Make your holiday season just a little more joyous by spending Christmas in New York. Rightly called ‘the city that never sleeps’, there’s always a lot to do in the beautiful and bustling city, but Christmas is when it shines. With lofty skyscraper-like Christmas trees and vintage flea markets, from the lighting to the shows, Christmas in the city is really special. If you want to take a bite of the Big Apple and experience magic, keep reading to find out the top 10 things to do during Christmas in New York.
10 Things to do during Christmas in New York
#1 Admire the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree
Start your holiday with the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, the most well-known holiday attraction in the area. Simply unmissable in both senses of the word, the massive Rockefeller Center Tree is always lit to kick off the holiday season in New York. A custom that dates back to the 1930s, the tree lighting ceremony is fabulous and features world-renowned artists singing carols. Don’t miss the tree lighting ceremony which is on the 29th of November this year.
#2 Go ice skating
Christmas in New York is incomplete without taking advantage of the famous ice skating rinks. Whether you are a complete novice or a pro ice skater, this winter activity is among the must-dos during Christmas. Wollman Rink is a public ice rink that opens each winter in the southeast corner of Central Park, much to the delight of New Yorkers and visitors. It offers an incomparable experience, with Central Park on one side and the iconic skyscrapers in the background. You can also visit the free rink at Bryant Park, which opens in late October and closes in early January.
#3 Go thrifting at the holiday markets
Get into the holiday mood by exploring some of New York's top Christmas markets. The New York winter market season gets underway with the Bank of America Winter Village in Bryant Park. It also remains open the longest, allowing guests to peruse their extensive collection of booths all the way through New Year's Day. Peruse the twisting aisles of vendors at the 100 red-and-white-striped booths at the European-style markets at Union Square. Browse the unique items and artisanal snacks with live music playing in the background. Visit the iconic flea market at the Grand Bazaar on the Upper West Side.
#4 Go on a City Tour at the Botanical Garden
A spectacular toy train display that honours New York City and has become a Christmas tradition—the Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show is just amazing. Nearly 200 iconic reproductions, made of plant materials like bark and leaves, are displayed at the Holiday Train Show, including Grand Central Terminal, Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty. Relive your childhood thanks to the charming miniature railroads and trains. Kids are sure to love it too.
#5 Travel to the North Pole
Department stores in New York put Christmas decorations on their displays to bring holiday cheers and customers, and in recent years, it's gone even further; professional window decorators and dressers have been attempting to wow people with ever-more innovative and creative displays. Stroll around the North Pole at Macy's throughout Christmas without ever leaving the shopping centre. This year, visit the renowned "Santaland" at Macy's in New York. There are prancing reindeer, a variety of amusing decorations, and … you guessed it right, Santa Claus himself.
#6 Catch a truly spectacular show
Since the 1930s, the Rockettes have taken over Radio City Music Hall for the holidays, and their Christmas Spectacular Show is guaranteed to be fun and festive. Over the years, the 90-minute programme has undergone revisions and enhancements—but don't worry—the kickline is still there! and provides the ideal family-friendly activity. The Radio City Rockettes' holiday show annually mesmerises thousands of spectators. The Rockettes sing their timeless songs with ease while donning stunning, eye-catching outfits! The event gets better every year, with dancing on top of a shining double-decker bus, artistic staircases, and winter forests.
#7 Ride across Brooklyn Bridge
The Brooklyn Bridge is beautiful throughout the year, but at Christmastime, it is simply marvellous. Imagine crossing this iconic bridge while enjoying the crisp, energising air and breathtaking views of Manhattan's skyline while holiday lights are strung from all these buildings. A true neighbourhood competition that started in the 1980s and has since grown, Dyker Heights at Christmas is a scene out of a Hollywood movie. With the festive display and customary Christmas illumination built by the locals themselves, the Dyker Heights neighbourhood has become a must-see for Christmas in New York.
#8 Go window hopping
The largest department stores in New York City create their window displays of holiday cheer every year in mid-November. Every window on Fifth Avenue has something to offer and draw people in. Therefore, once you're there, you must visit each one, with "Bergdorf Goodman" and Saks being some of the most well-known. The 'big reveal' and their windows are two of NYC's most significant Christmas traditions! Take your time and enjoy the astounding Saks Fifth Avenue light show while there.
#9 Feel the divine
Under construction for over 100 years, St. John the Divine is New York City's biggest church. It also hosts one of the most soul-stirring Christmas concerts in the world. This yearly concert, also known as the "Joy of Christmas," usually occurs on a Friday in the middle of December. That is just one of the many reasons why it is a wonderful destination to visit and an even greater venue to attend a performance, particularly around the holidays. Sitting beneath the soaring arches in one of Manhattan's most stunning works of Gothic and Romanesque architecture, you'll hear J.S. Bach's majestic "Gloria in Excelsis" from the Mass in B Minor, and Arcangelo Corelli's Christmas Concerto among others.
#10 Visit the Met
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is the gem in the crown of New York City's Museum Mile, but during the holiday season, it acquires a special touch of Christmas magic. Visitors to the renowned museum can stop by the Mediaeval Sculpture Hall during the holiday season to view the Met's spectacular tree, a 20-foot blue spruce. Take in the exquisite 18th-century Neapolitan nativity scene displayed at its base and the other masterpieces while you are there.
Is Christmas a good time to visit New York?
Yes, Christmas in New York is spectacular with the entire city sporting a festive atmosphere and decked in glittering lights. Plus, there are tons of things that you are sure to enjoy.
Does it snow during Christmas in New York?
Yes, it gets very chilly and temperatures usually plummet during December. You might expect some snow during Christmas in New York.
How do New Yorkers celebrate Christmas?
New Yorkers may often plan a special meal—often one with turkey and many other holiday fare—for family or friends and exchange gifts with them. Children receive a lot of gifts from their parents, other relatives, and Santa Claus. They also go out to take in the sights and visit their church.
What are some must-see Christmas attractions in New York City?
New York City during Christmas offers a range of iconic attractions, including the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, the window displays along Fifth Avenue, the holiday markets in Bryant Park and Union Square, and the extravagant light displays in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn.
What are some popular restaurants offering special Christmas menus in New York City?
Several restaurants in New York City offer special Christmas menus, often featuring traditional holiday dishes alongside creative culinary delights. Popular options include the Rainbow Room, Rolf's German Restaurant, Tavern on the Green, and The River Café, all of which provide a festive dining experience.