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Family Events in Manhattan

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To ensure the best possible experience at community events and programs, please check with the host before attending in case details have changed.

December 1-7

  • December 3: Parent Tour of Ready, Set, Go Preschoolers Program, Rutgers Community Programs, 236 W. 73rd St., (212)877-8227, ext. 212, www.rutgerschurch.org. Parents are invited to tour the program for children ages 2.9-5 years. See the great spaces children in our program learn and grow in, and find out why a play-based program like ours benefits young children. RSVP to Jennifer Moore at jmoore@rutgerschurch.org. 9am.
  • December 4: Central Park Holiday Lighting, Charles A. Dana Discovery Center at Central Park, Enter at East 110th Street and Fifth Avenue, www.centralparknyc.org. Families are invited to kick off the holiday season with a holiday lighting extravaganza: The Dana Discovery Center and a flotilla of 17 evergreen trees on the Harlem Meer will remain lit through the holidays. At this event, a lighting ceremony is set to include activities like caroling, photo opportunities with Santa and a sleighful of cookies and hot cocoa. All ages are welcome. 5:30pm.
  • December 5 and 6: Holiday Candlelight Tours, Mount Vernon Hotel Museum and Garden, 421 E. 62st St., (212)383-6878, www.mvhm.org. Step back into the holidays of 1830, take a tour by the warm glow of candlelight, and sample traditional confections. Events, tales, and music of the season vary from Friday to Saturday, but you can find event details online. 6pm, 7pm, and 8pm. 
  • December 6: Frozen Breakfast Cruise, South Street Seaport, Pier 16, Fulton Street, www.nywatertaxi.com.
  • Start your Saturday off with a magical breakfast celebration alongside Elsa and Anna on this character breakfast cruise. Unlock the mystery of the dazzling Hudson and freeze out the impending winter with fun, games, snacks, and beautiful views. 9-11am.
  • December 6: Valentina Kozlova’s Dance Conservatory New York's The Nutcracker, Symphony Space, Peter J. Sharp Theatre, 2537 Broadway, (212)245-0500, www.symphonyspace.org. VKDCNY\'s \"The Nutcracker\" is a classical holiday tale of a Nutcracker and a Mouse King come to life as Clara journeys with her beloved Nutcracker Prince to an enchanting Land of Snow with dancing snowflakes…and to the Land of Sweets, greeted by the Sugar Plum Fairy. The Nutcracker is a charming story for children and adults alike. The stunning dancers of Valentina Kozlova\'s Dance Conservatory bring this story to life in a lovely two act ballet. 3pm and 7pm. 
  • December 7: Winter Family Day, The Morgan Library and Museum, 225 Madison Ave., (212)685-0008, www.themorgan.org. This year's annual Winter Family Day celebrates the Morgan's unique collection of medieval illuminated images and Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol. Scrooge, Cratchit, and the Ghost of Christmas Present sweep families into a whirlwind of exuberant fun. Appropriate for ages 3–12. 2–5pm. 

December 8-14

 
  • December 9: Annual Holiday Lighting Of The Madison Square Park Christmas Tree, Madison Square Park, Between Fifth and Madison Avenues from 23rd Street to 26th Street, www.madisonsquarepark.org. Come for a variety of seasonal activities including horticulture instruction with gardener Steph, and a Reading Rangers story time. Holiday treats will be provided by Hill Country Chicken and SD26 Restaurant and Wine Bar. 3:30-5:30pm.
  • December 10: Parent Tour of Ready, Set, Go Preschoolers Program, Rutgers Community Programs, 236 W. 73rd St., (212)877-8227, ext. 212, www.rutgerschurch.org. Parents are invited to tour the program for children ages 2.9-5 years. See the great spaces children in our program learn and grow in, and find out why a play-based program like ours benefits young children. RSVP to Jennifer Moore at jmoore@rutgerschurch.org. 9am.
  • December 12: Secular Chanuka Service and Celebration, The City Congregation for Humanistic Judaism, Church of St. Joseph's, 371 Sixth Ave., (212)213-1002, www.citycongregation.org. Cultural Jewish Chanuka service and celebration with holiday music, menorah lighting, and dinner. A Trivia game program follows and childcare is available. All welcome. Reservation required online or by phone by December 11. 6:30pm. 
  • December 12 and 14: El Gato con Botas, El Teatro at El Museo del Barrio, 1230 Fifth Ave., (212)279-4200, www.gothamchamberopera.org. Gotham Chamber Opera revives El gato con botas (Puss in Boots), Xavier Montsalvatge's take on the classic story of a mangy feline with magical talents. Can Puss win the princess's hand for his master? Can he outwit the evil ogre? Don't miss the amazing Bunraku puppetry that turns a fairy tale into an evening of tuneful,magical, exquisite and eye-opening opera. 7pm each day. 
  • December 13: A Season of Lights: A Winter Workshop, Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, 1047 Amsterdam Ave., (212)316-7540, www.stjohndivine.org. Children and their families brighten up their winter with a reading of Nancy Luenn’s Celebrations of Light. After exploring the many sources of light in the Cathedral, families are invited to roll beeswax candles; cut Chinese and Taiwanese paper lanterns; and sculpt clay candelabras inspired by Hindu floating lamps, Jewish menorahs, and Kwanzaa kinaras. For ages 4 and older. 10am-noon.
  • December 13: Winter Wonderland Workshop, Battery Park City Parks Conservancy, 6 River Terrace, Battery Park City, (212)267-9700, www.bpcparks.org. Make nature-inpsired ornaments, snowflake garlands, and hand-printed wrapping paper. Fee includes supplies and materials. Appropriate for ages 5 and older. 11am-1pm.
  • December 13: Holiday on the Hudson, West Harlem Piers Park, West 125th Street, 311, www.nycgovparks.org. Families are invited to attend its holiday tree lighting party. Celebrate the season with the local community, enjoy live music, make holiday decorations and more. 5-6pm. 
  • December 14: Storybooks and Art, The Jewish Museum, 1109 Fifth Ave., (212)423-3337, www.thejewishmuseum.org. Head to the exhibition galleries to listen to a story from the library of children’s book favorites, then participate in an art activity in the Museum’s galleries. Appropriate for ages 3-7. 1:30pm.

