Begin 2020 by diving into new sights, sounds, tastes, and experiences! Whether you are going to see a two-for-one musical on Broadway, sample wings in Poughkeepsie, learn to ski or snowboard on one of the many ski mountains across the state, or take the plunge into icy Lake George, New York State is full of January happenings! Don’t let the cold keep you in, check out these New York must-dos!
Jump into the new year with a Polar Plunge (Adirondacks and New York City)
There’s nothing like a little dip in a freezing lake to wake up your senses and send you into the New Year refreshed and revitalized. On New Year’s Day, join thousands of polar plungers on the shores of Lake George and jump into the frigid waters to kick-start 2020. Proceeds from Polar Plunge—First Day in Lake George registration fees benefit the Springfield Shriners Hospital’s Acute Pediatric Rehabilitation Program and the local fire department. On Coney Island, the New Year’s Polar Plunge will celebrate 116 years of encouraging people to jump into the ocean. There’s no fee to join, but donations are strongly encouraged as funds raised are donated back into the community for the New York Aquarium, the Alliance for Coney Island, and others. Lake George Polar Plunge is $10.
Albany Symphony Clara Festival (Capital-Saratoga)
In the 1800s, a child prodigy was captivating Europe with her piano playing. Clara Schumann would, in her lifetime, become one of the most famous pianists and composers of the 19th century. From January 9–12, rediscover her music during the Albany Symphony’s Clara Schumann Festival at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall (pictured). Each day of the festival presents a different musical celebration of Schumann’s work, with performances from the Bard College Conservatory of Music, and piano prodigy Harmony Zhu. January 9–12; Troy; Ticket prices vary.
8th Annual Buffalo on Tap (Greater Niagara)
Good times and great beer await at the 8th Annual Buffalo on Tap tasting extravaganza on January 11 at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center. Try brews from more than 75 breweries serving up 150 different kinds of beer and hard ciders, including hometown brews at the Buffalo Brewpub, an area of the festival dedicated to beers made in Buffalo. Many New York breweries are participating as well, including Ithaca Beer Co., Ellicottville Brewing Company, K2 Brothers, and many more. A lineup of live musical entertainment is planned, as well as a curated menu of great pub food to pair perfectly with whatever you’re drinking. The fun vibe of the festival continues at the lawn games section, where you can spend the day playing ladder golf, Kan Jam, cornhole, and more. Cap off the night by watching the Niagara Falls Winter Fireworks display at 8 pm. January 11 from 12–9:30 pm; Buffalo; Prices vary by ticket type, DD tickets also available. See also: Bills Legend Thurman Thomas’s Guide to Buffalo and Greater Niagara.
16th Annual Chilly Chili 5k Run/Walk at Cazenovia College (Central New York)
For 16 years, hundreds of runners have gathered on the Cazenovia College campus to race or walk in the Annual Chilly Chili 5k event, then feast on chili at cook-off party. This year is no different. Join revelers and enjoy a fun run or walk around Cazenovia, then dine and dance to live music at the after party. Awards for the top male and female runners, as well as age group awards will be presented. Don’t miss the silent auction! All proceeds from the race benefit the Cazenovia Children’s House. Race is January 12 at 1 pm; Cazenovia; Race fee is $35, and racers get into the after party for free. All guests of race participants will be charged a $5 fee to attend the party.
Discover NY Ski Day (Various Regions)
Did you know that New York State has the most ski areas out of any state in the union? It’s true! I SKI NY is dedicated to helping skiers, riders, and those who are completely new to the sport discover the great skiing and riding available throughout New York State. On January 16, Discover NY Ski Day is your chance to hit the slopes and save on a lift ticket. At all participating ski areas, score a $12 lift ticket and get in the lift line for a day of incredible alpine fun Learn to Ski and Ride packages will be available for beginners for just $25, and include an hour lesson, gear rentals, and a lift ticket. Find your local ski mountain and discover New York’s great skiing. January 16. See website for list of participating ski areas.
Winter Music Festivals (Various Regions)
This January, things are warming up at two music festivals in the mountains. Mohonk Mountain House (pictured) plays host to Jazz on the Mountain January 10–13, featuring performances from some incredible singers and musicians. Featured performers include Dave Stryker’s 8-Track Band, the eclectic sounds of Scott Robinson, pianist Helen Sung, and Allison Miller’s BoomTicBoom. Book a stay at Mohonk Mountain House to enjoy the festival, and the resort’s incredibly unique amenities. For blues music, head to Ellicottville where the Winter Blues Festival heats up January 17–18 with musical acts performing at various venues throughout town. The entire festival is free.
