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This article will give you all the information you need on what to do in New York during the Christmas season to have a merry and bright vacation. I’ll discuss my top Christmas activities in New York City and my favorite things to do in New York throughout the holiday season after spending several Christmases there.
I’ve got you covered if you’re traveling to the city on Christmas Day and are looking for things to do in New York City on Christmas Day, or if you’re arriving in the weeks leading up to Christmas and are looking for something to do in NYC at Christmas.
I’ll guide you to the best and most joyous shows, Christmas markets, shops, and New York activities over the holiday season. I’ll give you some fantastic advice on lovely and positively amazing things to do on Christmas Eve in New York City.
Traveling with a pet? You might like to read New York City Best Pet-Friendly Hotels
Don’t spend Christmas Day at home or in a hotel: There are many things to do in the city on Christmas Day, from dinners to Broadway shows and everything in between. Since most residents are either with their families or out of town visiting loved ones, it will be a relatively quiet day in NYC, but there are still a few things going on!
#1 Bryant Park Winter Village
The top winter markets in New York City will again open their doors starting in October (and lasting through March). Because of the nearby ice rink, shops, and restaurants, Bryant Park’s Winter Village is not just the city’s most significant and friendliest Christmas market. This makes for a great Christmas experience, as does its incredible setting among all the buildings.
#2 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree
One of the most significant Christmas trees in NYC, the Rockefeller Center Tree, is erected every year in Rockefeller Center Plaza. One of the best things to do in New York over Christmas is the Tree Lighting Ceremony, which takes place immediately after Thanksgiving.
We haven’t had the best luck with the weather and COVID in previous years, but the Tree Lighting Ceremony always draws huge crowds. Undoubtedly, the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree attracts tourists worldwide during the holiday season. Seeing the tree in person is astonishing because most people have only seen it in images or movies.
#3 Dyker Heights in Brooklyn
I love Brooklyn’s Dyker Heights, which has some of the city’s most exquisitely designed residences. It’s so well-liked that people consider it to be among the top holiday activities in New York City. The four stunning Holiday Light Tours in NYC are the best way to experience Dyker Heights.
They are a little different; some are bus tours, others are walking tours, some are in Brooklyn, and others are in Manhattan. By looking at the specifics, determine which of the Dyker Heights Christmas light tours is ideal.
#4 Christmas Shows in NYC
The world’s entertainment capital, New York, does not disappoint throughout the holiday season. Christmas shows abound in New York, from timeless favorites to cutting-edge retellings of your favorite stories. Our favorite is The Radio City Spectacular, unquestionably the most well-liked holiday production in New York City. Since 1931, when they first performed there, the Rockettes have become a beloved holiday tradition for both tourists and locals.
#5 Christmas Lights in NYC
Electricity costs spike during the holidays across the board in New York City. Private homes and well-known landmarks both put up beautiful lights that compete with each other and can be seen from every direction.
#6 Enjoy the Empire State Building’s Annual Holiday Light Show
The Empire State Building holiday music-to-light show will be an extraordinary light show over the Christmas season, lasting only about a week.
The already-beautiful lighting on the Empire State Building will be timed to songs by Maria Carey, Carrie Underwood, and John Legend. extraordinary beauty
#7 Beautiful Holiday Markets
Holiday markets are well-liked in New York City and ought to be at the top of your list of things to do there over the holiday season. Taking a hot chocolate and exploring some of the top Christmas markets in New York is the best way to get into the holiday spirit.
The booths selling regional crafts, savory snacks, and hot specialty drinks will be to your taste. The city’s Christmas markets offer the most natural setting for a fun time and the completion of your gift-buying.
#8 Christmas Lights in New York
You may appreciate the spectacular lights strung around the city during the holiday season. You’ll see wonderfully decorated landmarks, private residences, and Christmas lights everywhere you go. It’s among the top Christmastime activities in NYC. In New York City, it’s impossible to avoid being merry and thrilled for the holidays.
#9 Manhattan Holiday Yacht Cruise with Jazz, Cocoa & Carols
Why not spend Christmas in New York on a Christmas holiday cruise? Locals and tourists visiting New York City adore the city’s fantastic Christmas cruises.
The New York City Cocoa and Carols Holiday Cruise is my favorite seasonal cruise. The jazz band on board is fantastic and very talented, which adds to the enjoyment of the New York City Cocoa and Carols Holiday Cruise. Relax in the heated main observation cabin, sing along, and take in the city from the glassed-in observatory aboard the boat designed in the style of the 1920s.
#10 Ice Skating in NYC
One of my favorite things to do on Christmas Day in New York City is ice skating, which is very popular during the holiday season there. The ice rinks in Bryant Park, the one at Rockefeller Center with the Christmas tree as a backdrop, and the renowned Wollman Rink in Central Park are the most well-known. As with the Empire State Building, you will also have an empty ice rink to display your ice skating prowess.
#11 Holiday Window Displays
The large department stores in New York get ready for the forthcoming holiday season all year. We advise you to stroll along Fifth Avenue from Central Park toward Herald Square to set the mood. There are wreaths and brilliant lights throughout the city. You can also gaze at the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center!
Some of NYC’s most stunning window decorations may be found by continuing downtown in the direction of Herald Square. Incidentally, Tiffany & Co, Henri Bendel, Lord & Taylor, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Macy’s sold the most exquisite holiday windows in New York. The interior of the megastore is also adorned.
#12 Take a Walk in the snow
This year, there will finally be snow for Christmas in New York. What could be more romantic than a walk through the snowy white landscape of Central Park? Especially the Belvedere Castle in the middle of Central Park looks even more heavenly with snow! Central Park in winter is everyone’s favorite place in New York to enjoy the snow.
