Are you looking for festive, fun, things to do in NYC at Christmas time? Here are some of my trusty- favorites!
If you’re visiting NYC during Christmas time, you’re so lucky! Christmas time is my absolute favorite time of year in NYC – and it’s so magical.
Another reason Christmas time is a great time to be in NYC… There are so many fun things to do in NYC during the festive season – and the city really comes alive. From amazing theater shows, to festive walks, caroling and festive restaurants.
I love it so much, and I know you will too. In this list, I’ve included all my favorite Christmassy things to do in NYC, and you’ll find things for every budget, and all kinds of interests!
But first… A quick tip before I get started.
Don’t forget to decorate your hotel room!
Whenever I’m visiting NYC for Christmas time, or during the festive season, I love to decorate my hotel room.
I hang up a couple of stockings, I take some tinsel, and it just makes the whole trip feel a little bit more magical.
I also take Christmassy pajamas too – because it always makes me smile when I get back from a busy day!
Now onto my list!
Rockefeller Christmas Tree
- Address: 45 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10111, United States
- Pricing: Free to walk around plaza
- Website: rockefellercenter.com/holidays/rockefeller-center-christmas-tree-lighting/
First on my list of things to do in NYC at Christmas, it’s seeing The Rockefeller Christmas Tree. This is a must-see when you’re spending Christmas in NYC, it’s in movies, books, TV shows – and it oozes Christmassy vibes.
It’s one of the most iconic trees in the city, and it’s one of those must-do sights, and must-get selfies!
It’s a beautiful sight to see, and it’s full of that festive magic that you’d expect from NYC during Christmas time. Oh, and if you want to know about the best Christmas trees in NYC, just click that link for my full list!
Tip: Head there early in morning, or later at night if you prefer to avoid crowds. This place gets very crowded, and I can’t overstate that enough.
Watch the Radio City Christmas Spectacular
- Address: 1260 6th Ave, New York, NY 10020, United States
- Pricing: Tickets start at $52 per person.
- Website: https://www.rockettes.com/christmas/calendar/
My next suggestion for things to do in NYC at Christmas, is watching the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. AKA, the Rockettes!
This famous festive show is extremely popular during Christmas in NYC and runs throughout the Christmas season. I’ve seen the show twice, and it has been amazing both times – a truly iconic NYC experience.
If you haven’t heard of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular before, it’s full of Christmas songs, carols, sketches and story-telling. And of course, dancing by the amazing Rockettes.
Ice Skating around the city
- Address: All over the city!
- Pricing: Mostly paid, but free in Bryant Park
Ice skating in NYC during Christmas time is one of those classic festive activities in the city.
You could iceskate in Central Park with the backdrop of skyscrapers, or you could ice-skate in Bryant Park (more of a Midtown location). There are also ice-rinks in Brooklyn, and Downtown too! Oh, and Rockefeller Plaza!
Ice-skating in NYC is festive, fun, romantic, and always tops people’s list of things to do in NYC for Christmas.
It’s a great activity to try out whilst spending Christmas in NYC, and it’s perfect for couples and families, and friends. It’s even a great activity for solo travelers looking for things to do in NYC during Christmas.
Read more about NYC at Christmas: 18 Christmas-themed restaurants in NYC! With festive decor!
Bryant Park Winter Village
My next suggestion for things to do in NYC during Christmas, is visiting the Bryant Park Winter Village. This amazing winter village is one of my favorite things to do when spending Christmas in NYC, and it’s also a perfect place to do some Christmas shopping too.
It’s a great little hub of winter-themed activities and stores, and you can easily spend a few hours or a whole day making the most of everything. There is a wonderful winter market (with lots of lovely independent stores), a small ice rink, and lots of lovely food stalls and eateries too.
And of course, their amazing, gigantic tree! I actually prefer this tree to the Rockefeller tree!
Watch an NFL game
- Address: 1 MetLife Stadium Dr, East Rutherford, NJ 07073, United States
- Pricing: Tickets start from around $80 (but it depends on the game and the seat)
- Website: https://www.metlifestadium.com/
If you didn’t know, the NFL season is in full swing during the festive months (November and December) and one of my favorite things to do when my husband and I are in NYC at this time of year, is go and watch a game.
There are two teams that play in NYC, and it’s super easy reaching the METlife stadium using public transport too (which makes it more appealing).
