Best Things to Do with NYC Kids: January GoList
While January is traditionally a mellow time, especially compared to the nonstop action of the holiday season, there's no way you can hibernate all month—not with kids around. Luckily, you don't have to. Our January GOList is packed with annual favorites like the 38th annual Three Kings Day Parade in East Harlem, Central Park's annual Winter Jam sports fest and Beam Center's hands-on Inventgenuity Festival, plus some brand-new, exceptional-sounding shows and performances for kids.
As always, if an event piques your interest, be sure to click through to our listing for all the details, including address and time. And keep in mind: In NYC, really cool things to do with kids often get booked up quickly. So buy your tickets ASAP or, in the case of FREE events, arrive as early as possible to try to beat the crowds.
So get out your calendar: Here are the top 12 things to do with kids in New York City this January, five of which are FREE.
Clifford's Big Red Party at the Scholastic Store – Soho
Saturday, January 3
The Scholastic Store isn't just saying goodbye to 2014—it's saying goodbye, period! Come January 11, the kid-lit spot is closing for good so this is one of the last times you'll be able to hit the shop's Imagination Clubhouse, the Magic School Bus, the Creativity Corner and that beloved Clifford coin-operated ride. The big red dog himself is hosting this final bash featuring crafts, magic tricks, face painting, balloon twisting, a reading of Clifford Visits the Zoo and photo ops. It's sure to be a bittersweet experience. FREE
Community Cube at the Seaport – South Street Seaport
Monday, January 5-Sunday, February 1
Throughout the month, a 250-person heated tent will host a wide variety of events for all ages, from screenings to dance parties to hands-on workshops. On Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, downtown community org FiDi Families is curating all of the little-kid activities, including interactive concerts by Music for Aardvarks (Monday, January 12 and Tuesday, January 27) and screenings of Frozen (Monday, January 5). However, it's worth looking at the "grown-up" programming (dubbed Sugarcube), too, since some of those offerings are good for school-age children, like screenings of Enchanted (Thursday, January 8), Little Fugitive (Thursday, January 15) and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II - The Secret of the Ooze (Thursday, January 29), and the interactive Paint the Music party (Saturday, January 17). All events are FREE
Three Kings Day Parade – East Harlem
Tuesday, January 6
While there are many ways to mark Three Kings Day (a.k.a. the "12th day of Christmas") in NYC, El Museo del Barrio's 38th annual procession is the biggest celebration. Watch as lots of local school kids march by alongside colorful floats, festive bands, live camels and the massive Three Wise Men puppets, which lead the procession and stay on display in the museum after the event. My daughter and I have been many times and it's fun though modest. Find a spot at the start on 106th Street and Lexington Avenue (there's always room), watch for 15 minutes or so and then continue celebrating with a great Mexican meal at nearby El Paso Restaurante. Or go to the end at La Marqueta where there will be live music and delicious eats from local vendors. FREE
Stella, Queen of the Snow – Upper West Side
Saturday, January 10
Marie-Louise Gay's popular picture book comes to life at Symphony Space thanks to the eye-popping creativity of the Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia. Stella and her little brother Sam's wintry adventure features snowballs, snow angels and a snow-topped forest, all conjured by whimsical puppets, striking scenic effects and moving original music. Bonus: Mommy Poppins is sponsoring the 2pm performance so our readers enjoy an adorable marshmallow snowman activity before the show and save 35% on tickets with the discount code MPJK. $26 for adults, $16 for children
IMpossible IZZpossible – Fort Greene
Friday, January 16-Saturday, January 17
Head to the Brooklyn Academy of Music to check out this multicultural dance mash up from Philadelphia's Illstyle & Peace Productions. The troupe celebrates the African roots of hip-hop dance by showcasing a wide range of styles, from tap to step to modern. Thanks to its high energy routines and brief one-hour running time, IMpossible IZZpossible is a great choice for all ages, though the recommended range is 6 to 11. $12
The Fresh Beat Band Live – Midtown West
Saturday, January 17
Even though their Nickelodeon show went off the air in 2013, the Fresh Beat Band—a.k.a. Kiki, Marina, Twist and Shout—are still big-name celebrities to the preschool set. At a pair of tot-friendly pop concerts at the Theater at Madison Square Garden, the group will perform its greatest hits including "Bananas," "Here We Go" and a brand-new version of "Great Day," plus classic covers that should please parents, like the Bangles' "Walk Like An Egyptian." $40-$65
Wild Kratts Live – Greenwich Village
Saturday, January 17-Monday, January 19
