This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001


Ronnie Spector will present annual holiday show at City Winery on December 22

Ronnie Spector will present annual holiday show at City Winery on December 22

Hanukkah is about to start and Christmas is only a few weeks away, so the city is filling up with holiday-themed comedy shows, concerts, and special events. They range from classical performances at the Met and Carnegie Hall to hip-hop, soul, and rock extravaganzas at smaller clubs to Jewish takes on the season. Below is a sampling of some of the cooler events; keep watching this space for more additions.

Sunday, December 2
Hanukkah Family Day, art, music, and more for children ages three and up, with Josh & the Jamtones, Jeff Hopkins, Jewish Museum, free with museum admission (children eighteen and under free), 11:00 am - 4:00 pm

Sunday, December 2
Sunday, December 9

The 8 Nights of Hanukkah with Yo La Tengo, Bowery Ballroom, $40, 7:30

Monday, December 3
Tenth Annual Latke Festival, benefiting the Sylvia Center, Brooklyn Museum, $75-$120, 6:00

Holiday Cheer for FUV, with John Prine, the Lone Bellow, and Shannon Shaw, Beacon Theatre, $90.50 - $301, 8:00

Elon Gold and Modi: A Hanukkah Miracle, with Sherrod Small and Talia Reese, Stand Up NY, $20-$40, 8:00 & 9:45

Thursday, December 6
Festival of Light w/ Matisyahu and special guests the Soul Rebels and GRiZ plus friends, Brooklyn Steel, $30-$35, 8:00

The Cecilia Chorus of New York will perform Handel’s Messiah at Carnegie Hall on December 8

The Cecilia Chorus of New York will perform Handel’s Messiah at Carnegie Hall on December 8

Saturday, December 8
The Cecilia Chorus of New York with Orchestra: HANDEL Messiah, with soprano Shakèd Bar, tenor Michael St. Peter, bass William Guanbo Su, and countertenor Nicholas Tamagna, Carnegie Hall, Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage, $25-$85, 8:00

Cyndi Lauper & Friends: Home for the Holidays, benefit for True Colors Fund, with Amanda Palmer, Angie Stone, A$AP Rocky, Bebe Rexha, Bishop Briggs, Charlie Musselwhite, Dr. Elmo, Gina Yashere, Natalie Merchant, Regina Spektor, Robert Glasper, Sara Ramirez, Shea Diamond, and the Knocks, hosted by Carson Kressley, Beacon Theatre, $50-$150, 8:00

Sunday, December 9
For the Miracles: A Holiday Celebration, with the Young People’s Chorus of New York City performing Samuel Adler’s The Flames of Freedom and Benjamin Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols, conducted by Elizabeth Núñez, Met Fifth Ave., Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium, $65 (bring a child for $1), 3:00

Holiday Concert, featuring Scandinavian and American holiday favorites and Saint Lucia procession with traditional gowns and glowing candles, with members of the Swedish Church Choir in New York, Scandinavia House, $25, 5:00

The 12th Annual Menorah Horah Hanukkah Burlesque Show, with the Schlep Sisters (Minnie Tonka and Darlinda Just Darlinda), Sapphire Jones, Zoe Ziegfeld, the Great Dubini, Allegra, host Bastard Keith, DJ Momotaro, Rara Darling, and Madame Brassiere, Highline Ballroom, $25-$50, 8:00

Friday, December 14
Yule Dogs: A Very Mercury Christmas, with Wormburner, Christopher John Campion with Mad Staggers, and special guests Lifeguard Nights, Mercury Lounge, $12-$15, 7:00

Sunday, December 16
Unsilent Night, participatory boombox concert with Phil Kline, Washington Square Park, free, 6:00

Ingrid Michaelson’s twelfth annual Holiday Hop takes place at the Beacon on December 17

Ingrid Michaelson’s twelfth annual Holiday Hop takes place at the Beacon on December 17

Monday, December 17
Ingrid Michaelson’s Twelfth Annual Holiday Hop, Beacon Theatre, $44.50 - $64.50, 8:00

