What does New York do during Christmas?

Surprisingly, New York has an abundance of activities and events during the festive season. From the iconic Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree to the breathtaking holiday window displays at department stores, there is no shortage of holiday cheer in the Big Apple. The city also hosts holiday markets, ice skating rinks, and extravagant light displays, making it a must-visit destination during the holiday season. Whether it’s taking a stroll through Central Park or catching a festive Broadway show, there is something for everyone to enjoy in New York City during Christmas.

Key Takeaways:

  • Christmas Markets: New York City comes alive with holiday cheer as several Christmas markets pop up throughout the city, including the Union Square Holiday Market and the Columbus Circle Holiday Market.
  • Decked-Out Department Stores: Iconic New York City department stores like Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, and Saks Fifth Avenue go all out with stunning window displays and festive decorations, drawing visitors from around the world.
  • Holiday Events and Performances: From the famous Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree lighting to the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, New York City offers an array of holiday events and performances for locals and tourists alike to enjoy during the Christmas season.

Iconic Christmas Attractions

Obviously, New York is known for its iconic Christmas attractions that draw visitors from all over the world. From the famous Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree to the elaborate window displays and shopping opportunities, there is no shortage of festive activities to enjoy in the Big Apple during the holiday season.

Rockefeller Center

One of the most iconic Christmas attractions in New York City is the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. Every year, a towering Norway Spruce is selected to be adorned with thousands of twinkling lights and topped with a stunning Swarovski star. The tree lighting ceremony, which typically takes place in late November, is a spectacle not to be missed. Visitors can also lace up their skates and take a spin on the iconic Rockefeller Center ice rink, surrounded by the glittering lights and towering skyscrapers.

Window Displays and Shopping

Another must-see attraction during the holiday season in New York City is the elaborate window displays at department stores such as Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Bloomingdale’s. Each year, these stores go all out to create enchanting and festive displays that draw crowds of spectators. From animated scenes to intricate decorations, the window displays are a true feast for the eyes. In addition to the window displays, New York City offers unparalleled shopping opportunities, with world-renowned stores and boutiques lining the streets, offering everything from high-end fashion to unique, handcrafted gifts.

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Cultural Celebrations and Performances

Lastly, New York City is known for its vibrant cultural celebrations and performances during the Christmas season. The city plays host to a variety of events and activities that showcase the diverse cultural heritage of its residents.

The Nutcracker Ballet

One of the most iconic Christmas performances in New York City is the annual production of “The Nutcracker” ballet. Presented by the New York City Ballet at Lincoln Center, this timeless classic brings the magic of the holiday season to life with its enchanting tale of Clara, the Nutcracker Prince, and the Sugar Plum Fairy. The exquisite costumes, mesmerizing sets, and world-class dancers make this a must-see event for both locals and visitors alike.

Holiday Markets

New York City’s holiday markets are a beloved tradition that offers a unique shopping experience for all. From the sprawling Winter Village at Bryant Park to the charming Union Square Holiday Market, these festive markets feature an array of vendors selling handmade crafts, artisanal gifts, and delectable treats. Visitors can soak in the festive atmosphere, browse the stalls, and find the perfect holiday treasures while enjoying live performances and entertainment.

Culinary Delights and Festive Foods

Despite the chilly weather, New York City’s culinary scene comes alive during the Christmas season. Restaurants and bakeries across the city offer a wide array of traditional holiday dishes, seasonal treats, and festive beverages, making it a paradise for food enthusiasts and anyone looking to indulge in the holiday spirit.

Traditional Holiday Dishes

One of the most beloved holiday traditions in New York City is enjoying a hearty feast with loved ones. From succulent roast turkey and honey-glazed ham to creamy mashed potatoes and savory stuffing, the city’s restaurants serve up a diverse range of traditional holiday dishes that celebrate the spirit of togetherness and indulgence.

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Seasonal Treats and Beverages

During Christmas time, New York City’s bakeries and patisseries are filled with an assortment of decadent seasonal treats such as gingerbread cookies, fruitcakes, and mince pies. In addition, the city’s renowned coffee shops and cocktail bars feature a delightful selection of festive beverages, including spiced hot chocolate, mulled wine, and eggnog, adding an extra touch of warmth and coziness to the holiday season.

Special Events and Activities

Your trip to New York during Christmas wouldn’t be complete without experiencing the special events and activities that are organized throughout the city during this festive season. From New Year’s Eve celebrations to dazzling Christmas lights and tours, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

New Year’s Eve in Times Square

One of the most iconic events in New York City during the holiday season is the New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square. Every year, thousands of people gather in Times Square to watch the famous ball drop at midnight. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience that shouldn’t be missed. However, it is important to note that the area can get extremely crowded and it is advisable to arrive early to secure a good spot. Additionally, visitors should be prepared for the cold weather and long wait times, as well as heightened security measures.

Christmas Lights and Tours

New York City is known for its extravagant Christmas light displays and festive tours. From the beautifully decorated store windows along Fifth Avenue to the stunning holiday light displays at Dyker Heights in Brooklyn, there are plenty of opportunities to take in the festive sights. Visitors can also opt for guided Christmas lights tours to experience the magic of the season in the city. However, it is important to be cautious of pickpockets and to stay alert, especially in crowded areas such as Rockefeller Center and Dyker Heights. Despite this, the magical atmosphere and dazzling displays make the experience well worth it.

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With these considerations, it is clear that New York pulls out all the stops to create a magical and festive atmosphere during the Christmas season. From dazzling light displays to world-renowned holiday markets and ice skating rinks, there is no shortage of holiday cheer in the Big Apple. Whether one is visiting iconic landmarks like Rockefeller Center or taking in the decorations throughout the city, New York offers a unique and unforgettable Christmas experience for everyone.


Q: What does New York City do during Christmas?

A: New York City is renowned for its festive celebrations during Christmas. The city decorates its famous landmarks, such as Rockefeller Center and Times Square, with elaborate Christmas lights and decorations. Additionally, there are various holiday markets, ice skating rinks, and extravagant window displays throughout the city. The Radio City Christmas Spectacular and the lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree are also popular annual traditions.

Q: What events take place in New York City during Christmas?

A: New York City hosts a variety of events and activities during the Christmas season. Some notable events include the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the holiday markets at Union Square and Bryant Park, and the annual Winter Village at Bryant Park. Visitors can also enjoy performances of The Nutcracker at Lincoln Center, holiday concerts at Carnegie Hall, and the Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Garden.

Q: Are there any must-see Christmas attractions in New York City?

A: Yes, there are several must-see Christmas attractions in New York City. The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree and ice skating rink are iconic symbols of the holiday season. Visitors should also explore the holiday window displays at department stores like Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Bergdorf Goodman. Another popular attraction is the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights display in Brooklyn, where residents go all out with extravagant light displays and decorations.

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