Image Courtesy of Cranksgiving
If the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade isn’t your scene and you are looking for something to do in New York City that is a little off the beaten path this holiday, Untapped Cities has you covered. From Black Friday nature hikes to burn off your Thanksgiving feast, to a burlesque version of a classic holiday ballet, check out our picks for 10 alternative ways to celebrate:
1. Spice Class and Secret Thanksgiving Speakeasy
The Museum of Interesting Things will be hosting a post-Thanksgiving secret speakeasy party filled with historical artifacts on Sunday November 25th. The theme of the evening is Eureka! The History of Invention. At this party, guests will get to handle actual antiques like early 1900’s stereoviews and mutoscope cards, watch original 16mm film projections and hear music played on vinyl records. For even more Thanksgiving fun, arrive early for a special holiday spice class featuring spices from around the world. Guests will taste different varieties of common spices while learning the history of the spice trade and how it’s being updated to match 21st century values and tastes. Anyone who attends the spice party from 4pm-6pm and pays the $20 admission will get free entry into the Secret Speakeasy!
The Speakeasy will take place at the The Loft on Prince Street on Sunday, November 25th, 2018 from 6pm to 10pm. All ages are welcome. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased in advance or at the door. Drinks will be available for purchase. If you would like to attend the spice class, tickets are $20 and include free admission to the speakeasy afterwards!
2. Tour the Remnants of the World’s Fairs
Add some adventure to the holiday weekend with an Untapped Cities guided walking tour of the remnants of the World’s Fairs at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens. New York City hosted the World’s Fair twice, first in 1939 and again in 1964. Within the park today there are traces, big and small, of both momentous events. On this tour led by Untapped Cities’ Chief Experience Officer Justin Rivers, uncover all of the remnants left behind such as the iconic and now abandoned New York State Pavilion and the time capsules buried at each fair. Learn about the transformation of the park from marshy wetlands to ash dump to the site of two global affairs. Plus, each guest will receive reproductions of World’s Fair Maps from both 1939 and 1964.
3. Holiday Nostalgia Train Ride
If you ever wanted to travel back in time, you can get a taste of the past with the Transit Museum’s Holiday Nostalgia Rides. Every year, on select days vintage 1930s R1-9 train cars go into regular service on the F, A, C, and D lines of the subway. The trains start running between 2nd Avenue in Lower Manhattan all the way up to 125th street on Sunday, November 25th. For the price of a regular MetroCard swipe, you can ride in one of the original cars of the IND, the first subway company operated by the City of New York which opened in 1932. The cars feature rattan seats, paddle ceiling fans and vintage advertisements. There will also be vintage buses driving around the city starting December 3rd!
Head to the Transit Museum’s website for a full list of schedules and routes for the vintage subway cars and buses.
4. The Nutcracker Rouge
Photograph by Mark Shelby Perry , Courtesy of Company XIV
If you are looking for a fantastical escape on Thanksgiving night, The Nutcracker Rogue is a “baroque burlesque confection” that offers the audience a sensual and exotic take on the classic Christmas ballet. The production is directed and choreographed by Company XIV founder Austin McCormick, who is also the current choreographer of Samson et Dalila at the Metropolitan Opera. The Nutcracker Rogue features ballet, burlesque, a Cyr wheel performance, pole dancing, and opera performed by a cast decked in skimpy yet lavish costumes designed by Zane Pihlstrom on an equally opulent set, also designed Pihlstrom.
Shows run Thursdays through Sundays and select Wednesdays and Mondays. The engagement will run through January 13th.
