Christmas In New York City – Holiday Guide

Christmas season in New York is such a special and unforgettable experience. You will be amazed by the countless lights and magical decorations all around you. The city is full of Christmas trees, unique ornaments and holiday spirit. There is also plenty of activities to choose from during the holidays starting with ice skating, Christmas musicals and Broadways, through holiday markets, shopping and more.

If you are planning to spend Christmas in New York check out this holiday guide to find out the best things you can do and see to soak up in this special atmosphere.

The Best Christmas Trees In New York City

  • Rockefeller Center (30 Rockefeller Plaza) – the most popular and most celebrated Christmas tree in the heart of New York City. This tree starts the holiday season with an annual lighting ceremony on Dec 1st and attracts crowds from around the world. 
  • Lotte New York Palace Hotel (455 Madison Ave) – This is absolutely my favorite Christmas tree in the city. It’s always beautifully decorated and at the beginning of the season usually the area is not so crowded. While checking out this tree don’t forget to look inside the hotel for even more Christmas trees and absolutely stunning lobby decorations
  • All-American Christmas Tree at 6th Ave btw 47th and 48th – it always shines bright in the American colors
  • The Plaza Hotel (768 5th Ave) – One of the most stunning trees standing inside the hotel lobby
  • Christmas Tree at 6th Ave btw 54th and 55th – you will be pleasantly surprised because there are actually two similar golden trees next to each other
  • One Beacon Court – (731 Lexington Ave) – this Christmas tree is incredibly pretty especially being surrounded by the uniquely designed structure
  • Bryant Park Winter Village (40th to 42nd St & 5th to 6th Ave) – beautiful tree surrounded by many holiday attractions like ice skating, restaurants and shops. The lighting ceremony is the first week of December 
  • Madison Square Holiday Tree – the first public Christmas tree in the United States displayed on December 21st, 1912
  • Radio City Music Hall (1260 6th Ave) – very unique way to display a Christmas tree. The tree is constantly changing its colors and it’s facing other beautiful holiday ornaments across the street at 6th Ave
  • The Peninsula Hotel (700 5th Ave) – just when you cross the entrance to the hotel you will be welcomed by absolutely amazing Christmas tree and other holiday displays
  • NYSE Christmas Tree (11 Wall St) – the New York Stock Exchange celebrates the lighting ceremony with performances including Radio City Rockettes
  • Zuccotti Park (Cedar & Broadway St) – the Christmas tree surrounded by many other lit trees
  • Brookfield Place – shopping mall with many amazing holiday displays

Famous 6th Avenue Ornaments

Located next to Radio City Music Hall, these massive ornaments attract lots of attention and have become one of the most fun photo opportunities in this touristic Midtown area.

Dyker Heights (11th to 13th Ave, 83rd to 86th St, Brooklyn)

If you think that Manhattan has the best Holiday decorations you should absolutely see what is happening in Brooklyn. 

Dyker Heights is home to the most over-the-top Christmas light decorations with life-sized Santas, sleighs, snowmen and some houses even play Christmas carols from loudspeakers. It is estimated that there are millions of lights. Those massive, professionally-done displays cost even upwards of $20,000!

The tradition of Christmas Lights in Dyker Heights dates back to 1980s. Lucy Spata started it when she moved to the neighborhood. She decorated her house to carry on the tradition her mother had started. Following her footsteps other neighbors began decorating their house as well, quickly filling up the streets with Christmas spirit. Most families hang the lights right after Thanksgiving and keep them on until the beginning of January. 

