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New York at Christmas

Date Posted: 01/12/2018

New York is a city where the streets are a constant buzz of electricity no matter what the season. But Christmas in the city that never sleeps brings a whole new kind of magic.

The twinkling of lights and striking window displays make the Big Apple’s streets and parks the setting of a fairy tale. Yet if you’re lucky enough to have snow fall; well it’s all the more enchanting as the unique snowflakes fall and glisten amongst the idyllic lights.

So how do you embrace the Christmas spirit in this vibrant city we hear you ask?

We have taken a look at the city’s must to-do list.

The Rockefeller Centre Christmas tree

Since December 1931 the Rockefeller Christmas tree has been a holiday beacon for New Yorkers and tourists. Visiting hours are between 5.30am and 11.30pm so no matter what your plans, you have no excuse not to get cosy under the world famous tree. After burning off some energy on the Rockefeller ice rink head from the rink to find that perfect last minute gift or finish your evening with a romantic meal.

Bryant Park Winter Village

Manhattan’s Winter Wonderland is home to the only free ice rink in the city. After twirling your way around the ice, warm up in The Lodge. Get cosy in the rinkside bar and food hall and sample the festive cocktails whilst indulging in the range of eateries. With more than 170 shopping kiosks and food vendors you can shop, eat and drink to your heart’s content. If you’re more Bambi on ice than Ekaterina Gordeeva then head up to the Overlook Observation deck on the second floor of the skating pavilion and have a bird’s eye view of the skaters below. Make sure you check the opening times, as this area can be hired out! 

Admire the Christmas Windows


  1. Bloomingdales, Upper East Side
  2. Saks , 5th Avenue
  3. Harry Winston and Cartier, 5th Avenue
  4. Tiffany & Co, Midtown East
  5. Macy’s, Midtown West
  6. Barneys, Madison Avenue
  7. Bergdorf Goodman, Midtown West

Christmas Shows

Catch a Christmas Carol at Merchants House or watch the New York City Ballet perform the Nutcracker. If you’re still in the city on Christmas Day then follow in the tradition of catching the latest blockbuster at the cinema. Looking for something more exciting? Watch the Radio City Christmas Spectacular on Christmas Day (or any other day).

WinterFest at the Brooklyn Museum

Guaranteed to get even the most bah-humbug people in the Christmas spirit!

Picture this… wooden chalets, live music, and sparkling fairy lights whilst you’re wrapped up like an Eskimo with your favourite people. WinterFest is your one-shop stop for all things Christmas! Free to enter, you can browse the gift chalets, enjoy nightly live music performances and have the opportunity to indulge in a wine tasting experience. For a small admission cost visit the North Pole Experience and prepare to be dazzled and amazed with the Christmas Tree Maze, Chocolate Story Dome and of course the traditional visit to Santa!

New York Nicks

Normally we Brits spend Christmas Day in a food coma from too much turkey and pigs in blankets. Yet true New Yorkers head to Madison Square Garden to catch the Nicks game. This year the New York Nicks will be taking on the Bucks.

Ice Skating

Show off your best chassé on any one of these magical outdoor ice rinks. Don’t forget to wrap up warm, and if you’re anything like us, wear extra padding!

  • The Rink at Rockefeller Centre
  • Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park Rink
  • Wollman Rink in Central Park
  • Abe Stark Rink at Coney Island

Christmas Markets

Located in the southwestern corner of the infamous Central Park, the Columbus Circle Holiday Market has something for everyone. Enjoy a crisp winter’s day browsing the array of food and gift stalls in one of New York’s beautiful parks. A must-shop destination is the Grand Central Terminal Holiday Fair, one of the longest running indoor holiday fairs in New York City. Explore the unique, boutique vendors in one of the most beautiful architectural surroundings.

Remember the Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park and WinterFest at the Brooklyn Museum all have boutique gift shops for those unforgettable presents!

Brooklyn’s Dyker Heights Christmas Lights

The Americans are most famous for ‘going big’ and the festive season is no different!  Since the 1980’s Brooklyn has gone bigger and brighter with its Christmas decorations and in Dyker Heights there is now an unspoken competition amongst homeowners.

It’s a must see on any Christmas trip!

Visit Santa

No Christmas would be complete without visiting St Nick. Drop in on Santa at Macy’s Santaland, Winter Wonderland, Bloomingdales, Santa’s Winter Wonderland or The Santa Experience at the Plaza and let the big man know what is on the top of your Christmas gift list!

Times Square New Year’s Eve countdown

Since 1907 people have come in there thousands to watch the famous midnight ball drop in Times Square.  At exactly 23:59 EST the ball starts its 60 second descent from the flagpole at the top of One Times Square with over one tonne of confetti cascading down! The world renowned countdown is free and on a first come first served basis! You can also purchase tickets in advance for private parties that are held in Times Square restaurants and bars. The ball can be seen from Broadway, 43rd to 50th Street, along Seventh Avenue and as far North as 59th Street.

TOP TIP: Arrive early afternoon for the best view!

Don’t forget to share your best festive photos with us using #smilehaystravel