Entertainment in New York City

  • Top ChoiceEntertainment in Upper West Side & Central Park

    Metropolitan Opera House

    New York’s premier opera company is the place to see classics such as La Boheme, Madame Butterfly and Macbeth. It also hosts premieres and revivals of more contemporary works, such as John Adams’ The Death of Klinghoffer. The season runs from September to May. Tickets start at $25 and can get close to $500. Note that the box seats can be a bargain, but unless you’re in boxes right over the stage, the views are dreadful: seeing the stage requires sitting with your head cocked over a handrail – a literal pain in the neck. For last-minute ticket buyers there are other deals. You can get bargain-priced standing-room tickets (from $20 to $30) from 10am on the day of the performance. (You won’t see much, but you’ll hear everything.) Monday through Friday at noon and Saturdays at 2pm, a number of rush tickets are put on sale for starving-artist types – just $25 for a seat; these are available online only. Matinee tickets go on sale four hours before curtain. Don’t miss the gift shop, which is full of operatic knickknacks (like binoculars), and an extensive collection of classical music – many from past Met performances. For a behind-the-scenes look, the Met Opera Guild (www.metguild.org) runs guided tours ($30) weekdays at 3pm and Sundays at 10:30am and 1:30pm during the performance season. The 2016–17 season marked the 50th anniversary of the Met's home in Lincoln Center.

  • Top ChoiceEntertainment in Midtown

    Richard Rodgers Theatre

    This theater opened in 1926 and is unique for several reasons. It was the first to allow all patrons to enter through one set of doors (generally there were separate entrances for low-price ticket holders, aka riff-raff, to come through). It also has the honor of being the venue for the highest number of Best Play and Best Musical Tony Awards. Broadway's hottest ticket, Lin-Manuel Miranda's acclaimed musical Hamilton, uses contemporary hip-hop beats to recount the story of America's first secretary of the treasury, Alexander Hamilton. Inspired by Ron Chernow's best-selling biography, the show has won a flock of awards, with 11 Tony Awards (including Best Musical), a Grammy for its triple-platinum cast album and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Book tickets at least six months in advance or be prepared to pay high resale rates on the ticket sites. Alternatively, head to the online ticket lottery, which can be accessed at www.luckyseat.com or via the dedicated Hamilton app (yes, this show is that popular). Winners can purchase one or two $10 front-row tickets (in honor of the man himself, who graces the 10-dollar bill).

  • Top ChoiceEntertainment in Midtown

    Carnegie Hall

    The legendary Carnegie Hall may not be the world's biggest concert hall, nor its grandest, but it's definitely one of the most acoustically blessed. Opera, jazz and folk greats feature in the Isaac Stern Auditorium, with edgier jazz, pop, classical and world music in the popular Zankel Hall. Intimate Weill Recital Hall hosts chamber music, debut performances and panel discussions. From September to June, Carnegie Hall runs guided tours (adult/child $17/12) of the building, shedding light on the venue's storied history (these are walk-in, but subject to performance and rehearsal schedules, so check the website before heading in). There's also the Rose Museum, which explores the venue's illustrious history through archival treasures (open 11am to 4:30pm; closed late July to mid-September).

  • Top ChoiceEntertainment in West Village, Chelsea & Meatpacking District

    Sleep No More

    One of the most immersive theater experiences ever conceived, Sleep No More is a loose, noir retelling of Macbeth set inside a series of Chelsea warehouses that have been redesigned to look like the 1930s-era 'McKittrick Hotel' (a nod to Hitchcock's Vertigo); the jazz bar, Manderley, is another Hitchcock reference, this time to his adaptation of Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca. First staged in London, it’s a choose-your-own-adventure kind of experience, where audience members are free to wander the elaborate rooms (ballroom, graveyard, taxidermy shop, lunatic asylum) and follow or interact with the actors, who perform a variety of scenes that can run from the bizarre to the risqué. Be prepared: you must check in everything when you arrive (jackets, bag, cell phone), and you must wear a mask, à la Eyes Wide Shut.

