New York City has a special charm during the winter months, when the streets are dusted with snow, holiday displays decorate department-store windows and some of the most famous events of the year take place. Winter brings the opportunity to ice-skate at the City's rinks and terrific options for taking in a ballet. Shop for handmade gifts at one of the many holiday markets, view The Orchid Show (the nation's largest orchid exhibition, at The New York Botanical Garden), experience the multicultural Lunar New Year Parade & Festival and ring in the New Year with the Times Square Ball Drop. View the full slideshow for more information on these and many other events. For more, visit our weekly “Free in NYC” and “Top Five Events” features; check out our concert, fashion, art, nightlife and sports listings; see our roundup of annual events; or search for an event in our calendar.
Ice-Skating Rinks Open
Ice-skating is synonymous with winter in New York City. Luckily, you don't have to wait until the holidays roll around to enjoy this time-honored tradition. Many of the City's rinks open early in the fall—including Citi Pond at Bryant Park and The Ice Rink at Rockefeller Center, which both open in October—and others are open year-round, like the Sky Rink at Chelsea Piers, City Ice Pavilion and Aviator Sports & Events Center. Taking advantage of the early openings may be wise, as crowds tend to fill up the more popular rinks later in the year.
Mid- to Late November–December 24
Each fall and winter, several holiday markets pop up around New York City, lending the gift-shopping experience a festive cheer. Sellers purvey everything from home furnishings to clothing, jewelry, ornaments and much more. The largest and most popular are located in Columbus Circle, Bryant Park, Grand Central Terminal and Union Square. The markets generally open in mid- to late November and close on December 24 (except Bryant Park, which opened in late October and closed in early January during the last holiday season).
Lighting of the World's Largest Hanukkah Menorah
Celebrate Hanukkah with the lighting of the world's largest menorah at Grand Army Plaza (Fifth Avenue and West 59th Street, across the street from The Plaza hotel). This 32-foot-high, gold-colored, 4,000-pound steel holiday icon is a sight to behold. Every evening during the holiday, at 5:30pm, a candle will be lit. For the Sabbath, the lighting will be at 3:30pm on Friday and 8:30pm on Saturday.
Times Square Ball Drop
Celebrate the arrival of 2013 with the annual Times Square Ball Drop. Nothing compares with the exhilaration of watching the fete from the streets, plus you can catch music and other performances in the hours leading up to midnight. With all the revelry, it's best to get there as early as possible; street closures begin during the midafternoon, and some of the choicest spots are usually filled by 3pm.
Professional Bull Riders Madison Square Garden Invitational
January 4–6, 2013
As out of place as a bull-riding competition in NYC might seem, this Professional Bull Riders (PBR) showdown has rapidly become one of the City's most anticipated annual sporting events. It's quick and tough, and involves trying to hold on to a one-ton bucking bull for eight seconds. Cowboy hats are recommended, but not required for entry.
New York Jewish Film Festival
January 9–24, 2013
Presented by The Jewish Museum and the Film Society of Lincoln Center, this global survey of innovative and provocative movies focusing on the Jewish experience is back in 2013 for its 22nd installment. A number of films presented in years past have gone on to be distributed nationally in theaters and on TV (in fact, Ajami, a tense crime thriller that unfolds on the streets of Jaffa in Israel and was featured in the 2010 festival, received an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language Film).
New York City Ballet Winter 2013 Season
January 15–February 24, 2013
The winter season opens with a two-week Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky celebration, featuring performances of nine works by George Balanchine set to Tchaikovsky's music, as well as a new ballet by Peter Martins set to selections of Eugene Onegin. Peter Martins' full-length production of The Sleeping Beauty will be featured in 13 performances. Another highlight is a new Martins ballet set to a score by French composer Marc-André Dalbavie.
Lunar New Year Parade & Festival
January 29, 2013
Check out the Lunar New Year celebration happening in Chinatown for stunning visuals, tantalizing treats and impressive performances. This street party features a variety of vendors, food and festivities for all ages. Walk the main streets of Lower Manhattan—from Little Italy through Chinatown—to see the official Lunar New Year Parade.
Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show
February 11–12, 2013
The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is a favorite of dog lovers worldwide, showcasing some of the most beloved (and rarest) breeds in the world. This year, breed judging and benching will be at Piers 92/94; the additional space has allowed for the entry to increase to 3,200 dogs and group and best-in-show judging will take place each evening at Madison Square Garden. The winner of last year's show was a Pekingese named Malachy.
New York International Children's Film Festival
March 1–24, 2013
Helping to redefine the kids' movie genre, the New York International Children's Film Festival enters its 16th year in 2013, shining a light on some of the most unique, engaging and thought-provoking youth-oriented independent films. From obscure animated shorts to full-length, live-action dramas, the event covers nearly every style, age group and cultural background, making it an ideal event for the whole family. Breakout films from previous editions of the festival include Danny Boyle's Millions and the Academy Award–nominated A Cat in Paris. Screenings routinely sell out, so you'll want to order your tickets well before March.
The Orchid Show
March 2–April 22, 2013
Thousands of brilliantly colored orchids will be on display at this year’s annual Orchid Show at the New York Botanical Garden. Now in its 11th year, the show also provides demonstrations on how to care for orchids, Q&A sessions with experts, musical entertainment, lectures and guided tours. The Orchid Show is a feast for the eyes and the country’s largest curated show featuring this type of flowering plant.
Armory Arts Week
March 5–10, 2013
Armory Arts Week has grown exponentially since its formal inception in 2009, and the 2012 edition expanded its reach like never before. New York's world-famous Armory Show at Piers 92 and 94—the week's flagship event for collectors and casual art lovers alike—features modern and contemporary galleries from around the world. Other events include art fairs like Volta NY, art tours, kids' programs and a film series.
St. Patrick's Day Parade
March 16, 2013
Join in the celebration of all things Irish at the annual New York City St. Patrick's Day Parade, the world's largest. The parade, which marches up Fifth Avenue, starting at 44th Street at 11am, draws more than 200,000 participants (and 2 million onlookers). Also be sure to check out what's going on throughout the boroughs—all five have their own celebrations.