Winter in the city can either be magical or a mess. There is so much to do in such a short frame, and there is always a surplus of tourists in the way.
While it can never hurt to just wander the holiday markets and check out the windows at Macy’s and Bloomingdale's, there are so many other, less-cliche things being planned behind the scenes.
From concerts to special movie screenings and even hot cocoa-themed events, there is something for everyone this month.
If you’re looking for something the tourists may not know about, check out our suggestions for the best events going on this December:
1. Bryant Park Annual Tree Lighting Skate-tacular (December 1)
lilxiling HEYHEY light up that tree! #litAF #skatetacular #wintervillage #bryantpark #thelightsbeforechristmas
Skate-tacular just sounds so Christmas-y, we’re already lacing up our skates (and praying for snow).
If that’s not enough to convince you, Jane Krakowski is the host. There will be plenty of incredible performances from famous skaters like Johnny Weir and Meryl Davis, after which the skating rink is open to all.
Admission is free, and as an added bonus, you can walk the Winter Village Holiday Market beforehand or afterward and make an evening of it. It starts at 6 p.m., so get your skates ready!
2. Slim Cinema Vertical Film Festival (December 2)
jackiechecho this is what a really cute team looks like. #bondelez #slimcinema #sweetangels
Sometimes local art and less conventional films are better than the ones we see advertised all over the city. Starting at 8 p.m., check out some of the best vertical films and local artists around with Slim Cinema’s Vertical Film Festival at The Muse, a huge event space in Brooklyn.
And stick around afterward for a collaborative after party with NVR SLEEP, an experimental music platform + party, including an open bar and some delicious bites. Get your tickets here and don't forget to use our code SPOILED15 for a special discount!
3. 5K Hot Cocoa Run/Walk (December 3)
lucero2010_ First race of 2017 during Idaho's worst weather in 30 years!!❄️ #2017 #idaho #runnergirl #runnersworld #12degrees #snowing #hotcocoarun
If you’re concerned about packing on the pounds this holiday season—hello, Freshman 15, back again?—Think N’ Fun has the most perfectly balanced event for you.
Set in the Upper West Side along Central Park, this 5K has stops along the way for cocoa. You don’t really have the early morning excuse since it starts at 10 a.m., unlike most runs which start at the crack of dawn. Plus, you basically work off whatever you drink, so have an extra cup.
Lose weight, drink cocoa, win-win. Grab your tickets here.
4. Simple Plan in Concert (December 5)
fcbrazilianplan ♥️ #simpleplan #teamsp (Lari)
This Paramount-hosted concert is 21 & up, but those of you who replayed ‘Perfect’ over and over on your CD player will appreciate the great band that will help you relive nostalgic high school days.
The doors open at 7 p.m., and you won’t want to be late for this date.
Also, is it just us, or do these guys not age, like at all? Find out for yourself by grabbing tickets here.
5. SantaCon (December 9)
Thank you for a great day and being so generous with your donations! SantaCon NYC cannot be duplicated or imitated. It's Holiday Magic. Take that spirit into 2017 and be kind to all. Thank you! Love, Santa 🎅🏻🎅🏽🎅 This awesome pic was snapped to me during Saturday's festivities & really warmed my heart. ❤️
santaconnyc Thank you for a great day and being so generous with your donations! SantaCon NYC cannot be duplicated or imitated. It's Holiday Magic. Take that spirit into 2017 and be kind to all. Thank you! Love, Santa 🎅🏻🎅🏽🎅 This awesome pic was snapped to me during Saturday's festivities & really warmed my heart. ❤️
Is any December event guide complete without a mention of this rambunctious Santa-clad drinking extravaganza? Dress like Santa—or one of his elves if you’d prefer—and get great deals while celebrating the holiday season on a bar hop through the city.
There’s nothing quite like finding Santa drunk on the streets of NYC to truly say “Merry Christmas.” Check it out on December 9th starting at 10 a.m. (The route isn’t revealed until a few days before) and a $10 ticket gets you into all the Santa-laden bars your heart desires. Buy one here.
6. A Drinking Game: Elf (December 12)
stanleysteam3r Friends who quest together, stay together. 🏆 ✨ 🏆 ✨ 🏆 ✨ #adrinkinggamenyc #montypython #sirbedevere #lancelot #drunk #intermission
Every month, local BK bar Littlefield NYC hosts A Drinking Game, where their players re-enact favorite movies—in this case, Elf—and provide a list of rules indicating when audience members (and the actors) should take a swig. By the end of the show, everyone is a bit tipsy and having a guaranteed good time.
Since we all know virtually every line in this popular movie, making a game of it lets us watch in a whole new way. It only adds to the Christmas cheer, which we all know Buddy would fully encourage. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. for the 8 p.m. show.
So make Buddy happy and reserve your spot at this link.
7. Spiked Mug Fest & Holiday Market (December 15-17)
licerslic #spikedmugfestival #licfleaandfood #licflea #themoreyouknow #thefactory #licerslic #longislandcity #spikedmugfestival #spikedmugfest #earlybird #vip #eastriver #mycity #NYC #11101
LIC Flea Market has the perfect solution to overwhelming holiday shopping. As encouraged by the newest Bad Moms movie, the best way to do it is to do it tipsy.
With options like warm cozies by Stitchigan and Queens-themed tee’s from The Local Wit, you’ll be sure to find something your loved ones will love.