  • Top ChoiceEntertainment in East Village & Lower East Side

    Metrograph

    The Lower East Side hasn't gentrified this far yet, giving the owners of this true movie mecca the chance to acquire a building adequate for their vision. It has two screens, both a state-of-the-art digital projector and an old 35mm reel-to-reel. The expertly curated films often form series on subjects such as Japanese Studio Ghibli or provocateur Gasper Noé. However, new, one-off and left-field programs often pop up. Also on-site is a bookshop to delight any cinephile, and a Commissary comprising lobby bar, restaurant and restaurant-bar, meaning good food and drink are on hand (and great ideas such as late-night cocktail-and-movie sessions may proceed). Events, talks, performances and screenings of rare old films add up to the complete package.

  • Top ChoiceEntertainment in Upper West Side & Central Park

    New York City Ballet

    This prestigious company was first directed by renowned Russian-born choreographer George Balanchine in the 1940s. Today, it's the largest ballet organization in the US, performing 23 weeks a year at Lincoln Center’s David H Koch Theater. Rush tickets for those under age 30 are $30. During the holidays the troupe is best known for its annual production of The Nutcracker (tickets go on sale in September: book early). There are also select one-hour Family Saturday performances, appropriate for young audiences ($22 per ticket, on sale first week of August).

  • Top ChoiceEntertainment in Midtown

    Jazz at Lincoln Center

    Perched atop the Time Warner Center, Jazz at Lincoln Center comprises three state-of-the-art venues: midsized Rose Theater; panoramic, glass-backed Appel Room; and intimate, atmospheric Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola. It's the last of these that you're most likely to visit, given its nightly shows (cover charge $5 to $45). The talent here is often exceptional, as are the dazzling Central Park views.

  • Top ChoiceEntertainment in Harlem & Upper Manhattan

    Marjorie Eliot’s Parlor Jazz

    Each Sunday the charming Ms Eliot provides one of New York’s most magical experiences: free, intimate jazz jams in her own apartment. Dedicated to her two deceased sons, the informal concerts feature a revolving lineup of talented musicians, enchanting guests from all over the globe. Go early, as this event is popular (there's usually a line by 2:45pm).

  • Top ChoiceEntertainment in Brooklyn: Williamsburg, Greenpoint & Bushwick

    National Sawdust

    Covered in wildly hued murals, this cutting-edge space for classical and new music has come a long way since its days as a sawdust factory, with artists as diverse as Pussy Riot and Yo La Tengo performing within. The angular, high-tech interior stages contemporary opera with multimedia projections, electro-acoustic big-band jazz and concerts by experimental composers, alongside less-common genres. National Sawdust's raison d'être is shining a light on emerging artists and helping offbeat genres and performers find their audience. Browse their events calendar to decide between Indian classical, ambient 'sound baths' or light-shows with a soundscape of synth.

  • Top ChoiceEntertainment in Midtown

    Birdland

    This bird's got a slick look, not to mention the legend – its name comes from bebop legend Charlie Parker (aka ‘Bird’), who headlined at Birdland's former 52nd St location, along with Miles, Monk and just about everyone else (their photos are on the walls). The 44th St club is intimate; come for the electrifying Big Band session on Fridays at 5:30pm. Other regular highlights include David Ostwald's Louis Armstrong Eternity Band on Wednesdays and the Arturo O'Farrill Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra on Sundays. Dress to impress.

  • Top ChoiceEntertainment in Brooklyn: Brooklyn Heights, Downtown Brooklyn & Dumbo

    St Ann's Warehouse

    This handsome red-brick building, a Civil War–era tobacco warehouse, is the first permanent home of avant-garde performance company St Ann's. The 'warehouse' – a high-tech, flexible 320-seat theater – is ideal for staging genre-bending theater, music, dance and puppet performances. Past shows and screenings of note include Tony-winning Oklahoma!, Lou Reed and John Cale’s Songs for Drella, and Charlie Kaufman and the Coen Brothers’ Theater of the New Ear.

  • Top ChoiceEntertainment in Financial District & Lower Manhattan

    Flea Theater

    One of NYC's top off-off-Broadway venues, Flea is famous for staging innovative and timely new works. It houses three performance spaces, including the 'Siggy,' named for co-founder Sigourney Weaver. The year-round program includes music and dance productions, as well as Sunday shows for young audiences (aged two and up) and SERIALS, a rollicking late-night competition series of 10-minute plays.

