Best NYC Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremonies


It's getting to be holiday-season ritual time again here in New York City, starting this weekend with whatever you usually do on Thanksgiving. Eat at home? Eat in a restaurant? Shop? Pointedly NOT shop? Whatever your plans, we hope they come off without a hitch. Anyway, immediately after Thanksgiving all of the city's Christmas traditions kick in, including countless tree-lighting ceremonies of varying degrees of fanfare and ancillary entertainment. And though you can certainly go see all of the trees during much, much less crowded times (aka ANY time other than during the ceremony), there is always something exciting and warm about these communal activities. Anyway, here's a quick rundown of when the city's best tree-lightning ceremonies take place this year…

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Great Reason to Go Back to the New Whitney: 60 Years of Frank Stella, A Retrospective!

"The Blanket" - Sculpture by Frank Stella: A Retrospective at the Whitney Museum in NYC.

First Special Exhibition at the Whitney Museum's New Location

When the Whitney Museum of American Art moved from its long-time Madison Avenue home downtown to the Meatpacking District last spring, the people came in droves, with locals, tourists, art and architecture critics all calling the Whitney's new space a spectacular success. And it is! With its bright, airy galleries, excellent traffic flow, and, especially, its three stories of interconnected terraces which not only are pleasant places to perch, but also really help with easing congestion inside, the new Whitney instantly became my personal favorite NYC museum. Ah, but you can't coast on your "newness" forever, and so the Whitney launched the first special exhibition in its new home at the end of October, a career-long look with serious crowd-pleaser potential, Frank Stella: A Retrospective.

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Free NYC Ice Skating and Holiday Shopping is back at Bryant Park Winter Village

Ice skating in NYC at the Bryant Park ice skating rink.

The Bryant Park Winter Village Has Opened

Eager for the season to start, Bryant Park's now-traditional Winter Village–the centerpiece of which is the nicely-sized skating rink–went up this year the day BEFORE Halloween, but now that it's actually been chilly for a couple of days in a row, our thoughts turn to gliding around the ice for… for at least long enough to earn a hot chocolate or two. I went to check out this season's iteration of the decade-old holiday ritual last Saturday, a perfect day for skating with sunny skies but a nip in the air, and found festive crowds on the ice, wandering in and out of the temporary gift shops, and eating and drinking from one of the many food booths. Here's the full scoop about the Bryant Park Skating Rink and Holiday Shops 2015…

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Greater New York Takes Over MoMA PS1


Grand museum retrospectives of a single artist's work are invaluable for those of us who like to take a deep dive into a career and, if the artist in question is a brand name, ensure instant blockbuster status for the institution. It's what NYC's great museums (as opposed to our great galleries) really do best. Except when they offer grand group shows, offering in a single afternoon an overview of "the art world now" (however that's defined), such as the Whitney Biennial, the New Museum Triennial, and, recently opened at MoMA PS1, Greater NY. These shows take years of planning and take full advantage of a museum's curatorial muscle to gather together a wide range of artists and works from a vast array of public and private collections. We are fortunate to live in a city with so much cultural might, and Greater NY at PS1 is a terrific example of exactly that.

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Mekelburg’s: The Secret Brooklyn Restaurant Everyone Is Talking About


What does it mean that one of my favorite new restaurants of the year will almost certainly be an order-at-the-bar spot in the back of a gourmet grocery store in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn? NYC food trends aside, it most importantly means that I'm unbelievably grateful that so many talented chefs and restauranteurs are going all in with their energy, time, and talent in the fast-casual category. Seriously, there is so much really good, interesting food being served in so many different neighborhoods these days, at prices that I can actually afford, that it makes going on eating adventures such a pleasure. Anyway, the restaurant in question here is Mekelburg's, and, among other delights, and even in a year stuffed with great sandwiches, their Porchetta version is a true masterpiece.

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New Exhibition Shows Why No One Does Ancient Egypt Like The Met


The world's centuries-long fascination with the culture, treasure, and rituals of ancient Egypt shows no sign of abating, and no institution in New York City has more practice and does a better job at putting on a good show of these strange, beautiful, and wonderful works than the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In addition to hosting the NYC leg of the massive King Tut tour in 1978–starring that 240-pound coffin made of solid gold and ushering in the era of the museum blockbuster show–the Met's permanent collection of ancient Egyptian art holds some 26,000 pieces, most of which can be seen any day of the week in the museum's 39-room wing devoted to this remarkable era in history. Basically, the folks at the Met know their Egyptian antiquities, so when they announce a brand-new exhibition of a largely unexamined era highlighted by many objects never before seen in the United States, well… seems like a no-brainer to check it out.

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Doughnut Project Brings Classic & Crazy Flavors Downtown


The list of first-rate doughnut shops in New York City seems to get longer by the month, with newer places like Underwest Donuts (the one in the car wash) and Gossip Coffee (in Astoria) and Dun-Well (vegan, in Bushwick, and amazing) joining long-time favorites such as Peter Pan (possibly the absolute best), Dough, Orwasher's, and Doughnut Plant. Pies-n-Thighs, by the way, in addition to their excellent fried chicken, also bakes up terrific sourdough donuts. Anyway, we now have a new doughnut destination, on quiet Morton Street in the West Village, featuring an ever-changing menu of both classic and crazy varieties, and it's called The Doughnut Project.  

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Pixar, Posters & More At Cooper Hewitt


The Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum reopened last February after a six-year, top-to-bottom renovation and rethinking of the space inside the stately Andrew Carnegie mansion on Fifth Avenue, and the result of all of that work was an exciting, reinvigorated institution that had successfully made the leap into crowd-pleasing interactivity without getting too gimmicky, nor undermining the grandeur of the place. But you can only host a grand reopening once, and so, some eight months later, there are three new exhibitions in the Copper Hewitt's main galleries, one of which stars one of the most beloved brands on the planet, Pixar. Will the new shows lure in and satisfy the fall-/holiday-season crowds? I went last week for the first time since the reopening to find out.

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Thanksgiving In NYC: The Best Places To Eat


It's that time of year again, when you have to make a decision. Do you want to host a Thanksgiving feast, with friends, family, loved ones, or some combination therein? Sounds nice, right? But also lots of work. Or maybe you and a significant other have been invited somewhere that, frankly, you'd really rather not go? Not for five hours or however long the chit chat and drinking and eating and football will last. Ah, but remember, there's always that third option, getting served Thanksgiving dinner in any number of NYC's great restaurants. Here's a quick look at few that sound most appealing… 

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Cider Week NYC, Nov 6-15 | Things To Do, Places To Go


In a season filled to overflowing with first-rate food and drink festivals (Grub Street, Craft Beer, Oyster, Pickle Day, Dumpling Day, and the huge New York City Food and Wine Festival) maybe our favorite one of all kicks off next month, the ten-day celebration of all things fermented and apple-y, Cider Week 2015. Beginning on November 6 and with special events, tastings, and pop-ups at restaurants and bars all over the city, NYC Cider Week 2015 looks to be bigger and, so, presumably better than ever. Here's a quick overview of a few of the most intriguing goings-on.

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