Gothamist Winter Guide: 20 Cool Things To Do In December

<br/><br/>You're not a grizzly bear—get out of hibernation and check out these fun cold-weather events this month. (No disrespect to any of our readers who may in fact be grizzly bears.)

Photo by (killthebird/Flickr)

<br/><br/>On December 3, "self-proclaimed Rodney Dangerfield impersonator" Fred Firestone and his comedian daughter Jo Firestone host "NYC's most puntastic competition" <strong><a href="">PUNDERDOME</a></strong>. Be one of the first 18 individuals or duos to sign up at the door if you'd like to get in on the competitive pun-making action. "Pun-masters" are decided by a supposedly scientifically accurate "human clap-o-meter," and mystery kitchen appliances are given as prizes to the top two competitors. Check out video of a past PUNDERDOME <a href="">here</a>, and get in some practice. A monthly event, December's PUNDERDOME installment will be held at <a href="">Littlefield NYC</a>; tickets can be purchased online for $6, or $7 at the door. <em>Jade A. Williams</em><br/><br/><em>Tuesday, December 3rd, 8 p.m. // <a href="">Littlefield</a> // <a href=";__utmb=;__utmc=1&amp;__utmx=-&amp;__utmz=1.1383154196.1.1.utmcsr=google|utmccn=(organic)|utmcmd=organic|utmctr=(not%20provided)&amp;__utmv=-&amp;__utmk=51453097">Tickets $6 - $7</a></em>

<br/><br/>If Anthony Bourdain has taught us anything, chefs have some crazy stories. At <strong><a href="">DISH</a></strong>, a special benefit for Housing Works, you'll get a chance to hear a few of them, with chefs, mixologists, and food authors converging to share snippets from their cookbooks and tell-alls. Guests include pastry whiz Matt Robicelli of Robicelli's, food and spirits columnist Warren Bodrow, and author Rebecca Coffey; Robicelli will also be providing cupcakes for you to snack on, with cocktails courtesy of Bodrow. All proceeds go towards Housing Works' programs to help combat homelessness and HIV/AIDS. <em>Rebecca Fishbein</em><br/><br/><em>Wednesday, December 4th, 7 p.m. // <a href=";utm_medium=webpage">Housing Works Bookstore Cafe</a> // Suggested donation $5</em>

Photo by (Scott Lynch/Gothamist)

<br/><br/>We know that you're going to already be sick of Christmas carols by December 6th so why not head to Output in Williamsburg for some dark, hard-charging Berlin techno. <strong><a href="">Ben Klock</a></strong>, arguably the best techno DJ in the world right now, headlines the Klockworks Label night along with Minneapolis wunderkind DVS1. Warning: It's going to get sweaty on the dance floor. Really sweaty (a few years ago I lost 11 lbs in one night seeing Klock in London's fabled club Fabric). <em>Josh Steele</em><br/><br/><em>Friday, December 6th, 10 p.m. // <a href="">Output</a> // <a href="">Tickets $20</a></em>

Photo by Klock (via Facebook)

<br/><br/>Become a cookie and candy architect at the New York Hall of Science's <strong><a href="">Gingerbread House Workshop</a></strong>, where you'll learn from <a href="">incredible gingerbread master</a> Jon Lovitch how to create your very own edible abode. Everyone at the workshop gets a kit, including structural elements to build the gingerbread mansion of your dreams. The museum also provides icing and candy to style up your house; BYO gingerbread men. <br/><br/><em>Saturday, December 7th, 2 p.m. // <a href="">New York Hall of Science</a> // Free with admission</em>

<br/><br/>Skip the carols in favor of an edgier evening of song at the <strong><a href="">Hip Hop Christmas Pageant</a></strong>, an underground dance party heavy on the beats and light on the reindeer references. The part DJ, part burlesque show goes down at Bushwick's <a href="">Secret Loft</a>, where the likes of Reksizzy, Duk Duk Goose and Brooklish spin beats ranging from electropop to dubstep to rap. They've got unlimited keg beer to lubricate you for an evening on your feet plus a Sexy Santa costume contest if you've donned your raciest white beard. <br/><br/><em>Saturday, December 7th, 9 p.m. // <a href="">Secret Loft</a> // $10</em>