New York City Broadway Week (New York City)
Do you want to go on a magic carpet ride, say "Beetlejuice" three times, and dive into the world of Harry Potter? You can during NYC Broadway Week, where two-for-one tickets to some of the most spectacular performances on the stage right now are available from January 21–February 9. A celebration of live theater, Broadway Week happens twice a year and is one of the best times to secure tickets to the shows you’re dying to see. This year’s lineup includes Dear Evan Hansen, Frozen, The Book of Mormon, Aladdin, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, The Phantom of the Opera, Mean Girls, and so many more. Tickets go on sale January 8, when the full lineup of shows is also revealed. Buy yours early to secure your seats as ticket quantities are limited. January 21–February 9; New York City; Prices vary.
New York Boat Show (New York City)
Credit: Progressive Insurance NY Boat Show
If you’ve always dreamed of owning a boat, make it happen in 2020! The New York Boat Show at the Javits Center in NYC is THE place to go to browse and compare models at one of the largest selections of watercraft. You’ll find yachts, cruisers, pontoons, canoes, kayaks, fishing boats, and more. You can also browse vendors of resort and travel packages. The best deals will happen on Thursday, January 23, when one-day-only specials will be offered on various boats and products, as well as food and drink specials and discounted admission. Little ones will love the Kids’ Touch-A-Boat Tour, which lets them board and explore boats and chat with boat captains. And Wednesday through Sunday at various times there will be Build-A-Boat crafting for kids. January 22-26; Javits Center; Adults: $16, children ages 12 & younger free
Salmon River Winter Festival (Thousand Islands-Seaway)
A trip to the Salmon River Winter Festival is like stepping inside a picture-perfect winter postcard. The entire village turns out for this three-day festival that celebrates the best of winter fun. Ice-skating, snowshoeing, and a meet-and-greet with sled dogs provides kid-friendly fun outside, while the Chili Walk and Mac n’ Cheese Walk should take care of any post-activity appetites. The entire weekend of events is free, but there is a $5 fee for the food walks, which lets you vote on which chili or mac n’ cheese is best. A whole weekend of free kids' activities, live music, and a special screening of the film Miracle, makes this a family-friendly festival not to be missed. January 24-26; Pulaski; Free—$5 fee for the food walks.
Annual Skaneateles Winterfest (Finger Lakes)
This two-day festival celebrating winter fun kicks off January 24 with family-friendly entertainment, a little fire, and a little ice. Enjoy watching the annual lighting of the Ice Tower, dip from your toes to your nose in icy waters during the Polar Plunge and eat your way across the village during the Taste of Skaneateles, where local restaurants offer samples of their cuisine for revelers to enjoy. Fan favorites include the ice sculptures crafted by a master ice artist, live music, and more. Skaneateles; Prices for Taste of Skaneateles tickets and Polar Plunge vary. January 24-25.
Hudson Valley Wingfest (Hudson Valley)
January 25th marks the 13th anniversary of the Hudson Valley Wingfest. Billed as the biggest wing event in the state, this year’s festival will once again tempt you with mouthwatering aromas at the Majed J. Nesheiwat Convention Center in Poughkeepsie. New this year are surprising wing flavors, great bands, and more. Voted the “Best Winter Cabin Fever event in NY,” the festival usually sells out so advance ticket purchases are recommended. Live music and games add a lively vibe. January 25; Poughkeepsie; Ticket prices vary.
Long Island Restaurant Week (Long Island)
There’s nothing like a warming meal to brighten any winter evening. This January 26–February 2, head to Long Island where Restaurant Week allows you to dine at incredible restaurants for just $29. Enjoy a three-course prix-fixe dinner at 15 restaurants, including family-friendly options like Andy’s in Greenport and fine dining establishments such as 1221 at MFP in Roslyn. While you’re visiting, don’t miss a tour of Oheka Castle, featured on our 2020 New York Bucket List. January 26–February 2; Long Island; Price varies.
Empire State Winter Games (Adirondacks)
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Empire State Winter Games, a four-day sporting competition that sees thousands of athletes compete in 30 sports. The games feature spectator-friendly competitions in the two-time Winter Olympic Village of Lake Placid, as well as the nearby villages and towns of Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, Malone, Wilmington, and Paul Smiths. Visit during the weekend to enjoy a Winter Olympic experience, in miniature. From luge and skeleton events, to winter bike races, and adaptive sporting competitions, experience an inspiring weekend of competition that is fun for the whole family to enjoy. January 30–February 2; Adirondacks; Free for spectators.