New York City: Guide To The Holidays

New York City: Guide To The Holidays

This season is a magical time and to celebrate I’ve created the New York City: Guide To The Holidays. The city lights up with Christmas trees, festive window displays, and elaborately decorated storefronts. While spending the holidays in New York, make sure to check out some of my favorite holiday activities. From ice skating in Rockefeller Center to watching the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Read on for my guide to the best holiday activities in New York City.

If you need suggestions for fantastic restaurants (including what I love to order!) make sure to check out this article I wrote: Three Days In Soho. Many of the restaurants are in Soho, but there are a few that venture north of the area. I am always happy to help with suggestions if you need them. You can message me over on Instagram!

10 Local Gems

  1. New York Botanical Garden Glow– this is a magical light show throughout the Botanical Garden. You can also check out the train show while you’re at it.
  2. Dyker Heights Holiday Lights– you’ll have to head to Brooklyn, but this block of homes puts on a light show like no other.
  3. A Christmas Carol On Broadway– if you’re wanting to take in a festive show, this one is fantastic.
  4. Gingerbread Lane by Chef Jon Lovitch– you’ll need to check on the location for this year, but this is a cool display of the largest gingerbread village.
  5. Pop Into Little Italy For Ornament Shopping– this is actually open year round, but Little Italy is fun to see during the holidays.
  6. Hot Chocolate at Dominique Ansel Bakery – creator of the cronut, but also so much more. This bakery is a special space and his hot chocolate flowers are so fun and equally delicious.
  7. Drinks at Gallow Green in The McKittrick Hotel– genuinely one of the coolest spots in the city. They’re closed until November 11th to set up for the holidays, and then you must make a reservation.
  8. Visit The Neue Galerie – Escape from the city while in the city. This is a place of quiet and calm for me when the city is overwhelming.
  9. Pop into the Vueve Clicquot at Mr. Purple -If it returns! It was fun in the past, but I can’t find any news on it. Otherwise go to Ophelia Lounge for great views.
  10. Attend a Candlelight Concert– these are spectacular in any city, but the NYC ones are particularly amazing!


There’s no place like New York City during the holidays! From iconic events like the Rockefeller Center tree lighting ceremony to more low-key activities like ice skating or admiring Christmas windows, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. I hope this guide gives you some ideas for things to do during your visit – happy holidays!

See The Christmas Tree At Rockefeller Center

A symbol of hope and cheer

Every year, millions of people visit Rockefeller Center to see the iconic Christmas tree and enjoy the festive atmosphere. But where did this tradition come from? The first Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center was erected in 1931, during the Great Depression. It was actually the workers from the construction team at Rockefeller Center who pooled their money together to purchase a 20-foot balsam tree. At a time when many Americans were struggling to make ends meet, the tree served as a symbol of hope and holiday cheer. Since then, the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree has become a cherished tradition, with millions of people coming to see it each year. Today, the tree is an international symbol of Christmas, and its lighting ceremony is televised around the world. You can learn even more about the tree here.

Every year, the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree is one of the most anticipated sights in New York City. The massive tree, which is typically around 75 feet tall, is brought to the plaza and decorated with thousands of lights. But how does the Rockefeller Center choose its Christmas tree? It all starts with a scouting team, who travel across the country in search of the perfect tree. Once they’ve found a tree that meets their requirements (it must be at least 65 feet tall/ 35 feet wide and have a healthy root system), they transport it to New York City and erect it in the plaza. Then, the fun begins! The tree is covered in tens of thousands of lights, and a star is placed on top. The lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree is a momentous occasion that signals the start of the holiday season in New York City. Make sure to pop over to the Ralph’s Coffee stand in Rockefeller Center. It is the cutest green truck and you won’t be able to miss it. If you can make it to one of their stores, they have the best items to bring home as gifts!

Bryant Park Winter Village

the best European-style holiday market

In 2002, the Bryant Park Corporation decided to bring a bit of old-fashioned holiday cheer to New York City with the Bryant Park Winter Village. The initial village was a small collection of kiosks selling everything from hot chocolate to souvenirs. In the following years, the village grew larger and more popular, attracting more than 125 vendors and attracting millions of visitors each year. Today, the Winter Village is one of the highlights of the holiday season in New York City, featuring an ice skating rink, a Christmas tree, and a wide variety of shops and restaurants. With its idyllic setting and festive atmosphere, it’s no wonder that the Bryant Park Winter Village has become such a beloved tradition. Two other fantastic holiday markets can be found at Columbus Circle and Union Square if you can’t make it to Bryant Park.

The Radio City Rockettes

Starring In the Christmas Spectacular

Every holiday season, the Radio City Christmas Spectacular starring the Rockettes brings joy to millions of people. The tradition began in 1933, when the first show was staged at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall. The original production featured a nativity scene, complete with live camels and sheep, and it was an instant hit with audiences. In subsequent years, the show added more elaborate sets and costumes, and it soon became one of the most popular attractions in New York. Today, the Radio City Christmas Spectacular is seen by more than two million people each year, making it one of the most successful holiday shows of all time.