Oratorio Society of New York: HANDEL Messiah, conducted by Kent Tritle, with soprano Leslie Fagan, countertenor Daniel Moody, tenor Isaiah Bell, bass-baritone Joseph Beutel, and the Chorus and Orchestra of the Society, Carnegie Hall, Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage, $28-$100, 8:00

Tuesday, December 18
KTU Holiday House Party w/ Why Don’t We, Highline Ballroom, $10 (proceeds benefit Cookies for Kids Cancer), 6:00

Saturday, December 22
Ronnie Spector & the Ronettes: Best Christmas Party Ever!, City Winery, $55-$75, 8:00

Sunday, December 23
Christmas Ball — A Merry Evening of Opera, Operetta, and Christmas Songs: Talents of the World Festival at Carnegie Hall, with bass William Meinert, baritone David Gvinianidze, baritone Oleksandr Kyreiev, tenor Arsen Soghomonyan, soprano Ruslana Koval, soprano Tamar Iveri, soprano Olga Lisovskaya, and the winner of the Talents of the World International Competition, Zankel Hall, $65-$95, 7:00

Monday, December 24
A Very Jewish Christmas, with Marion Grodin, James Goff, Sam Morril, Jared Freid, and others, Gotham Comedy Club, $25, 7:00 & 9:00

Tuesday, January 1
Ninth Annual New Year’s Day w/ Joseph Arthur & Lee Ranaldo, City Winery, $20-$28, 8:00


(photo © Chad Batka)

Berowne (Matthew Goodrich) battles King Ferdinand of Navarre (Darren Ritchie) in culinary condensation of Love’s Labor’s Lost (photo © Chad Batka)

94 Gansevoort St.
Tuesday-Saturday through January 4, $75-$200

In William Shakespeare’s Love’s Labor’s Lost, Moth tells Costard, “They have been at a great feast of languages, and stolen the scraps.” That line might have been cut from Shake & Bake Theatre’s tasty, streamlined adaptation of the Bard’s mid-1590s comedy, but it is an apt description of the festive experience to be had at 94 Gansevoort St. across the street from the Whitney. The two-hour presentation features music, dance, an eight-course menu with drinks, and a fine dose of Shakespeare, all stirred together for an appetizing evening. Shake & Bake boils things down to three men, King Ferdinand of Navarre (Darren Ritchie), Longaville (Oge Agulué), and Berowne (Matthew Goodrich), who have just taken a three-year vow of no women, spare eating and sleeping, and intense study when a trio of ladies suddenly arrives, the Princess of France (Victoria Rae Sook), Rosaline (Mary Glen Fredrick), and Maria (Rami Margron). The Princess has come to collect a hefty debt that King Ferdinand owes her father. The men’s will is tested as they pair off in potential love matches: the King with the Princess, Berowne with Rosaline, and Longaville with Maria. Meanwhile, the Chef (Joe Ventricelli) prepares food and drink, the Cheetos-loving Costard (Margron) misdelivers some crucial letters, Boyet (Charles Osborne) attends to the ladies, and Spanish nobleman Don Armado de Adriano confesses his love for the (unseen) country maid Jaquenetta. Mystery and mayhem ensue as the cast also serves a rather impressive dinner.

(photo © Chad Batka)

The Princess of France (Victoria Rae Sook) and King Ferdinand of Navarre (Darren Ritchie) try to make a deal in tasty Shakespeare adaptation (photo © Chad Batka)

Created and adapted by director Dan Swern, choreographer Sook, and executive chef David Goldman, Shake & Bake: Love’s Labor’s Lost is a sweet and savory treat, even for Shakespeare purists. The show takes place in a large space where the audience of no more than fifty sits in cool, comfy couches for two or four people, surrounding the action; Shawn Lewis’s production design also includes a small kitchen on one side and a culinary cart wheeled on- and offstage. The male and female protagonists are dressed like royal waitstaff, in different-hued button-down tops, while Armado is in a nutty and colorful chef’s outfit. The dishes they serve, which relate directly to what is happening in the play, include field greens with balsamic quinoa, Cheeto-dusted mac n’ cheese, smokey brisket tacos, and roasted beet gazpacho, along with red and white wine and a shot of Jagermeister. (Vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and nonalcoholic options are available.) The soundtrack ranges from acoustic guitar played by Ritchie and accordion by Margron to Scott Bradlee and the Postmodern Jukebox’s covers of Meghan Trainor’s “All About the Bass” and Lorde’s “Royals,” along with snippets of songs by the Beatles, Hall & Oates, Whitney Houston, Outkast, New Kids on the Block, and Queen. Osborne provides wild and wacky over-the-top comic relief, playing up his character for all its worth, while Margron adds in her fair share as Costard.

