Things To Do in New York in December

What is there to do in December in New York?

Image of author Selwyn
25. October 2019
425 ratings

NYC in December is amazing as preparations for the Holiday season begins. With countless things to do, concerts to attend, and events happening throughout the city, one thing is for sure – your trip won’t be boring! Below we have summarized all of our favorite things to do in New York in December.


Our Recommendations for New York In December

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Marvel at New York's most beautiful holiday lights display!

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It’s the holiday season and NYC in December is a romantic and beautiful time. Snow can potentially blanket the city and gives off this holiday cheer and spirit. The winter markets are open, the ice rinks invite you to skate and the Christmas Tree at the Rockefeller Center shines in all its glory.

Our Favorite Things to do in New York in December

Check out all the things NYC has to offer!

1. Visit the Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Plaza

December in New York: Christmas Tree

New York in December lights up the famous Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Plaza in light in November, but that doesn’t mean you can’t experience this magical tree. The tree is decorated with 45,000 LED bulbs and countless Swarovski crystals. This place will definitely get you into the holiday spirit and you can also ice skate here as well. The tree will be up all month. (Address: 30 Rockefeller Plaza)

Rockefeller Christmas Tree

2. The Gingerbread House Returns to Madison Square Park (TBD December)

During the holiday season, there are some great NYC surprises, especially for the kids. In December, a giant gingerbread house opens in Madison Square Park. Inside, guests are encouraged to pay attention to the walls where a quick clip will be projected. It’s super quick and definitely something for kids. It’s a nice little activity for the whole family!

3. Lighting the World’s Largest Hanukkah Menorahs

In Manhattan and Brooklyn, there is a small competition for the world’s largest Hanukkah Menorah. Sometime in December 2019, the Jewish “Festival of Lights” begins and this starts with the lighting of the largest Menorah in the world. The gold, 400-pound, 32-foot steel structure can be admired both in front of the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan and at the Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn.

The lighting of the Menorah is one of the great events in NYC in December. Music is played and food is offered as well. In Manhattan, the event begins at 5:30 pm, on Fridays at 3:30 pm and Saturdays at 8:00 pm. In Brooklyn, the lights will be on at 6:00 pm, on Friday at 3:30 pm and on Saturday at 7:00 pm.

4. Visit the Winter and Holiday Markets in NYC (free)

December in New York: Union Square Holiday MarketMake sure to take note of these locations for Winter and Holiday Markets in New York that you can check out while you’re in New York in December.

The Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park is one of the most popular markets in the city. They mainly sell handmade goods and accessories. (Address: Sixth Ave, between 40th and 42nd street)

The Columbus Circle Holiday Market offers a romantic atmosphere with over 100-holiday booths and offers a great atmosphere. (Address / Entrance: Central Park South at Central Park West)

The European Union Square Holiday Market has more of a European feel to it. Besides the 150 food vendors, New York artists are also stationed here and show off their skills. Immerse yourself in this awesome market. Here, you will surely find a very special Christmas present for your loved ones. (address: 14th Street to 17th Street, between Broadway and the southern Park Avenue)

Another great spot to get into the holiday spirit is in the Grand Central Terminal. Every year there are up to 100-holiday vendors.

All NYC Holiday Markets

5. Window Decorations

December in New York: Holiday windowsDuring New York in December, we highly recommend taking a walk along 5th Avenue and Herald Square. Retail stores are setting up their windows with holiday decorations that tell stories to the viewer and convey messages. We definitely suggest checking out Macy’s windows invites the little visitors of New York (but of course the adults) to the legendary Santa Land at Christmas time.

The 8th floor of the New York department store giant will be turned into the Christmas department par excellence at Christmas time. This is something you only really know from TV. In the middle of it, of course? Santa Claus, his elves and many children telling their Christmas wish to the man with the white beard. Great to look at! (Address: 5th Avenue & Herald Square)

Holiday windows in nyc

6. Radio City Christmas Spectacular

December in New YorkFor many New Yorkers, watching the Radio City Christmas Spectacular is a goal. Over 140 sensational dancers perform in the popular Christmas Spectacular. Sparkling costumes, unique set design and a lot of Christmas songs thrill the audience every year. The stars of the show are the female dance group “The Rockettes” and perform next to Santa Claus and his elves.

