The Best FREE Things to Do in New York City During the Holidays

New York City doesn’t do low-key or subdued or understated. Those words aren’t even in its vocabulary. It’s a “Go Big or Go Home” kinda town. So it’s not difficult to imagine just how festive the Big Apple is during the holidays. From incredible light and holiday-themed displays to one-of-a-kind events and activities, New York City makes it nearly impossible to get your Grinch on. Now, there are plenty of things worth parting with your hard-earned cash for. Big-ticket events like the Radio City Christmas Spectacular or the New York City Ballet’s Nutcracker are huge draws every year. But we’re here to let you in on a little secret: you don’t need to break the bank to enjoy the holiday season in The City That Never Sleeps.

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Puppy Love: Photos from the 2018 Tompkins Square Park Halloween Dog Parade

There’s always something new going on in New York City, so it takes a special event to keep the locals coming back again and again. The Tompkins Square Park Halloween Dog Parade is just such an event. Attending the parade has become one of our favorite Halloween rituals, so we were pretty brokenhearted to hear it had been canceled. Long story short, the event had become so popular that the park was requiring insurance to cover its many attendees, and the financial burden was just too great to bear.

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Death By Chocolate: A Visit to The Big Chocolate Show in New York City

In the earliest days of our relationship, food was common ground. And Lynn was far and away the more experienced gastronome. She turned me on to Malaysian cuisine. She explained that the Chinese food I had been eating–and genuinely liked–was, in fact, American food, promptly taking me out for the real thing. Lynn even gave me my first bites of sushi (or should I say “attempted” bites, as I struggled mightily with chopsticks back then). There was one food, however, that needed no cross-cultural exchange, clarification, or introduction: chocolate. When it came to chocolate, we were on the same footing from the start. It’s the foodie version of a universal language, after all.

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Through the Lens: Inside Brooklyn’s Photoville (Or How to Win at Date Night)

Lynn and I have been married for a number of years. When we started this blog, we really had no idea what kind of journey we were embarking on. The path has been one with many surprises, but one of the unexpected happy side effects is that we get to go on a lot of dates. Coffee dates, museum dates, let’s-try-something-new dates. Dates where we jump in a car or hop on a plane. Some dates still end up being duds, but when an event is going to check off a lot of boxes, we know the odds we’ll have a good time improve significantly. And Photoville checks off a lot of boxes.

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Around the World in 80 Bites: A Visit to Queens International Night Market

For nearly five years, Anthony Bourdain worked on an ambitious, quixotic scheme to create a 155,000 square foot international night market at New York City’s Pier 57. The overwrought and ill-fated venture ultimately ended with Bourdain conceding defeat in December 2017, a mere six months shy of his tragic and untimely death. Like everyone else, I was shocked and saddened by the news of Bourdain’s suicide. But, if I’m being honest (as unpopular as this opinion may be), I didn’t feel the same way about the demise of his passion project.

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Heaven, Hell and A Heist: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination at The Met

The Met Museum is so iconic and so synonymous with New York City that every time I approach the steps, a little highlight reel plays in my head. The scene from When Harry Met Sally where Billy Crystal says in a funny voice, “Waiter, there is too much pepper on my paprikash, but I would love to partake in your pecan pie.” Blair and Serena’s power lunches from Gossip Girl. Toulouse-Lautrec’s The Sofa. The Psycho Barn reproduction on the roof a couple of years ago. It’s where my New York City fantasy and reality worlds collide, and it never gets old. But nothing gets me more excited than trekking to the annual Costume Institute Exhibit every summer.

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A Tip Of The Hat: The New York City Easter Parade and Bonnet Festival

Have you ever wondered how we came up with the name of our blog, Mad Hatters NYC? We actually drew inspiration from a number of sources, the most obvious one being Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. We’re not the only ones to draw a parallel between New York City and Carroll’s land of magic and make-believe. But one day a year, the comparison takes on a life on its own. During the New York City Easter Parade and Bonnet Festival, a large group of Mad Hatters descends on Fifth Avenue and the world of fantasy and reality collide.

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Chasing The Dragon: How To Watch The Lunar New Year Parade in New York City

Tradition is one of those things I found stifling when I was younger, something I desperately needed to break free of. Being of mixed race meant having two sets of rules to adhere to. It meant being saddled by two laborious sets of obligations. I couldn’t wait until I didn’t have to be somewhere I didn’t want to be–I was young and had way cooler things to do, after all. (Cue the eye roll here.) But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve developed a renewed understanding and appreciation for it. Community becomes less about conforming and more about belonging.

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Finding Love in New York City on Valentine’s Day with the Army of Lovers



Those who know me know that I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day. In fact, I kind of despise it. And it’s not just because I don’t buy in to the carefully orchestrated marketing frenzy of overpriced gifts and experiences leading up to the holiday. It’s because something about glorifying coupledom has always rubbed me the wrong way. Sure, I can acknowledge the value of taking the time to appreciate your significant other, but that should really happen more than once a year, don’t you think? Justin and I have never been one of those couples who only hangs out with other couples. In fact, we have many friendships with individuals who happen to be unattached. And, surprise, they are no less spectacular because they haven’t “found the one”, “met their soulmate”, or “made the perfect match”.

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Hitting All The Right Notes: The Tradition of Unsilent Night in New York City


If there’s one thing to know about this blog and the people behind it, it’s that Justin and I love all facets of New York City. That means loving Jean Georges and Halal Guys in equal measure. Fifth Avenue and the Lower East Side. The Met and Mmuseumm. And when it comes to the holidays, we love over-the-top displays as well as understated celebrations. One of the more quirky and lesser known holiday traditions we enjoy in New York City is that of Unsilent Night.

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