Gothamist Winter Guide: 20 Things To Do In December

<br/><br/>In November we explored <a href="">Williamsburg's booming movie theater scene</a>, learned how to <a href="">make Twinkies at home</a> (just in case!) and discovered <a href="">Bigfoot might be real</a>. And between the <a href="">allegations against Elmo</a> and <a href="">Duffel Bag serial killer</a>, it's no wonder <a href="">Fireman Ed decided to call it quits</a>. <br/><br/>But let's put all that behind us and make merry. For a few ways to make the season bright, click through for our picks on the best ways to spend your December.

<br/><br/>BAM keeps with tradition at their <strong><a href="">Fourth Annual Latke Festival</a></strong>, going down just in time for the start of Chanukah this year. Sixteen chefs from notable kitchens around town—A Voce, Fatty 'Cue, Blue Ribbon Brooklyn, to name a few—vie to be top potato in a "throw-down of classic and contemporary interpretations." Jason Weiner, executive chef at Almond and winner of last year's Latke Festival, along with an esteemed panel of judges, will determine the winner, but attendees get to pick a People's Choice plus sample mini bialys from Hot Bread Kitchen and <em>sufganiyot</em> (jelly doughnuts) from Dough. Wash down your latkes with beer from Shmaltz Brewing Company and coffee from <a href="">Brooklyn Roasting Company</a>, all of which is included in your ticket price.<br/><br/><em>Monday, December 10th, 6:30 p.m. // <a href="">BAM - Peter Jay Sharp Building</a> // <a href="">Tickets $55</a></em>

Photo via SpecialKRB on Flickr

<br/><br/>For the second year in a row, multi-Grammy Award-winning trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra present timeless holiday songs rearranged for their <strong><a href="">Big Band Holidays</a></strong> shows. In 1989 Marsalis began the tradition of Lincoln Center jazz performances at the holidays and this year he's joined by vocalists René Marie and Gregory Porter. <br/><br/><em>Friday, December 7th at 8 p.m. and Saturday, December 8th at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. // <a href="">Rose Theater at Lincoln Center</a> // <a href="">Tickets start at $30</a></em>

Gregory Porter (photo via Lincoln Center)

<br/><br/>Brooklyn-born artist Ilene Vultaggio, creator of the iconic designs for AriZona Beverage Company, presents her first exhibition at the Tria Gallery, a series of nudes created by the artist in the last eight years. Although she's been a designer and artist for the past three decades, Vultaggio has kept her works on paper private until now. The approximately 30 works are all pastel and charcoal on paper, described as "honest to the extreme, they evoke the palpability of flesh as a document of a life’s history," by Franklin Perrell, former chief curator of Nassau County Museum of Art, where Vultaggio uses studio space. Attend the opening reception on the 13th or stop by until January 5th when the show closes.<br/><br/><em>Opening Reception: Thursday, December 13th // 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. // <a href="">Tria Gallery</a> // Free</em>

via Tria Gallery

<br/><br/>Park Slope's beer mecca <a href="">Bierkraft</a> stocks over a thousand different types of beers, and on <strong><a href="">Tuesday Tastings</a></strong> they put some of their favorites on display for you to sample. Every Tuesday this month (except for Christmas Day), swing by the purveyor at 7 p.m. for <em>free</em> beer samples and nibbles curated by local brewers and by the Bierkraft staff. On the 4th, brewer RJ Ober from Victory Brewing Company will showcase five of his brews followed by brewmaster Kelly Taylor and co. from KelSo Beer Company on the 11th. Finally, on the 18th, celebrate Diamond Jim's Birthday with a tasting created by Bierkraft's own James Krusas.<br/><br/><em>December 4th, 11th and 18th, 7 p.m. // <a href="">Bierkraft</a> // Free</em>

photo via Bierkraft on Facebook

<br/><br/>Toted as a kind of "anti-art fair," this year's iteration of the <strong><a href="">Degenerate Craft Fair</a></strong> pops up over one weekend in Dumbo. "Created for artists, by artists," the fair presents not only fine art works like prints, paintings and drawings, but also a variety of crafts from hair accessories to home decor to clothing. Best of all, most of the pieces are priced under $50, so you won't break the bank on your cool kid holiday shopping.<br/><br/><em>Saturday, December 15th, 12 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday, December 16th, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. // <a href="">The Dumbo Loft</a> // Free</em>