Want to learn more about Dyker Heights Christmas Lights? Read my other post All You Need To Know About This Must-See Holiday Spot In New York City

Ice Skating around the city

  • Wollman Rink in Central Park – the iconic rink, featured in many movies, with breathtaking views on NYC skyline
  • The Rink at Rockefeller Center – probably the most crowded rink that became a tradition for holiday ice skating in the iconic spot
  • The Rink at Winter Village in Bryant Park- the only free admission skating rink. Usually very crowded
  • The Rink at Brookfield Place – downtown ice rink with gorgeous city views
  • Vale Rink – located at the William Vale Hotel in Williamsburg rink, it has incredible panoramic views of Manhattan
  • Winterland Rink – open air rooftop ice skating at Pier 17

The Best Christmas Shows In New York City

Musicals and Broadway shows are New York’s specialty! During Christmas time there are a couple of must see holiday shows:

Pulitzer Fountain next to Plaza Hotel at 5th Ave

Every year the fountain is decorated in a different way for the holiday season. You can admire unique massive ornaments, trees and lights. It’s a must see spot when walking around 5th Ave.

Christmas Shopping in New York City

During Christmas time all stores around the city are uniquely decorated making the shopping experience even better. There are tones of holiday lights used along with Christmas figures and ornaments. It’s a real shopper’s paradise. But if you are not in a shopping mood I highly encourage you to just stroll around and admire the fantastic world famous holiday window displays that resemble the fairytale world.

Department Stores:

  • Bergdorf Goodman – check out their window displays and amazing Christmas tree inside
  • Saks Fifth Ave – walk along the beautifully decorated window displays before heading to ice skating rink at Rockefeller Center across the street. Don’t forget to see their incredible Holiday Light Show displayed on the store facade – it’s the most amazing attraction in the city during Christmas
  • Macy’s – beside the fabulous window displays check out their 6th floor for even more holiday decorations and fantastic thematically adorned Christmas trees
  • Cartier 5th Ave – every year the store comes up with a different holiday facade display and each time it looks even better
  • Louis Vuitton 5th Ave – you can admire outside facade holiday installation

Shopping Centers:

  • Columbus Circle – great place to shop and dine while you indulge in a holiday spirit
  • Hudson Yards – two million twinkling lights should be enough to convince you to visit this fancy Manhattan mall located next to other famous attraction The Vessel
  • Brookfield Place – a shopping center and office building complex located in the Battery Park City neighborhood
  • Oculus World Trade Center – located Downtown originally designed structure is filled with unique vendors for the holidays 

Christmas Markets 

There are plenty of holiday markets around the city. It’s a great opportunity to take a place in fun activities, shop for Christmas and try original food from local vendors. 

  • Winter Village at Bryant Park – it has pretty much everything you need for holidays – Christmas tree, shops, ice skating, restaurants with hot coco, cider and many more yummy things
  • Union Square Holiday Market – this place will welcome you with over 160 vendors featuring unique gifts created by local craftsmen, artists and entrepreneurs
  • Grand Central Terminal Holiday Fair – shop beautiful pieces of artwork, clothing, accessories and home goods at the one of the longest indoor holiday fairs 
  • Oculus Holiday market – located Downtown originally designed structure is filled with unique vendors for the holidays 

Restaurants with amazing holiday decorations

There are more and more restaurants that put unique Christmas decorations around the place. Here is the list of some of must visit places:

Upper East and Upper West Side House’s Decorations

If you are looking to avoid the crowds at Rockefeller Center there are a few festive spots on the Upper East and Upper West Side that you can visit. These parts of Manhattan are great alternatives to admire beautiful holiday decorations at your own pace. Additionally these areas are full of nice restaurants, cafes and shops. 

Holiday Train Show

The Holiday Train Show located at New York Botanical Garden is one of favorite holiday traditions and a great event for the entire family. Enchanting model trains are zipping through a display of more than 175 New York landmarks, each re-created with bark, leaves, and other natural materials. It’s a must see for the holiday season. 

Chelsea Market

I love visiting Chelsea Market all year round but especially around Christmas time. Located in the Chelsea neighborhood facility, it houses a food hall, shopping mall, office building and television production. For Christmas the interior is beautifully decorated, especially the arch with a clock. 

Spending Christmas time in New York City is such a magical experience and absolutely must do at least once in your lifetime. I hope this post got you excited and you will start planing the trip to NYC this year. Let me know if so and if you have any other questions regarding this fabulous city.

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