Christmas is a truly magical time to visit New York City, which is why winter is also one of the most popular tourist seasons. All over the city is decorated with lights and Christmas decorations, and the city comes alive with the Christmas spirit. This is your guide to NYC at Christmas time on all of the top sights you won’t want to miss. Enjoy Christmas in NYC!
Be Dazzled at Rockefeller Center
Rockefeller Center is not only where you can see the magnificent Christmas tree get lit up every year, but is also home to one of the most famous ice skating rinks. While the rink is quite small and generally pretty crowded, it can be amazing to skate on this famous site. Rockefeller Center also has great shopping, so even if you don’t feel like paying for the ice skating you can still enjoy the festive atmosphere and get some holiday shopping out of the way! This is also a great time of year to go to the Top of the Rock. While it is a great sight any time of year, at Christmas time you get an even better view of New York City in all its holiday splendor.
Shop at Bryant Park
Bryant Park is beautiful any time of the year, but even more around the holidays when the famous Christmas market and ice skating rink take over. The Christmas market at Bryant Park features all kinds of local artisanal crafts and more well-known beloved favorites, so you can find the ideal unique gifts to take home. The ice skating rink here is also quite a bit larger and offers a hut where you can get refreshments such as hot chocolate, tea or coffee to warm up after a few turns on the rink.
Fall in Love With The Rockettes
What is Christmas in NYC without seeing The Rockettes Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall? The Rockettes have been around since 1925 and are known for their in-sync, high-stepping, leg-kicking action. The show has all kinds of different Christmas scenes, and while it is maybe more geared towards children, it can certainly be enjoyed by people of all ages. And Radio City Music Hall itself is a true sight to behold. The gorgeous art deco venue is the perfect setting for this Christmas Spectacular.
Check out the 5th Avenue Christmas Windows
The genesis of huge window displays around the holidays was started by Macy’s in New York all the way back in 1874. Throughout the early 1900s the practice grew into a competition between all of the major 5th Avenue department stores — Lord and Taylor, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman and so on. It was in the 1930s that the big displays switched from being simply store merchandise to elaborate decorations. Since then, the 5th Avenue windows have been an incredible, festive display that attracts locals and tourists. You can be there for the big reveal, which usually happens in mid-November, or just catch the displays anytime throughout the holiday season.
Enjoy The Nutcracker
The Nutcracker, the story of a family’s Christmas Eve that descends into a fantasy world, is another classic holiday performance that is worthwhile to check out while you’re in New York over the holidays. The New York City Ballet puts on The Nutcracker every single year, carrying on the tradition of George Balanchine’s famous choreography. The New York City Ballet is one of the most famous ballet companies in the world, and it is almost magical to see such talented people performing this Christmas favorite. Make sure to buy tickets early, though, because this show never loses its popularity.
Grab a Bite at Rolf’s
Rolf’s is a German restaurant in Gramercy Park, and it pulls out all of the stops around Christmas time. The entire restaurant is decked out in baubles, wreaths, ornaments and greenery for the season — you won’t see a spot of wall or ceiling not covered in holiday decorations. Germany might love Christmas even more than America, and the famous German Christmas markets are well known around the world, so what better place to find some holiday cheer? You can get some traditional German beer or schnitzel here, though their famous Christmas display is well known, so get there early.
Step Into the Botanical Garden Train Show
This one is something most tourists probably don’t get to, as the Botanical Gardens are a bit far flung from the other tourist attractions in the city, but the Holiday Train Show is truly spectacular. Here you can see replicas of over 150 New York landmarks, from Grand Central Station to the Statue of Liberty, all made from plants! Pretty incredible. It’s also not a bad place to warm up and feel the holiday spirit from a tropical climate!
New York during the holiday season manages to perfectly combine its usual hustle and bustle with a kind of hovering magic that is truly special. You can feel a serenity and excitement in the air (probably because everyone isn’t quite sick of winter yet). And if you happen to catch the first snowfall of the season, you can count yourself extra lucky.