  • Top ChoiceEntertainment in Queens

    Terraza 7

    Come to Queens for multicultural eats, then stay for equally diverse sounds at this cool bi-level performance space. It makes creative use of the tiny room, with live bands playing from a loft above the bar from 8pm most nights. Latin jazz is the mainstay, but performers can hail from as far away as Morocco.

  • Entertainment in Midtown

    Playwrights Horizons

    An excellent place to catch what could be the next big thing, this veteran ‘writers’ theater’ is dedicated to fostering contemporary American works. Notable past productions include Annie Baker's Pulitzer Prize–winning The Flick, Kenneth Lonergan's Lobby Hero, Bruce Norris’ Tony Award–winning Clybourne Park, and Doug Wright's I Am My Own Wife and Grey Gardens.

  • Entertainment in Midtown

    Eugene O'Neill Theatre

    The Eugene O'Neill Theatre's shows have ranged from family-friendly Annie all the way to uproarious The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, with nearly as wild a commercial ride as well – it's been bought and sold and renamed numerous times over its nearly a century lifetime. Playwright Neil Simon once owned it, before selling in 1982 to its current owners. Subversive, obscene and ridiculously hilarious, The Book of Mormon, a cutting musical satire, is the work of South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone and Avenue Q composer Robert Lopez. Winner of nine Tony Awards, it tells the story of two naive Mormons on a mission to 'save' a Ugandan village. Book at least three months ahead for the best choice of prices and seats, or pay a premium at shorter notice. Alternatively, try your luck at the online lottery (www.luckyseat.com). Winners – announced two hours before curtain – get in for a bargain $32. Once the winners are called, a limited number of standing-room tickets go on sale at the box office for $27 (subject to availability; expect queues to form).

  • Entertainment in Midtown

    Signature Theatre

    Looking good in its Frank Gehry–designed home – complete with three theaters, bookstore and cafe – Signature Theatre is devoted to the work of playwrights-in-residence, past and present. Featured dramatists have included Tony Kushner, Edward Albee, Anna Deavere Smith and Kenneth Lonergan. The theater also runs talks with playwrights, directors, designers and actors. Aim to book performances one month in advance.

  • Entertainment in Midtown

    Al Hirschfeld Theatre

    Originally the Martin Beck Theatre, this opulent theater was renamed in 2003 when it was purchased from the Beck family. When it opened in 1924 to great acclaim, it proceeded to be the venue for some of Broadway's best-loved shows for decades, including Guys and Dolls and Hair. Its current production is the Baz Luhrmann jukebox musical, Moulin Rouge!

  • Entertainment in Midtown

    Jazz Standard

    Jazz luminaries like Ravi Coltrane, Roy Haynes and Ron Carter have played at this sophisticated club. The service is impeccable and the Southern food (from Danny Meyer's upstairs Blue Smoke restaurant) is great. The club's artistic director is Seth Abramson, a guy who really knows his jazz.

  • Entertainment in West Village, Chelsea & Meatpacking District

    Smalls

    Living up to its name, this cramped but appealing basement jazz den offers a grab-bag collection of acts who take the stage nightly. Admission includes a come-and-go policy if you need to duck out for a bite, and there's an afternoon jam session on Saturday and Sunday that's not to be missed. Founded in 1994 by 'a former Navy submariner, registered nurse, philosopher & jazz violinist,' Smalls opened a second venue, Mezzrow, a little further east on W 10th St in 2014.

  • Entertainment in Brooklyn: Williamsburg, Greenpoint & Bushwick

    Nitehawk Cinema

    This indie triplex has a fine lineup of first-run and repertory films, a good sound system and comfy seats. Amplifying the experience is the fact that you can dine and drink throughout the movie, thanks to stealthy wait staff who slink to and fro armed with hot popcorn chicken, vegan 'pulled-pork' sandwiches, soft-serve ice cream and cocktails themed by whatever movies are showing. Rotating programs include brunch and midnight movies, horror selections, showcases of the work of female filmmakers and even a collection of old-school 35mm films. Many shows sell out (especially on weekends) – purchase tickets in advance on the website or soothe your disappointment in Lo-Res, the cozy downstairs bar, which has classic and forgotten VHS films playing on retro TVs while boozy cinephiles knock back beer-and-shot specials (open 4pm to 1am Monday to Thursday, to 2am Friday, 11am to 2am Saturday, to 1am Sunday).