Calling all preschoolers who love animals (a.k.a. all of them): Catch Martin and Chris Kratt, real-life brothers and stars of the PBS Kids nature series Wild Kratts, onstage at the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts. Although there are no live animals in this stage adaptation of the show, there's plenty of audience interaction as the Kratts ask tots to help them tap into the powers of various creatures. With video, music and amazing animal facts, it's the perfect show for the under-six set. $32-$75
Everything About a Family (Almost) – Chelsea
Saturday, January 17-Sunday, February 15
Out of all the shows my daughter and I see together, the ones at TADA! Youth Theater make the biggest impression on her, because she loves watching her peers on stage. Local youngsters ages 8 to 18 perform in original musicals that are quirky and thought-provoking. The company's latest revue, Everything About a Family (Almost), was actually conceived and written by former members of TADA!'s Resident Youth Ensemble. This updated revival is set on a cruise ship and examines how kooky, fun and irreplaceable relatives can be. $25 for adults, $15 for children
Lionboy – Midtown West
Friday, January 23-Sunday, February 1
A dystopian fantasy about climate change and the corporatization of our global culture aimed at families? You'd only find a show like this at the New Victory Theater. Based on Zizou Corder's bestselling young adult trilogy, Lionboy was adapted by the award-winning London troupe Complicite and chronicles the cross-continental saga of a boy who sets out to save his kidnapped scientist parents. Happily, he's got a secret weapon: He can communicate with cats. Geared to children ages 8 and up, Lionboy is a rousing adventure that gets kids thinking about complex real-life issues. $15-$38
Winter Jam – Upper East Side
Saturday, January 24
Regardless of what Mother Nature brings, it's going to be a major snow day at the Central Park Bandshell. The Parks Department's annual winter sports festival features fresh blown snow courtesy of Gore Mountain so families can try cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and snowboarding, or just frolic in the fluffy white stuff. All equipment is provided or you can bring your own. Signed waivers are required for certain activities. This one gets seriously crowded to arrive as early as possible. FREE
Beam Center's Inventgenuity Festival – Cobble Hill
Saturday, January 24-Sunday, January 25
We first heard about Beam Center's annual hands-on fest in 2011 and many Mommy Poppins families go every year. The 2015 edition will be the last one in Cobble Hill since Beam Center is moving to a brand-new, state-of-the-art studio in the Columbia Street Waterfront District in February. The Inventgenuity Fest is a great way to get a sense of all the program has to offer kids, with a wide range of collaborative and individual low- and high-tech projects, all overseen by professional educators and artists. You must register for the festival in advance and then sign up for specific workshops. Drop-ins most likely cannot be accommodated. Free admission but there is a $8.25 materials fee for each workshop
Thunderbird American Indian Dancers Annual Dance Concert and Pow-wow – East Village
Friday-Sunday: January 30-Sunday, February 8
A beloved wintertime tradition: At the Theater for the New City's 40th annual cultural event, families can enjoy dances, stories and music from the Iroquois and Native Peoples of the Northeast, Southwest and Great Plains regions. All proceeds benefit the Native American scholarship fund, and on weekend matinees, kids get in for just a buck and are invited to interact with the performers during parts of the show. $10, $1 for children under age 12 for matinees only
NYC always has so many incredible things going on that it's difficult to choose. So here are 10 more cool events that are worth considering for your January calendar. Be sure to sign up for our FREE newsletters so you can get our weekend picks delivered to your inbox every Thursday morning.
Watch (or if you're brave, join!) the Coney Island Polar Bear Club members on their annual New Year's Day swim in the Atlantic Ocean. FREE
Take train-obsessed tots to the New York Botanical Garden to see the mini musical All Aboard with Thomas & Friends, which plays throughout the month.
Join the Urban Park Rangers in Queens' Cunningham Park to gaze at the Quadrantids meteor shower on Sunday, January 4. FREE
Scour the skies for eagles in Inwood Hill Park on Saturday, January 10. FREE
Get up close and personal with bugs, reptiles and slime at the Brooklyn Children's Museum's annual Icky Fest on Saturday, January 10-Sunday, January 11.
Enjoy Songs for Unusual Creatures at Carnegie Hall as images of blobfish, elephant shrews and other bizarre beasts frolic to kooky tunes by author/composer Michael Hearst on Sunday, January 11. FREE
Try to grab an artistic holiday treat to take home as the New York Hall of Science dismantles its massive GingerBread Lane display on Sunday, January 11.
Check out panels, films, workshops and discussion about African-American comics at the third annual Black Comic Book Festival at the Schomburg Center on Saturday, January 17. FREE
Join eighth graders from the Manhattan Country School as they march for peace in honor of Martin Luther King Day on Monday, January 19. FREE
Celebrate Oshogatsu, a.k.a. the Japanese New Year, at Japan Society's annual fete on Sunday, January 25.
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- New Victory Theater 2014-15 Season Highlights: The Best Family Shows for NYC Kids