12 Days of Christmas Break Activities

What to do with the kids during the holiday break, other than playing with their new loot and bingeing on Christmas cookies? Here are 12 local events and activities to explore with the family if you’re home for the holidays.

12 days of holiday activities


Both the indoor rinks at World Ice Pavilion in Flushing Meadows Park and the City Ice Pavilion in Long Island City are open daily over the break, including holidays. $8/admission, $5/skate rental. Lessons, skating and hockey camp are available. Check the sites for details and hours of operation.

New to NYC this winter is the outdoor rink at McCarren Park in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. $8/adult, $4/child, $5/skate rental. A big appeal is the food cart run by Hanson Bros., offering innovative takes on hot dogs (including tofu versions), melts, snacks and drinks, with nothing more than $7.
Where: 776 Lorimer Street, Brooklyn, NY 11222 (347) 482-7798
When: Daily (weather permitting) through early January, 11am-10pm


Visit the Bronx Zoo for their ice carving demos and a Salute to Wildlife Ice Carving Competition. This year’s displays pay homage to the wildlife of Arctic Beringia. Kids can enjoy the ice playground and the Giant Bowhead Whale Display, carved from a dozen blocks of ice, and explore Inuit life in an actual igloo.
Where: 2300 Southern Blvd, Bronx, NY 10460 (718) 367-1010
When: Dec 26, 27, 29-31; Ice Carving Competition on Dec 28


Visit the Fisher Landau Center for Art and check out a collection of contemporary artwork, from 1960 to the present. Pieces of interest include works by Jasper Johns and Kiki Smith.
Where: 38-27 30th Street, Long Island City, NY 11101 (718) 937-0727
When: Thursday – Monday, 12-5pm (closed Tues & Wed)

The Queens Botanical Garden is running an exquisite collection of flower photography. H. David Stein’s “Deconstructed Flowers” showcases his unique process of layering several images to create photographs that express many aspects of a flower simultaneously. The former chairman of surgery at Flushing Hospital, Dr. Stein has always possessed a dedication to the importance of detail and he expresses that now through this visually arresting exhibit.
Where: 43-50 Main Street, Flushing, NY 11355 (718) 866-3800
When: Tues – Sat, 8am – 4pm


“COOL” WINTER CRAFTS @ Central Library in Jamaica:
This program for children ages 3-5 employs ice art, sugar-snow paint, marshmallow snowflakes, puffy polar bears, frozen paint art, winter mobiles and handprint snow. Space is limited; first come, first served.
Where: 89-11 Merrick Blvd, Jamaica, NY 11432 (718) 990-0700
When: December 26 @ 10:30am, no registration required

Come learn to do winter-inspired origami! Kids can make an origami penguin and polar bear and put them together in their own winter collage!
Where: 95-06 Astoria Boulevard, East Elmhurst, NY 11369 (718) 424-2619
When: December 26 @ 3:30pm, register online or via phone

Bash the Trash builds and performs on musical instruments made from reused and repurposed materials. Veteran trash-basher Skip La Plante will share some of his handcrafted instruments and demonstrate the science behind them. Then everyone gets to build an instrument, make some music and take it home!
Where: 43-06 Greenpoint Avenue, Long Island City, NY 11104 (718) 784-3033
When: December 30 @ 3:30pm, no registration required


Enjoy holiday cheer at Louis’s house, featuring rare at-home recordings of Louis Armstrong. In keeping with the Armstrong’s tradition, the house will be brightly decorated for the holidays. This Holiday Historic House Tour will feature rare audio clips from Louis’s personal recordings of himself and family celebrations at home. $10; $7 children; $6 group rate; free for children under 4. Complimentary candy canes included with admission.
When: Tues-Fri through December 29; Tue – Fri 10am – 5pm, Sat – Sun 12 – 5pm. Tours start every hour on the hour (last tour of the day starts at 4pm)
Where: 34-56 107th Street, Corona, NY 11368 (718) 478-8274


There are over 10 great indoor playspaces in Queens to enjoy with your kids. The Kids Playhouse Jackson Heights accommodates kids of most ages. Featuring a multi-level adventure maze, a separate, gated, toddler play area, arcade games, a snackbar and free WiFi. $7/child (includes up to 2 accompanying adults) for 3 hours of play.
Where: 93-05 37th Avenue, Jackson Heights, NY 11372 (718) 255-1505
When: Daily (but call ahead on weekends to make sure it hasn’t been booked for a private party), 10am-8pm


It may not be possible to have all the same days off as the kids. For those looking for daycare for K-5 graders who love to swim, Manhattan Youth is running a holiday camp at P.S. 89 in Tribeca. Open to all kids, no matter where they attend school, with activities such as dance, art, drama, and sports. Meals, snacks and swimming are included.
Cost: $100/day 1-3 days $85/day 4 or more days.
Where:  201 Warren St, New York, NY 10282 (212) 766-1104 x265
When: December 23 – 31, 8:30am-5:30pm

Written By; Liza Wiles – As a full-time working mom, raising fourth generation New Yorkers in Jackson Heights, Liza writes with the conviction that the suburbs are no place to grow a family.   She develops, writes and produces for TV and film and her proudest productions are her 6-year old daughter and 3-year old son.  She is in blissful denial of a work-life balance and blogs about it at Mama Jabber.  Her work can be found on Aiming Low The Indie Chicks and The Jane Dough.  You can follow her around on Twitter @LizaWyles.