The holidays are always a magical time of year, but there is something extra special about spending Christmas in New York.
The activities abound, the whole city gets decorated with Christmas decorations and intricate window displays. Spending holidays in New York City can get expensive, but there are so many fun things to do in New York City in December.
Here’s a lineup of top 10 things to do in New York City during Christmas (for teens & adults):
Nothing marks the beginning of the magical holiday season in NYC like the lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. The tree is erected in mid-November and lit in a public ceremony in late November or early December.
The big tree has around 45,000 LED lights, and it’s definitely worth fighting the crowds, especially after dark when the lights bounce off the bare shoulders of the golden Prometheus statue. Lights usually click off at 11:30 pm through Christmas, then at 9 pm through New Year’s Eve.
#2 The Holiday Train Show
The New York Botanical Garden‘s Holiday Train Show is one of NYC’s top seasonal attractions for families, with electric model trains whizzing by more than 150 New York City landmarks made out of twigs, acorns, bark, nuts, berries, and leaves.
The Holiday Train Show includes replicas of the Brooklyn Bridge, Statue of Liberty, and Yankee Stadium. Opening for 2016 on November 19, the show sees a big expansion with more trains, a fabulous finale featuring a tribute to the Coney Island amusement park, and a brand new Queensboro Bridge.
#3 Lincoln Center
The Lincoln Center is a 16-acre arts and entertainment complex in the heart of NYC. There are many marvelous Christmas trees in the city, but the bushy spruce erected in the Lincoln Center’s principal plaza is one of the prettiest.
The Christmas tree, adorned with glowing white and blue snowflakes, is just another must-see seasonal signifier that Santa Claus is coming to town.
#4 Radio City Music Hall
The Christmas Spectacular is an annual musical holiday stage show presented at Radio City Music Hall in NYC. The 90-minute show features more than 140 performers and an original musical score and combines dancing, singing, and humor with traditional scenes.
A true New York City institution, the annual Radio City Christmas Spectacular is the sparkling, breath-taking way to get you in the Christmas spirit! Furthermore, its twinkling Christmas tree is absolutely captivating enough to make us want to stop and take a photo.
#5 Holiday Lights Tour
Why is our NYC Holiday Lights Tour so attractive? Because everyone wants to see all the new attractions, lights, and trees in NY but covering the 4 square miles or so that they encompass in one night and on foot can take a while, not to mention the weather and crowds.
The Holiday Lights Tour include – The tree at Lincoln Center, Central Park’s Holiday Markets, all the store displays on Madison, Park and Fifth Avenues, The World’s Largest Snowflake, and more.
More importantly, on this narrated and guided motorcoach tour, you’ll hear stories about the rich history, tradition, and pageantry of some of the finest NYC holiday displays, as well as the multicultural festive flavor and atmosphere that fills the city from Thanksgiving to Three King’s Day.
#6 Fifth Avenue Window Shopping
One of the Christmas season’s benefits is the walk along Fifth Avenue from 59th Street to Macy’s at 34th. You’ll feel like you’re walking in a winter wonderland when you pass the festively decorated stores like Lord & Taylor, Bergdorf Goodman, Saks, and Tiffany. Here you can find the best Christmas Windows in the world along with Rockefeller Center.
#7 Ice Skating in Bryant Park
The ice skating in Bryant Park’s 170-by-100 foot rink. Admission is free, you must pay for skate rentals, locks, and bag check. In addition, there is the aforementioned rink-side pop-up restaurant Public Fare, which is open daily from 8 am to 10 pm, serving snack, coffee, hot tea, sandwiches and soup during the day as well as drinks and dinner during the evening.
#8 New York City Ballet
A night at George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker is one you won’t forget for many years. The annual performance at NYC Ballet features some of the world’s most elite dancers (the performance features 150 costumes, including a cape from the original 1954 production, with 57 people working backstage to co-ordinate the costume lighting, changes, and scenery), and is complete with marching toy soldiers, a one-ton Christmas tree, and crystal white snowflakes.
The fascinating show runs through January 3 and it’s a guaranteed sell-out, so don’t forget to get tickets in advance.
#9 Dyker Heights Christmas Lights
Starting in the 1980’s, Christmas started getting brighter and bigger out in Brooklyn with each passing year. Each year, over 100,000 individuals flock to the Brooklyn nabe to witness some of the most over-the-top Christmas lights we’ve ever seen, like – huge inflatable Santas and snowmen, and houses that blast Christmas carols from loudspeakers.
#10 Chelsea Market
The 6,000-square-foot indoor market has something for everyone. From a smorgasbord of delicious food options to a variety of stores, Chelsea Market just might become your favorite NY destination, particularly during Christmas. Make sure to glance around at the splendidly decorated space.