Christmas in New York is a magical time in the city. Probably the most wonderful time of the year. There’s so much to do and so many things you really shouldn’t miss. After living in the city for a couple of years now we found out about the most interesting events, most exiting shows and places you have to visit while visiting New York during Christmas.
In this guide you’ll get to know the best things to do on Christmas in New York, what you shouldn’t miss and what’s not worth it from our perspective.
Christmas in New York: The best things to do
Ice Skating In New York
Ice Skating is a big thing during Christmas time in New York. The most famous ice rinks are the one in Bryant Park, the Rink at Rockefeller Center with the Christmas Tree in your back and of course the famous Wollman Rink in Central Park. Here is more information about the best ice skating options in NYC and their different prices.
Holiday Markets during Christmas in New York
Depending on where you’re traveling from your experiences with holiday markets might be a little different compared to what you’re gonna see in New York City. As a German expat living in New York I found it very interesting that there are no such things as “Glühwein” or anything like that on holiday markets in New York. Holiday markets in NYC mainly sell handmade goods, accessories and of course food. The Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park is one of the most famous markets in the city. More information about the winter village can be found here. (Address: Sixth Ave, between 40th and 42nd street).
Another great holiday market in the city is the Columbus Circle Holiday Market. This one offers a romantic atmosphere with over 100 holiday booths (Address / Entrance: Central Park South at Central Park West). A little more Downtown the European Union Square Holiday Market has more of a European feel to it. More of how I remember holiday markets in Germany. Besides the 150 food vendors, New York artists are also stationed here and show off their skills (Address: 14th Street to 17th Street, between Broadway and the southern Park Avenue).
Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center
That’s something you can’t miss during the holiday season in New York City. The famous Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center is the highlight during Christmas in New York. What most of the visitors only know from pictures or movies comes to reality during that special time of the year. Don’t miss the Tree Lighting Ceremony on November 28th, when the tree lights up for the first time. Here is more information about the ceremony and the popular Christmas tree.
Holiday Windows in New York
Right after Thanksgiving, the city is decorated with wreaths, holiday signs and bright lights. Each year, New York City department stores design their entire window displays and usually has a theme. You can tell department stores put time and effort into these decorations. There is a lot of detail that goes into the Holiday Windows in New York. Of course, this is not just something special for the New York tourists. Strolling through the streets of New York and admiring the beautiful decorated holiday windows is something you shouldn’t leave out during Christmas in New York.
Radio City Christmas Spectacular
Radio City Music Hall is a well known concert and event hall located on Sixth Avenue and can be recognized from a distance by its striking exterior lighting. Throughout the year, concerts and events take place here such as the popular Radio City Christmas Spectacular. This is classic Christmas in New York. I’ve watched it before and it’s exactly what you would expect from a Christmas show in New York City.
Over 140 sensational dancers perform in pure Christmas spirit here for 90 minutes. Sparkling costumes, a unique stage set and loads of Christmas songs inspire audiences every year. The stars of the show are Santa Claus and his elves, “The Rockettes”. The Rockettes have the reputation of being the one of the best dance groups in the world! Here is the link to find good deals on tickets for this year. Prices start at as low as $32.
Dyker Heights in Brooklyn
Check out the Brooklyn neighborhood of Dyker Heights and Bay Ridge. The houses there are decorated with thousands of Christmas lights, toy soldiers and candy canes. It’s become a tradition to light up house after house. There is a great tour we can recommend doing during Christmas in New York to get the most of the area in Brooklyn.
Central Park of course is always a great destination to go to while visiting New York City no matter the season. But during Christmas you might get lucky and get to see the park covered in snow. Central Park itself is already peaceful and magical, but when there’s snow, it almost can’t get any prettier. Make sure to visit Central Park during Christmas in New York.
New Year’s Eve
New Year’s in New York City. For a lot of people around the globe a lifetime goal. Finishing up a great Christmas season in the city, New Year’s is the very last highlight that stands out. Visitors and some locals come to Time Square to experience the popular ball drop live while standing in the frigid December temperatures. Live performances by famous artists are part of the outstanding program in Times Square every year. It’s pretty much a big party you shouldn’t miss.
In order to get a decent spot a view, we recommend arriving no later than 3PM. Many roads around the event are closed off and condensed foot traffic on the streets is inevitable. Definitely plan on walking for a good amount of time. Being part of this tradition will be very special. We do have more recommendations for a great New Year’s Eve in New York City though. Make sure to check them out.