new york city christmas time
City Travel USA

6 Things to Do in NYC at Christmas Time

Last updated on March 26th, 2022

Visiting New York City around Christmas time and through New Year’s is a magical experience that everyone should experience at least once in their life. Streets lined with decorative displays, holiday festivities, winter treats, and more, New York City around the holidays is beautiful and filled with things to do to celebrate.

 

Here are 6 NYC holiday activities for the Christmas and New Year’s seasons: 

 

Bryant Park Winter Village

A magical winter village in Manhattan, Bryant Park Winter Village is an annual winter holiday market. The Winter Village contains holiday shops, food kiosks, a skating rink, and a rink-side cafe. The ice rink at Bryant Park Winter Village is the only free admission skating rink in all of New York City. Bryant Park Winter Village is a good place for holiday shopping and enjoying a cup of delicious hot chocolate. During my visit to the Winter Village, I enjoyed wandering through the shops, purchasing holiday goodies from the kiosks, and enjoying views of the enormous Christmas tree. 

 

Bryant Park Winter Village

Hours of Operation: To be announced for 2021

Cost: FREE

Note: You will find more information on the Official Bryant Park website 

 

Are you looking for more Christmas Markets? There are more than a dozen Christmas Markets across Manhattan and New York. Other popular holiday markets to visit in New York include Colombus Circle Christmas Market and Union Square Christmas Market. 

 

saks fifth avenue holiday light show

Saks Fifth Avenue Holiday Light Show and Window Display

There are multiple holiday displays along 5th Avenue during the holiday season. The most famous holiday display is the annual Saks Fifth Avenue Holiday Light Show and Window Display. Ten storeys tall, the 10-minute light show synced to music is a magical holiday event. The best view of the light show is from 30 Rockefeller Plaza, across the street from the display. From late November through late December, this holiday light show is a must-see on your holiday trip to New York City. The light show was a highlight of my Christmas trip to New York City.

 

Saks Fifth Avenue Holiday Light Show

Hours of Operation: Daily 4:35 pm to 11:35 pm, every 10 minutes for 5 minutes

Cost: FREE

 

rockefeller christmas tree new york

Rockefeller Christmas Tree

Each year outside 30 Rockefeller Plaza is the famous Rockefeller Christmas Tree, a massive decorated tree next to a skating rink. A New York tradition since 1933, each holiday season, a large Norway spruce tree, between 21 to 30 m tall, is set up in Rockefeller Center.

 

An annual public tree-lighting ceremony happens the Wednesday evening after the US Thanksgiving holiday. The New York City mayor lights the Christmas tree on a live broadcast. Millions of people gather each year to watch the Rockefeller Christmas tree lighting ceremony.

 

The tree is on display for the entire holiday season until the new year. The Rockefeller Christmas tree is one of the most visited sites in NYC during the holiday season. 

 

Rockefeller Christmas Tree

Hours of Operation: Daily 24 hours
Cost: FREE

 

Ice Skating 

A fun winter activity, New York City provides a beautiful atmosphere for skating in an urban jungle. There are multiple ice rinks around New York, including Bryant Park, Rockefeller Plaza, and Central Park. Skate rentals are available if you don’t own skates or choose to bring your skates to the rink. I did not ice skate on my trip but enjoyed my time watching others skate. 

 

Ice Skating 

Hours of Operation: Depends on the location

Cost: Depends on the location

 

broadway musical anastasia times square new york

Holiday Musical or Production 

New York, home of Broadway, is a place for musicals and productions, even during the holidays. While in New York City, you can find winter-themed musicals or performances such as The Nutcracker. 

 

Each year, the New York City Ballet performs the Nutcracker, a story of a girl who friends a Nutcracker who comes alive on Christmas Eve. The Nutcracker is a traditional holiday season ballet with performances around the world, however, the NYC Ballet puts on the biggest ballet production. I was not able to attend The Nutcracker ballet but plan to attend during another NYC holiday trip. 

 

During my visit, I saw the Broadway Musical Anastasia. While not Christmas-themed, Anastasia does take place in the winter and has the well-known song “Once Upon a December,” which made it a good musical to watch in December.

 

Holiday Musical or Production

Hours of Operation: Depends on which you select

Cost: Depends on which you select

 

New Year’s Eve Ball Drop in Times Square 

New York’s biggest event of the year, the New Year’s Eve Ball Drop, is known worldwide. Every year on New Year’s Eve, millions of people from around the world gather in Times Square to celebrate the end of the year and watch the ball drop at midnight to bring in the new year. A large stage is set up for famous musicians, where they perform throughout the day. The televised event is broadcasted around the world. People begin to gather in the early morning and continuing into the evening when security no longer lets anyone into the standing areas. 

 

During my visit, we waited in line to get into the standing areas. We were extremely far from the stage where we couldn’t hear the music, but we could see the ball drop. The crowd sang to each other and kept each other entertained until midnight. We counted down until midnight and watched the ball drop. When the crowd started to leave, we moved closer to the ball drop for photos. It was a unique experience, one I was glad to have experienced. 

 

A unique and enjoyable experience, I would recommend everyone attend New Year’s Eve in New York at least once. 

 

New Year’s Eve Ball Drop in Times Square 

Hours of Operation: December 31st into January 1st
Cost: FREE

 

Tip: Dress in warm clothes. It is cold at night, and you will want to wear layers. I wore thermals below my clothes and a warm jacket and was still cold being outside for hours. 

 

 

Hopefully, you enjoy this list of 6 Holiday Season activities in New York City and that you enjoy your holiday trip to NYC, spending Christmas and New Year’s Eve in New York City.


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Looking for an itinerary for your trip? Here is The Best 3-Day New York City Itinerary for you

 

Happy traveling!

 

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14 thoughts on “6 Things to Do in NYC at Christmas Time”

    1. I agree, and Christmas in NYC is unlike any other holiday destination I’ve experienced before. My boyfriend has family in New York, so we were able to have Christmas with them.

  1. I’ve spent Thanksgiving in NYC. I had the chase to watch the parade, ice skate in central park and visit the decorated stores. One of the best holiday experiences ever. Totally agree that NYC is a great holiday location.

  2. Christmas is New York is something I’ve always wanted to do. This looks amazing. To see the tree at Rockefeller and go ice skating. What an experience

    1. I hope you get to experience Christmas in New York sometime. Rockefeller tree is an incredible sight you have to see with your eyes to believe its size!

    1. Wow, living so close would be amazing! I’ve only visited NYC at Christmas but I’ve been dreaming of going back. Hope you get back to New York City next year also

  3. This brings back such great memories from when I lived in NYC. I loved visiting Bryant Park, Rockefeller Center and the big store windows like Macy’s and Saks! NYC is such a fun a great place to visit during the holidays.

    1. It must have been such a dream to live in NYC! I agree, NYC is a great holiday destination, especially being in New York City at Christmas, so magical.

    1. Absolutely unforgettable to see those holiday decorated windows in NYC. So glad you enjoyed my tips for visiting NYC at Christmas

    1. Happy to hear you’ve seen the Saks Fifth Avenue Holiday Light show. I was in awe the entire light show! It is definitely magical to spend the holidays and Christmas in New York

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