December 15-21

  • December 15: Not the Messiah (He’s a Very Naughty Boy), Carnegie Hall, 881 7th Ave., (212)247-7800, www.collegiatechorale.org/performances/not-the-messiah. The Collegiate Chorale presents the New York City premiere of Eric Idle and John Du Prez’s comic oratorio based on Monty Python’s movie The Life of Brian. Appropriate for tweens to adults. 8pm. 
  • December 17: Sesame Street: Shalom Sesame-Chanukah: The Missing Menorah, Sony Wonder Technology Lab, 550 Madison Ave., (212)833-8100, www.sonywondertechlab.com. It's time to celebrate Chanukah in Israel. Grover's bringing the latkes and all is well until Anneliese gets caught in a game of tag with a chicken and loses her special menorah right before Chanukah is about to begin! Can her friends help her find the missing menorah in time? 11am. 
  • December 18-30: A Christmas Carol The Musical, The Players Theatre, 115 MacDougal St., www.scroogeinthevillage.com. Don’t miss this lively musical adaptation of the classic Dickens tale by Michael Sgouros and Brenda Bell is a seasonal favorite with New York families. Follow along with Ebenezer Scrooge as he is visited by four ghosts. Will Scrooge catch the holiday spirit and save himself in the process? 7pm. 
  • December 20: Junie B. in Jingle Bells, Batman Smells!, Tribeca Performing Arts Center, 199 Chambers St., (212)220-1460, www.tribecapac.org/family. It’s holiday time, and everyone’s favorite first grader is back to celebrate! How is Junie B. supposed to enjoy anything when she has drawn the name of her arch nemesis, Tattletale May, for her Secret Santa Gift? Enjoy holiday fun with a lesson about giving. Appropriate for ages 4 and older. 1:30pm.  
  • December 20: Coca Cola Winter Wonderland, Apollo Theater, 253 W. 125th St., www.apollotheater.org. Come see the twinkling lights of the famous marquee and bring the family and have your picture taken with Santa while enjoying a variety of holiday-themed activities and performances that are free and open to the public. 2-6pm. 
  • December 20: Winter Holiday: Cupcake Kids Workshop, Taste Buds Kitchen, 109 W. 27th St., (212)242-2248, www.tastebudskitchen.com. Vanilla, rainbow, and confetti, oh my! Each class invites kids to whip up a new cupcake recipe from scratch or start with a fresh cupcake and learn fun and easy decorating techniques. This is a fun family class so register with your siblings, cousins and friends. Sign up online. 
  • December 21: Swamp Juice Shadow Puppet Workshop, Barrow Street Theatre, 27 Barrow St., (212)243-6565, www.barrowstreettheatre.com. Puppet workshops led by Swamp Juice creator Jeff Achtem, the internationally acclaimed puppet innovator from Melbourne Australia leads 50-minute workshops that integrate craft and performance. Kids create their own individual character made from everyday household junk. Parents are encouraged to either observe or create their own character. Best for ages 7 to 16. 11am. 
  • December 21: Music, Comedy, & the Urgency of Justice!, Aesthetic Realism Foundation, 141 Greene St., (212)777-4490, www.aestheticrealism.org. Through songs, humor, drama, the Company presents what men and women most hope to know: the beauty, practicality, and true selfishness of ethics! There will be Eli Siegel’s 1964 lecture “Humor as Beauty in a One-Act Play,” about George Kelly’s wild comedy The Flattering Word—with the entire play performed. 2:30pm. 

