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Christmas in New York City: What to See & Where to Stay

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Posted on December 20, 2022

There is a wonderful assortment of things to do over Christmas in New York City. From gazing in wonder at the huge Rockefeller Center Christmas tree to sipping hot chocolate and marveling at the decorated window displays, you won't find these unique scenes any time, or anywhere, else.

Highlights of Christmas in New York City

christmas tree at Rockefeller center

The heart of Christmas in New York can be found at Rockefeller Center. Here, the massive Christmas Tree shines in all its glory and dazzles tourists and locals alike. After its first lighting ceremony in November, it continues to shine daily from 6 am to midnight, with a full 24-hour light show on December 25th. The show continues through New Year’s Eve, when the tree is turned off for the last time a few hours before midnight.

The Christmas tree overlooks Rockefeller Center's ice rink, which has been immortalized in many movies and TV shows taking place in New York over the Christmas season. Skating here beneath the tree is one of the best things to do over Christmas in New York City, and it can be enjoyed by all ages.

The Rink at Rockefeller Center is usually open all winter. Besides the one in Rockefeller Center, there are other ice rinks open throughout the city, including the one in Central Park.

Iconic Christmas Window Displays in New York City

christmas lighting decorations on building

The Saks 5th Ave Lightshow and holiday window displays are not far from Rockefeller Center. Holiday window displays are a staple of New York City at Christmas, but the ones here are often ranked as the very best in the city. Entire storefronts can be lit up with bright Christmas lights, and the window displays feature scenes you will not find anywhere else.

Greene Space in SoHo also has annual holiday window displays with animatronic scenes and bright lights. If you are interested in seeing as many windows and light shows as possible, you can often find special holiday tours which will take you through the best spots throughout the city.

You can even take a step back in time for a more historic approach to the Christmas Holiday at some New York City events. Richmond Town on Staten Island is a re-enacted farming neighborhood and every year they host several Christmas-themed events including a Wassail bowl, candlelight tours, and carriage rides. In Queens, the historic farm still operating on 47 acres holds an Open House, with mulled cider and crafts.

Times Square is also decked out for the Christmas Holiday. Here, though, the biggest draw comes the following week on New Year's Eve, when one of the world's largest New Year's parties is held in Times Square, including its famous ball drop.

New York City Christmas Shows and Entertainment

christmas tree at radio city

Radio City Music Hall’s Christmas Celebration featuring the Rockettes goes back for decades and is a holiday tradition for many people who use their New York City timeshare at this time of year. The show's precision dancing, high-tech lights and sound technology, and thrilling music make it one of the must-see performances if you are interested in live entertainment at this time of year.

The New York City Ballet also gets into the spirit of Christmas. Annual performances of The Nutcracker are a recurring delight, and especially popular with families and children. The dancing, magic, and spectacle of the Nutcracker await at Christmas time in New York.

Of course, when speaking of things to do over Christmas in New York, Broadway is almost always going to be at the top of the list. During the Christmas season, many holiday specials such as A Christmas Carol play on Broadway, in addition to the regular and special line-ups of shows. And when you go to Times Square, the huge Broadway Snow Globes featuring scenes from popular Broadway Musicals are sure to catch your eye whenever they come at this time of year.

Christmas in New York City for Families