Christmas in New York is the best. Who doesn’t want to spend the merriest time of the year exploring the Big Apple and having an adventure just like Kevin from Home Alone 2 had? I grew up with that movie, and it was one of the reasons why I wanted to visit New York for Christmas. So, if you’re planning your Christmas in New York, here is my list of the Best Christmas things to do in NYC. From lighting up the Rockefeller Christmas tree to ice-skating, gigs, Big Apple Circus events, Brooklyn Heights and beyond.
Let’s get jolly!
Visit Dyker Heights
A showcase of the best Christmas Decorations New York has to offer. From life-sized Santa’s, hundreds of thousands of lights wrapped around the houses to entire Santa’s village costing $20 000. Yes, Dyker Heights has it all. Don’t miss this spectacular Christmas show located between 11th and 13th Avenue and 83rd to 86th Street in Brooklyn. Grab some hot chocolate and get ready for a neighbourhood you will never forget! I promise you, this place won’t leave any Grinch miserable!
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See the Rockefeller Christmas Tree
Seeing the Rockefeller Christmas Tree is a life-time experience. Especially for all of us who grew up on Home Alone 2 and have dreamt of this place ever since! It’s like being in a movie, but with more crowds and more excited kids, and with adults rushing around and posing for the best picture for their Social Media. Even so, it still has to be on your list. Seeing this over 70-feet tall Norway spruce lit up with hundreds of thousands of lights is something you won’t forget and it does wonders for your inner child. I promise.
Ice Skating under the Rockefeller Christmas Tree
I’m personally a huge fan of ice skating, so without a doubt, this experience had to be on my bucket list while visiting New York for Christmas. The only downside is that this experience gets booked extremely fast, so you have to be ahead of the game and prebook in advance. The tickets go on sale during fall, I recommend keeping your eyes open on their official website: https://therinkatrockcenter.com/Reservations.
Saks Fifth Avenue Christmas Lights Show
Get into the holiday spirit by watching Saks Christmas Lights Show located on 5th Avenue. The show runs every 10 minutes, but I recommend waiting until after dark so you can enjoy the light show and music, which lasts about 4 minutes.
The Rockettes Radio City Christmas Spectacular
The Rockettes Radio City Christmas Spectacular is an annual event held in Radio City Hall every year for Christmas, with the first show starting in 1933. This 90-minute show guarantees that festive feeling with over 140 performers and fun combined with dancing, singing, humour and traditional Christmas scenes.
Take a romantic walk across Central Park wrapped in a white blanket of snow. It’s much quieter and slower than the rest of the city, and it is ideal for that romantic stroll during Christmas. When we spent our Christmas in New York, we didn’t have any snow, but the walk was still pleasant, and we enjoyed the view of skyscrapers in the distance. Central Park is a lovely hideaway from all the hustle and bustle of the city.
Carols and Cocoa Cruise
Carols and Cocoa Cruise was a highlight of our Christmas in New York. I loved every second of it and would do it all over again if I return to New York for Christmas. We sailed on the Hudson River, drank wine and hot chocolate, snacked on Christmas biscuits while we were listening to live jazz music playing Christmas Carols. We sang, drunk and on top of that we got to see the entire city lit up in the dark as well as the Big Lady herself – The Statue of Liberty. It was wonderful! Check out their official website: https://www.sail-nyc.com
Oversized Christmas Decorations on the 6th Avenue
Only in New York, will you get to see giant Christmas decorations! They are sitting in the middle of a busy avenue, across from the Radio City Hall so you can’t miss them! These giant Christmas balls sit atop of the fountain creating a beautiful reflection for that perfect Christmas picture from your Christmas trip to New York!
New York Library Christmas Tree
Although Rockefeller Christmas Tree is pretty spectacular, the Christmas tree in Astor Hall, New York Library, in my opinion, is the most beautiful one ever. Plus, all the Christmas decorations, books and history makes you forget about the world outside and all of a sudden you realise that you’ve been brought back in times! This must be on your list!
Christmas Market in Bryant Park
Christmas wouldn’t be the same if there wasn’t any kind of Christmas market going on. New York’s Christmas Market in Bryant Park is home to handmade art, crafts, both traditional and less traditional food to tease your taste buds. It also boasts plenty of bars to enjoy a glass or two of soul-warming mulled wine.
The Nutcracker Ballet Show
George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker Ballet Show is one of the most complex and most beautiful ballet shows ever. Performed by 90 dancers, 62 musicians, 40 stagehands and more than 120 children in two parts this show is enchanting, leaving you with goosebumps and maybe tears in your eyes afterwards. It is so, so beautiful and gentle.
PS: The ballet show has been cancelled for 2020 due to Covid-19.
Have hot Chocolate in Plaza (Food Court)
Unlike in the movie Home Alone 2, you can’t just walk into the Hotel Plaza and take pictures of their Christmas tree and decor. If you want to do so, you have to stay in the hotel. But you are still allowed to take the escalator down to the Food Court and admire their Christmas decorations there. Have a cake and hot chocolate before you decide to go for a walk around Central Park.
Have a meal at Rolf’s
Rolf’s restaurant is well-known in New York for its spectacular Christmas decor and fancy food. The whole restaurant from the top to bottom and every millimetre in-between is covered in Christmas ornaments. It’s so popular that you have to make reservation months in advance. If you only turn up for the drinks, during the Christmas period the waiting time can be more than an hour to be seated at the bar!
Rooftop bar with Empire State Building view
Fancy a glass of prosecco or a hot mulled wine while enjoying the views of the Empire State Building liting up for Christmas? Then I recommend visiting the 230 Fifth Rooftop Bar. With their heated seating areas and glass igloos, it’s the perfect place to chill out after a long day of walking around New York!
Visit Macy’s Santaland
If you are visiting Christmas with children (or not), take a walk around this 13-000 square-foot Santa’s village. You will find everything here. From Santa’s village with his little helpers in Santa’s workshop, Rainbow bridge and Lionel trainscape, big red sleigh and lights to Christmas trees and hidden gifts. Can you find them all?
I hope you’re super excited about Christmas, whether you’re spending Christmas in New York or not, at the end of the day it’s the merriest time of the year! If you’re looking at ways how to save money on all the major attractions, visit my other article about saving money in New York!
Spending Christmas in New York? Book your perfect stay below:
- Book an AirBnB and save £50 off your first booking!
- Intercontinental Hotel Times Square 4* luxury hotel at the doorstep of Times Square
- Moxy NYC Downtown – beautiful hotel Downtown for an affordable price and excellent location in Financial District
Pin Christmas in New York for later!