort, a gift, and an excuse to catch up with friends. The American Museum of Natural History has taken food and what it means to us and put it into a fascinating exhibition called Our Global Kitchen: Food, Nature, Culture, which opened last month. The curators hope it will encourage visitors to examine a thing we all do everyday—eat!—and think about everything that goes into that act more consciously. The exhibition touches on a lot of serious issues, such as the scarcity of food predicted for the future and childhood obesity. Complete with a proactive message (the exhibition suggests both short- and long-term fixes for the problems we’ve encountered when it comes to food) and fun bits of trivia interspersed throughout, this exhibition is a great jump-off to discuss food, nutrition, and health with the whole family.


Inclusive Weekend Workshops

Children’s Museum of the Arts, SoHo

Sundays in December

The Children’s Museum of the Arts now offers Inclusive Weekend Workshops to children with physical disabilities along with their able-bodied siblings and friends. The program is intended to make the museum’s art-making accessible to all needs and provide an opportunity for siblings and friends to spend time with each other, as well as with peers who have similar life experiences. Each session offers a new workshop that is designed to meet the needs of the participatns, and the program is staffed with CMA teaching artists and a licensed occupational therapist. If a child requires dedicated one-on-one attention, parents are encouraged to bring a paraprofessional to help facilitate the child’s experience. Parents are welcome to drop off their kids or stay for the workshop.


kids sleddingWhere to Go Sledding

See our roundup of the top 6 hills for sledding in Manhattan, including three on the Upper East Side, two on the Upper West Side, and one in Hamilton Heights.


Where to Go Ice Skating

Check out our guide to indoor and outdoor ice-skating rinks in Manhattan and the NYC area


More Fun

Search for more fun family activities in Manhattan and the NYC area in our full calendar of events


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