A Magical NYC Holiday
There’s nowhere in the world quite like New York City during the holidays. If you thought the Big Apple was bright and bustling year round, during the winter months it becomes immersed in a whole new sense of seasonal magic.
From attending the annual Rockefeller Center tree lighting, to enjoying seasonal fare at New York City’s beloved Sant Ambroeus, (or, if you’re Kevin McCallister from Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, frolicking through The Plaza Hotel), there are endless ways to enjoy a generous dose of yuletide once the holiday season is in full swing.
Whether you’re visiting the city for the first time, or are a local who wants to see the lesser-known sights, bundle up and get jolly because the options are vast. Read on for a comprehensive list of things to do in New York City during the holidays.
Between the world-famous ice skating rink and the 77-foot Christmas tree, it’s hard not to feel the holiday cheer after a visit to 30 Rock. Well, that is if you can look past the hundreds of people. However, there are plenty of activities to spread your time between. Here’s a closer look at what’s happening.
On Wednesday, Dec. 4, the Rockefeller Christmas tree will be lit for the first time. The fun will kick off at 8 p.m. with live performances until 10 p.m.. After the initial lighting, visitors can see the iconic tree all the way until Jan. 17, 2020. And if you can’t make it to the city this year, you can watch the lighting ceremony and performances on.
Another iconic attraction at 30 Rock is The Rink, but what many visitors don’t realize is that it’s actually open from October all the way until April. That’s good news for those who can’t make it during the holiday season, but we must say, there’s nothing more magical than skating around the ice when the temperatures are low, the décor is bright and the music is cheerful. If you plan to visit during the peak holiday season, you can expect to pay as much as $33. Whereas if you catch it off-peak then you’ll save yourself about $8 with tickets at $25 a person. Unless you have your own skates, you’ll also have to pay $13 to rent skates.
The Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall
The Rockettes have been taking over Radio City Music Hall during the holidays since the 1930s, and their Christmas spectacular is a failsafe festive experience. The 90-minute show has been revamped and elevated over the years (don’t worry, the kick line isn’t going anywhere) and offers the perfect activity for the whole family.
Union Square Christmas Market
If Bergdorf Goodman’s holiday displays offer more window shopping than anything else, we suggest you make your way to Union Square’s beloved holiday markets. From locally crafted goods to seasonal art and holiday bites, browsing through all of the vendors is the perfect way to make your list and check it twice.
Whether you’re attending the Central Park Conservancy’s annual holiday lighting or taking a stroll through the winding paths of Central Park, there’s nothing more magical than a night spent roaming the city’s most iconic area with your loved ones.
Fifth Avenue Holiday Windows
Perhaps the most magical part about famously holiday-spirited Fifth Avenue is its brilliant window displays. The windows will be revealed in November, but you’ll be able to see them throughout the holidays.
Peter & The Wolf with Isaac Mizrahi
From December 7th to the 15th, American fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi will be narrating and directing Sergei Prokofiev’s children’s holiday classic, Peter & the Wolf. The show, which takes place at the Guggenheim museum, features musical performances by Ensemble Signal, choreography by John Heginbotham, and costume design by Mizrahi himself. Perfect “for the young and young at heart,” the 30-minute show offers a fun-loving holiday experience in an incredible space. We suggest you buy tickets ASAP, as this week-long performance will sell out fast.
The New York Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show
Either take your kids to this show or go yourself and feel like a kid again with its enchanting miniature railroads and trains. The Holiday Train Show showcases more than 150 landmark replicas like Grand Central Terminal and The Statue of Liberty made of plant materials such as bark and leaves.
Meanwhile, nearly half a mile of track lays down the path for zipping trains, evoking memories of childhood Christmases that were anchored by the sound of a train twirling around the tree. The show runs from November 23 until January 26 in The New York Botanical Garden, located in the Bronx.
Explore the city like a native, and make your way to Harlem to enjoy the iconic Apollo Theater. Each year, The Apollo gets into the spirit with “Holiday Joy: A Gospel Celebration,” where attendees can enjoy an afternoon of soulful holiday gospel featuring Hezekiah Walker & the Love Fellowship Choir. According to the site, “Cece Winans will warm your soul and Hezekiah Walker and the Love Fellowship Choir will take you higher. Marcus Wiley, host and comedian, promises to delight you and your loved ones throughout the afternoon.”
Bank of America’s Bryant Park Winter Village
Not only will you find plenty of beautiful seasonal goodies at the Bank Of America Winter Village at Bryant Park shops, but you’ll discover a rare sense of small-town charm in the middle of Manhattan’s sprawling skyscrapers.
The open-air village showcases sprawling rows of artisanal shops selling jewelry, decor, local food, clothing, and one-of-a-kind gifts. Funds from every purchase help support the park’s maintenance, letting you nix any guilt from seasonal splurges.
In between your shopping sprees, skate in the village rink, check out the giant Christmas tree or sip on hot cider and extravagant treats (like chocolate-covered waffles) at the Bryant Park food kiosks.
“Although a lot of visitors don’t know about the winter village, it’s probably one of my favorite things to do in the city,” says Kaler. “It’s like a holiday oasis in the middle of midtown Manhattan. If you’re visiting Times Square, you can walk just a couple of blocks east and stumble upon it.”
New Year’s Eve Fireworks @ Brooklyn Bridge Walk Into The New Year
Skip the chaos of Times Square and enjoy the holiday from a calmer perspective, with the “Brooklyn Bridge Walk Into the New Year.” Guided by a trained historian and tour guide, enjoy New Year’s celebrations from an iconic New York City landmark, where fireworks will light up the city skyline and ring in 2019.
The New York Philharmonic
The New York Philharmonic is one of the most renowned American orchestras, and one of the oldest musical institutions in the U.S. While people make their way to Lincoln Center year round to be serenaded by the iconic orchestra, the holidays are when the Philharmonic truly shines.
During the Christmas season, enjoy the Holidays with the Philharmonic, where performances of “Winter Wonderland,” “O Tannenbaum,” “White Christmas,” and more are in the holiday lineup.
Take a trip to the New York North Pole this year at Macy’s’ iconic Santaland. Perfect for the whole family, the 13,000-square-foot holiday display and indoor wonderland is located inside the Herald Square Macy’s at 151 West 34th Street. Inside, you’ll be met with caroling snowmen, prancing reindeer, a whimsical array of decor, and of course, Santa himself. Santaland opens on Friday, November 29, 2019, and runs through Christmas Eve.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is the crown jewel of New York City’s Museum Mile any time of year, but it takes on a dusting of Christmas magic all its own around the holidays.
During the Christmas season, visitors to the storied museum can stop by the Medieval Sculpture Hall to take in the Met’s magnificent tree—a 20-foot blue spruce—and spend long minutes marveling at the gorgeous 18th-century Neopolitan nativity scene displayed at its foot. For a little extra sparkle, catch a tree-lighting, daily at 4:30 p.m., with encores at 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on weekends.
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