New York City, adorned in festive lights and bustling with holiday spirit, transforms into a winter wonderland during Christmas. From enchanting shows to twinkling lights and iconic landmarks, the city offers a myriad of experiences that capture the essence of the season. New York City is renowned for its dazzling Christmas shows that captivate audiences of all ages. From the iconic Radio City Christmas Spectacular to Broadway productions like “Elf” and “A Christmas Carol,” the city’s theatres come alive with holiday magic. Be sure to check the schedules and secure your tickets for a memorable night of entertainment.
Things to Do on Christmas in New York
- See the Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center: The lighting of the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center is an iconic event. Even if you can’t make it for the lighting ceremony, visiting the tree and the surrounding decorations is a must.
- Ice Skating: Enjoy ice skating at iconic rinks like The Rink at Rockefeller Center, Wollman Rink in Central Park, or Bryant Park’s Winter Village. Skating in these locations is especially enchanting during the holiday season.
- Window Shopping on Fifth Avenue: Take a stroll down Fifth Avenue to admire the elaborate window displays of famous department stores like Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Bergdorf Goodman.
- Attend a Christmas Show or Play: Broadway theatres often have special Christmas-themed shows during the holiday season. Check the schedule and catch a festive performance.
- Visit Holiday Markets: Explore holiday markets such as the Union Square Holiday Market, Bryant Park’s Winter Village, and Columbus Circle Holiday Market. These markets feature unique gifts, delicious treats, and a festive atmosphere.
- Hot Chocolate and Dessert Tour: Warm up with a hot chocolate tour. Many places in the city offer decadent hot chocolate, and you can pair it with festive desserts.
- Attend a Christmas Eve or Christmas Day Service: If you want a special Christmas church service in the city, lots of churches have them on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
- Central Park Sleigh Ride (Carriage Ride): Experience the charm of Central Park with a horse-drawn carriage ride. It’s a romantic and picturesque way to enjoy the park during the holiday season.
- Take a Holiday Lights Tour: Some companies offer guided tours of the city’s most beautifully decorated neighbourhoods. Consider a bus tour or a walking tour to see the festive lights.
- Visit the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights: Take a trip to Brooklyn to see the famous Dyker Heights Christmas Lights display. The neighbourhood is known for its extravagant holiday decorations.
- Skyscraper Views: Head to the Top of the Rock or the Empire State Building for breathtaking views of the city lights. It’s especially magical at night during the holiday season.
Best Hotels in New York City for Christmas: Christmas in New York
Choosing the best hotels in New York City for Christmas is really important to make sure your holiday is comfy, fancy, and close to all the festive fun. Picking the right place to stay makes iconic Christmas activities, like seeing the Rockefeller Center tree lighting or checking out the holiday markets, even more enjoyable. Fancy hotels like The Plaza Hotel, known for its timeless luxury, or The St. Regis New York, with a mix of classic charm and modern comfort, not only give you a nice place to stay but also offer special holiday packages, decorations, and sometimes even special events in the hotel. Going for the top hotels during Christmas means you get a mix of convenience, luxury, and the magical holiday vibe of the city.
Some standout hotels for an awesome Christmas experience include The Plaza Hotel, a historic gem by Central Park known for its fancy feel and great location. The St. Regis New York, right on Fifth Avenue, gives you a luxurious getaway with stylish rooms and easy access to holiday fun. The Ritz-Carlton New York, overlooking Central Park, offers a classy and upscale experience. These hotels, along with others like The Waldorf Astoria, The Mandarin Oriental, and The Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown, are famous for making Christmas in New York City even more special with their great service, holiday treats, and perfect locations.
Christmas Shows in New York: Christmas in New York
- Radio City Christmas Spectacular: The classic holiday production, The Radio City Rockettes’ Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall, features the legendary Rockettes, amazing choreography, and upbeat music.
- The Nutcracker: Enjoy a performance of the classic ballet, “The Nutcracker.” The New York City Ballet typically performs this holiday favourite at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center.
- A Christmas Carol: Look for theatrical productions of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” Various theatres in the city often stage adaptations of this beloved holiday tale.
- Holiday Concerts: Check out holiday concerts featuring Christmas music performed by renowned orchestras or choirs. Venues like Carnegie Hall and the Lincoln Center often host festive concerts during the season.
- Broadway Shows with Holiday Themes: Some Broadway productions incorporate holiday themes into their performances during the Christmas season. Check the schedule for your favourite Broadway shows to see if they have special holiday performances.
- The Christmas Spectacular Starring the Illusionists: This is a holiday-themed magic show that combines the art of illusion with the spirit of Christmas. It’s a unique and entertaining option during the holiday season.
- Holiday Pops Concerts: Look for special holiday pops concerts featuring festive music performed by orchestras like the New York Pops. These concerts often include classic Christmas songs and carols.
- The Polar Express Train Ride: While not a traditional show, the Polar Express Train Ride, often organised by various companies, offers a magical experience for families, including a train journey inspired by the popular holiday story.
- Christmas Improv and Comedy Shows: Some comedy clubs and improv theatres in the city may have holiday-themed performances or improv shows with a festive twist.
