New York is one of our favourite cities to visit at any time of year, but New York at Christmas is particularly magical. There are even more lights glowing around every corner, incredible decorations and exclusive events that you can’t see at any other time of year. Just remember to wrap up warm, as the average temperature in New York in December is around 5°C!
Take a look at some of our must-do Christmas experiences in New York City for a bit of festive inspiration.
See the Radio City Christmas Spectacular starring The Rockettes
When? Morning, matinee and evening performances daily from November 18th to January 2nd
Having first opened on Broadway in 1933, the Radio City Christmas Spectacular is a festive staple for both locals and tourists alike. The whole family will be in awe as you watch the world-famous Rockettes dancing across the stage as reindeer, wooden soldiers and more with a soundtrack of Christmas classics including Jingle Bells and Rocking Around the Christmas Tree.
Plus you’ll get to see the stunning Radio City Music Hall, an iconic NYC location.
Go ice skating in Central Park
When? Daily from October 24th to March 15th
This is probably one of the first things you picture when you think of Christmas in New York as it’s featured in so many films and TV shows. A walk around Central Park is definitely a must-do at any time of year, but finishing it off with some ice skating at the Wollman Rink is the cherry on top of the (Christmas) cake. This is a particularly great activity if you’re lucky enough to experience some snow on your trip, as you’ll truly feel like you’re skating around a winter wonderland.
Watch The Nutcracker at The Lincoln Center
When? Matinee and evening performances on select days from November 23rd to December 31st
Apart from Santa himself, there are few things more quintessentially Christmas than The Nutcracker. And what better way to see it performed than by the New York City Ballet? With 90 dancers, 62 musicians, 40 stagehands and more than 125 children across two alternating casts, this show is truly spectacular, telling the story of Clara and her nutcracker in the most magical way possible.
See the Christmas lights in Dyker Heights
When? Daily from December 1st to December 31st
Every year, the Brooklyn neighbourhoods of Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights are illuminated by hundreds of thousands of Christmas lights and decorations - think Deck The Halls but it’s the whole street! This friendly competition between homeowners has now become a famous tradition, with people coming from all over the city to see the lights, inflatables and animatronics every year.
A self-planned visit to the Dyker Heights Christmas lights is free of charge, but if you’re looking for a more comprehensive experience the Dyker Heights Christmas Tour offers transportation to and from Brooklyn from central Manhattan and a guided tour where you’ll learn all about the history of this festive tradition. You might even meet some of the homeowners who make it happen!
Marvel at the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree
When? December 1st to December 31st
The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is arguably one of the most famous Christmas trees in the world, and it’s easy to see why! Every year a new tree is chosen (that must be at least 75-foot tall!) and is decorated with thousands of lights and topped with a giant Swarovski star. The tree is lit in a public ceremony, usually led by the Mayor of New York - this year this will take place on December 1st.
Fun Fact! The largest tree to stand in Rockefeller Center was 100-foot tall!
See the Met Christmas Tree at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
When? Daily from November 22nd to January 8th
This Christmas tree is slightly less famous than the one at Rockefeller Plaza, but it is still just as spectacular. Standing at 20-foot tall, the Met Christmas Tree is covered in lights and beautiful angels, and towers over an 18th-century Baroque nativity scene. This is the perfect activity for a cold, rainy day as you can spend hours looking at everything the Metropolitan Museum of Art has on display, including the Spanish choir screen from the Cathedral of Valladolid that provides a beautiful backdrop for the tree!
Take a Holiday Markets and Christmas Lights Walking Tour
When? Select days from December 1st to December 23rd
If you want to become fully immersed in the festive spirit, the Holiday Markets and Christmas Lights Walking Tour is the perfect way to do it! Over four hours you’ll cover 1.7 miles of New York as you visit locations including Bryant Park’s Winter Village and the Union Square Market and discover some incredible crafts, decorations and foods along the way. Plus you’ll get to see the window displays on Fifth Avenue, visit some famous locations from Christmas movies, and learn all about the history of Christmas in New York from your tour guide.
Now that you’re definitely in the festive spirit, make sure you book your tickets in advance to get the best price and availability! Browse all our New York attractions, including the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty and Summit One Vanderbilt.