It’s the last weekend before Christmas. Take a break from your last-minute shopping to party with bands inspired by Harry Potter, celebrate the longest night of the year, and hang out with Santa. Read on for details. By Jessica Allen.

Granted, winter in NYC has thus far been fairly mild. Nevertheless, it is, after all, winter. Banish any blues by attending the 36th annual Winter Solstice concert at the gorgeous, gothic Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Scheduled performers include saxophonist Paul Winter, vocalist Theresa Thomason, dancers and percussionists Forces of Nature, and others. Thursday, December 17, through Saturday, December 19, see schedule for details, tickets required.


Catch up with the Big Guy before he gets super busy this week during the annual Breakfast with Santa Cruise. In addition to a huge buffet breakfast, you can get down with a live DJ (don’t worry: the tunes will be kid friendly), play interactive games, mix and mingle with elves fresh from the North Pole, and enjoy the amazing views of New York Harbor. Alas, the reindeer appear to be staying on land. Saturday, December 19, boarding begins at 9 am, $49 (adult), $39 (child), tickets required.

Calling all wizards, warlocks, and witches! Presented by Harry and the Potters, the Yule Ball lets you don your wickedest wardrobe to perform all kinds of dastardly deeds, including dancing along to Tonks and the Aurors (self-proclaimed “Bruce Springsteen of Wizard Rock”), watching a performance by the Potter Puppet Pals, and laughing along to improve about—you guessed it—everyone’s favorite fictional wizard. Saturday, December 19, 5 pm, $20, tickets required.

Not to be confused with Netflix’s recently released A Very Murray Christmas, A Murray Little Christmas stars legendary performer Murray Hill. This “cocktail-style variety show” features performances by the bawdy country duo Wau-Wau Sisters, neo-burlesque superstar Dirty Martini, and Hill’s very own swing band The 12-Steps. You’ll dance, you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll cheer. Saturday, December 19, 7 pm, $20 for standing room or $25 for table seating, tickets required, must be 18 or older.

Celebrate the shortest day of the year with song! Since 2011, Make Music Winter has combated the cold with the joys of music. This year, the free concerts—all designed to bring music to the masses—will take place around the city, and feature a huge range of performers and genres, including the Flatfoot Flatbush parade (“flatfooting” is a type of clogging) and a concert in which participants use their bike bells to make music. Monday, December 21, see schedule for details, free.