11 Best Things To Do In NYC At Christmas
Last Updated on November 25, 2020 by Dana Berez
Best Things To Do In NYC At Christmas
Table of Contents
It is the most wonderful time of the year, and what makes it more wonderful is spending Christmas in New York City! Below are my things to do in NYC at Christmas with family, friends, or your significant other! Hope you enjoy this festive list!
And because this year, 2020, was a special year I have updated this list for things you can do this Christmas in New York 2020. Please note as things change rapidly, check each activity before you go for the latest update!
Updated November 2020
1. Shop the Christmas Markets NYC
To find the most unique gifts in New York, you have to check out the Christmas Markets. The majority of vendors are small businesses that pride themselves on handmade or local goods. You can find a variety of items to buy including jewelry, spices & teas, specialty foods, and handcrafted goods.
Best NYC Christmas Markets:
- Union Square Holiday Market
- Holiday Shops at Bryant Park
Tip: The markets are located outdoors, so be sure to dress accordingly!
Find NYC hotels here:
2. See the Lavish Christmas Windows NYC
There is something magical about the Christmas Windows in NYC because these stores do not skimp on the detail! Gazing at a few shops windows is a must-do activity when in New York during Christmas
Where to Window Shop during Christmas in NYC?
- Head to 5th Avenue from 59th Street to 50th Street. Shops include Cartier, Bergdorf Goodman, Louis Vuitton, and the iconic Saks Fifth Avenue. These luxury shops dazzle their storefronts with lights, greenery, plus the latest fashion. I
- Macy’s Herald Square. Macy’s is another favorite place to see the Christmas Window Displays. Each year there is a different theme. And because Macy’s covers one Street Grid (the Largest Store in the World), so you have a lot of window displays to see!
Tip: While shops mostly have window displays, you can find some cute gems like a display I found in Union Square was in front of Lillie’s Victorian Restaurant. I love the life-sized Nutcrackers!
3. Visit the Rockefeller Christmas Tree
Of course no trip Christmas in New York trip would be complete without visiting the iconic Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree! Each year an enormous tree, from New York State is placed in Rockefeller Center and decorated to perfection.
To kick off the holiday season, there is the Rockefeller Christmas Tree lighting televised with performances by major artists.
4. Check out Lotte New York Palace Christmas Tree
The Rockefeller Tree is stunning; however, I prefer the smaller tree in the center of the Lotte New York Palace Hotel. This tree is beautifully decorated and is a perfect backdrop for a beautiful Christmas in New York photo!
P.S. If you’re a Gossip Girl fan you will recognize this courtyard immediately!
>> Check out my other Christmas Photo Spots
4. Go Ice Skating
Nothing Like Ice Skating in the middle of New York City! Such a fun activity for everyone, plus it will get you really into that holiday spirit!
Where to Ice Skate in NYC?
There are a few locations throughout New York to Ice Skate, but the most iconic are:
- Rockefeller Center Ice Skating Rink
- Wollman Rink Central Park
- Bryant Park Winter Village
How much is Ice Skating in NYC?
Because it’s New York, expect to pay more for your ice skating experience. Prices are higher on the weekends and dates closest to Christmas Day. At Wollman Rink in Central Park, Skate rentals are $10 and adult tickets are $19, so you are looking at $29 per adult to ice skate.
5. Classic Harbor Line Sunset & Holiday Cruise
Take in the gorgeous winter sunset right on the water with Classic Harbor Line Sunset & Holiday cruise. Enjoy light bites and a complimentary beverage and take in the amazing views on this classic 1920’s yacht.
The cruise is 1 hour and a half long and you’ll see famous sites like the Brooklyn Bridge, Governors Island, and the Statue of Liberty. It runs until late December.
6. Watch the Saks Fifth Avenue Lightshow
A must-see when in New York is the Saks Fifth Avenue Lightshow. And while there won’t be a singular event to kick off the holiday season, Sak’s will preview the light show in a series of 20 smaller events to promote social distancing. You can take it in virtually, as gathering on 5th avenue will be discouraged.