Goodrich and Fredrick are a particularly attractive Berowne and Rosaline among an appealing cast — a member of which might rest a head on your shoulder, lick the bottom of your shoe, or, as one did with me, hand you a package to deliver, telling you not to worry because the entire plot rests on your correctly performing the task. Early on, Berowne proclaims, “Come on, then, I will swear to study so, / To know the thing I am forbid to know: / As thus — to study where I well may dine, / When I to feast expressly am forbid; / Or study where to meet some mistress fine / When mistresses from common sense are hid.” Fortunately, they break all oaths, and everyone benefits in this delightfully filling reimagination of dinner theater. (As a bonus, Shake & Bake is presenting “Beers and Bard” on November 26 [$10, 7:00], in which audience members can preselect a part to play in Twelfth Night [scripts are provided] or grab a drink from the bar and simply watch the proceedings.)


More than twenty thousand guests are expected to descend on Arthur Ave. on Saturday for the annual Ferragosto festival

More than twenty thousand people are expected to descend on Arthur Ave. on Saturday for the annual Ferragosto festival

Arthur Ave. between Crescent Ave. & 187th St.
Saturday, September 9, free, 12 noon - 6:00 pm

The Ancient Roman festival known as Ferragosto dates back to August 15 in 18 BC, celebrating summer, the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, the end of the harvest season, and various gods and goddesses (Diana, Vertumnus, Opis). Here in New York City, Ferragosto is taking place this year on September 9 along one-hundred-year-old Arthur Ave., which was named for Chester A. Arthur, the Vermont-born New York lawyer and politician who became the twenty-first president of the United States. Belmont Business Improvement District executive director Philip Marino will give the opening remarks at 11:30, followed by Elio Scaccio performing “Inno di Mameli,” the Italian National Anthem, and Nick Vero delivering “The Star-Spangled Banner.” There will be live performances by Scaccio and JulieAnna at 11:45 and 2:15, Natalie Pinto at 12:45, Frankie Sands at 3:15, and Rock Steady at 4:45. Among the many merchants with booths will be Arthur Avenue Cigars, Artuso Pastry Shop, Bronx Dance Theatre, Casa Della Mozzerella, Catania’s Pizza, De Lillo’s Pastry Shop, Dominick’s Restaurant, Gerbasi, Liberatore’s Garden, Madonia Bros. Bakery, Mario’s, Peter’s Meat Market, Randazzo’s, Sacred Heart Gifts & Apparel, St. Barnabas Hospital, Terranova Bakery, and Zero Otto Nove. It doesn’t get much more Italian than this, so divertiti!



Governors Island
Saturday, September 8, and Sunday, September 9, $75 per day, $140 both, 2:00 - 10:00

Beer, music, and food are on the menu at OctFest, taking place on Governors Island on September 8 and 9. On Saturday, the music lineup boasts Vince Staples, Jeff Tweedy, NAO, Saba, Preoccupations, Vagabon, Standing on the Corner, Hatchie, Flasher, and Madison McFerrin, while taking the stage on Sunday are the Flaming Lips, Nile Rodgers & CHIC, Yo La Tengo, Girlpool, Hop Along, No Age, Kamaiyah, Shopping, Julie Byrne, and the Courtneys. Food will be available from Best Pizza, Cervo’s, Hank’s Juicy Beef, Island Oyster, KronnerBurger, Los Viajeros Food Truck, Mission Chinese Food, Oddfellows Ice Cream Co., Sweet Chick, STUF’D Truck, and Roberta’s Pizza, curated by Bon Appétit. Presented by Pitchfork and beer culture website October, the second annual festival also features suds from nearly one hundred craft breweries from some twenty countries, including Rogue Ales, Zero Gravity Craft Brewery, Bogota Beer Co., Boxing Cat Brewery, Wicked Weed Brewing, DC Brau, Wedge Brewing Co., Four Peaks Brewing Co., Wild Beer Co., Birra del Borgo, Brouwerij Bosteels, La Virgen, Cerveza Patagonia, Cucapá, Nicaragua Craft Beer Co., 4 Pines Brewing Company, Taihu Brewery, the Hand & Malt Brewery, and Karbach Brewing Co. In addition, money will be raised for the Billion Oyster Project.