I went a few years back to celebrate my birthday which happens to be in December, and it was such a fun thing to do. You really don’t have to dress up in all honesty, but it was fun to do so and go out afterward. I put flats with this outfit because we ended up walking around quite a bit before and after the show and you’ll want to be comfortable. Depending on the weather, I’d ditch the cape and go for a heavy black coat or even the grey one from above. Just something to stay warm!

New York City Ballet: The Nutcracker

At the Lincoln center

The first thing anyone thinks of when they hear “The Nutcracker” is the ballet. But where did this ballet come from? In 1816, E.T.A. Hoffmann’s story “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” was published in Germany. This story was about a girl named Marie who received a nutcracker as a present from her godfather. The nutcracker turned into a prince and fought against the Mouse King. This story was turned into a ballet in 1892 by Tchaikovsky and has been performed every year since. The ballet we know today has become one of the most beloved holiday traditions. Each year, families pack into theaters to watch sugar plum fairies, twirl around Snowflakes, and see the classic battle between the mice and the toys. The New York City Ballet has been performing “The Nutcracker” since 1954, and it has become one of their most popular productions. Every holiday season, young dancers audition for roles in the show and rehearse for months to perfect their routines. On opening night, the theater is filled with excited children and their parents, all ready to be transported to a magical world of make-believe.

The Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts is one of the world’s most famous complexes of concert halls, theaters, and to me the best place to see the Nutcracker performed in the United States. Located in New York City’s Upper West Side, the Lincoln Center was built in the 1960s as part of an urban renewal project. Since then, it has become home to some of the city’s most prestigious cultural institutions, including the Metropolitan Opera, the New York Philharmonic, and the New York City Ballet. The Lincoln Center is also home to many educational programs and performance spaces for emerging artists. With so many wonderful options, you will easily find something to see or hear while visiting. If you can’t make it to one of the Nutcracker performances, I would still strongly urge you to find something being performed and go. It’s a memory that you’ll always love.

Go Ice Skating At The Wollman Rink

Located in Central Park

For as long as New Yorkers can remember, Central Park has been a place for people to enjoy the outdoors and participate in winter activities. One of the most popular activities is ice skating, which can be traced back to the early days of the park. In the 1800s, a pond known as the Croton Reservoir was used for ice skating, and it quickly became a favorite pastime for both locals and visitors. As the city grew, so did the demand for ice skating facilities. In 1858, a rink was built near the reservoir, and it soon became one of the most popular attractions in Central Park. Today, the rink is still one of the most popular places to skate in New York City, and it continues to attract skaters of all ages and skill levels. I’ve included a picture from the skating rink before anyone arrived. It has the very best views and it truly a magical spot to include on your list. 

Stroll Fifth Avenue

And experience the Saks Fifth Avenue Light show

Every year, Fifth Avenue in New York City is transformed into a winter wonderland for the holidays. The iconic department store windows are decked out with twinkling lights and lavish displays, and the streets are lined with festive decorations. For many New Yorkers, Christmas on Fifth Avenue is a cherished tradition. Every year, thousands of people flock to the avenue to enjoy the holiday atmosphere. Many people also take advantage of the opportunity to do some last-minute shopping at the city’s luxury stores. In recent years, Fifth Avenue has become even more popular as a holiday destination, thanks to the addition of a new public ice rink. Whether you’re looking for holiday cheer or simply want to enjoy the festive atmosphere, Christmas on Fifth Avenue is definitely worth a visit.

Fifth Avenue in New York City has a long and storied history. It was originally little more than a dirt path running through the middle of what was then rural farmland. However, as the city began to grow in the 19th century, Fifth Avenue became one of the most fashionable streets in town, lined with grand mansions and elegant shops. Today, Fifth Avenue is still one of the most exclusive addresses in the city, home to high-end retailers, luxury hotels, and some of the most expensive real estate in the world. But it has also become much more than that; Fifth Avenue is now a symbol of New York itself, a bustling metropolis that is always on the move.

In 1893, Horace Saks and Andrew Geller opened a small luxury goods store on New York’s Sixth Avenue. They called it Saks & Company. Over the next two decades, the store became known for its affordable prices and high-quality merchandise. In 1923, Saks Fifth Avenue was born when the company opened a new flagship store on Fifth Avenue. The new store was an instant hit with New Yorkers, who flocked to its fashionable shops and restaurants. Today, Saks Fifth Avenue is one of the most iconic stores in New York City. It is known for its luxurious clothing, jewelry, and home decor. For the holidays they create the most spectacular window displays and light show that you really won’t want to miss.

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