Entertainment Guide: Savor the Holiday Season in the Big Apple

Holiday Entertainment

The Radio City Music Hall with its famous Rockettes is probably the city’s most famous holiday review. This year’s “Christmas Spectacular” tells the story of two brothers who end up at. . . you may have guessed it. . . the North Pole in their quest for the perfect gift for their sister. As always, all the holiday cheer ends with a live nativity, complete with Jesus, Mary, Joseph and camels. And, if you’ve never been before, it’s practically worth the price of admission to soak in the original and fabulous art deco ambiance.

I usually dismiss musicals derived from box office movies (except Silence of the Lambs, the Musical — just can’t help myself with that one). However, New York family and friends, sophisticated theatre-goers all, have given Elf enthusiastic thumbs-ups. You’ll find it in a limited run at the Theater at Madison Square Garden. If you’re in the mood for something more irreverent, Off-Broadway’s Santasia, an import from L.A., promotes itself as a “perfect blend of yuletide snark and sentiment.”

And, New York being New York (“Go big or go home”), there are multiple Nutcrackers to choose from — whether you prefer the classic New York City Ballet’s version at Lincoln Center, Mark Morris’s The Hard Nut at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, or the decadent burlesque-based Company XIV: Nutcracker Rouge at the Minetta Lane.

Only in New York
Take the time to hunt down special holiday events, concerts, parties and happenings that you won’t find elsewhere — some for children and grandchildren and some better left to adults. The New York Botanical Garden hosts its annual Holiday Train Show, featuring elaborate models humming past miniature NYC landmarks. The glorious Cathedral of St. John the Divine produces a Winter Solstice Celebration, as well as numerous musical events. Even if your schedule is packed, it’s well worth stopping in to admire this magnificent architectural “work in progress.” (Be sure to look for the peacocks that roam the Cathedral’s grounds, an unusual and beautiful sight on Manhattan’s Upper Westside.)

If you crave a more immersive experience, try Fuerza Bruta, a postmodern theatrical ride that’s both uninhibited and unforgettable. It’s a heart-pounding combination of music, lighting, dance, aerial feats and water ballet. Trust me, you have to be there to believe it. On the other hand, even if you are there, you may not believe Sleep No More, a mash-up of Macbeth and Alfred Hitchcock, staged on several levels of the “McKittrick Hotel.”

If you’re lucky enough (or, maybe I should say “foolhardy enough”) to be in New York on December 31st, you’ll have hundreds of options to ring in the New Year. Brave Times Square at your own risk; I do have many friends who have been there and lived to tell about it. But, there are also countless clubs, bars, parties and performances. At my in-the-know sister’s invitation, I spent last year with Dances of Vice  downtown at the DTA, an evening that was intense — and intensely elegant. I highly recommend it.

The holiday season is particularly festive in the “City that never sleeps.” No matter how you fill your days there, be sure to set aside some time for people-watching. That’s where New York’s real entertainment — and enthusiasm — lies. This time of year, you’ll find a lot of holly jolly amidst all the hustle and bustle.

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