New Year, New To-Do: 12 Activities to Have an Absolutely Wild January in NYC

There are those who'd say the most exciting day of January is the very first day of the month. Yes, we're talking about New Year's Day. We realize New Year's is a big deal.

We highly encourage participating in all the incredible activities and brunches New York City has to offer on New Year's Day.

New Year's Day is not the only exciting day of this month, though. In fact, it's far from the most exciting thing happening in NYC in January.

In January in NYC there are boozy festivals and concerts, parties, and tons of moving tributes to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., one of the greatest individuals in American history. 

Spending January cuddled in bed can be fun, but you live in the greatest city in the world, and there are so many chances to get out of your apartment and get wild. Read on to find out what you absolutely need to do in NYC in January below.

1. Coney Island Polar Bear Plunge

noralynnleech Jac Polar Bear #coneyislandpolarbear

We thought of a really great way for you to celebrate New Year's Day. Yes, it involves plunging yourself in the ocean on January 1st. Yes, the ocean will probably be really cold. That's kind of the point.

Also, the whole event is engineered to raise funds for Camp Sunshine, a summer camp in Maine for terminally ill children. Could you think of a better cause? We really can't.

Every participant is asked to donate $20 to Camp Sunshine, and then show up at the Boardwalk on Stillwell Avenue well before 1 p.m. to take part in the plunge.


You'll be cold, so bring warm things to bundle in afterward. All registered participants will get free admission to the New York Aquarium on New Year's Day, and everyone's invited to celebrate at the Coney Island Brewing Company afterward.

$2 from every beer sold will be donated to Camp Sunshine, and $2.50 from every $5 ride on Deno's Wonder Wheel will also be donated. 

Really, this event is just about as fun as charity events get. Register here.

2. 50 First Jokes (January 2nd)

fatboybarnett Gettin ready to bomb. #50firstjokes

Laughing is a great way to start the year, isn't it?

We think so, too. At the 10th Annual installment of 50 First Jokes at The Bell House in Brooklyn, 50 comics will each present their first joke of 2016.

This is a pretty amazing opportunity, in our opinions, to catch a bunch of high profile comedians sharing their very first joke of the year. It's also a great way for you to start your year off in a hilarious, fun way.

John F. O'Donnell will host the event. It'll start at 7 p.m. and end at 9 p.m. Tickets only cost $10. You could do much worse for New Year's weekend. We think this event will be entirely excellent, and that you could get to it. Get your tickets here.

3. Star Wars and the Power of Costume (January 4th - March 31st)

dream2makebelieve #starwarsandthepowerofcostumeexhibition

The Star Wars hype is so real. So real, in fact, that you'll have the chance to check out the actual costumes worn in the actual first six Star Wars movies.

That's right, at Star Wars and the Power of Costume there will be 70 hand-crafted costumes on display. It'll reveal the costume artists' creative process, and uncover the connection between character and costume.

From the mask of Darth Vader to the suit of C-3PO, even the gown of Queen Amidala, and Princess Leia's bikini, the series' most famous costumes will be on display for your viewing delight.

Let's face it: the new Star Wars movie was great, but it didn't satiate your craving for everything Star Wars, did it? If your answer is no, get out to Times Square and check this exhibit out. You can get tickets here.

4. New York Boat Show (January 6th - January 10th)

offshore_nj Come and see @nautiqueboats from @candlewoodeast @offshore_nj and @AdirondackMarine at the New York Boat Show! #Nautique #OSM2015 #g21 #210 #200 #newyorkboatshow

If you're a boat fanatic, you should make it out to the New York Boat Show at the Javits Center from January 6th to January 8th. 

If you're interested in buying a boat, you should especially come out to this event. There will be a wide variety of boats, experts, dealers, manufacturers, deals and incentives. Plus, this is the event that offers the best boat prices of the season.

If you're a more realistic New Yorker and you're nowhere near being able to afford a boat, you could just make it out to the show and gaze at the brilliance of beautiful boats. You could just come and daydream about the day you'll be able to fly up the East River on a motorboat.

