Christmas in New York City is a special time of year. There is something magical and even dreamlike about New York City at Christmastime.
The crowds are large and jovial. Christmas spirit is everywhere. There is much to see and do that is unique to this delightful season.
1. See the Holiday Lights and Decorations
- 1. See the Holiday Lights and Decorations
- 2. See a New York City Christmas Show
- 3. Ice Skate in New York City
- 4. Take a New York Christmas Tour
- 5. Finish (or Start) Your Holiday Shopping at New York City’s Holiday Markets
- 6. Attend a Christmas Eve Service
What makes New York City even more dazzling than usual?
Christmas in New York City is brighter and more embellished than anywhere else. During the holiday season, the city is adorned with beautiful lights and decorations that are sure to put anyone in a festive mood.
Watch the city glisten and glow with the contagious spirit of the holidays.
Don’t Miss Christmas at Rockefeller Center!
When it comes to getting fancy for Christmas, Rockefeller Center does it best. The whole plaza turns into a holiday wonderland this time of year.
The skating rink is the focal point, surrounded by holiday flags and decorations. The soaring Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree stands at one end with the GE Building at 30 Rockefeller Plaza towering above it all.
The famous Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is illuminated in a Tree Lighting Ceremony every year, typically on the Wednesday after Thanksgiving.
Even if you miss the formal tree lighting, you can still see the tree when you visit Rockefeller Center during the holidays. The Christmas tree is lit daily from 5:30 am to 11:30 pm (24 hours on Christmas) until early January.
Rockefeller Center is located on the block between Fifth and Sixth Avenues and between 49th and 50th Streets.
“My favorite thing about Christmas in New York is the holiday decorations and spirit of the city. With the energy and lights and so much to do in NYC for the holidays, it just feels special to be there at Christmas time.”
– Ellen, Cartersville, GA
Christmas Window Displays
Department stores love to decorate for Christmas in New York City. Although the intention is to lure people into the stores for shopping, you don’t have to spend a single penny to enjoy the holiday windows. Each set of windows has a different theme and music to go along.
This year’s Broadway windows illustrate the dreams of a young boy. His dreams take him to a snow-covered landscape of shimmering crystal and shiny trees. Objects in the foreground and illuminated backgrounds change as you watch. The message is about the power of dreams, that what you believe is what is possible.
The most popular holiday window displays are at Lord & Taylor, Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Barney’s, Bergdorf Goodman, and Bloomingdale’s.
The Lord & Taylor windows this year take on a vintage theme with displays featuring joyous holiday experiences. The windows are full of charming old-timey scenes of people celebrating the holidays: men and women dressing up, couples enjoying an evening out, good food and shopping, and a family visiting Santa.
New York Christmas Windows Map
The window displays at Saks, Lord & Taylor, and Macy’s have nice Christmas themes with scenes that move and change in front of your eyes. Plus they are kid-friendly. Bloomingdales also gets a nod from us this year, although location-wise it’s a little farther from other holiday attractions.
- Barney’s – Madison Avenue and 61st Street
- Bergdorf Goodman – Fifth Avenue and 57th Street
- Bloomingdale’s – Lexington Avenue and 59th Street
- Saks Fifth Avenue – Fifth Avenue and 49th Street
- Lord & Taylor – Fifth Avenue and 39th Street
- Macy’s – Broadway and 34th Street
Christmas windows are a traditional part of New York City during the holidays. Every year the famous department stores decorate their storefront windows with holiday themes. People come from far and wide to gaze at the dreamy scenes.
2. See a New York City Christmas Show
For a cherished and memorable experience, treat your family to a New York City Christmas Show!
Going to the theatre is a popular activity for any New York City visit. Watching a beautiful Christmas show your whole family can enjoy is even more special.
Christmas Show Highlights:
- See the Rockettes dance in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular.
- Watch the captivating ballet dancers in The Nutcracker.
3. Ice Skate in New York City
Ice skating is a fun family activity and a festive thing to do if you’re spending Christmas in New York City. It is a fine winter sport that’s even more special against some of the prettiest backdrops that New York City has to offer!
If you’re not interested in skating, watching the skaters is almost as fun as joining them. Nighttime is the most picturesque time to skate, with the city lit up all around you. During the daytime, the rinks are usually less crowded. Three Scenic Skating Options:
- Rockefeller Center Ice Skating – The Rockefeller Center ice skating rink is located in the heart of Rockefeller Center. Skate alongside the famous Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree.
- Central Park Ice Skating – The Trump Rink in Central Park is set among trees with the Midtown Manhattan skyline towering above. Skate in a lovely park and still have a view of the city.
- Bryant Park Ice Skating – The Rink in Bryant Park is nestled between Midtown skyscrapers in a very urban setting. It is near some of the city’s most popular attractions.
4. Take a New York Christmas Tour
See the highlights of Christmas in New York City with the convenience of a guided tour!
Every holiday season, the popular Night Tours convert to Holiday Lights Tours, where you can view the splendor of holiday lights from a double decker bus. These guided evening tours are a fun and informative view of the city in all it’s holiday glory.
5. Finish (or Start) Your Holiday Shopping at New York City’s Holiday Markets
NYC Street Fair + Christmas = Holiday Market – New York City’s spirited holiday markets have a warm inviting glow on even the coldest of December nights.
Bryant Park Holiday Shops – You’ll never want to shop at a mall again after you’ve walked around an inviting holiday market with a cup of hot apple cider. Visit the shops of local artisans and find neat gifts for your friends and family.
Great NYC Holiday Markets:
- Holiday Shops at Bryant Park
- Columbus Circle Holiday Market
- Union Square Holiday Market
- Grand Central Holiday Fair
“I love the winter look. Scarves, hats, rosy cheeks, and Christmas cheer as people walk around the Christmas shops. Everyone looks beautiful and happy. Bright lights and pine smells compliment the air.”
– Rosimer, Rego Park, NY
6. Attend a Christmas Eve Service
Make your Christmas in New York City special by attending a service at one of the city’s gorgeous churches.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral
This Catholic church is in a large gothic-style cathedral that is inspiring to visit any time of the year. And what time coule be better than Christmas in New York City?
Masses are held on December 24th, including a Midnight Mass with reserved seating by ticket only, and throughout Christmas Day. For a full schedule see saintpatrickscathedral.org.
Trinity Church is an Episcopal parish founded in 1697. It is one of the most notable buildings in Lower Manhattan.It typically has three Christmas Eve Services which include an early service for families, a traditional service, and a later service with a choral prelude. For more information see trinitywallstreet.org.
Marble Collegiate Church
This Protestant church is another terrific option. The building dates back to the 1850s and is made of – you guessed it – marble. It is a lovely church with a spacious sanctuary.
Marble Collegiate has two Christmas Eve services, one for families and one that is more traditional. For more information see marblechurch.org.