<br/><br/>In the days of XTube and PornHub it's difficult to imagine that folks once had to watch their dirty flicks in a theater surrounded by equally degenerate perverts. This month, the Anthology Film Archives takes a look back at X-rated movies that were once as mainstream as the softcore YA movies so popular with the kids these days. <br/><br/>The "Golden Age" of adult cinema—aka "porno chic"—<em>went down</em> from 1972 to 75 before video came along and ruined it for everybody. There's super trippy, fantasy film <em><a href="">Through The Looking Glass</a></em> plus quintessential '70s funky times in <em><a href="">High Rise</a></em>, which also gives you a peek at a very groovy NYC. Boobs aside, the films provide a fun glimpse into '70s camp, with plenty of boogieing and jiving for your inner disco queen. <br/><br/><em>December 5th through December 8th, 8 p.m. // <a href="">Anthology Film Archieves</a> // <a href="">Tickets $10</a></em>

<br/><br/>Never mind the hot toddies, spiked cider, and eggnog—when the temperature dips and the wind howls like a frozen hellhound, a proper pint is what you should be reaching for. Those who fiend for boutique lagers and one-of-a-kind ales have a chance to imbibe this week at the official <strong><a href="">NYC Beer Week Fundraiser</a></strong>, hosted at Brooklyn Brewery in Williamsburg. <br/><br/>A <a href="">$40 ticket</a> gets you all the high-end beer you can drink (which is, let's face it, a bargain even by Brooklyn standards). Rockaway brewery will be serving up a bourbon barrel-aged Scotch ale, Kelso brewery plans to pour its chocolatey Winter lager, and Heartland will feature its Old Red Nose—a British winter warmer spiced with cinnamon, orange, and ginger. All this plus the chance to hobnob with some of NYC's best brewers is making winter feel a little more welcome. <em>Scott Heins</em><br/><br/><em>Thursday, December 5th, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. // <a href="">Brooklyn Brewery</a> // <a href="">Tickets $40</a></em>

Photo by (wallyg/Flickr)

<br/><br/>In the 15 years of its existence, literary magazine McSweeney's has risen from the wordsworth ashes to publish some of today's leading writers, like Joyce Carol Oates, Jonathan Lethem and Roddy Doyle. And to fete itself, founder Dave Eggers has put together a collection of some of McSweeney's best offerings over the years; he's releasing this <em><strong><a href="">The Best Of McSweeney's</a></strong></em> anthology at a star-studded 92nd St Y bash. Expect readings, talks and humor from a bevy of celebrated writers and McSweeney's contributers, including Jonathan Ames, Sheila Heti and Lawrence Weschle. <em>Rebecca Fishbein</em><br/><br/><em>Thursday, December 12th, 8:15 p.m. // <a href="">92nd Street Y</a> // <a href="">Tickets from $22</a></em>

<br/><br/>The Pig Brooch Theater Company returns to <a href="">The Brooklyn Lyceum</a> to bring Charles M. Shulz and Bill Melendez's <strong><a href=";profilepage=1&amp;subdomain=1"><em>A Charlie Brown Christmas</em></a></strong> to life. Each day from December 14 through 22, Pig Brooch actors will perform the Christmas classic television special verbatim. The actors who "share a deep love for this holiday favorite" created the stage version of "A Charlie Brown Christmas" at The Penn State Theater Program. They "have worked extremely hard to match the exact voices and physicalities" of the characters from the movie. The show also features a live jazz trio, who perform the Vince Guaraldi tunes that back the animated screen version. <em>Jade A. Williams</em><br/><br/><em>December 12 through 22; Thursdays and Fridays 7 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays 1p.m., 4p.m. &amp; 7 p.m. // <a href="">Brooklyn Lyceum</a> // <a href=";profilepage=1&amp;subdomain=1">Tickets $10</a></em>

