Dec. 21 is the shortest day of the year, but in New York, it’s also one of the most vibrant. That’s thanks to Make Music Winter, the sixth annual free, all-day outdoor musical celebration. On Wednesday, 13 participatory musical parades take place throughout the city, from the Bronx to Brooklyn. Fight your case of S.A.D. by joining in on one of the peripatetic performances, on an (extra long) lunch break, a late afternoon pick me up or a much-needed after work release.
Here are five parades we’re looking forward to this year.
Brand new to the lineup is this roving parade of percussion, led by Kevin Raczka and select members of Antibalas, the Afrobeat Ensemble. It’s BYOP (bring your own percussion) and you can interpret that as you wish; anything from maracas to cowbells are welcome. The parade sounds off at 2 p.m. in Washington Square Park and pulses through the West Village, finishing up at 3 p.m. at Two Boots Pizza, where performers receive a complimentary slice and soda. (Just in case, sign up here to reserve your post-parade meal).
Composer J.C. King leads this mile-long walk of kalimba players through lower Manhattan. A rolling speaker will amplify the low, plucking sounds of the African instrument—a hand-held wooden board with metal tines, sometimes known as “thumb pianos.” The first 25 kalimbas will be provided, or bring your own. The third annual performance begins at 4:00 p.m. at City Hall and wraps up at 5 p.m. under the archways at One Centre St.
Here’s one for the singers. A spin-off on last year’s Alpine Echoes, this inaugural call and response parade instead draws on African vocal traditions. Beginning at Old Fulton Plaza, participants will croon throughout Dumbo, passing along Water Street and under the Manhattan Bridge Archway (stellar acoustics) before easing their windpipes with alcoholic beverages at 68 Jay St. Bar.
Take a long lunch break and spend it in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, where baritone Christopher Dylan Herbert will perform Franz Schubert’s song cycle Winterreise for the second year of MMW. The audience provides his musical accompaniment, by way of hand-held radios emitting the piano melody, as they wander the grounds.It begins at 11:30 at Magnolia Plaza and ends in the park at 12:45. If you’d like to participate, radios will be distributed to the first 50 attendees, or bring your own. Or, just watch; the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is free before noon.
Led by the all-female Brazilian drumline FogoAzul NYC, this percussive second line is another new addition to the lineup this winter. BYOP, or dance along as the parade makes its way through Midtown, beginning at Rockefeller Plaza at 5 p.m. and passing through Little Brazil on 46th St. before looping back at 6 p.m.