Off-Beat NYC Holiday Events Happening This Week!

Christmas tree

There are, of course, dozens of holiday celebrations all over town this month, from the somewhat pricey but undeniably lovely (the Family Hanukkah Party at the Jewish Museum on December 14; Paul Winter’s Winter Solstice Celebration at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine on December 15 – 17), to the totally free and still undeniably lovely (the Washington Square Park Christmas Tree Lighting and Sing-Along on December 7; the World’s Largest Hanukkah Menorah Lighting on December 20 across from the Plaza Hotel). Here, though, are three somewhat off-beat NYC holiday traditions that have given us a serious injection of seasonal joy and Christmas spirit over the years, and so we thought you might enjoy them, too.  

girl outside

Unsilent Night: December 17, 7:00 p.m., Washington Square Park  

Phil Kline has been hosting the annual Unsilent Night parade / performance for nearly two decades now, and it just keeps getting bigger without losing any of its grassroots appeal. Here’s how it works: you show up at Washington Square Park, under the arch, at around 6:30 – 6:45 with some sort of boombox or loud-as-you-can-get MP3 player. Kline will be handing out cassettes and CDs, but you can also download the MP3 of Kline’s 45-minute original composition prior to the event. When everybody’s ready–and there are usually several hundred people participating–Kline gives the signal, everyone hits “play”, and proceeds to promenade around the Park and through the Village, ending up by the Tompkins Square Park Christmas tree. What does it sound like, the Unsilent Night piece? In the words of Time Out New York: “Kline’s luminous, shimmering wash of bell tones is one of the loveliest communal new-music experiences you’ll ever encounter, and it’s never the same twice.” Highly recommended. More info here.  

Rockefeller Center

TubaChristmas: December 11, 3:30 p.m., the Rink at Rockefeller Center 

Since 1974, Harvey Philips’ TubaChristmas has been performed at Manhattan Christmas ground zero, the Rockefeller Center skating rink, below the spectacular holiday tree. Last year more than 500 (!) tuba players (and tuba-like instrument players) showed up to perform the lively holiday arrangements by Alec Wilder, creating one of our favorite holiday spectacles, for both the eyes and ears. Seriously: how often do you get see hundreds of ANY sort of musicians playing as one, much less tuba and euphonium players. If you’ve been looking for an excuse to see the tree, and the Fifth Avenue windows, and all the rest, this Sunday could be the day to take the plunge. More info here.   


SantaCon: December 10, 11:00 a.m., Multiple, Still-Secret Locations to be Announced the Night Before!

Finally, for a more, shall we say, debauched take on getting into the Christmas spirit, there’s always the brash and boozy SantaCon, in which hundreds of average New Yorkers get decked out in full Santa gear–there are always some reindeer and elves, too, as well as zombie Santas, sexy Santas, and, we imagine this year, 1% Santas–and go carousing through the city (and its bars) spreading holiday cheer. SantaCon isn’t for everyone (it probably helps if you enjoyed Greek sorts of things in college), but we do know that the people who love SantaCon always have a blast. Image by Valerio Bruscianelli. More info here.   


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