Best Christmas Things to Do in NYC 2023 Experience the Magic of the Holiday Season
New York City is a magical place during the holiday season, and there are endless things to do to get you into the Christmas spirit. From ice skating at Rockefeller Center to admiring the Dyker Heights Christmas lights, there is something for everyone in NYC during Christmas.
1. Ice Skating at Rockefeller Center
The Rink at Rockefeller Center is one of the most iconic ice skating rinks in the world, and it is a must-do for any Christmas visitor to NYC. The rink is open from late October through early April, and it is always a lot of fun to skate under the world-famous Christmas tree.
2. See the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights
The Dyker Heights neighborhood in Brooklyn is known for its over-the-top Christmas light displays. The houses are decorated with thousands of lights, and there are even life-size Santas, sleighs, and snowmen. It is a truly magical sight to behold.
3. Visit the Bryant Park Winter Village
The Bryant Park Winter Village is a charming outdoor market that is perfect for Christmas shopping. There are over 170 vendors selling everything from handcrafted gifts to delicious food. You can also enjoy ice skating, live entertainment, and holiday-themed activities.
4. Admire the Saks Fifth Avenue Window Displays
The Saks Fifth Avenue window displays are a beloved New York City tradition. Every year, the department store unveils a new theme for its windows, and they are always a sight to behold. The displays are full of intricate details and are sure to put you in the Christmas spirit.
5. Take a Holiday Lights Tour
There are many different holiday lights tours available in NYC, and they are a great way to see all of the best displays. The tours typically take you by bus or van, and they stop at all of the most popular spots, including Dyker Heights, Brooklyn Heights, and Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
6. See a Christmas Show
There are many different Christmas shows to see in NYC, from traditional productions of The Nutcracker to more modern takes on the holiday season. Some popular shows include A Christmas Carol at Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular, and Elf: The Musical at the New York Theatre Workshop.
7. Go Shopping at Christmas Markets
There are many different Christmas markets in NYC, and they are a great place to find unique gifts and souvenirs. Some popular markets include the Union Square Holiday Market, the Columbus Circle Holiday Market, and the Brooklyn Flea Holiday Market.
8. Enjoy a Festive Meal
New York City has many restaurants that offer special holiday menus, and it is a great way to celebrate the season. Some popular choices include One if by Land, Two if by Sea, The Modern, and The River Café.
9. Take a Carriage Ride
A carriage ride is a classic New York City experience, and it is especially magical during the holiday season. You can take a ride through Central Park, along Fifth Avenue, or around the Upper West Side.
10. Visit a Museum
Many museums in NYC offer special holiday programs and events. Some popular choices include the Museum of the Moving Image, the American Museum of Natural History, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
11. Attend a Tree Lighting Ceremony
There are many different tree lighting ceremonies in NYC, and they are a great way to kick off the holiday season. Some popular ceremonies include the Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting Ceremony, the Bryant Park Tree Lighting Ceremony, and the Times Square Tree Lighting Ceremony.
12. Go Ice Skating at Wollman Rink
Wollman Rink is another popular ice skating rink in Central Park. It is a bit smaller than The Rink at Rockefeller Center, but it is also a bit less crowded.
13. See the Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Garden
14. Attend a Caroling Event
There are many caroling events in NYC throughout the holiday season. Join a group of singers and stroll through the streets, spreading Christmas cheer with traditional carols.
15. Go to a Christmas Eve Service
Experience the spirit of Christmas at a special Christmas Eve service at one of NYC’s many churches or synagogues. Many churches offer candlelight vigils, midnight Masses, or special caroling services.
16. Have a Gingerbread House Workshop
Create your own gingerbread masterpiece at a gingerbread house workshop. These workshops are often held at bakeries, craft stores, and even some museums.
17. Do some Last-Minute Shopping
Don’t let the holiday rush get to you! Indulge in the excitement of last-minute shopping at some of NYC’s iconic department stores, like Macy’s Herald Square or Bergdorf Goodman.
18. Enjoy a Holiday-Themed Cocktail
Warm up with a festive cocktail at one of NYC’s many bars or restaurants. Many establishments offer special holiday-themed drinks, like eggnog, spiked hot chocolate, or cranberry martinis.
19. Watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
Be a part of the iconic Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, where giant balloons, floats, and marching bands transform Broadway into a wonderland of holiday cheer.
20. Experience the Magic of Radio City Music Hall
Attend a performance of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, a dazzling production featuring Rockettes, Santa Claus, and the world-famous Christmas tree.
21. Enjoy a Holiday Dinner Cruise
Sail around the Hudson River and take in the twinkling lights of the Manhattan skyline while enjoying a delicious holiday meal. Many cruise companies offer special holiday packages that include dinner, dancing, and live entertainment.