<br/><br/>The opera chronicling the life of noted avant-garde performance artist <a href="">Marina Abramovic</a> debuts in the United States this month with a week-long residency at the Park Avenue Armory. <strong><a href="">The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic</a></strong> stars the artist playing herself and her mother, performing interpretations of her life from childhood in Yugoslavia to the present day. Willem Dafoe also appears in the multi-sensory experience, as does singer Antony, who performs original songs for the piece. From the atmospheric score to heavy themes, it's a beautiful but uneasy evening at the theater.<br/><br/> <em>December 12 through 21 // <a href="">Park Avenue Armory</a> // <a href="">Tickets $135</a></em>

<br/><br/>We don't want a lot for Christmas—except maybe World Peace and a new iPhone 5—but we definitely want plenty of holiday music, even if we've been hearing it in Duane Reade for a month already. Join fellow festive song lovers at the <strong><a href="">XMas Pop Sing-Along</a></strong>, where you can sing along with Mariah Carey at the top of your lungs without worrying about sticking the high notes. They'll be screening music videos of all your favorite Christmas and seasonal tunes, including John Lennon, NSYNC, Bowie and Crosby and a whole lot more with lyrics so you can follow along without fear.<br/><br/>Look out for a special appearance by good ole Saint Nick, plus a "worst holiday sweater" contest, a Santa costume contest and plenty of themed drinks to lubricate those vocal chords. Even nosh like the big guy on some free milk and cookies. <br/><br/><em>Friday, December 13th, 10 p.m. // <a href="">Union Hall</a> // <a href="">Tickets $8</a></em>

<br/><br/>Wagner's epic opera <em>Der Ring des Nibelungen</em> aka the "Ring Cycle" chronicles the story of a magic ring that gives its bearer dominion over the world. Intrepid opera goers typically experience this masterpiece over several evenings of performance, but the <strong><a href="">Salzburg Marionette Theatre: The Ring Cycle</a></strong> compresses Wagner's masterpiece into two hours plus some beautiful puppets to boot. The company has given the classics the marionette treatment before, but this time two live actors will join the puppets on stage as they act out the great saga with giants, angry gods and other magical creatures. <br/><br/><em>December 13th and 14th, 6:30 p.m. // <a href="">Metropolitan Museum of Art</a> // <a href="">Tickets $45</a></em>

<br/><br/>Filmmaker <strong>George Cukor's indelible body of work</strong>, from the spousal legal drama of 1949's <em>Adam's Rib</em> to the Audrey Hepburn version of <em>My Fair Lady</em> to Judy Garland's Oscar-nominated turn in <em>A Star Is Born</em>, gets dusted off for the big screen this month. The Film Society of Lincoln Center's retrospective will look at the <a href="">expansive filmography of this legendary director</a>, screening all of his films, beginning with his first solo directorial debut with <em>The Tarnished Lady</em> through his final film, <em>Rich and Famous</em>, in 1981. Along the way, his films starred some of the biggest names on the silver screen, including Katharine Hepburn, Jimmy Stewart, Joan Crawford, Spencer Tracy and Greta Garbo. <br/><br/><em>December 13th through January 7th // <a href="">Film Society of Lincoln Center</a> // Individual tickets $10</em>

<br/><br/>If you're looking for a one-of-a-kind gift for someone on your holiday shopping list, be sure to stop by <strong><a href="">BUST Magazine's Holiday Craftacular &amp; Food Fair</a></strong>, which brings over <a href="">250 vendors</a> selling handmade and vintage items to the Metropolitan Pavilion in Chelsea. Snag some badass rings from <a href="">Brooklyn Heavy Metal</a>, explore your softer side with yarn products from <a href="">Queen Bee Fibers</a> or grab a dope write-on t-shrit from <a href="">Chalkboard Tee</a>. They'll also have eats on hand including Two Boots Pizza and some vegan sweets; admission also includes a copy of BUST magazine.<br/><br/><em>December 14th and 15th // <a href="">Metropolitan Pavillion</a> // Admission $3</em>

