Christmas In New York City
The great big tree at Rockefeller Center, ice skating in Central Park, and colorful store window displays are just some of the things to enjoy while visiting New York City for the holidays.
Things can get pretty crowded, but that's part of the NYC experience. You can avoid some of the crowds, though, by avoiding weekends and peak times of the day. You'll want to see the famous sights, like the tree at Rockefeller Center, but there are also many wonderful things to see that draw smaller crowds.
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Things to Do
Rockefeller Center Plaza
This is where the big Christmas tree is located. Go after dark, if you can, to see the lights to their best effect. The tree lighting ceremony takes place in November. The date of the 2023 Rockefeller Center tree lighting ceremony is Wednesday, November 29.
There are several ice skating rinks set up winter months. Even if you don't want to skate, it's fun to go watch. Two of the most famous are the Rockefeller Plaza and Central Park skating rinks. The outdoor ice rink at Bryant Park is free if you have your own skates, otherwise they're availbale to rent. There's also a nice village of holiday shops in Bryant Park.
Fifth Avenue is a good place to start your window-viewing. Bergdorf Goodman, Hendri Bendel, Lord & Taylor, Saks, and Tiffany's all have Fifth Avenue addresses and nice displays. Bloomingdale's always does good window displays - they're at Third Ave and 59th Street. And of course, you'll want to see the legendary Macy's displays at 34th Street and Seventh Ave. If you have time, go inside Macy's to see their Santaland. They have a whole village set up, elves and all.
The big tree at Rockefeller Center isn't the only one to see. The American Museum of Natural History has a spectacular origami tree each year, decorated with handmade folded paper ornaments. The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a beautiful tree with an elaborate Nativity scene. There's a big outdoor tree at Bryant Park. And the New York Stock Exchange puts one up in front of their building on Broad Street between Wall Street and Exchange Place.
The Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Gardens
For for all ages. Held in the conservatory. The train display includes scale models of New York City buildings and landmarks, all made of natural materials such as bark, twigs, seeds, and pine cones. Trains run on a quarter-mile of track. Starts November 17, 2023 and continues through January 15, 2024. More info.
Union Square Holiday Market
A European-style holiday market filled with all kinds of vendors under red and white striped outdoor stalls. You'll find jewelery, hand-crafted items, specialty foods, etc. Do some browsing, enjoy the festive atmosphere, and get some of your holiday shopping done. November 16 - December 24, 2023. More info.
Holiday Shops at Bryant Park
Visiting the Holiday Shops at Bryant Park is a nice way to spend a winter evening. Over a hundred small shops line the Bryant Park walkways during the holiday season. The park is beautiful, with the trees decorated in lights. And the Bryant Park ice rink adds to the activity. October 27, 2023 - January 2, 2024.
Columbus Circle Holiday Market
November 28 - December 31, 2023. Another outdoor market featuring vendors set up colorful stalls. The location of this one is great - just outside the southwest entrance to Central Park. It's not far from the ice skating rink. More info
New York City is know for world-class entertainment so it only makes sense to take in a show while you're there.
The Radio City Christmas Spectacular
This is the famous show you've heard about. It's been a Christmas traditon in New York City for over 80 years. The show changes a little each year, but it always features the famous high-kicking Rockettes. More info.
Each year the New York City Ballet stages a holiday run of George Balanchine's The Nutcracker. The Nutcracker runs from the end of November through the end of December. There are both afternoon matinee and evening performances. Held at Lincoln Center. More info.
Hotels near Rockefeller Center - These will put you close to Radio City Music Hall, where the Rockettes perform in the Christmas Spectacular. The big Christmas tree and skating rink are also located at Rockefeller Center.
Hotels near Lincoln Center - Lincoln Center is located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, near the southern entrance to Central Park. This location is convenient to concerts at Lincoln Center, Central Park ice skatings, and the Holiday Market at Columbus Circle.
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