I know this isn’t Christmas-themed, but there’s something magical about watching big sporting events – especially around Christmas time! So this is my next recommendation!
Visit Summit One Vanderbilt
- Address: 45 E 42nd St, New York, NY 10017, United States
- Pricing: Tickets start at $42
- Website: https://summitov.com/
Next on my list of things to do in NYC at Christmas, it’s visiting an Observation deck… But not just any observation deck. I’m specifically recommending Summit One Vanderbilt.
There are so many observation decks in the city, but this one is my favorite at the moment, because it’s so unique and fun and immersive. And it’s mostly indoors too – which makes it ideal for the winter months.
Read more: What is the best observation deck in NYC?
People watch in Times Square
- Address: Times Square, Manhattan, NY 10036, USA
- Pricing: It’s totally free to walk around Times Square
- Website: https://www.timessquarenyc.org/
If it’s your first time in NYC, then you’re probably going to want to visit Times Square. It’s one of those iconic spots in the city, and everybody has to visit at least once.
I never plan to do much when we go into this part of the city – mainly because it’s so damn crowded – but it’s pretty fun to sit and people-watch.
So, people-watching in Times Square is my next suggestion for things to do in NYC at Christmas time. You’ll see so many people out and about, Christmas shopping, getting engaged, taking selfies – it’s so entertaining.
And Times Square itself will feels very festive too, so that’s an added bonus. If I were you, I’d grab a hot coffee, sit down and watch the chaos unfold.
Holiday Yacht Cruise with Jazz, Cocoa & Carols
- Address: Meet at Chelsea Piers, Pier 62
- Pricing: Approx $120 per person
- Website: getyourguide.com
Next on my list of things to do in NYC during Christmas, it’s the Holiday Yacht Cruise with Jazz, Cocoa & Carols.
You can’t really get more festive than this bout tour. It’s a yacht cruise, with amazing jazz music and hot cocoa, and festive carols.
The Holiday Yacht Cruise with Jazz, Cocoa & Carols is simply wonderful, and it’s such a memorable and happy experience to have in the city. If you were planning on doing a boat tour of the city anyway – why not pay a little extra and go on this one instead, and make the experience extra festive and fun.
Read more useful NYC recommendations: Top 22 group-friendly restaurants in NYC
Macy’s and Toys R Us
- Address: 151 W 34th St., New York, NY 10001, USA
- Pricing: Free to walk around
- Website: https://l.macys.com/new-york-ny
How could I write a list of things to do in NYC at Christmas without mentioning Macy’s and Toys R Us?
It’s one of the best department stores in the city – and they go all-out at Christmas time. Think big decorations, wonderful festive displays and lots of Christmassy gifts. You’ll also find the Toys R Us on the 7th floor of Macy’s – so you get to do a two-in-one.
My favorite place to explore is the top floor where they house all their Christmas decorations – it’s like a winter wonderland! This is really one of the most amazing things to do in NYC at Christmas, especially if you need to finish off some Christmas shopping, or if you need a festive souvenir.
Read more about visiting NYC at Christmas: What stores are open on Christmas Day in NYC?
Giant Christmas Ornaments
- Address: 1251 6th Ave, New York, NY 10020, United States
- Pricing: Free to admire!
Next up on my list of things to do in NYC for Christmas, it’s finding the city’s big Christmas ornaments.
You’ll find giant Christmas ornaments scattered along some of NYC’s most frequented streets, and taking some selfies with them is a great choice for things to do in NYC for Christmas.
The large vintage-style Christmas light bulbs in front of the McGraw-Hill building on 6th Avenue are some of the most iconic and most photographed.
Read more about NYC: The perfect one-day itinerary for Christmas in NYC
See the Hudson Yards holiday decorations
Next on my list of suggestions for Christmas things to do in NYC, is seeing the Hudson Yards decorations.
The Hudson yards neighborhood (and shopping mall) really put on a show at Christmas time, and it’s lovely to go and explore. Hudson Yards is walkable from Times Square (it’s located at between 10th and 12th Avenues and West 30th to West 34th Streets.)
This is a slightly less touristy Christmas-lights option in the city, so a good option if you’re less keen on crowds.