22. Visit the Bronx Zoo’s Light Show
Immerse yourself in a magical winter wonderland at the Bronx Zoo’s Light Show. Stroll through the zoo’s grounds, adorned with millions of twinkling lights, animated animal displays, and festive holiday scenes.
23. Take a Holiday Movie Tour
Embark on a journey through New York City’s cinematic history on a holiday movie tour. Visit iconic filming locations from beloved Christmas classics, such as “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York,” “Miracle on 34th Street,” and “Elf.”
24. Indulge in Holiday Sweet Treats
Satisfy your sweet tooth with New York City’s delectable holiday treats. From traditional gingerbread cookies and hot chocolate to gourmet chocolates and holiday-themed pastries, there’s something for every taste bud.
25. Volunteer at a Local Shelter or Charity
Spread the holiday cheer by volunteering your time at a local shelter or charity. Help prepare meals, deliver gifts, or simply spend time with those in need, making a meaningful difference during the holiday season.
26. Visit the Brooklyn Heights Promenade
Enjoy panoramic views of the Manhattan skyline and the Brooklyn Bridge, illuminated by festive holiday lights, from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade. Take a leisurely stroll or pack a picnic and savor the mesmerizing views.
27. Explore the Holiday Markets at Chelsea Piers
Discover unique gifts and handcrafted items at the Chelsea Piers Holiday Markets. Browse through a variety of vendors selling artisanal goods, gourmet food, and holiday decorations.
28. Skate at The Rink at Brookfield Place
Experience the thrill of ice skating at The Rink at Brookfield Place, located at the heart of the World Financial Center. With its breathtaking views of the Hudson River and stunning architecture, it’s an unforgettable winter experience.
29. Admire the Holiday Window Displays at Bergdorf Goodman
Marvel at the enchanting holiday window displays at Bergdorf Goodman, a renowned luxury department store on Fifth Avenue. Each year, the store unveils a captivating theme, filled with intricate details and dazzling artistry.
30. Take a Festive Photo at the Lotte New York Palace
Capture a memorable holiday photo in front of the iconic Lotte New York Palace hotel, adorned with vibrant holiday decorations and a towering Christmas tree. It’s a perfect spot to create a cherished holiday keepsake.
31. Enjoy the Festive Atmosphere of Times Square
Wander through the bustling streets of Times Square, transformed into a dazzling spectacle of lights, billboards, and holiday cheer. Take a spin on the iconic TKTS booth or snap a selfie with the giant red ball.
32. Watch the Christmas Tree Lighting at the Lotte Hotel New York Palace
Be part of the magical tradition of the Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony at the Lotte New York Palace hotel. The ceremony features live music, festive entertainment, and the unveiling of the hotel’s magnificent Christmas tree.
33. Attend the Holiday Spectacular at the Metropolitan Opera House
Immerse yourself in a world of enchanting melodies and dazzling costumes at the Metropolitan Opera House’s Holiday Spectacular. The show features beloved holiday classics, performed by talented opera singers and dancers.
35. See the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights at Night
The Dyker Heights Christmas Lights are even more spectacular after dark, when the twinkling lights create a mesmerizing spectacle against the night sky. Take a leisurely stroll through the neighborhood and marvel at the over-the-top decorations.
36. Enjoy a Holiday-Themed Brunch
Kickstart your holiday day with a festive brunch at one of NYC’s many restaurants. Many establishments offer special holiday-themed brunch menus, featuring delicious dishes and festive ambiance.
37. Watch the Radio City Christmas Spectacular on TV
If you can’t make it to Radio City Music Hall, you can still enjoy the magic of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular at home on TV. The show is televised every year and features the beloved Rockettes, Santa Claus, and dazzling production numbers.
38. Indulge in a Festive Cocktail at a Rooftop Bar
Enjoy stunning views of the city skyline and cozy up with a festive cocktail at one of NYC’s many rooftop bars. Many establishments offer special holiday-themed drinks and ambiance.
39. Visit the Holiday Markets at the South Street Seaport
Explore the charming holiday markets at the South Street Seaport, where you can find unique gifts, handcrafted items, and delectable treats. Stroll along the waterfront and enjoy the festive atmosphere.
40. Take a Holiday Lights Tour by Boat
Experience the beauty of NYC’s holiday lights from a different perspective on a boat tour. Many companies offer special holiday lights tours that take you along the Hudson River, past iconic landmarks and twinkling displays.
These are just a few of the many incredible things to do during the holiday season in New York City. With its magical atmosphere, festive events, and endless opportunities for fun and excitement, NYC is the perfect place to experience the true magic of Christmas.