There will be plenty of boat activities, like hands-on docking practice, lines and locking demos, and speeches by captains. 

It's basically paradise for boat obsessives. Or just people who like boats an average amount. Get tickets here.

5. No Pants Subway Ride (January 10th)

fergusondouglas #nopantssubwayridenyc #nopantssubwayride #takeoffyourpants

Why is the no pants subway ride in January? Why wouldn't it be held, in, say, July?

We have a theory about this. We think it's to weed out the undedicated. Traveling on the subway pantless in January takes much more bravery than it would to undertake the same endeavor in July.


This event is put on every year by Improv Everywhere. It started as a prank with seven guys, and it's multiplied exponentially into an international event of silliness. Dozens of cities participate around the world every year.

The concept of the day is as simple as it sounds: passengers board the subway in the middle of the winter without pants. Everyone is instructed to wear winter coats, hats, scarves, and gloves.

To check out the history of the No Pants Subway Ride, and join the email list, visit the event's site here.

6. Winter Jazzfest (January 13th - January 17th)

caseyraeolsen Blue Cranes blowing everyone away at the #winterjazzfestnyc

NYC's Winter Jazzfest is the premier jazz festival in a city with some of the best jazz in the country.

If you can't get enough of the genre, if you love rocking out to jazz-- if jazz is what you're all about, you absolutely need to be there.

This year's list of performers is extreme. Al Strong will be there. Alicia Hall Moran will perform with Brandon Ross. There will be performances by the Avishai Cohen Quartet, Butler, Bernstein, & The Hot 9. Plus, plenty more.

There are plenty of ticket options. You can either get tickets to the full festival, or you can buy tickets for individual events. Do it soon, before they sell out. Get your tickets here.


7. East Ville Des Folies - Acte Trois (January 16th)

han_ma Jazz + Flappers + Beer + Whiskey = Cheers to prohibition! #EastVilleDesFolies #Flappers

This prohibition style tasting event will remind New Yorkers how badass it must have felt to get drunk when getting drunk was illegal.

We're not talking a pre-21 sip of beer. We're talking totally and completely smashed. Okay, we'd like you to maintain enough lucidity to make it back to your apartment afterward, but we also want you to have a really great time.

This event will go down at Webster Hall on January 16th from 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. There will be performers from several 1920s genres: burlesque, trapeze, swing jazz, circus performers, and bands. 


So come to East Ville Des Folies - Acte Trois, and pretend Al Capone is there, pouring booze in his mouth right along with you. There will beer and whiskey, and there will be plenty of celebration. It's Webster Hall's 130th Birthday Celebration, after all.

Nothing wrong with 13 decades of partying, right? There will be four floors of beers and whiskey, and it's going to be insane. Get your tickets here.

8. Martin Luther King Jr. Day (January 18th)

ionebutler I was looking up some Martin Luther King Jr quotes yesterday and it's incredible how on point he was with everything he said and what he stood for - so much of it applies to what we are dealing with today. As we approach Martin Luther King Jr. Day in January I thought it'd be good to share some of his wise words! #martinlutherking #martinlutherkingjr #martinlutherkingday #mlk #mlkday #quotes #inspiration #inspirational

Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the most incredible figures in the history of the United States. He was a minister, activist, humanitarian, and a tremendous leader in the Civil Rights Movement.

He's well-known for his use of nonviolent resistance to promote equality and hope, and he served as a beacon of inspiration for black and white Americans alike.

Dr. King was awarded the Nobel Peace Price for combating racial inequality through nonviolence in 1964. Like so many brilliant, peaceful heroes, he was assassinated in 1968.

NYC will offer plenty of opportunities to celebrate this astonishing life on January 18th. There will be a free discussion and concert at the Apollo Theater from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. The Harlem Gospel Choir will put on a concert at the Kupferberg Center in Queens at 12:30 p.m.

The Brooklyn Museum of Art will host a free Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., including a speaker and a choir concert. Brooklyn College will host "A Shared Dream" Tribute & Concert for free at 5 p.m. 

