This year has been passing by so fast, it’s almost Christmas time already! Autumn is here in all its beauty, the days are getting colder. Halloween time is the best time to start planning your holidays… Spending Christmas in New York is a timeless classic, and for a lot of good reasons. If you’ve finally got the opportunity to book your trip to the Big Apple, or even if you’re just dreaming about doing it one day, then this article is perfect for you. Here’s our list of 10 things you absolutely should do if you spend Christmas in New York!
1. Rockefeller Center
First stop: Rockefeller Center in the heart of Manhattan is a must! Every year a huge, shining tree is installed in front of the Rockefeller Plaza for everyone to see! It usually lights up on the first days of December. This tradition actually dates back to 1931! It’s never truly Christmas in New York until this beautiful tree makes its first appearance. In addition, you can see it from above if you visit Top of The Rock, where you can also enjoy a stunning view of the Empire State Building. What’s more, you can ice-skate on the iconic rink right under the tree. And, of course, you have lots of places around you where you can go for a break, maybe drink a hot chocolate and warm up a a little. We definitely recommend this experience to start your Christmas Holidays in the best and most traditional way!
2. Empire State Building’s Light Shows
New York’s most symbolic building is lit up all year, but during Christmas time you will be able to see special holiday light shows every night until Christmas Day and you definitely shouldn’t miss it if you find yourself strolling around Manhattan in the evening. And of course, you mustn’t forget to buy your tickets and go on top of the building. The view will take your breath away. The best time to go is at sunset, and wait there until the sky becomes dark and all the city lights come on!
3. Traditional New York Christmas Food
If you’ll spend Christmas in New York you have to take the opportunity to eat some traditional food. Whether you go to a restaurant or decide to cook it yourself, some dishes that can’t be missed on your table are stuffed turkey, mashed potatoes, vegetables, gravy, Christmas pudding, apple or pumpkin pie and more. You will find lots of restaurants around Manhattan who will grant you the best Christmas dinner or lunch, though you should always beware of the prices – some places have head-spinning ones! Try to look up the place that most fits your needs without focusing too much on the most central areas – it’s a great opportunity to explore a bit! And what’s more, you could also consider take-away options.
4. Ice-skating in Bryant Park
If you hadn’t enough of ice-skating at Rockefeller Center, check out the rink in Bryant Park! Here admission is free and the place is open daily. The park is right in front of the New York Public Library, which we also recommend you to visit. The atmosphere is a bit more cozy here, and there are a lot of cafes and food kiosks where you can stop for your meals during the day.
5. Christmas Shopping in Little Italy
Little Italy is one of the most famous districts in Manhattan. It features nice shops, stalls and Italian restaurants and it’s worth visiting all year, but during the holiday season you can also find lots of special markets where you can do your Christmas shopping. Whether it’s for decorations, presents or simply souvenirs, you will definitely find what you’re looking for while enjoying a nice walk through this awesome district. It’s a plus if the streets are snowy!
6. Central Park
The green lung of New York is one of the main reasons why the City is so magical and loved all around the world. It becomes even lovelier and more beautiful during the holidays, especially if it snows – just imagine all the stunning pictures that you could take there! Grab your coats, hats and gloves and go ice-skating at the The Wollman Rink, opt for a carriage ride, or simply take a stroll through the park. The perfect way to spend a morning or an afternoon in the City.
7. Christmas Markets
Little Italy is not the only place where you can shop at Christmas Markets. Actually, all New York fills up with lovely little stores and stalls with any kind of goods, food, games and so on. We already mentioned Bryant Park, where you will find the Bank of America Winter Village. You should also check the Grand Central Terminal Holiday Fair at the most famous train station in New York, and the Union Square Park Holiday Market. Throw away your Grinch costumes, put on your best Christmas clothes and sign up for some good holiday shopping!
8. Brooklyn’s Christmas Lights
Manhattan undoubtedly is the most lively place in the City, but you also shouldn’t miss the opportunity to visit the other four districts: The Bronx, Queens, Staten Island and, of course, Brooklyn. The latter is full of things to see and to do during holiday season. You should check the stunning view of the city lights from DUMBO and Brooklyn Bridge Park, but also explore the whole district and try not to miss the famous The Dyker Heights Christmas Lights. It is a spectacular display of holiday decorations which takes place in Brooklyn every year.
9. The Nutcracker Ballet
Another timeless holiday tradition in New York is to go and see The Nutcracker Ballet. This huge ballet company in New York will enchant you with their performance of Tschaikovsky’s music as they tell you the famous story of Marie and her Nutcracker with stunning choreographies, costumes and sets. The company usually performs every year starting from the end of November until the very first days of January more or less, and you can book your tickets starting from October. An experience that will not fail to entertain and to enthral you.
10. New Year’s Eve at Times Square
One last stop: Times Square. You should visit the place in any case, but if you decided to stay in New York for New Year’s as well then it’s an absolute must. New Year’s Eve in Times Square is one of the most viewed events in the world. The audience is always huge as everyone impatiently waits for the famous Ball to fall at midnight, while the number on top of it changes from the old to the New Year. Lots of celebrities and public figures participate to the event with performances and speeches, and prepare the City and the whole world to celebrate a new beginning.