From November to early January, you can watch the dance performance and Christmas show at Radio City Music Hall. There are up to three performances per day, so there should be a time slot for you. For more information, please take a look here.

Buy tickets

7. Holidays in New York

New York in December is a special experience, especially during the holidays. The city is usually blanketed in snow, which gives it that special ambiance, the Christmas markets are open and 5th Avenue is decorated with ornaments and lights which is pleasant to the eye.

holidays in NYC

8. Ice Skating in New York City

Ice skating in this urban mecca is one of the best things to do in NYC in December. The rinks are fully functional and have been open since October. Bank of America’s Winter Village at Bryant Park (behind the Public Library), the famed Rink at Rockefeller Center and the Trump Rink in Central Park are just three of New York City’s finest ice rinks.

new york ice rinks

9. New Years Eve 2019/2020 in Times Square

People from all over the world fly to NYC in December, especially during New Years Eve. They come here to experience the popular ball drop live while standing in the frigid December temperatures in the middle of Times Square. Live performances by famous artists are part of the outstanding program in Times Square every year. It’s pretty much a big party.

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.

New Year’s Eve in NYC

The Most Popular Things to do in December!

These are the most popular tickets! 

10. Check out the most popular tickets in New York in December

If you are looking for the best ways to explore the city and discover what NYC in December has to offer, you have come to the right place. Below we have detailed the most popular things to do around this time of year as we want to show you the variety of amazing things to do the Big Apple has to offer. Check out the top 5 best selling tickets in December.

Sports events in nyc

Best NYC Attractions and Tours in NYC in December

  • Looking for something unique and awesome? 

11. Christmas Lights Tour of New York City – Private Tour with Free Christmas Drink

With the holiday season unofficially underway, this tour is for you. Explore NYC and check out the amazing decorations and Christmas lights in your very own private tour. It also comes with a free Christmas drink as well!


12. NYC One World Observatory Skip-the-Line Ticket

If you want to go to the top of the One World Observatory, chances are you’ll probably be waiting for a good amount of time. This ticket will give you VIP access to the VIP line and elevator making your waiting times shorter.


13. Christmas Lights in Dyker Heights 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.


Sports events in NYC in December

What teams, are playing where?

14. Check out a sporting event

  • Check Out Some NFL Matchups

Arguably the most popular sport in the US is about three months into their season. That means the New York Giants and the New York Jets are in action! Which team will you root for?

  • The NBA is Well Underway

Basketball fans, this month is for you. The NBA is in its second month. Check out either the New York Knicks or the Brooklyn Nets at either the Madison Square Garden or Barclays Center, respectively.

  • The NHL is in Action

If you’re a fan of hockey then New York City has two professional teams. One of them plays at the infamous Madison Square Garden and the other plays at the more recent Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The teams are the New York Rangers and New York Islanders, respectively.

Concerts in NYC in November

Listen to some great music in one of NYC’s famous venues!

About the author
Selwyn Tungol
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Lisa Bonanni

What to do in New York in December with my 15 year old son.

Maureen Steinert

Hi Lisa,

there a lot of cool things you two can do together:
– see Macy’s holiday windows
– see the Radio City Christmas Spectacular
– see Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree
– go to the interactive SPYSCAPE museum
– visit Dyker Heights
and much more!
– you can even visit rooftop bars together, just not in the evening!

If you’re looking for some more specific advice, let us know what the two of you are interested in and we’re happy to help 🙂



Hi Maureen

We are first time NY guests.
What would be great to do vis a vis sights shows dining and shopping.
We are flying in December.

Love your website

Maureen Steinert

Hi MG,

when it comes to shows in December, the Radio City Christmas Spectacular is a must!
You should definitely see the holiday windows at Macy’s and if you’re enthusiastic about the holidays, I recommend the Dyker Heights Holiday Lights Tour. It’s magical! These are all very specific recommendations for December.
If you sign up for our newsletter, you’ll receive weekly information about what’s new in the city. Some cool events and attractions will be there for the holiday season. It was just announced that there will be free Broadway performances in November/December, so I will be sure to include the info, too!



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