New York City especially sparkles during the holiday season. Whether you’re a local or visiting on vacation, deciding which sites to see in New York City during the holidays, or any time of the year is a daunting task. Parks are turned into quaint Christmas villages, themed storefront windows transform into animated fairytales, and the city exudes the spirit of the season with thousands of twinkling lights and seasonal treats. Taking a trip to New York City during the Christmas season is a holiday tradition for me and my family. However, here’s a roundup of my favorite things to do in New York City for the holidays.
Things to do in New York City for the Holidays
Radio City Music Hall’s Christmas Spectacular is a New York City institution dating back to 1932. Along with the world-famous Rockettes, a precision dance company. This winter wonderland show of song and dance will get even Scrooge in the mood for the holidays. A nativity scene complete with live animals, and of course, Santa himself, grace the stage for this world-famous show. Tickets can be found here.
Surely Lincoln Center is the world’s leading performing arts center. The best in music, dance, opera, and theater can be found at this majestic venue. During the holidays, a performance of the Nutcracker Ballet by the New York City Ballet is not to be missed. As the clock chimes midnight, a brave young girl turns the tide in a battle between toy soldiers and mischievous mice, and a blizzard of ballerinas reveals a wonderful world of confection. The ballet is adapted from E.T.A. Hoffman’s story, “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King.” Attendees experience the magnificence of the performers as well as the one-ton Christmas tree that grows from a height of 12 feet to 41 feet and the flutter of crystal-shaped snowflakes.
CHRISTMAS CAROL Performances
There are two fabulous shows featuring A Christmas Carol. A Christmas Carol at Merchant’s House Museum transports viewers back 150 years with 19th-century-holiday decorations, flickering candles, and richly appointed period furnishings the timeless Christmas tale is told in the elegant intact Greek Revival double parlor of the landmark 1832 Merchant’s House Museum.
A Christmas Carol, Broadway, a limited engagement for 8 weeks only, welcomes theatergoers of all ages into an immersive experience that’s brimming with Christmas spirit.
NYC HOLIDAY MARKETS
There are four popular holiday markets that grace the city. The Winter Village at Bryant Park is a winter wonderland with holiday shops, a food hall, and the sparkling Bryant Park Christmas tree. It’s also home to New York City’s only free admission ice skating rink. Be sure to also visit the Union Square Holiday Market, Columbus Circle Holiday Market, and the indoor Grand Central Holiday Fair, all festive places to get in the holiday spirit and pick up gifts for everyone on your shopping list.
The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree and the ice skating rink are worldwide symbols of the holidays and a must-visit site. Each year, thousands crowd the sidewalks to see the sparkling tree and skate on the rink. The tree, lit and on display, is on the plaza between West 48th and 51st Streets and Fifth and Sixth Avenues.
There’s nothing better than holiday window displays at Bloomingdales, Barneys, and Bergdorf Goodman. Their glittery, enchanting department store windows will get any shopper in a festive mood. Walk from Central Park on Fifth Avenue towards Herald Square. Check out this special deal to attend the Radio City Holiday show, a visit to Rockefeller center, and a holiday window display tour.
Winter is a beautiful and peaceful time of year to explore Central Park. You can also go ice skating at Wollman Rink and Lasker Rink throughout the season. When covered in snow, it’s a great place to enjoy sledding, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing.
Decked out with festive lights and décor, Tavern on the Green restaurant is a perfect place to enjoy a festive meal and enjoy a little downtime, but be sure to make a reservation. Nestled in Central Park, it’s an iconic landmark, originally designed as a sheepfold in the 1880s to house the 700 Southdown sheep that grazed Central Park’s, Sheep Meadow. In 1934 it was turned into a restaurant with a seasonal menu.
The Empire State Building is open 365 days a year including Christmas Day! Lit up in a festive green and red glow for the holiday season, this 102 story Art Deco skyscraper in Midtown Manhattan provides views of Manhattan showcasing the beauty of the city’s skyline. 2nd-floor exhibits take guests on a journey from the building’s construction to its place in culture today. Get your tickets here.
Festive cocktails can be enjoyed inside or while seated in the outdoor heated beer garden, (which is one of the largest in Manhattan.) Warm up with a delicious bourbon hot chocolate that is topped with torched marshmallows, spiced eggnog, or a gluhwein, which is the bar’s signature mulled wine.
New York City is magical any time of year, but during the holidays it’s truly special. Make the most of your trip with this list of 8 things to do in NYC. for the holidays. Be sure to read things to do in the Hudson Valley region of New York State for other fun things to do in the area.