Unsilent Night 2013: The NYC Holiday Tradition Continues!

The crowds gathering at Washington Square to participate in Unsilent Night NYC

Each December for the past two decades, composer Phil Kline has led a march of merrymakers from the West Village to the East, in what has become one of my own personal favorite holiday traditions, Unsilent Night.

Now in its 22nd year here in New York City, Unsilent Night returns in all of its family-friendly musical magic this Saturday, December 13, starting at 6:45 p.m. in Washington Square Park. I've gone many times over the years (in 20092011, and 2012), and can tell you that Unsilent Night is loads of fun, lovely to see and hear, and unlike any other holiday event in town.    

The crowds gathering around Washington Square Park's Christmas Tree to begin the Unsilent Night tradition

The History of This Holiday Tradition

Here's how Unsilent Night works. In 1992, Kline composed a multi-track electronic piece, gathered together a few dozen friends with boomboxes, handed out one of four different cassettes to each person, and told them all to push "play" at the same time. Then (as now) the "musicians" promenaded through the Village streets like a wandering choir, the lilting, joyous piece eliciting smiles and holiday cheer all along the route. There are marches using his composition in more than 50 cities around the world. And so it began. 

Image of some children who are participating in Unsilent night this year with their parents

How To Participate in Unsilent Night

Today, most people show up at Washington Square Christmas Tree with some sort of mp3 player and Unsilent Night preloaded, ready to go. Kline still arrives with CDs and even some cassettes to hand out to all of the old-school folks in attendance, but either way, the idea's the same. Everyone hits play simultaneously, the four parts of the piece bouncing off each other and the general cityscape, and everyone heads over to Tompkins Square Park. Forty-five minutes later, the composition, and the event, are done. Very nice. And then: it's time to eat dinner (or dessert) in one of the neighborhood's many great restaurants! I recommend taking the short trip down to Contra Restaurant, if you haven't checked them out yet!

Women smiling and carrying a boombox on her shoulder playing the Kline composition for Unsilent Night

More Information: Unsilent Night 2013

Unsilent Night 2013 happens this Saturday, December 14. Meet under the arch in Washington Square Park at 6:45 p.m. You are welcome to just march along and listen, but the more people who participate with some sort of amplifying device, the fuller the sound. 

At the end of the Unsilent night march, crowds end up at the Tompkins Square Park Christmas Tree

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