Holidays in New York City: A Guide to What to See and Do

It’s the most wonderful time of the year
December 14, 2018 Updated: December 17, 2018

NEW YORK—Every New Yorker knows that once the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has worked its way down Central Park West and 6th Avenue, it’s non-stop festive action across the five boroughs until the ball drops in Time Square on New Year’s Eve. So what to do in between? With more than 6 million travelers looking to get their cheer on in NYC this holiday season, it’s about time you get it sorted. No place does joyful, vibrant, multi-cultural cheer like the Big Apple.

Outdoors

A Slice of Brooklyn’s Christmas Lights Tour
Brooklyn, through Dec. 30, 2018

Holiday Decorations in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn (Andria Patino/Corbis)

More than 100,000 visitors descend on Brooklyn’s Dyker Heights neighborhood each year to join this guided tour of New York City’s most over-the-top residential decor. It’s a universal favorite! Starts at $45 per child and $44 per adult; round trips depart from Union Square. ASliceofBrooklyn.com

Rockefeller Center Tree and Ice Skating Rink
Manhattan, tree through Jan. 7, 2019

The Rink at Rockefeller Center is a tradition everyone can enjoy. Can’t skate? Gaze upon the iconic 72-foot tree presiding over the rink. This celebrated attraction is a Christmas-junkie must. $15 per child; starts at $25 for adults.

Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Gardens NYC Winter Lantern Festival
Staten Island, through Jan. 6, 2019

nyc winter lantern festival
nyc winter lantern festival

Make your way through seven acres and 40 LED lantern installations while taking in live performances. This Chinese-inspired and very holiday-tastic conglomeration of electrifying exhibits is a bit off the beaten path, but worth it. And: There’s a full food court. $15 per child; $23 per adult. WinterLanternFestival.com

Department Store Window Displays
Manhattan

New York City is known for its sensational holiday window displays, so you just need to keep your eyes peeled while making the rounds. This year’s standouts include Barneys, Tiffany & Co., Bergdorf Goodman, Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue, Van Cleef & Arpels, and David Yurman. Window-gazing is free!

Shows

Radio City Christmas Spectacular Starring the Rockettes
Manhattan, through January 1, 2019

Everyone’s favorite high-kickers dance their way through New Year’s and champion the holiday spirit of New York City with their extravagant costumes and breathtaking state-of-the-art production. It doesn’t get more American than this! Starts at $36 per person. Rockettes.com

Apollo Theater Presents ‘Kwanzaa Celebration: Regeneration Night’
Manhattan, December 29, 2018

The legendary Harlem theater is celebrating Kwanzaa with visitors for the 12th consecutive year with a night of music and dance that honors the principles of Kwanzaa—family, community, and culture. One night only. Starts at $25 per person. ApolloTheater.org

New York City Ballet’s Nutcracker
Manhattan, through December 30, 2018

New York City Ballet’s Nutcracker. (Paul Kolnik)
New York City Ballet’s Nutcracker. (Paul Kolnik)

The story of a brave young girl turning the tide in a battle between toy soldiers and mischievous mice is a timeless hallmark of the holiday season set to the classical brilliance of Tchaikovsky. For many, an annual holiday tradition. Starts at $55 per person. NYCBallet.com

New York Philharmonic Presents ‘Home Alone in Concert’
Manhattan, December 20–21, 2018

HomeAlone Courtesy, New York Philharmonic. (Chris Lee)

The acclaimed New York Philharmonic will perform John Williams’ score live to the classic Christmas film Home Alone, for this holiday season special event—Kevin! Starts at $45 per person. NYPhil.org

‘Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical’
Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden
Manhattan, December 13-30, 2018

RCCS Dress Rehearsal
Dress rehearsal for the upcoming Radio City Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, Nov. 7, 2017.

The holiday classic will warm audiences hearts when they watch the story of the true meaning of Christmas come to life in this limited engagement at the world’s most famous arena. Starts at $50 per person. MSG.com

The Cathedral of St. John the Divine presents The Cathedral Christmas Concert
Manhattan, December 9, 2018, at 7 p.m.

O Holy Night! This year’s concert features music performed by the combined Cathedral choirs, orchestra, and soloists. The audience is encouraged to join in singing favorite Christmas carols, led by the choirs and orchestra. Starts at $40 per person. StJohnDivine.org

Events and Exhibits

New York Botanical Garden’s Holiday Train Show
The Bronx, through January 21, 2019

Holiday Train Show, New York Botanical Garden, Bronx

This is the 27th annual exhibition of classical model trains moving through a handcrafted display of New York City’s built environment. While a cappella serenades your ears, feast your eyes on more than 175 miniature iconic city structures such as Yankee Stadium and The Statue of Liberty. Starts at $10 for children and $23 for adults. NYBG.org

New York Transit Museum Gallery Annex and Store at Grand Central Terminal Holiday Train Show
Manhattan, through February 3, 2019

More trains! A staple of Grand Central Terminal during the holiday season since 2001, the train show features a 34-foot-long track where vintage trains from the museum’s collection travel through a miniature New York City and countryside scene all the way to the North Pole. Free!

Gingerbread Lane at New York Hall of Science
Queens, through January 21, 2019

Since 2013, the edible village at the New York Hall of Science in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens, has set the Guinness World Record for the largest collection of gingerbread houses and structures with each new installment. Be a part of a yummy history! $13 for children; $16 for adults, but the entrance is free with NYSCI admission. NYsci.org

Grand Army Plaza’s Largest Menorah Lighting
Brooklyn, through December 10, 2018

With the help of local synagogues, the plaza has hosted the nightly lighting of the 32-foot menorah since 1984. Visitors are invited to celebrate the holiday with concerts and gifts for children through each day of the Festival of Lights. Free!

A great resource about all there is to see and do throughout the five boroughs is NYC & Company. NYCgo.com

Amanda Burrill sees through an adventurous lens, typically focused on culinary and travel. Her education includes a bachelor’s in archaeology, a master’s in journalism, a culinary degree from Le Cordon Bleu, and wine and spirits credentials earned while living in Paris. She is a U.S. Navy veteran, Ironman triathlete, high-alpine mountaineer, and injury connoisseur who ruminates on UnchartedLifestyleMag.com

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