7. Shine Bright at Hudson Yards
Make your way to Hudson Yards, the latest addition to the New York Skyline which is home to the famous Vessel. Inside the Shops at Hudson Yards you can find 2 million lights illuminating the mall! The interior is worth coming for, but you can also enjoy contactless shopping and delicious bites.
8. THE NEW YORK BOTANICAL GARDEN HOLIDAY TRAIN SHOW
Watch model trains make their way throughout iconic Holiday New York through over 175 replicas. Because to safety guidelines and capacity limits, the Holiday Train Show is only open to Members or Patrons. Learn more about becoming a member.
9. Dyker Heights Christmas Lights
To see the best Christmas lights on display, you have to head to Dyker Heights a neighborhood in Brooklyn, next to Bay Ridge. There you will find awe-inspiring light displays that make you wonder how much these residents pay on their electric bill.
Where to see the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights?
The Dyker Heights Christmas lights are, thankfully, in one area of the neighborhood from 11th-13th Avenues & 53rd-56th street.
You can get here by Public transport, but it will be a bit of a walk to reach the area with the lights. Take the R train to 86th Street or the D train to 79th Street
10. Visit Macy’s Holiday Lane
While Santaland was the highlight of Macy’s 34th Street, this year the experience will be virtual. But don’t cross Macy’s off your list entirely. The flagship store is always decked out in Christmas decor, plus the Christmas floor is a must-visit for everything Christmas Decor. (I love the ornament selection)
11. See The Radio City Rockettes Perform The Christmas Spectacular
Are the Rockettes Performing in 2020? Due to safety restrictions, the Christmas Spectacular is canceled this year.
However, this is a must-do when in New York City. Let’s all hope we can see the Rockettes kick in 2021.
More about the show: the Rockettes perform The Christmas Spectacular at New York’s iconic Radio City Music Hall. Nothing will put in more in the Christmas Spirit. There is something magical about the Rockettes, from the music and costumes. This show never gets old, and I try to see it every year for the ultimate Christmas Vacation in New York.
New York City during Christmas Tips:
When does Christmas in New York Start?
Christmas day is December 25th, however, you can start to see Christmas decorations up late November.
When is the tree lighting in New York?
This year the Rockefeller Christmas Tree lights up on December 2nd.
What is there to do at Christmas in New York?
There are so many fun activities to do during Christmas in New York including Rockefeller Christmas Tree, Ice Skating, Christmas Markets, Light Shows, Window Shopping, and More!
Is there a Christmas Parade in New York City?
There is not an official Christmas Parade in New York City. To kick off the Holiday season tune into the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Best Christmas Restaurant NYC?
What I love about New York is that the decor doesn’t stop on the streets. There are plenty of bars and restaurants filled with Christmas Decorations including:
- Rolf’s German Restaurant, Gramercy (Closed 2020)
- Lillie’s Victorian, Union Square
- Oscar Wilde, Chelsea
Best Christmas Bars:
- Pete’s Tavern, Gramercy
Is Christmas a Good time to Visit in New York?
Christmas is a great time to visit New York. Even though it is slightly cold, the Christmas decor makes up for it! Plus, there are so many activities to do you’ll want to come back for more.
Will it be snowing in New York in December?
While you can never predict the weather, snow in December is rather unlikely. The best months to visit New York for snow is during January or February.
What should I wear in New York in December?
Because most things to do are located outside, be sure to bring warm clothes and a coat when traveling in December.
What to Pack:
- Warm Jacket
- Comfortable boots
Shop the Look:
> Related: What to Pack for a Trip to NYC | NYC Packing List by Season
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Hope you enjoyed these ways to enjoy Christmas in New York City! Let me know how you celebrate Christmas in the comments below. Pin this to your Christmas Boards!