5 Things to do if you’re celebrating Christmas in New York

Christmas in New York - Rockefeller Center

5 Things to do if you’re celebrating Christmas in New York


It’s the most wonderful time of the year! When we say this, of course we’re referring to Christmas. More specifically, Christmas in New York. If you are travelling to The Big Apple in December this year, brace yourself for a lot of festivities. New York attractions are beautiful all year round, but picture them with bright lights surrounded by oversized Christmas trees. Every neighbourhood is home to a beautiful holiday market showcasing local artists, and the streets are filled with pure joy (and loads of energy)!

Whether it’s your first time celebrating Christmas in New York or not, here is a guide to help navigate you through the city to all the must-sees and must-dos.


1. Ice skating

Christmas in New York Ice Skating
Wollman Rink in Central Park


New York City has plenty of ice skating options located all across the city. Whether you like to skate amongst nature or prefer to be next to the bright city lights, there’s no shortage of skating rinks. Even if you want to dedicate an entire day to skating, you can visit one of New York’s most elaborate holiday markets in Bryant Park. Here you’ll indulge in local foods, shop for gifts and skate in the centre of all the action. Alternatively, you might visit the iconic rink at the Rockefeller Center. Note: this is the skating rink featured in Elf! If you’re looking to be in Central Park, Wollman Rink is where you should go. Skating here, you’ll get the best of both worlds: nature and a beautiful view of the tall city buildings. This too is a famed rink, having been featured in multiple films including Home Alone. Anywhere you go, be prepared for large, slow-moving crowds! If you think this is it for skating rink options, we’ll stop you right there. New York City has many more rinks located from uptown to downtown. Even if you’re staying in Brooklyn, you have access to some wonderful spots too.


2. Christmas markets galore

Christmas in New York Union Square Holiday Market
Sourced from Union Square Partnership


The best place to pick up one-of-a-kind gifts. Christmas in New York means holiday markets everywhere. Whether you’re shopping for jewelry, sweaters, handcrafted bags, local foods or other, you’ll find it all one of New York’s many holiday markets. If you’re in Midtown Manhattan, stop by Bryant Park’s Winter Village to immerse yourself in all things festive. Not too far from Bryant Park is the Union Square Holiday Market which has a more funky vibe to it. If you find yourself close to Central Park, you should visit the Columbus Circle Holiday Market. We know, Central Park is huge! But if you’re anywhere near the southwest corner, or have just finished skating at the Wollman Rink, Columbus Circle is a close walk. Browse the local vendors while you sip on a hot cocoa, apple cider or mulled wine. If you’re looking for a warmer alternative, lucky for you, there’s an indoor holiday market. Explore the historic Grand Central Holiday Fair and its 76 vendor stalls.


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3. Rockefeller Tree and lights show

Christmas in New York Rockefeller Center
Rockefeller Tree in Rockefeller Center


The iconic tree at the Rockefeller Plaza is a sight you simply can’t miss. While it gets incredibly crowded with people wanting to snap a photo with the brightly lit Christmas tree, it’s worth it! If you prefer fewer people, of course you may choose to go earlier in the morning or later in the evening. Either way, it’s such a stunning view with the tall buildings surrounding the tree, the skating rink and the beautiful angel display leading right up to the Saks Fifth Avenue. If you have the time, hang around to see the music and lights display put on by Saks on their storefront. It’s entertaining and so captivating; you’ll be sure to sing along. 


4. Macy’s window display and Santaland

Christmas in New York Macy's Santaland
Santaland sourced from Mommy Poppins


If Christmas in New York is famous and admired for one thing, it’s the impressive holiday window displays. Many stores take this time of year to fill their large windows with festive and elaborate decorations. Oftentimes, they also have a theme, such as Saks Fifth Avenue’s “Theatre of Dreams.” The world’s largest department store, Macy’s, located in Herald Square on 34th Street, is known as the window display. In fact, Macy’s New York store put up one of the first major holiday window displays back in 1874. Thanks to technology, many are incorporating engaging high-tech displays today. You’ll also find stores including Bloomingdale’s, Henri Bendel, Tiffany & Co., and of course, Saks Fifth Avenue participating in this annual tradition. We certainly can’t forget Macy’s Santaland created not only for the young ones but for everyone. This is an opportunity to snap a picture with Santa and his elves, while also exploring the magical winter wonderland and his workshop. Also a great spot for cool Instagram photos!


5. Radio City Christmas Spectacular

Christmas in New York Radio City Rockettes
Sourced from The Radio City Rockettes


Up for a broadway show? The Radio City Christmas Spectacular stars the legendary Rockettes.  It’s a must-see as it’s a staple of the New York holiday season. Recommended for all ages, this is a very exciting family event. You get a chance to see the notorious high-kicks from the Rockettes and the iconic “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers.” To add to that, the show features live animals in its “Living Nativity” scene! To purchase tickets, visit this website. We highly suggest you purchase tickets prior to your trip as it’s an extremely popular show. Booking in advance also ensures you get a good seat. However, anywhere you sit is still guaranteed to give you a memorable experience. 


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