Image Courtesy of Cranksgiving
Cranksgiving bills itself as “part bike ride, part food drive, part scavenger hunt.” Held annually in New York City since 1999, this charity event has helped to provide thousands of needy families with food during the week of Thanksgiving. All you need is a bike, a bag, a lock, and about $15-$25 to buy food. There is no registration cost and there is no advance registration necessary. You simply show up to a meeting location, grab a grocery list, and head out to collect your supplies. All donations collected are then given to a local charity. Cranksgiving events are organized locally and while Manhattan’s just passed, there will be a Brooklyn based event on December 1st. You can find out more information on that event here. Prizes will be given away to the first-place male/female/out-of-towner, and to best costume and most generous donor/rider!
6. Black Friday Hike
Staten Island Greenbelt
There is no shortage of opportunities to walk off your Thanksgiving day dinner in New York City’s parks. The New York City Parks Department will host Black Friday hikes all over the city, from the Greenbelt of Staten Island to Prospect Park in Brooklyn. Urban Park Rangers will lead hikers on a variety of hikes through scenic sites like Central Park from Doris Freedman Plaza to the Harlem Meer, past waterfalls and wetlands in the Northwest Woods of Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, and to The Alley Giant in Queens, a tulip tree that is the tallest and oldest living organism in the city. For more information on a Black Friday hike near you, head to the NYC Parks Department website.
7. Shop at a Holiday Market
Photograph Courtesy of Cut & Crafted
New York City is full of holiday markets this season that are just getting started, from Bryant Park’s Winter Village Holiday Shops to the sprawling Union Square Holiday market and Brooklyn’s Holiday Bazaar. Instead of wrestling with crowds and waiting in crazy lines for big brand Black Friday deals, shop small this holiday weekend. These markets provide a great place to find unique, locally made and handcrafted gifts and food. This weekend’s Brooklyn Holiday Bazaar will take place in two locations, 501 Union and the Green Building from 11am to 5pm Saturday and Sunday. Admission is free and in addition to all of the vendors, there will be a live DJ, crafts for kids and a photobooth!
8. Holiday Bar Car Night at NYBG’s Train Show
The New York Botanical Garden’s Holiday Train Show features new plant-based reconstructions of some of New York City’s famous buildings like One World Trade Center, the Battery Maritime Building, and the World Trade Center Oculus, this year. If you want to enjoy these works without the bustle of giddy children, visit during this Friday’s Bar Car Night. Bar Car Nights are exclusively for adults 21 and over and feature an after-dark viewing of the Holiday Train Show along with seasonal cocktails available for purchase and food from the Bronx Night Market Holiday Pop-up. Guests can relax and warm up around the fire pits in the Leon Levy Visitor Center, watch live ice-sculpting demonstrations, and sing along to their favorite tunes with dueling pianos in the Pine Tree Café. There will also be roving a cappella groups to musically guide you through the Garden.
You can purchase tickets to a Bar Car Night here. There are multiple dates that run through January 12th.
9. Volunteer and Donate
Thanksgiving is a day to be grateful and give back. There are many opportunities throughout New York City to volunteer your time or make a donation to help those less fortunate this holiday. One way to give back is to donate a turkey to the Thousand Turkey Challenge. Hosted by the West Side Campaign Against Hunger, the goal is to collect and distribute at least 1,000 frozen turkeys to low-income families. Last year the campaign was able to provide a turkey for 1,392 families! To get involved, you can bring a turkey to the West Side Campaign Against Hunger at the Church of St. Paul & St. Andrew, 263 West 86th Street on Tuesday, Nov 20th from 9am-8pm and Wednesday, November 21st from 9am-1pm.
10. Tour the Secrets of Grand Central Terminal
Uncover the secrets of one of New York City’s most iconic landmarks on Untapped Cities tour of the Secrets of Grand Central Terminal this Saturday. Hidden tennis courts, the world’s largest Tiffany clock, a multi-million dollar artifact, they are all hidden in plain site at this historic station. Learn the history of the station and the many challenges it has faced to overcome near destruction and stand as preservation victory. The nearly 150 year old station is filled with treasures thousands of commuters rush past everyday and this tour offers the perfect opportunity to slow down and appreciate them and discover something new.