Visiting NYC in December: 5 Holiday Events in New York City

New York City absolutely shines in December – literally. All the lights make it a magical place to visit. No matter whether your interests are commercial, spiritual, entertainment or some combination of all three, you’ll find some beautiful things to do in NYC in December. It doesn’t matter if you have a religion or not. Everyone can appreciate the special feeling in the December New York air.

1. The Best Holiday Shopping (& Window Shopping)

Even if you don’t have the dough to spend on designer goods at the major department stores, you can still enjoy the world-renowned artistic window displays. Stroll down Madison Ave to see Barney’s famous holiday windows at 61st street before heading over to 5th Avenue to view incredible displays at stores like Bergdorf’s and Saks. In the past, displays have included mechanical features, interactive games and other wonders to enjoy.

Saks Fifth Avenue on 5th Avenue in Christmas visiting NYC in december

Credit: Shutterstock

2. Go Ice Skating

While New York City lacks a plethora of ponds that freeze over like country counterparts, there are several parks that turn into legitimate ice rinks once the temperatures start to dip to “Santa” levels. Several of the rinks are operated by NYC Parks, but others, like the one at Rockefeller Center, are privately funded. There is even a cute one in front of the Standard Hotel with adorable penguin assistants (fake ones, of course) for those who are a bit wobbly on skates.

Ice Skating in Rockefeller Center visiting NYC in December

Credit:  GagliardiImages / Shutterstock

3. Get Spiritual

The holidays are spiritual for some. If that’s you, try attending an amazing concert featuring the Harlem Gospel Choir. This world-renowned group holds a holiday concert each year at the Mount Olivet Baptist Church in Harlem. Their inspirational sound comes from some of the best talents in the city. Some say seeing the group in concert is much more than simply attending a musical performance. It is a moving experience to get you in the holiday mood.

You can also sing along yourself by participating in the famous Christmas Eve caroling that happens every December 24th at 5pm under the iconic arch in Washington Square Park.

Credit: Matthew Jacques / Shutterstock

4. Take a Vintage Ride

Catch a ride on a vintage subway car in December for a truly NYC experience. The MTA works together with the Transit Museum to offer special rides on these cars which are not only from a different era, but also specially decorated for the holidays. Be sure to check the website of the Transit Museum as the holidays approach to see the 2018 vintage train ride schedule!

December in NYC

Credit: Felix Lipov / Shutterstock

5. Attend One of Many Tree Lightings

Is there anything more magical than watching the lights turn on for the first time on a giant Christmas Tree? Even if it’s not your holiday, it’s a beautiful thing to witness. The lighting at Rockefeller Center is well known, but there are many others if you don’t feel like fighting giant crowds. Bryant Park, Park Avenue, The New York Botanical Garden, Astoria, Staten Island and several other NYC locations have special tree lighting ceremonies. Most of these events happen in the days or weeks after Thanksgiving. The magical moment when the tree lights up always elicits “oohs” and “aahs” from the crowd, no matter the size of the tree!


Credit: Andrew F. Kazmierski  / Shutterstock

Are you ready to plan your NYC holiday trip? There are plenty of things to do in NYC in December to keep every type of visitor interested and engaged with the magical feeling of December in New York.

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