- Holiday Cirque du Soleil: Cirque du Soleil occasionally presents holiday-themed performances featuring their signature acrobatics and visual spectacle.
Best Restaurants in New York for Christmas: Christmas in New York
Enjoy Christmas dining in some of New York City’s best restaurants. Rolf’s German Restaurant is famous for its festive decorations and tasty German food. Tavern on the Green, in Central Park, has a magical setting and a special Christmas in New York menu. Gramercy Tavern has a warm vibe and serves yummy dishes with local ingredients.
For a romantic dinner with great views, try The River Café under the Brooklyn Bridge. The Russian Tea Room is luxurious and perfect for a traditional Russian-style Christmas meal. Carlo’s Bakery, run by the “Cake Boss,” has delicious pastries. Balthazar in SoHo is lively and good for a festive brunch or dinner. Daniel on the Upper East Side is fancy and has a refined French menu. Katz’s Delicatessen in the Lower East Side offers classic New York deli food. And if you want a sophisticated Christmas meal, Le Bernardin in Midtown Manhattan is known for its amazing seafood dishes.
New York City Christmas Market: Christmas in New York
- Union Square Holiday Market: Located in the heart of Manhattan, this market offers a festive atmosphere with a diverse array of artisans, food vendors, and unique holiday gifts.
- Bryant Park Winter Village: Experience a European-inspired holiday market surrounded by the skyscrapers of Midtown Manhattan. Enjoy ice skating, shopping, and delicious seasonal treats.
- Grand Central Holiday Fair: Set within the iconic Grand Central Terminal, this market features over 40 vendors offering a curated selection of gifts, jewellery, and crafts.
- Columbus Circle Holiday Market: Nestled at the entrance to Central Park, this market combines the charm of a European market with a New York flair, featuring handmade gifts and gourmet treats.
- Brooklyn Holiday Bazaar: Venture across the river to Brooklyn for a local and handmade shopping experience, complemented by festive food and live music.
- Astoria Market Holiday Market: Embrace the spirit of the season in Queens with this indoor market featuring local artisans, vintage finds, and a warm, community atmosphere.
- New York Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show and Market: Combine holiday shopping with the enchantment of model trains weaving through a botanical wonderland in the Bronx.
- Crafts at Lincoln Center: Celebrate the holidays with a touch of elegance at Winter’s Eve at Lincoln Square, where artisans showcase their crafts amidst the cultural backdrop of Lincoln Center.
- Seaport District Holiday Market: Enjoy stunning views of the waterfront as you explore this market offering a mix of locally made and international gifts, along with festive entertainment.
- Hester Street Fair Holiday Market: Located on the Lower East Side, this market features a mix of independent designers, vintage finds, and delicious bites in a vibrant and eclectic setting.
Christmas walking tour in New York: Christmas in New York
- Start at Bryant Park: When the holidays roll around, Bryant Park becomes a Winter Village, so start your journey there. Enjoy the ice-skating rink, holiday shops, and the beautiful lights.
- Fifth Avenue Window Displays: Walk down Fifth Avenue to see the elaborate window displays at famous department stores like Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman, and Lord & Taylor. These displays are known for their creativity and holiday themes.
- Rockefeller Center: Head to Rockefeller Center to see the famous Christmas Tree and the surrounding decorations. Try to visit when the tree is lit up in the evening.
- St. Patrick’s Cathedral: Proceed on foot to the magnificent Gothic-style cathedral known as St. Patrick’s Cathedral. There’s a lovely seasonal interior decoration, and if you’d want, you may even attend a Christmas in New York service.
- Radio City Music Hall: Stroll over to Radio City Music Hall to enjoy the holiday spirit and maybe see a show of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular.
- Times Square: Head towards Times Square, which is adorned with holiday lights and decorations. Enjoy the bustling atmosphere and the bright lights of the city.
- Grand Central Terminal: Walk to Grand Central Terminal, a historic and beautifully decorated transportation hub. Explore the main concourse and take in the festive decorations.
- The New York Public Library: Continue to the New York Public Library, where you can see the iconic lions, Patience and Fortitude, adorned with holiday wreaths.
- Dyker Heights Christmas Lights (Optional): If you have the time and energy, consider taking a subway or bus to Dyker Heights in Brooklyn. The neighbourhood is famous for its extravagant Christmas light displays.
- End at Union Square Holiday Market: Finish your walking tour at Union Square, where you can explore the holiday market. The market features a variety of vendors selling unique gifts, crafts, and festive treats.
Spending Christmas in New York City offers a truly magical and unforgettable experience. The city comes alive with dazzling lights, festive decorations, and a joyful atmosphere that permeates iconic landmarks and bustling streets. From witnessing the enchanting Rockefeller Center tree lighting to exploring holiday markets, enjoying Broadway’s festive shows, and savouring the charm of Central Park blanketed in snow, every corner of New York radiates holiday spirit. The blend of cultural diversity, iconic traditions, and the warmth of the season makes Christmas in New York an enchanting celebration, leaving visitors with cherished memories and a deep appreciation for the unique magic that defines a New York City Christmas. For more information on Christmas in New York, visit HerMagic.