The holidays are long gone, and the only thing that keeps you going is your daily mocha latte and the thought that one day, rumor has it, a season called spring will appear. But fear not! January brings its own delights (and we do mean delights, not just “things to get you through an annoying month.”) From popups to pastries, stick with us for ways to make the month fun, not just merely tolerable.
Civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr. was known for his non-violent approach to advancing civil rights; he was assassinated in 1968. Now in its 34th year, the largest event of its kind brings together artists, activists, and community leaders at the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House to celebrate the life of the famed civil rights leader. A combination of talks, music, an art exhibit, and more, the event is free and open to the public.
Until Jan 12
For starters, there’s the Winter Lantern Festival at Snug Harbor in Staten Island. If you still need easing away from the holiday lights and festivals, this is a good one to check out. More than 1,000 lanterns morph into incredible luminescent art and a variety of amazing shapes and figures, from plants to animals and mythical creatures. The exhibit includes eight acres of lights (!) plus interactive exhibits and live shows.
Next up, the New York Boat Show at the Javits Center is an annual tradition, with a surprising amount to offer both boat lovers and those who are just along for the ride - figuratively speaking. The show's main draw, of course, is dozens of boats for sale, from kayaks to yachts, but visitors will also find miniature boat building for kids, food and drink, including a Nathan's hot dog cart and a Boar’s Head sandwich station, and even a career day, about jobs in the marine industry. It’s one of the many annual things to do in New York in January that marine and sailing enthusiasts should look out for.
Until January 17
Over the course of nine nights, visitors to Winter Jazzfest are treated to jazz performances at a series of venues across the city, including, this year, ones in Brooklyn. One wristband gives visitors entry to any venue—as long as it isn’t full. Visitors will have the opportunity to see more than 100 performers, including drummer/bandleader/artist-in-residence Mark Guiliana, and Brazilian musician Seu Jorge.
Celebrate the start of the Year of the Rat, the first in the Chinese zodiac cycle, at the Queens Botanical Garden. The Lunar New Year celebration includes crafts, activities designed for the whole family, and a lucky plant sale. FYI, the plants are lucky, not the sale. Performances are also on the docket, and past events have had such offerings as a taekwondo demonstration and a dance performance. The 39-acre site may not be as well-known as the gardens in the Bronx or Brooklyn, but this is a good opportunity to explore it, even during the winter.
Have you ever wondered what New York seems like to a tomato? No, neither have we. And yet, we now have Tomatoland, a 4,000 square foot pop-up designed to educate visitors about the environment and excess consumption. Visitors are treated to such exhibits as Refrigerator World, which highlights our use of exceas packaging; Noodle Swing, where attendees can sit in a swing suspended from a giant fork and try on costumes; and a Ketchup Pool, which offers travel in a bottle-cap car to meet some green-tomato cousins. The exhibit also includes places perfect for photo ops as well as some interactivity.
If it’s January, it must be time for…bumper cars on ice! Yes, that’s a thing, and a good one. You can spin, twirl, and bump your way across the ice at the Bryant Park ice rink, and, starting January 24, you can also take a spin if you go there for the 10-day Frost Fest, a series of programs including live entertainment, an Igloo experience, and a silent disco.
January 21-February 9
If you love theater but not the prices, check out the winter version of Broadway Week; it actually lasts more than a week. This is the time to get two-for-one tickets to some of the most popular Broadway shows around, or ones you might not necessarily attend. You may even be able to snag tickets for shows like Book of Mormon and Chicago. Tickets go fast--so you shouold be, too.
Ever had the urge to visit a NYC rooftop bar in January? No? Well, now you will. A number of sky-high bars in New York are outfitted for winter weather, including Ophelia, which sits at the top of an art deco tower and will make you feel like you’re inside a snow globe. Grab some cocktail fare, like a truffle potato wedge or a French onion slider, and an actual cocktail. Then gaze at the amazing 360 city views and enjoy the feeling that you’re inside a jewelery box. Looking for other sky-high venues? Check one out here.
Looking for more ways to take advantage of the city this month? Check out The New York Pass.