There really is nothing quite like Christmas in New York City. While this year might be different, New York is still very much keeping the magic of the holidays alive through some of their most iconic spots. Although my list of holiday spots would normally be a lot longer, given the circumstances of 2020, I’ve rounded up a list of what to see & do during Christmas in New York City.
When is the best time to visit New York during the holidays?
New York starts gearing up for the holidays just before Thanksgiving but things really start to ramp up after the lighting of the Rockefeller Christmas Tree which takes place the Wednesday after Thanksgiving. So, if you’re looking to catch the city in all of its holiday splendor, I recommend sometime between December 2nd and New Year’s Day.
What time of day is the best to visit the holiday sites?
I recommend visiting first thing in the morning. While it’s great to see all of the sites lit in the dark, these are often the most crowded times to visit. That said, this year we visited in the early afternoon and there were minimal people so due to COVID-19, the crowds have significantly decreased.
How much does it cost to see the holiday sites?
The great news is they’re all free to see! The only thing you’ll have to pay for are the ice skating rinks at Rockefeller Center and the Wollman Ice Skating Rink if you choose to do that.
Radio City Music Hall
Located on the corner of 50th Street and 6th Avenue, Radio City Music Hall is an iconic entertainment venue open since 1932. The largest indoor theater in the world, Radio City Music Hall is home to the famous Rockettes who perform the cherished Christmas Spectacular every year. This year, stop by to take in the sites of this iconic spot and on a regular year, be sure to book a ticket to see the Rockettes in action!
Giant Red Ornaments
Across the street from Radio City Music Hall, pop by the Giant Red Ornaments sitting in the fountain plaza of 1251 Avenue of the Americas.
One of New York City’s most iconic Christmas sites is the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. Placed annually in Rockefeller Center, the tree symbolizes the beginning of the holiday season in the city.
Saks Fifth Avenue
Located across the street from Rockefeller Center, every year Saks Fifth Avenue unveils their iconic holiday windows, along with their 10-story-tall theatrical light show. Each one is intricately designed so you could spend all afternoon browsing the windows on 5th Avenue.
Lotte New York Palace
Located on Madison Avenue between 50th and 51st Streets, the Lotte New York Palace is one of Manhattan’s most iconic luxury properties. Every year the hotel displays its 35-foot ornate tree in their Madison Avenue courtyard so it’s quite a site to see!
Known as Manhattan’s town square, Bryant Park is among New York City’s most famous parks. Every year around the holidays Bryant Park sets up a free ice skating rink and outdoor holiday market, which transforms the park into a Christmas wonderland. Spend an afternoon wandering the holiday market picking up local gifts and end it with a skate around the rink.
Macy’s Holiday Windows
Located at Macy’s flagship location on 34th Street, Macy’s holiday window displays have been a staple holiday landmark in New York City since 1874. This year, the holiday windows are a thank-you to essential workers, New Yorkers and first responders.
Wollman Ice Skating Rink
A public ice rink in Central Park, Wollman is typically the least crowded of the ice skating rinks in Manhattan and offers beautiful views of the city. Skate prices range between $21-36.
Located at 34th Street and 11th Avenue, Hudson Yards is primarily a structure and shopping center but during the holidays, they install a dramatic indoor-outdoor light and music installation. The whole installation features over 2 million Christmas lights so it’s definitely worth a stop!
What are some of your favorite things to see and do during Christmas time in New York City? If you find yourself booking a trip soon, you can also check out my tips on what to know before visiting NYC, from a local.3