Head to Ravel Hotel for your fill on winter cocktails, wines and winter beers in a cute mug (so it doesn’t even feel naughty). Shopping while buzzed is infinitely more fun than shopping sober. Times vary by day so choose the most convenient for you here and get shopping.
8. Foodporn Fest (December 16)
christineorlando Hibiscus Flower Drink ❤️ #sorrel #foodpornfest #lightbulb #drink #drank #foodie #eastwilliamsburg #travelgram #ilovenewyork
With over 5,000 people last year and the promise of 40 vendors in a giant warehouse, this is basically the closest you can get to NYCWFF without paying over $100 per event.
The name says it all: a festival with the most drool-worthy fare all available to sample for just $3 per person from 11 a.m.—7 p.m. That’s 8 hours of all-you-can-eat!
This celebration of food is hosted by the Shwick Market and features Vegan Indian food from Index BK, Distilleries like Standard Wormwood, and tiny waffles from The Tasty Waffle Company, among others.
Get your tickets here!
9. Holiday Hideaway by Thrillist (December 16-17)
jessicav17 #ThrillistHoliday with @jameson_us!🎄
If last year is any indication, this is one event you don’t want to miss. Thrillist, the website bringing you events like Best Day of Your Life, has curated the ultimate holiday event filled with food, freebies, and cocktails.
Set in the up-and-coming Industry City in Brooklyn, the vendors alone are reason enough to go; they span from the savory meatball sandwiches from Ends Meat to croissant ice cream sandwiches from Blue Marble Ice Cream.
They will also have rotating elements that change throughout the day, including hair braiding, hot shaves, and other surprises yet to be revealed. Times and dates vary, so check out the options and RSVP now!
brooklynbowl We're loving this moment captured at @hotdubtimemachine! Let's dance off our turkey dinner #TONIGHT 💃 📸: @darrynking #hotdubtimemachine #djset #danceparty #brooklyn #brooklynbowl #livemusic
If you enjoy bowling, Brooklyn Bowl is always a great place to get down, stay warm and still (technically) be physically active while you throw back a few drinks.
And during the holidays you can have all that along with the musical stylings of Questlove and some other great acts- they don’t scream Christmas, but they do put you in a jolly mood that St. Nick would approve of. Bowling, drinks and great music- how could you go wrong?
Doors open at 11 a.m., with Questlove coming out around 1. And with tickets at only $12, why wouldn’t you want to go? Tickets are available on their site here.
11. Bottomless Latke Festival (December 18)
tastemakersny Hannukah is coming up and it is a fun holiday which involves games, lighting the menorah and great food such as potato latkes. Getting Ready. Taking orders #hanukkah #latkes #applesauce #caviar #donuts #miracle #8nights
The Brooklyn Museum hosts a festival devoted to Hannukah’s greatest invention, latkes. Each ticket includes unlimited food (mainly a tonnnnnn of latkes) from 6:30 p.m.—8:30 p.m., plus beer, wine, and cocktails...
Vendors will each create clever spins on the classic treat like Burger & Lobster's, Everything Bagel Latke mixed with everything bagel spice topped with lobster and tossed in a scallion aioli, FryGuys' The LES Latke with double fried chicken, maple syrup gravy, and scallion sour cream, Tudor City Steakhouse's Tudor City Latke with bay scallop ceviche, edible flower and chive oil, and more.
Not to be corny, but we promise you’ll love it a latke! Prices range from $70-$120 and you can grab yours here.
12. Amelie with Mulled Wine (December 23)
shiiiinshiiiin #ameliemovie 🌸💙
This movie is a cult classic in the US. It may technically be a foreign film but us Americans have been obsessing over this cult classic for years and Videology is taking it to the next level.
There are 3 showings, so take your pick (or stay for all 3) between 4:45 p.m., 7:30 p.m., and 10:15 p.m.
And if like us, you don't fully get the plot, but come along with your friends who do, the wine will definitely make it entertaining regardless. Plus your ticket is also redeemable for $2 off a drink. Get your discounted drink stub here.
13. Matzoball (December 24)
glattalacarte Chanukah. What, already? Believe it or not, Chanukah is just almost here and our party room is almost fully booked, with only 1 night available. Want to book a Chanukah party to remember at Glatt A La Carte? Get in touch today before we're sold out - first come, first served!
Now In its 31st year, Matzoball is NYC’s biggest, baddest way for singles (and the occasional couple too) to celebrate Hannukah. Taking place this year at premiere NYC event space, Capitale, with three decades of experience, you know it’s gotta be good.
Starting at 9 p.m., take some shots or sip cocktails with your fellow single jews and celebrate the festival of lights by getting lit. Take the first step by snagging a ticket here.
14. Holiday Train Show at NY Botanical Gardens (November 22-January 15)
hamin0713 #holidaytrainshow #officiallychristmasseason
This fun family activity is a tradition for some and news to others. They even have “bar car nights” where guests can stay late, enjoy some cocktails and get an exclusive view after dark.
According to the site, The Gardens will present over 150 NYC landmarks, like the Brooklyn Bridge and Empire State Building, recreated into a miniature wonderland. Midtown Manhattan is getting a miniature.
You can visit anytime between now and January 15, so check out the different packages and grab your tickets here before they’re gone.