Usually, when the chill hits the air and the holidays are over, New Yorkers are planning ways to leave the city and escape the cold. Call me crazy, but I am one of those people who don’t mind the city during the winter months. Granted, the snow can be annoying, and yes, the city loses a bit of its joyful luster once all the holiday festivities are over, but there are some pretty fun things that happen around the city to make up for the short, cold days till spring.
Here are my five favorite New York City winter events that I look forward to every year.
1. Midnight Run in Central Park. OK, technically this still falls under “holiday,” but it’s pretty much the event that ends all the holiday events for the year. It started out as this little five-kilometer thing that a few people did for fun in Central Park, while all the overly ambitious folks were over at Times Square, but now it’s turned into a huge party. You have to purchase tickets to run the event, but a lot of times, I just like to go to watch and cheer on the runners, especially since they are often wearing fun costumes and there is music to keep the energy high. It’s one of the most fun—if not healthiest—ways to welcome in the New Year.
Winter is long, but not too bad in NYC
2. NYC Restaurant Week®. Every year, twice a year, we have the pleasure of eating in New York City’s best restaurants at a very discounted price. In winter, Restaurant Week takes place around mid-January. Participating restaurants offer three-course meals and guests get to experience eateries that can easily break the bank on any normal day, which means reservations are a must!
3. The Lunar New Year Festival. On any given day of the year, a visit to Chinatown is a wonderful cultural experience. But the Lunar New Year Festival and parade is a must-see. It takes place every year in February and is kicked off by a fireworks ceremony and cultural festival which take place on the first day of the lunar calendar. The streets fill with color and sounds that celebrate the Chinese heritage and community in New York City. There are performances and tons of food, and it’s perfect for kids of all ages.
4. New York International Children’s Film Festival. Over the period of four weekends, children who love films and their parents get to enjoy a festival dedicated exclusively to them. Over 100 films from 35 different countries are shown and—though the films target a younger audience—I have to admit I often find myself enjoying them just as much as my kids do! (The more adult-oriented New York Film Festival doesn’t happen till the fall of every year.)
Viewfinder Tip: Though Valentine’s Day isn’t huge for everyone, there are plenty of ways to celebrate romance in New York City during winter.
5. The Orchid Show. It sounds like a spring event, but it’s actually what I consider to be a winter event that reminds us that spring is just around the corner! This event is the first glimpse of the beauty that overtakes the city as the weather warms up. A day’s visit is filled with opportunities to enjoy performances, orchid displays, hands-on demonstrations, and more. Plus, a visit to the New York Botanical Garden, where the event is hosted, is a treat any time of year.
Want more? There are ballet performances, theatrical shows, museum exhibits, and—of course—the NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade to keep you occupied.
So when it comes to winter in New York City, I say come over and enjoy it. You might even find yourself too busy to notice the cold.
What are your favorite winter events?