photo via Degenerate Craft Fair on Facebook

<br/><br/>It hasn't been so long since <a href="">Andrew Bird</a> delivered a pair of enthralling shows at The Beacon Theater, in <a href="">support of his excellent album</a> <em>Break It Yourself</em>. But when he returns to NYC in December he'll be doing something very different from what you saw at the Beacon. For the first time, the mega-talented multi-instrumentalist songwriter will be be forming his "Gezelligheid" concert here in town. <br/><br/>It's become an annual tradition for Bird to cart his guitar, glockenspiel, ukelele, delay pedals, and a flock of magnificent Victrola speakers into a Chicago church for a mostly solo, mostly instrumental holiday concert. Now New Yorkers will finally get to experience what <a href="">Chicagoist describes</a> as an "otherworldly orchestra" with "grand sonic experiments." Bird explains, "What I hope to do with these shows is adapt my music completely to the atmosphere of the space and the season. I want the audience to be both lifted and comforted as we head into another cold and dark winter. I feel the space should be sacred so the audience can experience my music in a different atmosphere."<br/><br/>Due to popular demand, Bird has added a second night at Riverside Church, where he'll be joined on both nights by special guests Alan Hampton (the bassist from Bird's band) and Tift Merritt. (John Del Signore)<br/><br/><em>Monday December 10th and Tuesday December 11th // Riverside Church (490 Riverside Drive) // <a href="">$40</a></em>

(Jonathen Behm)

<br/><br/>Kermit, Miss Piggy and all their friends are coming to Union Hall this holiday season for <strong><a href="">Muppet Vault: Christmas</a></strong>. Join the fuzzy gang for a screening of <em>Muppet Family Christmas</em>, as well as clips from other Christmas-themed Muppet shows like <em>Sesame Street</em> and <em>Fraggle Rock</em>. Expect drink specials, Muppet trivia questions and prizes plus all of Union Hall's usual accoutrement of bocce ball plus tasty bar food.<br/><br/><em>Sunday, December 16th, 2 p.m. // <a href="">Union Hall</a> // <a href=";eventId=3222774">Tickets $8</a></em>

<br/><br/>Bodice-Rippers, Harlequin novels—whatever you call them, romance novels are a huge part of the fiction landscape (yes, there were books about sex before the <em>50 Shades</em> series!). But what exactly goes into writing and publishing these steamy stories? Find out at Word's <strong><a href="">Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Romance Novels</a></strong> where authors Maya Rodale (<em>Seducing Mr. Knightly</em>) and Miranda Neville (<em>The Importance of Being Wicked</em>) are joined by editors Tessa Woodward (Avon) and Morgan Doremus (RT) for a night of undressing the genre and exposing all its secrets. A Q&amp;A follows the panel discussion and both the authors will sign copies of their books. <br/><br/><em>Wednesday, December 5th, 7 p.m. // <a href="">Word Bookstore</a> // Free—<a href="">RSVP on Facebook</a></em>

<br/><br/>Following a screening of his directorial debut <em>Quartet</em>, distinguished actor <strong>Dustin Hoffman</strong> will do a sit down interview to discuss the film—as well as his lengthy film career—with Columbia Film professor Annette Insdorf. The film, based on the play <em>Quartet</em> by Ronald Harwood, follows retired opera singers living together in a retirement community who put on a yearly concert in honor of Giuseppe Verdi's birthday. When a former member arrives, personalities clash and the future of their concert is threatened. The <strong>Reel Pieces</strong> series typically sells out quickly, so <a href="">buy tickets asap</a>, but if you don't get tickets to this iteration, stayed tuned for more great guests coming up.<br/><br/><em>Tuesday, December 4th, 7:15 p.m. // <a href="">Kaufman Concert Hall, 92nd Street Y</a> // <a href="">Tickets from $38</a></em>

photo via 92 Y

<br/><br/>Alfred Hitchcock's psycho-sexual thriller <strong><em>Marnie</em></strong> tells the story of Margaret "Marnie" Edgar (Tippi Hedren), "a beautiful thief whose mistrust of men, frigidity, fear of thunderstorms, and the dislike of the color red all get explained after a hasty marriage and a trip to her mother, no less." The film also stars a young Sean Connery (swoon) as Marnie's husband who wants to get to the bottom of Marnie's psychosis. Although not as widely appreciated as some of Hitchcock's other films, this late-career film still possesses the director's ability to channel the human psyche on screen. <a href="">Nitehawk Cinema</a> is <a href="">screening the film</a> on its original 35mm print as part of their <a href="">brunch series</a>. <br/><br/><em>Saturday, December 15th at 11:45 a.m. and Sunday, December 16th at 11:45 a.m. // <a href="">Nitehawk Cinema</a> // <a href="">Tickets $11</a></em>

