I'm a freelance writer/photographer living in the East Village neighborhood of New York City.
Bring in the winter holiday season a little early during the 11th annual Winter's Eve Celebration, an evening jam-packed with live entertainment, food tastings, giant puppets, a tree-lighting ceremony, and plenty of hands-on activities for the kids.
The evening kicks off promptly at 5:30 PM at Dante Park (Broadway and 63th Street) with the lighting of a massive 25-foot balsam tree with decorations provided by Glitterlimes, Hammonds Candies, and Soutine Bakery.
As dusk turns to dark, listen to jazz guitarist and vocalist John Pizzarelli, who takes a break from dates at Birdland to entertain the Upper West Side. WABC-TV's Sade Baderinwa will be on hand to host the action as the party moves closer to Richard Tucker Park (65th-66th Streets) and Time Warner Center on Columbus Circle where individual canopies will be set up to offer distinctive bite-sized foods, such as hot soups, beverages, and desserts from 30 area restaurants including Atlantic Grill, Telepan, Bar Boulud, and A Voce.
Mill around outside and enjoy live ice sculpting by Okamoto Studio, music by Irish violinist Eileen Ivers, Colombian quartet Chia's Dance Band, and Brooklyn's favorite hometown heroes, the Hungry March Band. The entertainment continues inside Time Warner Center as well, with jazz interpretations by the Rose Rutledge Trio (second floor), a reading and book signing at Borders Books by author Jane Seymour ("Among Angels"), and performances by the Julliard Jazz Ensemble at Barnes & Noble. Participating stores are also offering various discounts throughout the evening to encourage early gift buying.
Kids young and old will be enthralled by the sight of giant puppets performed by puppeteers from the Arm of the Sea Theater Group and various performers, jugglers, and acrobats from the Big Apple Circus. Screenings of A Charlie Brown Christmas will be offered at nearby Church of St. Paul the Apostle followed by a "Little Drummer Boy" sing-a-long. The arts and crafts minded will want to participate in stations near Time Warner Center that provide hands-on activities for children such as face painting and making holiday cards and scarves.
Come out and meet your neighbors and bring in the festive season while giving back to the community. Representatives from City Harvest will be on hand to collect canned goods in Dante Park for the homeless, a small price to pay for an evening of critically acclaimed live music, low-cost treats, and plenty of delightful age-appropriate activities for young minds. Bundle up!