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Starting the New Year Right

Here are ten things to do on the first day of 2012.

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1. Want a little entertainment while you soak up the booze from the night before? Plenty of restaurants throughout the city will be hosting brunch accompanied by music. Try B.B. King Blues Club and Grill for the Harlem Gospel Choir or Le Pescadeux for jazz tunes.

2. For clearing your head in the New Year, an icy dip into the Atlantic might even beat therapy. Take a leap with the Coney Island Polar Bear Club in its annual New Year's Day swim, starting at 1 p.m. Participation is free, but donations will help send children with serious illnesses and their families to a retreat in Maine next summer.

3. Get your fresh air elsewhere, at one of the city’s many wildlife centers. The Central Park, Prospect Park, and Queens zoos are all open. Though if you prefer your nature indoors, the New York Aquarium will also be open.

4. Into clowns? Pay a visit to the circus during its final week in town. In its 34th year, the Big Apple Circus presents "Dream Big," a festive extravaganza with no seat more than 50 feet away from the ring. Held in Lincoln Center Plaza's Damrosch Park, tickets range from $15 to $95.

5. Enrich your mind while learning some history in a walking tour of Times Square. Tickets are $18 for adults and $15 for seniors and students. The tour sets off from the 42nd Street and Sixth Avenue corner of Bryant Park at 1 p.m. Bonus: You get a rare glimpse of Times Square the day after the big ball drops.

6. Have a sensitive soul? The Bowery Poetry Club hosts its annual daylong "Kaleidoscope" event, where, starting at 2 p.m., 150 poets will do their best to ring in the new year. The readings are free, but donations are encouraged.

7. Or culture yourself in a different way (while rebuilding those brain cells you burned the night before) by pampering yourself with the high musical arts. There's a lot to choose from, but highlights include: The Salute to Vienna New Year's Concert at Avery Fisher Hall (2:30 p.m.) and a showing of Eames: The Artist and the Painter at Symphony Space (4:30 p.m.).

8. Not a music fan? Those looking for something a little quieter can check out the city's great art. Catch the insane (in a good way!) Maurizio Cattelan exhibit at the Guggenheim before it closes in late January or the impressively comprehensive "de Kooning: a Retrospective" at MOMA.

9. Like cushy theater seats but not intrigued by any of this year’s Oscar fare? Check out any of the Museum of the Moving Image’s January 1 showings: Jim Henson and Friends: Inside the Sesame Street Vault, The Prestige, and the Stanley Kubrick classic, Barry Lyndon.

10. Catch something live-action on Broadway, maybe one of the handful of musicals that are closing the first few weeks of January. Hugh Jackman, Back on Broadway, Billy Elliot, and The Mountaintop all have showings on the first.


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