<br/><br/>It's been forty years since Paris-born Mime-Masque troupe <strong><a href="">Mummenschanz</a></strong> introduced their unique style of performance to the world, and the NYU Skirball center is <a href="">hosting the group</a> for an extended run throughout December into early January. Mummenschanz's whimsical costumes, masks and props create a playful world where performers use gesture and movement to create a silent world for their characters to inhabit. They've even been <a href="">on the Muppet show</a>, where Kermit describes their schtick as "a unique mixture of pantomime and masks thats about as difficult to describe as it is to pronounce." Check it out for yourself and you'll see what he means! <br/><br/><em><a href="">Multiple Dates beginning December 11th</a> // <a href="">Tickets $25 - $45</a></em>

<br/><br/>If watching <strong>Philip Seymour Hoffman</strong> spiral into depression in <em>Synecdoche, New York</em> left you feeling a bit too bubbly, you can join the actor for a chat themed <strong><a href="">"Portraying Unhappiness on Stage and Screen."</a></strong> Hoffman will join New School philosophy professor Simon Critchley as part of the Rubin Museum's "Happy Talk" series at the museum on December 17 at 7:00 p.m. Critchley has penned books such as The Book of Dead Philosophers and Very Little, Almost Nothing: Death, Philosophy, Literature, so if the warm winters aren't bleak enough for you, this is a must-see discussion.<br/><br/><em>Monday, December 17th, 7 p.m. // <a href="">Rubin Museum of Art</a> // <a href="">Tickets $35</a></em>

<br/><br/>If you can't afford tickets to <a href="">see the Rolling Stones at the Barclays Center</a> for their 50th anniversary, consider heading to the Paley Center for Media's show <strong><a href="">Rolling Stones: 50</a></strong> to get your Jagger fix. The show, which has never been shown in the States before, chronicles the band's legendary career through rare prints, reportage, live concerts and studio sessions, including their 1969 performance on the <em>Ed Sullivan Show</em> and their Super Bowl XL performance from 2006. For even more Stones video goodness, the <a href="">Rolling Stones Film Retrospective at MoMA</a> runs until December 2nd. <br/><br/><em>Through January 6th // <a href="">Paley Center for Media</a> // $10 (included in your admission at the door)</em>

<br/><br/>For many of us, a winter's eve well-spent is one curled up beside the <strike>fire</strike> radiator with a book and a brandy snifter. At the <strong><a href="">5th Annual Biblioball</a></strong>, you can be literary and drink with friends! The party will happen Saturday, December 8th at Gowanus's Bell House to benefit the nonprofit Literary for Incarcerated Teens. LIT helps incarcerated young people to discover the joys of reading, and you can help the cause by coming out for a night of live music, DJs, drinks and an "interactive postcard writing installation." A silent raffle will also be held to help restore libraries whose books were damaged by flooding after Sandy.<em>(Aaron Marks)</em><br/><br/><em>Saturday, December 8th, 8 p.m. // <a href="">The Bell House</a> // <a href="">Tickets $23 adv</a>, $30 door</em>

photo via dogseat on Flickr

<br/><br/>Brace yourself: the Santas are coming. While our relationship with <strong><a href="">SantaCon</a></strong> has been <a href="">troubled, as of late</a>, it's almost impossible to ignore when your local watering hole is drowning in drunken St. Nicks. If donning your best Slutty Candy Cane costume and day drinking your way through the five boroughs sounds like a productive way to use a Saturday, the festive fun begins at 10 a.m. on December 15th at locations as yet to be disclosed (<a href="">follow SantaCon on Twitter</a> to get the locations as they are released the night before). <br/><br/>For all would-be Santas, <a href=";code=SANTACONAUTO">Party City</a> is offering a <a href=";code=SANTACONAUTO">15% discount on Santa Suits and accessories</a> for Gothamist readers (just enter Promo Code SANTACON123 through 12/1, SANTACON124 through 12/9 and SANTACON125 through 12/16). Party city has also donated a costume to Gothamist's own <a href="">John Del Signore</a> (<a href="">no stranger to Santa</a>) so he can embed himself in the belly of Santa's beast, for journalism. For the rest of us, stay locked inside your apartment and away from major transportation hubs.<br/><br/><em>Saturday, December 15th // 10 a.m. // <a href="">Location TBD</a> // Free</em>

