Christmas in NYC: 10 unforgettable things to do in New York City

Is it worth to visit NYC during Christmas? The short answer is YES, ABSOLUTELY!

There’s no other place like New York City, especially during Christmas. Holiday decorations pop up everywhere.

Get ready for the magic (and the cold weather!). On this post you will find everything you need to do in the city during your visit.

See the Rockefeller Christmas Tree

The most magical place in New York during Christmas is the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. Even though you’ve most likely seen it in photos and movies a thousand times, it still leaves you speechless when you see it.

If I could only recommend one thing to do in Christmas in New York City, it would be visiting the Rockefeller Christmas tree at night and enjoy the light show in front of Saks Fifth Avenue. It’s so magical!

There are many other beautiful Christmas trees all over the city that are well worth the visit – make sure to check them out if you have the time:

  • NYSE Holiday Display in Wall Street
  • Radio City Music Hall facade
  • Seaport District
  • Lotte New York Palace Hotel
  • Washington Square Park
  • Madison Square Park
  • The Peninsula Hotel

The Christmas trees’ lights are on for long periods of time, usually from 6 am to midnight.

Giant ornaments at 6th Avenue

The giant ornaments at 6th Avenue are some of the most photographed holiday decorations in New York City. Located right in front of Radio City Music Hall and steps away from the Rockefeller Center, this area is bustling with people day and night during the season.

Highly recommend visiting especially at night when it becomes even more magical.

Ice skating

It doesn’t get any more festive than this! If you know how to ice skate, you cannot miss this activity.

The most beautiful ice skating locations in NYC:

  • Wollman Rink at Central Park
  • Bryant Park Winter Village
  • The Rink at Rockefeller Center
  • South Street Seaport
  • Vale Rink on the 23rd floor of The William Vale Hotel in Williamsburg

Hudson Yards

Amaze yourself with the 2 million twinkling lights at Hudson Yards.

The lights are on from mid-November and are a show on its own, with wonderful hot air balloons and the Vessel covered in lights.

Visit the Christmas markets

New York City is known for its vibrant and festive Christmas markets. You will find holiday gifts, decorations, artisanal crafts, seasonal foods, mulled wine, hot chocolate and more.

Here are some of the most popular Christmas markets in NYC:

  • Columbus Circle Holiday Market
  • Bryant Park Winter Village
  • Union Square Holiday Market
  • Holiday Fair at Grand Central Terminal
  • Holiday Market at Oculus

Go shopping

NYC takes the shopping experience to a whole new level. Expect the most amazing window displays, light shows and magical Christmas shops.

Add the following activities to your Christmas trip:

  • Make sure to check out the window displays at Saks Fifth Avenue and Macy’s.
  • Luxury shops in 5th avenue such as Cartier, Louis Vuitton and Dior feature incredible façade decorations that are simply put, instagram perfection. Make sure to walk 5th Avenue to discover other Christmas decorations on the sidewalk.
  • If you’re looking for Christmas shops, make sure to check out FAO Schwarz next to the Rockefeller Center and the Christmas in New York shop other in Times Square or in the Little Italy location.

Do not miss the Christmas themed bars!

Themed bars pop up everywhere in the city during the month of December and are a fun way to celebrate the holidays with friends or with your significant other. These are my absolute favorites!

Loreley Beer Garden

The largest heated outdoor beer garden in the Lower East side transforms into Winter Wonderland for the season. Expect magical decorations, themed cocktails and a cool and relaxed vibe.

Holly Jolly Bar

A holiday pop-up bar in the West Village decorated floor-to-ceiling with ornaments and holiday-themed drinks and photo opportunities.

Experience the Santa Clauses’ Winter Wonderland

Located in Watermark (cue a view to Brooklyn bridge). Expect a themed menu, mulled wine and lots of photo opportunities including Santa’s sleigh! PS: Santa might make an appearance.

Other restaurants you might want to check out (they’re open all year round!):

  • Rolf’s German Restaurant
  • Papillon
  • Tavern on the Green
  • Lillie’s Victorian

The Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall

If there’s a Christmas classic in NYC, it’s the Radio City Spectacular show.

The Rockettes’ performances have become synonymous with the holiday season, attracting audiences from all over the world. The Radio City Christmas Spectacular runs from November to early January and has become a staple of holiday entertainment in New York City.

Dyker Heights Tour

If you have the time to take a detour to Dyker Heights in Brooklyn, do not hesitate and do it!

This is a residential area in Brooklyn so visiting on your own from Manhattan by public transportation can be a little bit tricky. We highly recommend joining a Dyker Heights tour for a hassle-free experience.

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