Visit FAO Schwarz
- Address: 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10111, United States
- Pricing: Free to look around
- Website: https://faoschwarz.com/
Next up on my list of things to do in NYC during Christmas, it’s visiting the famous FAO Schwarz toy store. There’s something super festive about visiting a toy store in NYC during Christmas time, and FAO Schwarz is one of the best in the city!
Even if you don’t have any gifts to buy for anyone, it’s still so fun to walk around, and discover all the cool gadgets and toys on sale here.
It’s always decorated super Christmassy too – which makes it a wonderful choice for Christmas things to do in NYC.
Read more about NYC: The 11 best toy stores in NYC
Visit all the posh hotel lobbies
- Address: Any luxury hotel!
- Pricing: Free! Just visit and look around.
OK, this one is a bit weird, but it’s personally one of my favorite things to do at Christmas time in NYC.
I just LOVE browsing all the luxury hotel lobbies and seeing all their festive decor and hotel decor. All the hotels will go out of their way to decorate for the festive season, and I love seeing how each hotel chooses to decorate and the kinds of trees they choose.
So, if you’re feeling a bit stuck one day, or you don’t fancy spending any more of your budget – this is such a great way to see lots of NYC, and see it through a festive lens too!
Hunt out the city’s (many) Christmas trees
- Address: Lots of locations around the city
- Pricing: Free to visit the city’s trees!
Next on my list of Christmassy things to do in NYC, it’s checking out the wonderful and magical Christmas trees in the city. There are so many – this is basically an entire day’s activity.
You could spend a festive day visiting all of the beautiful trees and snapping up some cute photos of them too! I love them all – but I think my favorite will always be the tree in Bryant Park.
You can read more about my favorite Christmas trees in NYC for ideas on where to visit!
Bronx Zoo Holiday Lights
- Address: 2300 Southern Blvd, Bronx, NY 10460, United States
- Pricing: Tickets start at $41.95
- Website: https://bronxzoo.com/holiday-lights
Next on my list of things to do in NYC for Christmas, it’s visiting The Bronx Zoo‘s Holiday Lights.
This is a must-visit for spending Christmas in NYC and it’s such a wonderful option for things to do in NYC for Christmas, especially with kids.
It’s a wonderful family-friendly activity, and you’ll see the park come to life with sparkling lights, festive vibes, holiday cheer and immersive displays.
There are also custom-designed animal lanterns and animated light shows to keep you entertained too.
Watch the Saks Fifth Avenue Holiday Light Show
- Address: 611 5th Ave, New York, NY 10022, United States
- Pricing: Free to watch
- Website: https://www.saksfifthavenue.com/
Another great choice for things to do in NYC at Christmas, is to watch the Saks Fifth Avenue Holiday Light Show.
The Watch the Saks Fifth Avenue Holiday Light Show is an external light show, that lights up Fifth Ave in the evenings. What I love about the Saks Fifth Avenue Holiday Light Show is that it’s free! Anyone can enjoy!
It’s next to the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, so you could watch this at a similar time to seeing the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center!
Read more NYC recommendations: Where to find the best hot chocolate in NYC… 20 locations!
Walk through Central Park in the snow
Next on my list of things to do in NYC during Christmas, it’s walking through Central Park in the snow!
If you’re lucky enough to get snowfall whilst spending Christmas in NYC, then you absolutely must take a stroll through Central Park in the freshly fallen snow!
There’s nowhere quite like Central Park in the snow, it’s wonderful and magical and such a wonderful choice for things to do in NYC during Christmas.
This is truly one of the best things to do in NYC during Christmas, and when the snow falls, there’s nowhere better to be than Central Park.
Read more: The best Central Park photo spots!
Columbus Circle Holiday Market
- Address: Columbus Cir &, Central Park S, New York, NY 10019, United States
- Pricing: Free to browse and walk around
- Website: https://www.centralpark.com/events/columbus-circle-holiday-market/
Next up on my list of things to do in NYC at Christmas it’s the Columbus Circle Holiday Market. This is another lovely holiday market worth paying a trip to if you’re spending Christmas in NYC.
It can be found at 59th street and Broadway, right at the entrance of Central Park. And it’s such a lovely choice for Christmas things to do in NYC.
It’s a great place to visit before or after exploring Central Park too, as it’s right next door!
