Here at Untapped Cities, we like to do things the unconventional way. While the holidays are usually celebrated in a traditional manner, we’ve rounded up a few alternative activities taking place across New York City. From festive concerts to ghost tours, here are our top picks for the coming week(end):

Friday, December 22nd

The Many Sounds of Christmas returns this year with The Salvatones (vocal ensemble), New York Virtuosi (string ensemble) and Stephen Fraser (organist), under the direction of Daniel Brondel, the Associate Director of Music and Organist at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Head to the College of Mount Saint Vincent for a night of Christmas carols and “jazzy arrangements” of holiday classics.

Saturday, December 23rd

The abandoned Ellis Island Hospital complex — once the standard for United States medical care (and later transformed to the FBI headquarters when the island served as a detention center) — has been left to decay for nearly 60 years. Now, Untapped Cities is bringing you behind-the-scenes for an unique exploration of the abandoned facility; on this experience, you’ll visit the contagious disease wards, the autopsy rooms and have exclusive access to places usually closed to the public.

Behind-the-Scenes Hard Hat Tour of the Abandoned Ellis Island Hospital

For a spooky twist on Christmas, pay a visit to Washington Square Park for a two hour ghost tour, where participants will hear about ghost pyromania, the Hangman’s Tree and the poltergeist of Roosevelt’s dog.

For (really) last minute holiday shopping, head over to East Harlem’s La Marqueta for a pop-up market, where you will find truly unique offerings made by local artists from the neighborhood. Grab some sweet eats, enjoy live music and shop to your heart’s content.

Sunday, December 24th

If you’re looking to splurge a little this Christmas, Saks Fifth Avenue is serving up a special holiday breakfast at Cafe SFA. In addition to a menu of delectable eats, there will be special appearances by Snow White, Snow Prince and her friend Dopey.

Monday, December 25th

Most places will be closed on Christmas, but the Museum at Eldridge Street is keeping its doors open for a full day of activities. From noon to 2pm, drop in for ongoing tours of building, self-guided scavenger hunts, and family art projects. Then, at 3pm, a live concert will take place, featuring Biblical Ballads and music from Hasidic, Klezmer and Yiddish traditions.

As an added bonus, the Museum’s new exhibition, Let There Be Light – A Whole Lotta Light!, will also be on view. It presents a collection of over 100 unique menorahs collected by the Lori and David Moore family. Read more about the exhibit here, and purchase tickets for the event here.

Tuesday, December 26th

Burn off some holiday calories with the NYRR Open Run taking place at Brooklyn Bridge Park. This event is open to all ages and experience levels (plus, dogs are welcomed)!

Wednesday, December 27th

Learn about the immigrant experience during The Historic Trilogy event by the Liberty State Park Nature Interpretive Center. This program will include a screening of the “Dreams of Distant Shores” and a tour of the CRRNJ with views of Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.

New York’s first ever chocolate museum is open for self-guided tours, where visitors will uncover the story of chocolate, view original artifacts and enjoy eight premium tastings.

Thursday, December 28th

Visit the congressionally-recognized Academy of Arts & Letters, founded by Mark Twain over 100 years ago in order to honor the country’s greatest architects, artists, writers, and composers. Our friends at New York Adventure Club are taking urban explorers inside.


See all upcoming Untapped Cities Behind the Scenes Tours.