lobster and beer

Hester Street Fair
Hester & Essex Sts.
Saturday, September 1, free admission, 11:00 am - 6:00 pm

The Hester Street Fair continues on September 1 at the Saturday Street Market with the fourth annual Lobster and Beer festival, pairing the elegant crustacean with frothy brews. Taking place from 11:00 to 6:00, the event features lobster rolls from DownEast Lobstah and Lobster Joint alongside four-dollar Old Blue Last pale ale. The vendor lineup also includes Aimee McLaughlin, Feels NYC, Gigi’s Mimos, Handprint NYC, Hatzumomo, Janie Bakes, Joe’s Apron’s, Katmama Accessories, Manju, MassPop, Megan Phillips Collection, NYC Botanica, Ovando Salvi, Phyla, Popped, POPTEA, Rollie, Rosey Jamaican, Stax, Tribeca Trinkets, What We Eat, WHAMMEES, and Village Psychic. Last year some seven thousand people devoured the lobster until there was none left, so get there early if you need a late-summer fix.


(photo by Tinomuvonga)

Vieux Farka Touré is headlining blues and barbecue festival in Hudson River Park on Saturday (photo by Tinomuvonga)

Hudson River Park, Pier 97
Enter at 59th St.
Saturday, August 18, free with advance registration

The nineteenth annual Hudson River Park Blues BBQ Festival is set for August 18 at Pier 97, where blues and soul food and drink come together from 2:00 to 9:00. The former includes dishes from Brother Jimmy’s, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, Mighty Quinn’s, Pig Beach, Ben & Jerry’s, and Melt, with beverages from Sixpoint and Glenfiddich and live music by the Slam Allen Band (2:00), Danielle Nicole (3:15), Welch-Ledbetter Connection (4:30), Dawn Tyler Watson (6:00), and Vieux Farka Touré (7:30). Admission is free with advance registration; chairs, blankets, beach umbrellas, pets, bicycles, and other items are prohibited.


Ashleigh Smith will perform at this years annual Harlem Day festivities

Ashleigh Smith will perform at this year’s annual “Harlem Day” festivities

West 135th St. between Malcolm X Blvd. & Frederick Douglass Blvd.
Saturday, August 18, and Sunday, August 19, free, 12 noon – 10:00 pm
Festival continues through August 25

The theme of the 2018 Harlem Week festival is “Women Transforming Our World: Past, Present & Future,” along with the subtheme “The Community within the Community,” saluting LGBTQ rights. The festivities continue August 18 with “Summer in the City” and August 19 with “Harlem Day,” two afternoons of a wide range of free special events along West 135th St. Saturday’s programs include Harlem Senior Citizens Synchronized Swimming, the NYC Children’s Festival in Howard Bennett Playground (with a parade, exhibits, games, arts & crafts, live music and dance, health testing, and sports clinics), the Harlem Week Higher Education Fair (with more than fifty colleges and universities), “Dancing in the Streets” with live performances and WBLS DJs, the International Vendors Village, the Fabulous Fashion Flava Show, the “Uptown Saturday Concert” (with Sarah Vaughan National Competition winner Ashleigh Smith, Bishop Marvin Sapp, Raheem Devaughn, and the Jeff Foxx Band), and the Imagenation Outdoor Film Festival in St. Nicholas Park. Sunday’s “Harlem Day” celebration features live performances on three stages, the International Vendors Village, the Upper Manhattan Auto Show, Our Health Village, the Upper Manhattan Small Business Expo & Fair, USTA Children’s Tennis Clinics, and the second day of the NYC Children’s Festival (with a Back to School theme).