<br/><br/>Conductor David Robertson leads the <strong><a href="">Ensemble ACJW and soprano Dawn Upshaw</a></strong> through an eclectic evening of 20th century music at Carnegie Hall. Upshaw performs Berio's <em>Folk Songs</em>, which takes 11 melodies from across the globe and weaves them together for a symphonic trip around the world. Next, <a href="">Steve Reich's</a> <em>City Life</em>, which captures New York City through notes, sirens, car horns and other daily heard sounds that the composer recorded throughout the city. Finally, the program concludes with Bartok's eerie <em>Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta</em>, which movie buffs will <a href="">recognize as part of the soundtrack</a> for Kubrick's seminal adaptation of <em>The Shining</em>.<br/><br/><em>Saturday, December 14th, 7:30 p.m. // <a href="">Carnegie Hall</a> // <a href=";quickBuy=false&amp;quantity=0&amp;eventId=19097">Tickets $43 or $50</a></em>

<br/><br/>Michael Arenella, the fine fellow who throws the bi-annual Jazz Age Lawn Parties, throws a different kind of throwback party at the 5th annual <strong><a href="">Winterball 2013</a></strong>. The Michael Arenella Sextet performs selections from the holiday songbook with additional performances by cabaret legend Steve Ross, plus dance performances by the Minsky Sisters, Roddy Caravella's Holiday Ballroom Review and Aurora Black. Guests take their turns on the Dreamland Dance Floor as well, of course, helped along by a complimentary glass of champagne upon arrival as well as custom cocktails, wine and beer.<br/><br/><em>Saturday, December 14th, 9:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. // <a href="">Engine Company 31</a> // <a href="">Tickets $60</a></em>

Photo by (Driely S.)

<br/><br/>It's hard to be a Jew on Christmas, and it's even harder to be single. But as the self-proclaimed biggest Jewish singles event in nation, <strong><a href="">The Jewish Ball</a></strong> battles both these ailments, sticking thousands of lady and gentleman Members of the Tribe in some of the city's hottest clubs for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. This year, revelers and young Jewish men and women on the prowl will hit up Lavo, Marquee, PH-D, The Park, Avenue and the Penthouse at the Dream Hotel; fix your hair, put on some lipstick and be prepared to bring someone home even your mother would approve of. <em>Rebecca Fishbein</em><br/><br/><em>Tuesday, December 24th and Wednesday, December 25th // Multiple Locations // Tickets $35</em>

<br/><br/>If you're not gathered around the Christmas tree or raving out at da club, get your body moving a different way and learn some <strong><a href="">Israeli Folk Dancing</a></strong> at the 92nd Street Y. Teachers Ruth Goodman and Yossi Almani lead the open session that welcomes dancers of all skill levels to take a few spins on the dance floor. Those who already know the basics get some advice to further their skills while beginners can enjoy the charming music and fluid movements as they learn the basics. <br/><br/><em>Wednesday, December 25th, 8:15 p.m. // 92nd Street Y // <a href="">Tickets $14</a></em>

<br/><br/>Best known for his Pulitzer-prize winning graphic novel <em>Maus</em>, which illustrates his father's experience as a Holocaust survivor, comic artist Art Spiegelman also boasts an extraordinary catalogue of colorful prints and genre-pushing illustrations. The Jewish Museum displays over 300 sketches and final drawings at <strong><a href="">Art Spiegelman's Co-Mix: A Retrospective</a></strong>, on display now through March. The artist continues to produce work, including recent <em>New Yorker</em> covers, as well as a collaboration with dance troupe Pilobolus. The exhibit also includes selected writings and comic essays, which paint the portrait of an ever-evolving artist who continues to explore the creative process and continually adapt his work for new audiences.<br/><br/><em>Ongoing // <a href="">The Jewish Museum</a> // Admission $15</em>