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'Make Music Winter' Festival Celebrates Winter Solstice Across NYC

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Saturday is the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year.

To celebrate the season, the "Make Music Winter" festival is happening all over the city. More than a dozen musical parades and events will take over public spaces like the High Line and Grand Army Plaza.

New Yorkers are being encouraged to join in and spread holiday cheer, and you don't need to sing or play an instrument to participate.

Executive director James Burke joined CBSN New York's Dana Tyler to talk about the festival.

"Our main mission is to celebrate all the talented musicians that live here in New York and to activate the shared social spaces that make our city a cultural capital," Burke said.

Burke says instructors will be on hand to give interested attendees a crash course on how to play along.

Highlights of the 2019 Make Music Winter festival include:

  • 10 a.m.: Piano City @ The Oculus
    Oculus at World Trade Center, 33-69 Vesey Street (Financial District)
    The Oculus will host a rousing version of Eric Satie's "Vexations," a short enharmonic composition performed 840 consecutive times by a rotating cast of professional and student pianists.
  • 11:30 a.m.: [B]MERRY Music Parade
    400 Rockaway Ave, Brownsville, Brooklyn
    Hosted by the Brownsville Community Justice Center, the parade will engage residents in the local arts and culture with music selections performed by local youth bands and dancers, as well as music from the Sound of Brownsville record label.
  • 12 p.m.: Harmonica Parade
    One Liberty Plaza, 1 Liberty St (Financial District)
    Harmonica virtuoso Jia-Yi He, who was featured on "America's Got Talent," will lead this parade in performing holiday classics such as "Jingle Bell," "Deck the Halls," "Here Comes Santa Claus," "Silent Night," "When the Saints Go Marching In," "Ode to Joy," "Edelweiss" and "Amazing Grace."
  • 2 p.m.: Ukulele Caroling
    Washington Square Park, Fifth Ave & Washington Square North (Greenwich Village)
    Players of all skill levels will join this Village parade that will launch from Washington Square Park, which will feature classic holiday and repertoire tunes for the ukulele.
  • 3 p.m.: Piano City @ St. John's
    St. John's in the Village, 218 W 11th St
    St. John's Church in the Village will host special performances to be announced throughout the day from the heart of Greenwich Village.
  • 3 p.m.: Renegade Parade by HONK NYC
    Staten Island Borough Hall, 10 Richmond Terrace, Staten Island
    The team behind HONK NYC, which brings street band music and spectacle to audiences citywide, will lead a pop-up parade as it moves from location to location, switching bands, instruments, transportation methods and vibes along the way. The event has three parts: The Voyage, The Processional and The Elevation.
  • 4 p.m.: Jingle Train
    Departs from 354 Flatbush Avenue through Prospect Heights
    The Jingle Train is a trolley that will run from the historic home of African-American culture on 125th Street to the main corridor of El Barrio in 116th Street. The trolley will run a loop from the Harlem-125th Street Metro-North Railroad station to the Harlem Night Market at La Marqueta, with additional stops at five local small businesses along the way. Musicians of various genres will perform from the Jingle Train throughout the afternoon and evening, rotating every hour, and from each of the stops.
  • 5:15 p.m.: Flatfoot Flatbush
    333 Lounge, 333 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn
    Dancers, fiddlers and pickers will parade down Flatbush Avenue playing old-time times while flat footing, a form of percussive dancing from Appalachia. Participants will learn the fundamental steps of this rhythmic dance form and have a chance to participate with the Flatfoot Flatbush String Band!
  • 5:30 p.m.: Solstice Sing Along
    Kensington Plaza, Kensington, Brooklyn at Church Avenue and McDonald Avenue
    The Kensington Stewards bring to life the community surrounding Kensington Plaza, located along bustling Church Avenue in Central Brooklyn. The festivities include a holiday-themed sing along led by local musicians and other activities perfect for the entire family.
  • 6 p.m.: Bell by Bell
    Astor Place Plaza, 149-179 E 8th St. (East Village)
    Artist Tom Peyton will hand out to revelers color-coded bells that play different notes, give a crash course in hand bell basics, and then lead a musical parade through the East Village neighborhood.
  • 6 p.m.: Gaits: A High Line Soundwalk
    The High Line at Gansevoort St. & and Washington St. (Chelsea)
    Paraders will attach their smart phones to small, wearable speakers and use a free app that captures the GPS coordinates and velocities of their movements to trigger a variety of twinkling metallic sounds, electric guitar chords, dulcimer notes, water splashes, car horns and applause – empowering marchers to effortlessly make music while interacting with their environment and each other.
  • 6 p.m.: Pilgrimage
    West Park Presbyterian Church, 165 W. 86th St. (Upper West Side)
    Led by conductor James John, artistic director of the Cerddorion Vocal Ensemble, headlamp-clad singers will walk a route along Riverside Park making stops along the way to sing medieval melodies once sung on the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela. Singers of all skills levels are invited to join, from beginners to early music specialists.
  • 6 p.m.: The Mobile Hallelujah
    Astor Place Plaza, 149-179 E 8th St. (East Village)
    Madison Square Park, North Fountain (Flatiron)
    Times Square Plaza, Broadway btwn. W 44 & 45 St. (Midtown)
    Lincoln Center Plaza Fountain (Upper West Side)
    In this participatory choral program, producer Melissa Gerstein and conductor Douglas Anderson team up to bring Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus" – from his Messiah oratorio, the oldest continuously performed piece of classical music, out of the concert hall and onto city streets.
  • 7 p.m.: Melrose Parranda
    The Bronx Music Heritage Center, Bronx Commons, 443 E 162nd St., Bronx
    The Bronx Music Heritage Center will hold their annual parranda – the Puerto Rican tradition involving processions of carolers – throughout the historic Melrose neighborhood.

For more information, visit

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