Christmas Pageant @ Church of the Heavenly Rest
For a traditional Christmas Eve that still has some “only in NYC” flare, head uptown to the Church of the Heavenly Rest’s Christmas Pageant. It’s the 50th edition of this beloved annual tradition, a retelling of the Nativity story in scripture and carols with all the roles played by local children. The show features 100 kiddos between the ages of five and 14, as well as a handful of live animals including sheep, a llama, and a donkey named Georgio.
Tuesday, December 24th, 3:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. // Church of the Heavenly Rest, 1085 Fifth Ave., Manhattan // Free
Misfit Xmas @ House of Yes
If you’re looking to spend Christmas Eve getting a little wild, Misfit Xmas will keep you dancing into the wee hours. There will be tunes by Boston Chery and HardCandy, plus all the fun of any House of Yes dance party: glitter everywhere, crazy outfits, and consenticorns keeping everyone’s rowdy behavior in check. Costume suggestions run the gamut from ugly sweaters to nativity attire.
Tuesday, December 24th, 10 p.m. // House of Yes, 2 Wyckoff Ave., Brooklyn // Free with RSVP
Yemen Blues @ Joe’s Pub
Get multicultural at Yemen Blues, a celebration of both Christmas and Hanukkah through a Yemenite lens. The world-music fusion band, fronted by Ravid Kahalani, blends Yemenite Jewish and ancient Arabic music with Afro-funk. They’ll be joined by a bevy of special guests, including saxophonist Tim Ries, bassist and oud player Shanir Blumenkranz, jazz bassist Omer Avital, saxophonist Asaf Yuria, pianist Eden Ladin, and more.
Tuesday, December 24th, 7 p.m. // Joe’s Pub, 425 Lafayette St., Manhattan // Tickets: $30
Klez for Kids @ Museum at Eldridge Street
If you're looking for fun Jewish-oriented activities on the 25th, bring the whole mishpucha to Klez for Kids. This joyous annual family-friendly concert stars clarinetist Greg Wall and his band Klezmerfest! in a celebration of Yiddish music that’s designed to get everyone singing and dancing along. Following the tunes, there will be a menorah lighting featuring channukiot from the museum’s current exhibit: Lighting the World: Menorahs from Around the Globe.
Wednesday, December 25th, 12 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. // Museum at Eldridge Street, 12 Eldridge St., Manhattan // Tickets: $14
Christmas with Louis Armstrong @ Film Forum
For a different kind of musical holiday, check out Film Forum’s third-annual Christmas Day tribute to jazz greats: Christmas with Louis Armstrong. The unique program is hosted by Wall Street Journal jazz writer Will Friedwald, and features shorts and selections from across Satchmo’s career, including his first-ever appearance in a Betty Boop cartoon, movie cameos, career highlights, and duets with everyone from Frank Sinatra to Johnny Cash to Jackie Gleason.
Wednesday, December 25th, 4:10 p.m. // Film Forum, 209 West Houston St., Manhattan // Tickets: $22
Up Close Festival @ New Ohio Theater
For more unique family fun, bring the gang to the Up Close Festival, a hyperlocal interactive theater fest for ages five and up. Inspired by famed urbanist Jane Jacobs, the performance begins in a 360º immersive playspace, then moves into a series of 10-minute shorts that reimagine moments from Greenwich Village’s past, spotlighting decolonization and sociopolitical issues from history that remain relevant today. The fest was conceived by interdisciplinary artist and educator Peter Musante and brings together more than 30 innovative theater artists.
Opens Friday, December 27th // New Ohio Theater, 154 Christopher St., Manhattan // Tickets: $25
Kwanzaa Celebration: Regeneration Night @ Apollo Theater
Get joyful at this year’s Kwanzaa Celebration at the Apollo Theater, an annual tradition since 2006. Honoring the holiday’s principles of family, community, and culture, the celebration features performances by Abdel R. Salaam’s Forces of Nature Dance Theatre. There will also be special guests the KIPP AMP Legacy Jazz Ensemble, and it’s all hosted by Imhotep Gary Byrd, executive producer of The GBE, the longest-running black radio broadcast in NYC history.
Saturday, December 28th, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. // Apollo Theater, 253 West 125th St., Harlem // Tickets: $25
That Slapstick Show: Holiday Hilarities @ QED Astoria
Laugh it up at That Slapstick Show, a curated evening of holiday-themed, previously “lost” rarities from the silent film era. Expect selections from 1920s cartoons, newsreels, and silent comedies, featuring folks like Fatty Arbuckle’s nephew Al St. John and popular animal star Snooky the Humanzee, works by comic strip artists Bud Fisher and Sidney Smith, early Pathé newsreels, and animation-production boss J.R. Bray's attempt at live-action comedies. It’s all curated by Nelson Hughes, co-organized and co-hosted by Tommy José Stathes, and with live musical accompaniment by Charlie Judkins.
Saturday, December 28th, 4:30 p.m. // QED Astoria, 27-16 23rd Ave., Queens // Tickets: $10
Kwanzaa 2019 @ American Museum of Natural History
AMNH’s Kwanzaa 2019 is hosted by scholar, storyteller, and founder of Yaffa Cultural Arts Linda H. Humes. The daylong celebration is rooted in the holiday’s seven core principles, or Nguzo Saba, which promote unity, culture, and community development. There will be performances from master drummers Sanga of the Valley and Andouchie Loubaki, a multidisciplinary show by Obediah Wright's Balance Dance Theatre honoring the 100th anniversary of the Harlem Renaissance, and a local market filled with Harlem-based artisans.
Saturday, December 28th, 12 p.m. // American Museum of Natural History, 100 Central Park West // Free with museum admission ($23 adults; $13 children)
Monteverdi: Mass for the Virgin @ Church of St. Mary the Virgin
Go back in time in grand style at Monteverdi: Mass for the Virgin, a 17th-century Venetian Christmas mass performed by Artek, an ensemble specializing in historically informed baroque music. The concert will include Monteverdi pieces from as early as 1610, pieces by his predecessor Giovanni Gabrieli, vocal and instrumental “echo” pieces in Venetian Latin, grand sinfonias, and polychoral spatial music. The singers will be accompanied by a plethora of period-appropriate instruments, including violins, viols, dulcians, cornetti, sacbuts, theorbos, cittern, lute, and organ.
Saturday, December 28th, 8 p.m. // Church of St. Mary the Virgin, 145 West 46th St., Manhattan // Tickets: $75