December 22-31

  • December 24: Thomas and Friends: Santa's Little Engine, Sony Wonder Technology Lab, 550 Madison Ave., (212)833-8100, www.sonywondertechlab.com. Thomas and his friends light up the tracks for a festive celebration. He discovers that being safe is the best route to holiday fun. Percy makes everyone's Christmas wishes come true and Gordon discovers his friends' special skills are the gifts that keep on giving all year long. 11am
  • December 25: Klez for Kids, Museum at Eldridge Street, 12 Eldridge St., (212)219-0302, www.eldridgestreet.org. The Museum presents this joyous family concert where kids and families come together to sing, dance, learn Yiddish and re-enact a shtetl wedding. Clarinetist Greg Wall’s Klezmerfest leads the audience on a musical tour of Eastern European Jewish culture. 10am-3pm. 
  • December 25: Oran Etkin's Timbalooloo, The Jewish Museum, 1109 Fifth Ave., (212)423-3337, www.thejewishmuseum.org. Make your way to the Scheuer Auditorium for the music of Africa to klezmer and jazz, Oran Etkin’s performances weave global melodies and rhythms into a gumbo of goodness. Enjoy tunes from Wake Up Clarinet! and other surprising treats in this musical world party. 11:30am-12:30pm. 
  • December 26: Watson Adventures’ Grand Central Scramble Family Scavenger Hunt, Grand Central Terminal, 100 E. 42nd St., (877)946-4868, www.watsonadventures.com/public/event/grand-central-scramble-family-scavenger-hunt/. Join Watson Adventures on a unique scavenger hunt for adults and kids 7 and older. Kids and adults work together to uncover the secrets of this amazing train station. To win, you’ll have to go nuts in the Whispering Gallery, learn a secret about the stars, find TV celebs in the food court, and more. Kids must be accompanied by an adult, and vice versa. Advance purchase is required via the website. 10:30am. 
  • December 27: Kwanzaa 2014: Our Brightest Lights, American Museum of Natural History, 200 Central Park West, (212)769-5100, www.amnh.org/calendar/kwanzaa. Come enjoy this dynamic, family-friendly program that will get your toes tapping and includes Master drummer Sanga of the Valley, the Eagle Academy for Young Men of Harlem, an exciting film screening, introduced by a special representative of the United Nations. Noon-3pm. 
  • December 27 and 28: Catskill Puppet Theatre: Holiday Performance, Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway,(212)864-5400, www.symphonyspace.org. Revel in the display of original music, and large, animated rod puppets, featuring Brother Sun, a huge, talking sun face seven feet in diameter; Mother Nature, a grizzled old wise-woman covered with vines; and Farmer McGreedy, a crafty old hillbilly. Just to name a few. 11am both days. 
  • December 31: New Year's Eve Concert for Peace, Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine, 1047 Amsterdam Ave., (212)843-9243, www.stjohndivine.org. Ring in the New Year with a different kind of joy this year. This signature Cathedral event, gathers together old friends and new. The music, the candles, and the spirit of peace send audiences out into the chill January night with renewed hope for the world we share. 7-9pm. 

All Month Long

  • Every Tuesday and Thursday: Tea, Talk & Tours, World Class Learning Academy, 44 E. 2nd St., (212)600-2010, infowcla@wclschools.org, www.wclschools.org. 9:30-11am and 1-2:30pm. 
  • Sundays Through December 21: Interactive Fairytale Hour, Pine Street School, 64 Fulton St., www.creativeplayforkids.com. Red Carpet Kids takes story time in three-dimensional! Experience your favorite fairy tales and kids’ myths with professional actors and actresses and see stories played out in a fun, interactive tale that will mesmerize kids. Coffee and snacks served. 10-11am.
  • Every Day Through December 24: Macy’s Santaland, Macy's Herald Square, 151 W. 34th St., www.macys.com. Head up to the eighth floor to find 13,000-square-feet of holiday cheer, igloos, an enchanted forest, ice-skating penguins, a chorus of teddy bears, and of course, Santa Claus! Families can expect to wait 90 minutes or more on a weekend afternoon to visit. 9am.
  • Every Day Through December 30: The Three Bears Holiday Bash, Central Park Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre, West 79th Street, www.cityparksfoundation.org. This seasonal offering of song, dance and, of course, puppetry mixes Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Christmas themes in an overall take on Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Showtimes are subject to change. Appropriate for ages 3-9.
  • Every Day in December: Holiday Lights and Movie Sites, The Shops at Columbus Circle, 10 Columbus Circle, (212)913-9780, www.onlocationtours.com/tour/holiday. Visit the sites where famous holiday movies were filmed while making stops at some of the season's most festive New York City locations. Guests on the tour can also enjoy exclusive offers from The Shops at Columbus Circle, and The Restaurant and Bar Collection with a VIP Shopping Pass. 5:30pm and 7pm. 
  • Every Day in December: Cirque Zíva, The New Victory Theater, 209 W. 42nd St., www.newvictory.org. Captivating acts of ancient artistry, dazzling showmanship and spectacular costumes are on display in Cirque Zíva. Ensemble performances like acrobatic hoop diving and the whizzing diabolo are punctuated by awe-inspiring solo acts of unparalleled precision. Through January 4. Special Needs performance dates available. Times Vary.
  • Every Day in December: New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, (212) 873-3400, www.nyhistory.org. This dynamic display appeals to all age groups, showcasing the beauty and allure of toys dating from approximately 1850 to 1940. This collection contains a comprehensive representation of the work of every major toy manufacturer that set the standard for the Golden Age of European toy manufacturing, including the prized German firms of Märklin, Bing, Ernst Plank and Carette. Through February 22. During museum hours.