Sea of Santas! Photo via caroline_k on Flickr

<br/><br/>For the past six years, <strong><a href="">Make Music New York</a></strong> has been taking music out of traditional venues and bringing it to the streets, literally. If you attended this summer's <a href="">Punk Island</a> then you've already experienced part of what makes MMNY so special: communities coming together to celebrate music in its most natural form. This winter's iteration takes the form of "parades," where professionals and amateurs are invited to join in the music-making process. In <a href="">James Holt: Thru-Line</a>, string players will line the platforms of every G train and perform a tag-team version of Bach's <em>Cello Suite No. 1 in G major</em>. Over in <a href="">Tompkins Square Park</a>, the crowd is given different color-coded bells and then conducted by a team waving colored-flags, creating a "sonorous atmospheric soundscape throughout the East Village." Check out the <a href="">full parade schedule here</a> and get ready to make music!<em><br/><br/><em>Friday, December 21st, evening // <a href="">Various Locations</a> // Free</em></em>

A scene from MMNY 2009. Photo by Jackie Gordon, via Make Music New York on Facebook

<br/><br/>If you're still mourning the loss of Radio Raheem, come participate in the "boombox parade" that is composer <strong><a href="">Phil Kline's Unsilent Night</a></strong>. Participants will receive a cassette, CD, or MP3 file which are composed to be played in sync in this outdoors parade. The gathering will happen on December 15 at 7pm, beginning under the arch in Washington Square Park and making its way through the East Village to the great elm in Tompkins Square Park. Participating in the piece gives you a great excuse to bust out that old boom box (Or ask for a new one this holiday!)<em>(Aaron Marks)</em><br/><br/><em>Saturday, December 15th, 7 p.m. // Begins in Washington Square Park // Free</em>

Photo via anjuli_ayer on Flickr

<br/><br/>Yuck it up to some of the Silent Film Era's most beloved comedies, including selections from Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Laurel &amp; Hardy and more at the Brooklyn Farmacy &amp; Soda Fountain's <strong><a href="">Silent Films at the Fountain</a></strong>. The films will be presented as they were in the old days, soundtracked by live music, this time by leading silent film accompanist <a href="">Ben Model</a> on piano. If you've never experienced these classic films, get ready for some over-the-top emoting and some laugh out loud slapstick fun. <br/><br/><em>Wednesday, December 12th, 7 p.m. - 9 p.m. // Brooklyn Farmacy &amp; Soda Fountain (513 Henry Street, Brooklyn) // Free</em>

<br/><br/>Are you ready to rumble for the Newtown Creek? Are you ready to defend your neighborhood's greatness…with comedy? Comedian Joe Larson and other borough-centric comics will be competing in a standup showdown for Brooklyn or Queens supremacy and will defend the honor of their boroughs —i.e. your honor — at the Laughing Devil Comedy Club in LIC (I guess we know what side they're on). Support your borough with raucous laughter. <em>(Anne Saunders)</em><br/><br/><em>Sunday, December 9th, 8 p.m. // <a href="">Laughing Devil Comedy Club</a> // <a href=";PC=GMCODE">Tickets $15</a></em>

<br/><br/>'Tis the season for holiday markets, which pop up in virtually every open space this time of year. A group of Etsy vendors called the <a href="">New York Etsy Street Team</a> will gather 35 local vendors together IRL to showcase work at the <strong><a href="">Holiday Handmade Cavalcade</a></strong> in Williamsburg. Need to stock up on holiday cards? <a href="">Wishbone Letterpress</a> makes cheeky and traditional cards, calendars and other paper goods. Stock up on preservative-free body scrubs from <a href="">NakiNagiBodyScrubs</a> or find jewelry to suit any style from <a href="">WishByFelicity</a>, <a href="">SARUSTAR</a> and more. Check out the full list of vendors <a href="">here</a>.<br/><br/><em>Saturday and Sunday, December 1st and 2nd, 11 a.m to 6 p.m. // <a href="">The Space</a> // Free</em>