Hanukkah 2021: 8 Festival of Lights events that celebrate NYC’s return


(New York Jewish Week via JTA) — Mayor-Elect Eric Adams recently told the New York Post that one of his goals as mayor was “patronizing nightlife,” and that he was going to find a new place in the city to go every night. Well. Mayor Adams, we see your nightlife promise, and we raise you eight nights of celebrating Hanukkah.  

This year, Hanukkah begins on Sunday evening, Nov. 28. Yes, that’s Thanksgiving weekend, so if you’ve been too busy buying a turkey or preparing side dishes to think about how you’re celebrating the Festival of Lights, you are forgiven.

Nonetheless, Hanukkah is coming — and with it, a host of public events across the city that commemorate the eight-day festival. What better way is there to signal that New York is backthan to celebrate Hanukkah in true New York City style?

From family-friendly events to adults-only all-nighters, here are the New York Jewish Week’s eight suggestions Hanukkah events well worth attending this year. 

1.Experience a bit of Jewish burlesque

Celebrate the first night of Hanukkah with the final Menorah Horah, a burlesque show presented by Thirsty Girl Productions and the Schlep Sisters that pays homage to Yiddish Theater and Vaudeville on the Lower East Side. For the 15th year, the Schlep Sisters — burlesque dancers Minnie Tonka and Darlinda Just Darlinda — are joined by fellow burlesque stars and DJ Momotaro at Le Poisson Rouge on Saturday November 27th. It’s their last year performing, so this is one you won’t want to miss. “It’s been a really good run and we’ve had so much fun over the last 15 years,” Darlinda Just Darlinda told the New York Jewish Week. “There will be reminiscing on the last 15 years of joy and celebration. And of course there will be gelt.” Tickets range from $20 to $50 and are on sale now.

2. Visit Brooklyn’s largest menorah

If you’re looking for a free event, join Chabad of Park Slope in lighting their iconic 32-foot menorah in Grand Army Plaza outside the entrance to Prospect Park. There will be a kickoff party and concert at 4:30 pm on Sunday, Nov. 28 and subsequent candle lightings every night of Hanukkah after that, with music, latkes and gifts for children. Find out more information at their website.  

3. Rock out with Yo La Tengo at the Bowery Ballroom

Indie rockers Yo La Tengo are back with their classic, eight-night Hanukkah concert series at the Bowery Ballroom. You can still snag tickets to one of their concerts for $50; many of the nights are already sold out so move fast to see the band live! Each night features a different surprise opener and comedic performance before the band takes the stage.  

4. Spin like a dreidel at “Chanukah on Ice”

It may be unseasonably warm out this Hanukkah, but that doesn’t mean we can’t go ice skating. Back for the 12th year in a row, Chanukah on Ice — featuring live music, Hanukkah food and a menorah lighting — is set for Nov. 29, the second night of Hanukkah, at Wollman Rink in Central Park. Tickets are $22 if reserved in advance, not including skate rentals. More information is available on their website

5. Enjoy fire and ice in Clinton Hill

Speaking of ice, there will be a menorah carved out of ice at the Chabad of Clinton Hill Chanukah party on Sunday, Nov. 28. Arrive at 5:30 pm to see the menorah carving, and then watch the menorah be lit at 6:00 across from 541 Myrtle Ave. in north-central Brooklyn. The party includes a magic show, latkes, sufganiyot (that’s Hebrew for irresistably oily doughnuts) giveaways and music. Maybe the magic is in the menorah not melting? You’ll have to go to find out. More info here.

6. Embark on a DIY fried-food crawl

Maybe the free sufganiyot at all these events aren’t doing it for you. Maybe the thought of homemade latkes sounds a bit too messy this year. Luckily, New York City has no shortage of the delicious Hanukkah treats. Bread’s Bakery, a Manhattan staple famous for their babka and rugelach, will be serving their Hanukkah menu from Nov. 26 through Dec 5, which features latkes and four different flavors of sufganiyot. For more sufganiyot options, check out Michaeli Bakery in the Lower East Side, and pick up sufganiyot in halva, dulce de leche, or banana pecan flavors, alongside the traditional strawberry jam. On the savory side, don’t miss latkes (sold year-round) from Veselka’s, the renowned Ukrainian spot in the East Village. Or, head up to Liebman’s Kosher Delicatessen in the Bronx, where little has changed in seven decades of business, and each latkes is the size of a Frisbee.

7. Party like its 2nd-century BCE

For those who want to party all night long, Bushwick’s infamous House of Yes is throwing a Hanukkah party for the ages. There will be a special candle-lighting ceremony, live performances, “aerial spectacles,” latkes and dancing. The event, which lasts from 9:00 pm until 4:00 am through the night of Dec. 5 to Dec. 6 is 21+ and proof of vaccination is required for entry. Tickets are available for purchase

8. Discover the platonic ideal of a latke

The location of the New York Annual Latke Festival is still to be announced, but it’s not something you’re going to want to miss. In 2019, the Latke Festival took over the lobby of the Brooklyn Museum, and more than 20 restaurants and organizations competed for best latke in different categories. The festival is a charity event organized by Great Performances, and will take place on December 6. Sign up for their email list to be the first to know about the festival this year!