5 things to do in NYC during the holidays

Ahh, New York City during Christmas. With a host of timeless traditions and festive activities around every corner, a visit to the Big Apple during the holiday season will leave you enchanted. If you’re looking to add a little Christmas magic to your stay, check out our list of top five things to do in NYC in December.

1. See the Christmas Spectacular featuring the Rockettes

The famed NYC Christmas Spectacular is held in the iconic Radio City Music Hall.
Credit: Luca Bravo on Unsplash

If you’re looking to catch one of the best Christmas shows in NYC, kick off your 2019 holiday season with the high kicks and on-point choreography of the Christmas Spectacular. This annual holiday stage show features over 140 performers and combines original music with plenty of singing and dancing. Held in New York’s iconic Radio City Music Hall, the gorgeous holiday costumes and high energy of the Rockettes will leave you dancing in your seat. Tickets to the Christmas Spectacular are available through the first week of January 2020.

2. Embark on the Dyker Heights Christmas lights tour

The decorations in this NYC neighborhood holds world-famous holiday decorations.
Credit: Alex Fitzpatrick on Flickr

Manhattan certainly holds its own in terms of Christmas displays, but the neighborhood of Dyker Heights in Brooklyn gives it a run for its money. Head over the bridge, where a local host will lead you on a tour of this winter wonderland. Sip on a mulled wine or hot chocolate as you take in the extravagant light displays and holiday decorations lining the streets. When you’ve had your fill of twinkle lights, Brooklyn’s holiday markets are the perfect place to knock out a little Christmas or Hanukkah shopping. We recommend booking your tickets to Christmas lights in Dyker Heights in advance to ensure you snag a spot.

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3. Take in a performance of The Nutcracker by the NYC Ballet

The NYC Ballet's production of The Nutcracker is one of the best Christmas shows in NYC.
Credit: Olivier + on Flickr

Of all the things to do in New York in December, tickets to see The Nutcracker by the New York City Ballet should be at the top of your list. Set to the tune of Tchaikovsky’s enchanting music, each performance includes 90 dancers, 62 musicians, 40 stagehands, and more than 125 children. Elaborate stage sets, mesmerizing costumes, and intricate lighting displays add a touch of Christmas magic that will stay with you all season long. Performances run through the first week of January 2020.

4. Check out the Rockefeller Christmas Tree

The world-famous Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center, NYC.
Credit: Alex Haney on Unsplash

Let’s be honest—Christmas in New York isn’t complete without checking out this famous NYC Christmas tree. This year’s annual lighting ceremony will be held on December 4 and is free and open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis. The tree will remain lit and on display through January 17, 2020. The plaza is located between West 48th and 51st Streets and Fifth and Sixth Avenues .

If you’re looking for more seasonal festivities in Rockefeller Center, tickets are available for guided holiday tours and access to the Top of the Rock observation deck. And don’t forget—New York has many (many!) other tree lightings happening throughout the holiday season. For a full schedule of events, check out the NYC Parks and Recreation holiday lightings guide.

5. Tour New York’s famous holiday window displays

Viewing holiday window displays are one of our favorite things to do in NYC in December.
Credit: Lorie Shaull on Flickr

As you fill your itinerary with things to do in NYC at Christmas, you’d be remiss if you skipped out on this long-time favorite activity. Every year, Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, and more pull out all the stops to fill their windows with over-the-top Christmas scenes that delight every age. Are the window displays touristy? Well, yes. But the intricate details and mind-blowing imagination each one exhibits is not something to miss.

Not sure where to start? NY Curbed has you covered. Here’s their handy map to all the best holiday window displays in New York City.

With so many things to do in New York in December, it can be hard to know where to start. NYC is a magical place any time of year, but the Christmas season is really something special. PlacePass can help you find the perfect holiday tours and experiences, so you can make the most of your time during your stay.

Traveling to another city this holiday season? Check out our holiday activity guides in Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia.

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