#13 Broadway Performances at Hudson Yards
Similar to Broadway Under the Stars, Broadway Performances at Hudson Yards is a free event where you can see the casts of many famous Broadway shows perform live. There are several dates throughout November and December, starting at 5 p.m.
For one hour, you can experience a true Broadway feeling in the area called The Stage on the 4th floor. Because the free tickets are limited, you should book them as soon as possible. After all, the Broadway performances at Hudson Yards are only available during the holiday season!
#14 Church on Christmas Day
If you like to go to church on Christmas Day and enjoy a Christmas service, you can also do so in New York City. There are several churches I can recommend going to on Christmas Day. Three of the best churches in New York City for a remarkable Christmas service are the Grace Church on Broadway, the St Mary the Virgin Church Main Office & Rectory in Midtown, and St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue. It’s high on my list of great things to do in NYC on Christmas Day, not only because it’s a tradition for me to go to church on Christmas Day but also because the Christmas services are beautiful!
#15 New York’s Best Rooftop Bars event in the wintertime
The Refinery Rooftop from the Refinery Hotel is a tiny rooftop bar close to Bryant Park with a nice view of the Empire State Building. This two-story rooftop bar in Midtown isn’t huge, but it certainly has its appeal due to the combination of its location and the quality of the cocktails.
#16 FAO Schwarz-One of the most famous Christmas Stores in NYC
FAO Schwarz is unlike every other toy store and a fun thing to do in NYC at Christmas. Take your kids or feel like a child again, entering the fantastic collection of unique toys and life-sized stuffed animals.
Schwarz FAO is the oldest toy store in the United States, and with its location right in front of the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center, it’s something you can’t miss during Christmas time in NYC. Take advantage of the famous clock on the staircase. Also, you can play “The Big Piano” on the floor (famous from the movie “Big”).
#17 Christmas Shopping NYC
As one of my favorite Christmas activities, Christmas shopping in NYC is a must-do. While the city is covered in Christmas lights and decorations, there is no better place to buy gifts for your family and friends. Large department stores like Macy’s, Saks on Fifth Avenue, and Bloomingdales decorate their holiday windows differently every year, which is also worth checking out.
Macy’s at Herald Square invites you to date Santa Claus, at Santaland and buy unique ornaments at their Holiday Lane on the 9th floor.
#18 Broadway Under The Stars
Broadway and the Shops at Columbus Circle are gifting us another round of Broadway Under the Stars this holiday season. For you, that means free Broadway performances in one of the most magical settings. Broadway Under The Stars is a five-week series of FREE indoor Broadway performances and will take place on the second floor of the Time Warner Center.
So why is it called Broadway Under the Stars? “Under the stars” refers to the 12 massive stars hanging from the 100-foot ceiling at Time Warner Center. They are the largest specialty-crafted display of brilliant color in the world. The 14-foot stars are one of the most beautiful Christmas lights in NYC and draw thousands of visitors to their spectacular light show. Broadway Under the Stars typically takes place on Mondays, starting in early November and ending in early December. The exact dates for Broadway Under the Stars have yet to be announced. The performances begin at 5 p.m. sharp and include interviews with Broadway stars. They will perform 2-3 songs per show, depending on how many shows are featured that day.
#19 Holiday Under The Stars
The Shops at Columbus Circle boast the world’s largest specialty-crafted display of brilliant color! Twelve 14-foot-tall handcrafted stars will be hanging from the ceiling inside the Time Warner Center. If you show up in the evening hours, know that there is a dazzling light show every half hour from 5 p.m. until closing. Access to the spectacle is free! The specialty exhibit “Holidays Under the Stars” is a true New York tradition and comes with extended shopping hours. Dine, shop, and enjoy the entertainment after you visit Columbus Circle Holiday Market, one of the best Christmas markets in the city.
To pair some of the best Christmas lights in NYC with an even more magical experience, come here on a Monday. That’s when Broadway Under the Stars takes place inside the shops at Columbus Circle. Who doesn’t like a free light show and Broadway performance?
#20 Vanderbilt Observation Deck
Do you know what to do in New York City on Christmas Day? Some of the best NYC attractions are open on Christmas Day in NYC, and one of them is the new One Vanderbilt. If you’re looking for shorter lines and fewer crowds, Christmas Day may be the perfect day to visit this observation deck in New York. You can even catch the sunset before heading to Christmas dinner!
#21 Santa Claus at Macy’s
There’s nothing you can’t do in New York City. You should set a date with Santa Claus at Macy’s during the holidays and share your wish list. Santaland at Macy’s is a whole experience with a meet-and-greet with Santa. Both kids and adults come to Santaland to talk to the big guy. It’s a special thing to do in New York on Christmas Eve.
Every year, Macy’s Santaland is the main highlight of Macy’s Christmas celebrations. The history of Santaland goes back to 1861 when the store advertised that Santa Claus would come to stock their counters with the finest and most memorable Christmas gifts. Fast forward to today, close to 200,000 Santa fans visit Santaland at Macy’s every season. If you’d like to be one of them, make your reservation online beforehand.
#22 Hornblower Christmas Dinner Cruise
If you are spending Christmas in NYC and still looking for a particular locale to celebrate the holiday, look no further. Santa’s Christmas Eve Dinner Cruise is the perfect option. Featuring three decks, holiday LED lighting, and an evening of food, drinks, and dancing, the modern yacht invites you to a Christmas party that you won’t soon forget.
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