Skaters try out the riverside ice-skating rink at Seaport Square,...

Skaters try out the riverside ice-skating rink at Seaport Square, located between Piers 16 and 17 in Manhattan. Credit: The Howard Hughes Corporation

New York City has several standard stops when it comes to touristy-types of holiday things to see, but look a bit deeper to find pop-up events that either mark the season in a special way or offer a unique way to spend a day in the Big Apple.


At Seaport Square, located between Piers 16 and 17, this 40 foot-by-92-foot rink stands out as skaters will be gliding beneath “Aurora,” a multi-light art installation inspired by the Northern Lights. Skating here is also free, but skate rentals are available if needed starting at $23. The Seaport will host its yearly menorah lighting on Dec. 18.

INFO 89 South St., Manhattan; 646-822-6990,


Santa meets and greets with a guest at the "Santa...

Santa meets and greets with a guest at the "Santa Clauses' Winter Wonderland" pop-up event, happening at Watermark Bar in Manhattan.  Credit: Bucketlisters

This all-ages outdoor pop-up is already active through Jan. 15 at the riverside Watermark Bar, and has turned the venue into a replication of Santa Claus’ North Pole HQ. The experience opens with a walk down a candy cane-lined hallway that leads to the Kringle’s “living room,” equipped with a giant, photogenic fireplace. Other things to see and pose in front of include an oversized snow globe designed for photo-ops, a large dangling mistletoe and a candy bar. the spots “Gingerbread House Bar” serves cocktails, mocktails, hot drinks and seasonal bites, and semiprivate glass enclosures are available for reservations where a separate menu is offered. For those looking to brunch here, a special “Santa’s Brunch” will be served weekends throughout December. Tickets start at $20 and are available in advance; general admission includes a cup of hot cocoa. Table reservations start at $75.

INFO Pier 15, Manhattan;


The Soho interactive art museum has transformed itself for the season into a space that embraces the elements of the last season of the year through Dec. 31. Installations to explore include a plaid “Confetti Forest,” a confetti “snowstorm” where guests can pose for pics in a sky lift chair and a space to go sledding while indoors. $38.49, ages 2 and younger enter free; both timed and flexible tickets available in advance.

INFO 251 Spring St., Soho;


The scene at the "Golden Girls Kitchen" pop-up brunch.

The scene at the "Golden Girls Kitchen" pop-up brunch. Credit: Bucketlisters

The "Golden Girls" pop-up experience kicks off Dec. 7 and runs mostly Wednesdays through Sundays until March 4 and provides a dining experience set at the Seaport. The space surrounds guests with all things that callback the classic sitcom, such as a kitchen inspired by the show, the Rusty Anchor Bar and a facsimile of Blanche Devereaux's signature bedroom plus other décor. Guests can look forward to a dessert-heavy menu, sporting dishes such as “Blanche's Georgia Style Cookie,” “Sperheoven Krispies” and “Sophia's Lasagna Al Forno,” with all food brought by a server representing the Shady Pines retirement home. A drag brunch will be available to attend here Sundays from Jan. 8-Feb. 26. Tickets start at $40, drag brunches start at $74, book in advance online.

INFO 19 Fulton St., Manhattan;


Visitors to the "Spectacular Factory: The Holiday Multiverse" event, held...

Visitors to the "Spectacular Factory: The Holiday Multiverse" event, held at ARTECHOUSE NYC in Manhattan, are surrounded by holiday imagery and decor throughout the experience.  Credit: ARTECHOUSE

The offbeat ARTECHOUSE NY Chelsea Market art space has transformed itself into a holiday-themed adventure through Jan. 8 with an immersive zone that wraps attendees in festive pictures and exhibits. Massive jingle balls, candies and ornamental imagery surround guests, and look for things to try like a candy cane carousel and a train that runs through wreaths. $25, $17 ages 4-15, ages 3 and under enter free; timed tickets available via the website.

INFO 439 W. 15th St., Manhattan;


Back for another season, this festive event once again decks the island’s historic Colonels Row with holiday lights and turns it into a spot where people can come to eat, drink, play games, sit by firepits and ice skate. Open Thursdays through Sundays (and during NYC public school holidays) into February, it can also provide a rare opportunity to go sledding in the city (when Mother Nature complies with snow); bikes and sleds will be available to rent. Lawn games such as cornhole, giant Jenga and can jam will be ready to play, and food trucks will be parked on-site.

INFO Round-trip ferry tickets are $4, free for kids age 12 and younger; ferries running before noon on Saturdays and Sundays are free-for-all.


For the first time in over a decade, the Wildlife...

For the first time in over a decade, the Wildlife Conservation Society is hosting a holiday lights show at the Bronx Zoo.  Credit: Wildlife Conservation Society/Dennis DeMello/WCS

Combining festive illumination with live animal attractions, this annual winter gathering has returned, along with upgrades in the sights and the lights. This all-outdoor undertaking has added 30 new species to see—along with 60 other returning animal residents. Attendees can look forward to 70 new wildlife lanterns, which now total at 360 along its six trails. Running on select dates until Jan. 8, event guests will be witness to theater shows, ice carving demos, glowing stilt walkers synchronized light shows, and can look forward to train rides and seasonal snacks such as s’mores and hot chocolate. See professional carolers (Dec. 26-30) before ending the year with a family-friendly New Year’s Eve countdown before the facility’s Schiff Family Great Hall plays host to an illuminated playground (Jan. 6-8). Timed tickets start at $39.95, $24.95 ages 3-12; tickets must be purchased in advance.

INFO 2300 Southern Blvd., Bronx; 718-367-1010,

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