How ever you choose to remember one of the most important figures in America's history on January 18th, it's important to do so with light and love just as Dr. King would have wanted. It's also important to continue his legacy. His fight is far from over. 

9. Bronx International Film Festival (January 22nd - January 31st)

scottballardfilms So stoked to have Death On A Rock in it's first 2016 fest, the Bronx International Film Festival! Congrats to the outrageously talented cast and crew and thank you to all who continue to support our film! #Bronx #bronxinternationalfilmfestival #deathonarock #scottballardfilms #onwardthreefilms #greatnotion #greatnotionfilmmakercollective #rachaelperrellfosket #oregonfilm #portlandfilm #nwfilm #filmoregon #filmfests #pdxfilm

Put on by the Bronx Stage & Film Company, the Bronx International Film Festival serves as an artistic resource for emerging artists-- especially for underserved artistic communities in NYC.

We're all about this worthy goal, and we're also all about artistic triumph. Which is why we're pretty excited about this film festival.

The Bronx International Film Festival aims to promote art from all over the world, but particularly from the Bronx and the outer boroughs. This festival also aims to celebrate the multi-ethnic and multi-cultural vibrance of the Bronx.

This will be the 11th Annual Bronx International Film Festival, and it's going down at The Studio Theatre. You can check out 2016's films and buy tickets here.

10. Winter Jam (January 23rd)

mountaincreek Our instructors will be in Central Park 11am -3pm today giving out free first time ski and snowboard lessons. Swing by if you're in NYC. #nycwinterjam @burtonmidatlantic @burtonsnowboard #rigletpark

Winter Jam is just about the coolest thing that happens in NYC in January. On Saturday, January 23rd, blown-in snow will be laid out across Central Park's Bandshell. So no, it's not weather dependent at all. 

There will be snowshoeing, skiing and snowboarding, sledding, and the Taste NY Winter Market. NYC Parks will provide equipment at no cost, or you can bring your own gear to enjoy the greatest snow day in NYC.

Oh, there will also be skiing and snowboarding lessons provided without charge. Yeah, that's right-- for free. Enter the Central Park Bandshell at 72nd Street at 11 a.m. to find all the action. You'll be able to play in the snow until 3 p.m. 

It's just as much fun as it sounds like. This is definitely one of those events that reminds us why we love living in NYC.

11. New York City Pinot Days (January 23rd)

lyonswine Let the wine tasting begin! #pinotdays #winetasting #pinotnoir #happyhour

You love wine, right? Everyone does. If you're a wine connoisseur, dating one, or BFFLs with one, you need to snag your tickets to the New York City Pinot Days.

This wine extravaganza will take place on January 23rd at City Winery, and will feature pinots from California, Oregon, and New Zealand.  


There are 35 participating wineries, and you'll have the chance to taste 100 different varieties of pinot. It's safe to say your tastebuds will have a carnival, and you'll definitely get tipsy. 

For one of the hottest chances to sample a ton of delicious wines this month, make sure you check it out. You can get tickets here.

12. Beer, Bourbon, and BBQ Festival (January 30th)

copynpasteme Who Loves Angry Orchard?!?! #BeerBourbonBBQFestival

Just because it's held on the day before the most freezing month of the year doesn't mean it can't get hot in the Beer, Bourbon, and BBQ Festival.

It definitely gets steamy at this festival. It's happening on January 30th, and throughout the day, there are three sessions. 

From 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. is the "Bacon Bash Tasting Session." From 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. is the "Whole Hog Pig Pickin' Session." Throughout the whole day, from 12 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., is the "Grand Poobah MEAT-A-RAMA Session."

Participants throughout the whole festival will have unlimited, access to 60 beers, 40 bourbons, and lots and lots of BBQ. There will be a lot of music, a lot of burning cigars, and all-you-can-taste when it comes to beer and bourbon.

Yeah, we know, it sounds incredible to us too. Get your tickets here, and do it now, because they'll sell out before you can say "Delicious."

Check out 25 Can't-Miss Concerts in NYC This January

[Feature Image Courtesy Instagram] 

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