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Experience the Magic of Christmas at the ‘Big Apple’

10 mins. read

If there is one Christmas celebration in the USA that should be a part of everyone’s travel bucket list, it has to be the one in New York City. Also known as the City That Never Sleeps or the Big Apple, Christmas in New York is an experience like no other and makes for an undeniably magical trip. The glitter of the window displays, the huge New York Christmas tree at Rockefeller Centre, and the sight of Central Park covered in powdery snow – New York has a lot to offer during the festive season!

Things to Do in December in New York

From ornaments to tinsel and snowflakes, decorations cover the streets of New York during Christmas time as a chill permeates the air. It is cold, but the temperature drops of January are still a while away, making December the perfect time to see the unmatched sights (as long as you remember to deck yourself out in your warmest ensembles!).

1. Visit the Rockefeller Centre

Try to witness the lighting of the most iconic Christmas tree in New York, at the Rockefeller Centre. A well-known tradition in the city, a Norway Spruce, slated to be 75 feet high this year, with more than 50,000 lights decorating the spectacle, has stood at the Rockefeller Centre, ever since 1931. The lighting of this tree is one of the highlights of the Christmas celebration in New York that is witnessed by locals and tourists alike, and which officially marks the beginning of the Christmas season in the city.

2. Catch a Rockettes’ Show

Broadway shows and musicals are an integral part of New York, and during Christmas time, you simply must check out the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. The Rockettes is a dance group that is considered to be one of the best in the world. After the 90-minute performance where 140 sensational performers create magic on the stage, with a beautifully harmonious synchronisation that will leave you mesmerised, you won’t have to wonder where the group got this reputation. The Radio City Hall has up to five performances every day, but to avoid a sold-out show, make sure your bookings are done well in time. A steadfast aspect of Christmas celebration in New York, the show tickets also get more expensive the closer you are to Christmas, so book accordingly.

Christmas eve in New York

3. Take a Stroll Through Dyker Heights

In New York, Christmas decoration takes on a whole new meaning in Dyker Heights. Everyone tends to decorate their homes and even commercial buildings and skyscrapers start glittering around Christmas. But you need to plan a trip towards Dyker Heights in Brooklyn if you want to see a neighbourhood dedicated completely to the holiday, where everyone tends to go all out when it comes to their Christmas celebration. In New York, you can take a subway or get a cab to reach Dyker Heights, but make sure you plan this excursion towards the middle of December when almost all homes have their decorations up.

4. Go for Walks in Central Park

If Christmas in New York brings snow, Central Park is the best place to be! The huge park has a number of amazing things to see and do and has been featured in a number of the best-known movies that you may have seen. In fact, there are even several tours that you can take to visit the most popular movie destinations in Central Park. If there is snow around Christmas in New York, you will be able to witness an awe-inspiring facet of Central Park as it transforms into a wonderland that seems too magical to be real.

5. Head to Gallow Green for a Relaxing Drink

One of the best things to do in December in New York is to pay a visit to the McKittrick Hotel’s rooftop bar. This bar is where a year-round immersive theatre experience, ‘Sleep No More’ – a telling of Macbeth in the voyeuristic style of the film noir is held. However, as the festivities of the NYC Christmas approach, the bar undergoes quite the transformation. As the doors of the elevator open, you will find yourself in a snow-covered forest of pine trees with an enchantingly lit path that will lead you to a cosy little cabin, where you can enjoy amazing comfort food and hot toddies amidst the rustic setting.

6. Celebrate Your Family NYC Christmas at the Bronx Zoo Winter Wonderland

As evening falls, the Bronx Zoo seems to come alive with what may be considered one of the best Christmas decorations in New York, which include custom-designed animal lanterns, immersive light displays, and light show animations that glitter all across the zoo. Wherever you look, there are Christmas trees and carollers and people just making merry. The lantern safaris where you can familiarise yourself with various animal and plant species from across the world, set up amidst the larger-than-life forest of colours, is a must-add for all New York City tours planned around Christmas, especially if you are travelling with your family.

7. Try Your Hand at Ice-Skating

The entire city’s favourite seasonal tradition, ice skating can be quite an experience in the chill winter air of New York. The city has numerous options for the activity, including those that are open all year round as well. However, ice skating is like a special treat around Christmas time in New York, and all the best destinations, from the iconic rink at Rockefeller to the Winter Village of Bryant Park are bursting with Christmas joy, amazing food, and hot drinks, to make for a complete experience. For a quieter experience, you can always plan to reach the rinks on a weekday, early in the morning, or you can head out towards the more low-key rinks that dot most NYC parks at Christmas time.

In New York Christmas decoration

8. Explore the Christmas Markets All Over the City

Christmas in New York will seem incomplete if you do not visit the many markets that show up across the city. From the extremely well-known Winter Village at Bryant Park, which kicks off the holiday season at the end of October to the Union Square Holiday Market, with a layout that takes inspiration from European Christmas markets, there’s a lot to explore during Christmas in New York. One of the best ways to cover the most interesting holiday markets in the city will be with a walking tour. Just make sure you make your bookings well on time.

9. Take an NYC Christmas Lights Tour

A great idea for celebrating Christmas eve in New York is with a Lights Tour of the city. Whether it’s the private residences or the landmarks of New York, everyone is set upon outdoing the other with the most dazzling decorations for the yuletide season, which results in unparalleled decorations that you can marvel at in any direction. The best thing you can do is to take a guided tour to witness these astounding sights on Christmas eve in New York.

10. Set Out on a Holiday Cruise

From a five-course brunch for the entire family to a jazz evening on Christmas eve, in New York, you have a number of cruise lines offering various experiences around Christmas. You can book a themed cruise aboard a yacht that has been primed to perfection for the festive season. Cruise across Manhattan and witness the celebrations in the city from a whole new perspective with the perfect cruise.

Tips to Help You Enjoy an Amazing Christmas in New York

The fairy-tale transformation of New York City into a Christmas wonderland is worth witnessing, but to ensure you face no hassles during your trip, here are some things that you should keep in mind:

  • It gets pretty cold in the Big Apple, so make sure you pack accordingly. After all, you won’t be able to enjoy any of the festive cheer if you’re busy shivering in a corner. Also, don’t forget to carry a bag where you can keep some of your layers when you enter well-heated premises.
  • In NYC, Christmas is an extremely busy time. You aren’t the only one who’s out and about to enjoy the sights. Always try to get up early in the morning, so you can avoid the crowds.
  • It may seem tempting to escape the cold for a while by ducking into one of the many museums of Ney York. However, you should know that they get pretty full pretty quickly so you must make your bookings in advance.
  • New York is full of food carts and eating places and you need your energy to explore all you can. So, keep munching on the snacks and food to fuel yourself for your sightseeing plans.
  • Pack in as many Christmas-themed shows, musicals, etc. into your itinerary as you can. They are truly a treat!

You probably won’t be able to witness each and every aspect of New York that makes the holiday season so special, so take some time to plan your trip out based on how you want to spend your Christmas!

November 29, 2022


Veena World
Veena World

We are an Indian travel company founded in 2013 and excel at domestic and international tour packages including guided group tours, specialty tours, customized holidays, corporate MICE travel, inbound travel and destination weddings.

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