Whether you’re a Big Apple native or one of the more than five million visitors who descend upon the city between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, there’s no shortage of options for you to enjoy the magical winter wonderland that is New York City during the holidays.
From the legendary high-end and artisan shopping, to the classic glide ‘round the skating rink in Central Park. Make the most of your NYC holidays by taking in the standard must-sees as well as some departures from the usual.
No holiday season in New York is complete without experiencing the classic and traditional events that make the holidays in the Big Apple so magical. Here are few that shouldn’t be missed:
- Rockefeller Center. No holiday season in Gotham is complete without at least one visit to Rockefeller Center. Strap on your skates and experience the exhilaration of cruising the ice in the glow of the iconic Christmas tree, under the watchful gaze of Prometheus. The rink, which holds just 150 skaters, is open from October through April.
- Radio City Christmas Spectacular. If you can get your hands on tickets, the Radio City Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall is the event du jour of the holiday season. Featuring the legendary Rockettes, the Nutcracker, a living nativity, and of course – Santa Claus himself, this explosion of holiday cheer is one show you don’t want to miss during your holiday trip to NYC.
- Holiday store window displays. For some no-cost eye candy, don’t pass up a walk by the over-the-top holiday store window displays. Premium retailers like Barneys, Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue Bergdorf Goodman, Bloomingdale’s, Tiffany & Co., and Lord & Taylor go all out in their holiday-themed decorations. From fun and playful (Bloomies), to cutting edge and contemporary (typical Barneys), you’ll be amazed and delighted by the variety and creativity – especially if you go at night. Just remember to dress in warm layers as the whole tour can take a couple hours or more.
- George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker. Even the most skeptical ballet-goer will be dazzled and delighted by the New York City Ballet’s stunning performance of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker. The cast of the NYCB is joined by students from the School of American Ballet, and is punctuated by Tchaikovsky’s magical musical score. The show is performed at the David H. Koch Theater in Lincoln Center from November 27, 2015 until January 3, 2016.
- The ball drop in Times Square. And of course no list of NYC holiday staples would be complete without the ball drop. The headlining musical performer for this year is American Idol sensation Carrie Underwood. Organizers suggest arriving extra early – street closures begin in the early afternoon and most parking spots are gone by 3pm.
Food & Shopping
Planning to be on vacation in the city and need to procure a delicious, comforting, festive holiday meal on Christmas Day? Check out these choice options:
- Don’t Tell Mama. Located in the Theater District in Times Square, Don’t Tell Mama offers contemporary American cuisine, with a four-course holiday meal at a fixed price of just $45. Open noon til 11pm on Christmas Day.
- Local 92. For a fresh Mediterranean twist, enjoy your holiday meal for only $35 for three courses at Local 92 in the East Village.
- Bouley. To really go all out in extravagant New York style, visit Bouley in Tribeca, downtown. For a mere $255, you can have a six-course tasting menu with optional wine pairings.
- Holiday Shops at Bryant Park. No NYC holiday trip would be complete without some unique shopping. Pick up those last minute presents at one of the 125 vendors of the Holiday Shops at Bryant Park. Running from October 30, 2015 to January 3, 2016, the open air market features not only artisans of every kind from around the globe, but also free ice skating (which runs through March).
There are so many ways to celebrate the holidays in New York! Enjoy the fun activities offered including:
- Hanukkah Family Day at the Jewish Museum on Fifth Avenue. The event takes place December 14, 2015 from noon to 4pm. It features the Hanukkah story brought to life through a drawing performance, and the chance to make an artsy menorah with found objects. And of course music and dancing.
- Kwanzaa 2015: Energize, Recognize! Head out to American Museum of Natural History in Central Park West on December 27th at 12pm to celebrate the 37th annual Kwanzaa celebration! This year’s event features a performance by rapper Doug E. Fresh and an international holiday marketplace.
- St Peter’s Annual Christmas Pageant. Take the whole family to St Peter’s Annual Christmas Pageant to enjoy the popular holiday production of the Nativity story.The performance will be on December 20, 2015 and starts at 3pm.
Relaxation & Fun
After you’ve skated, eaten, shopped, and partied yourself out in the city that never sleeps, it’s time to enjoy some holiday R&R. To start try:
- The Empire Hotel. Relax and enjoy rooftop cocktails at the Empire Hotel. The 12th floor indoor/outdoor bar even has a retractable roof for all-weather enjoyment. Drink in the views of Central Park and Lincoln Center as you’re drinking the (fairly reasonably priced) signature cocktails and enjoying music ranging from jazz to Top 40.
- VU Rooftop Bar. Located atop the recently renovated La Quinta Manhattan, this spot is best known for its warm budget friendly drinks, live music, heat lamps, retractable roof, and stunning views of Manhattan. Head there for a holiday night out and you’ll earn tons of likes on your newly posted, close-up shot of the Empire State building.
- Shalel Lounge. Looking for subterranean sexiness? Shalel Lounge is the perfect place for a cozy date. A candlelit stairway leads down to this Moroccan-themed underground lounge. Get there early to score one of the individual cave-like rooms for supreme privacy all night long.
Whatever your tastes in food, entertainment, shopping, or activities, NYC during the holidays is an endless fountain of magical holiday spirit bound to capture your imagination and inspire childlike awe in your heart!