Read more about Christmas in NYC: 17 restaurants for Christmas Eve Dinner in NYC
Dyker Heights Christmas Lights
- Address: Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, NY
- Pricing: Free to walk around, but ticketed if you do a tour
- Website: theworldandthensome.com/how-to-see-the-dyker-heights
The Dyker Heights neighborhood is next on my list. This is a selection of streets in Brooklyn, who compete each year to display the most wonderful, bright and festive lights on their houses.
There’s nowhere else like this in NYC, so we really recommend adding it to your list of things to do in NYC for Christmas. It’s pretty magical – and you won’t ever have seen anything like it before.
There are several easy-to-book tours too, so it’s never been easier to visit them and admire all the hard work! If you’re looking for an outdoors activity in the festive season, this is a top pick for things to do in NYC for Christmas.
Read our full guide about visiting the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights.
Take in a Broadway show
- Address: Plenty of shows and theaters across the city
- Pricing: Tickets usually start around $50 per person.
- Website: https://www.broadway.com/
How could I write a list about Christmas things to do in NYC, and not mention a Broadway show?
There’s nothing quite so festive as enjoying a Broadway show. If you’re spending Christmas in NYC, then I definitely recommend booking yourself tickets to enjoy one!
If you’re not sure which to go and see, take a read to my guide to broadway shows – it’ll help you pick the perfect one!
There’s just something lovely about getting dressed up, that feeling of anticipation and excitement when the curtains come up. It’s a great choice for Christmas things to do in NYC.
Tip! Instead of queuing up for cheap last-minute tickets, download the TodayTix app instead. Myself and friends have had so much success with their app! (To clarify: this isn’t sponsored at all – we just genuinely recommend them!).
Visit the year-round Christmas shop in Little Italy
- Address: 142 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10013, United States
- Pricing: Free to walk around and browse
- Website: https://christmasandcity.com/about-us/year-round-shop/new-york
Next on my list of things to do at Christmas in NYC, is visiting the famous all-year-round Christmas Store in Little Italy. I wrote a whole blog post about it here!
Now, I don’t know if Little Italy is worth visiting any other time of the year to be honest, but this place definitely makes it worth visiting during the festive season.
This store is 13,000 square foot in size (HUGE!) and it has Christmas ornaments, Christmas gifts, Christmas souvenirs – you name it!
Visit The Plaza Hotel
- Address: 768 5th Ave, New York, NY 10019, United States
- Pricing: Depends on room type, or which restaurant you dine at
- Website: https://www.theplazany.com/
Next up on my list of Christmas things to do in NYC, it’s visiting The Plaza Hotel. Now, it’s not like the Plaza is a ‘christmas destination’ so to speak, but it sure does feel like one.
Maybe because one of the best Christmas films (Home Alone 2!) is filmed in the Plaza? It just feels like a must-see place during the festive season.
Of course, you’ll fine lots of wonderful Christmas decor in the hotel, and Christmas trees – which makes it all the more special. It’s a great choice for things to do in NYC during Christmas.
Read more about December in NYC: Top 20 restaurants for New Year’s Eve dinner in NYC
Loreley Beer Garden
- Address: 7 Rivington St, New York, NY 10002, United States
- Pricing: Just pay for the drinks you order (no cover charge or admission charge)
- Website: https://www.loreleynyc.com/
Loreley Beer Garden is next up on my list of things to do in NYC during Christmas time and their festive heated winter wonderland is running from November 16th – January 7th.
This place is a festive-feeling, Christmas beer garden in the heart of NYC. Basically, after a long day of sightseeing, this is the place you want to head back to and enjoy some warming drinks.
These guys serve up amazing festive cocktails, and many of them are festive themed too – which I’m a big fan of. Warm, delicious, and tasty…. The bourbon hot chocolate has well and truly caught my eye!
Read more about NYC: 22 romantic anniversary ideas in NYC
Visit The Skylark
- Address: 200 W 39th St, New York, NY 10018, United States
- Pricing: Pay for the drinks you order (no cover charge)
- Website: https://www.theskylarknyc.com/
My next idea for things to do in NYC for Christmas? It’s visiting a rooftop bar for some festive cocktails!
NYC has so many amazing rooftop bars, but we really recommend the Skylark Bar in Midtown.
This place has killer views of the Empire State Building, an amazing DJ and a tasty cocktail menu.
It’s perfect for a Christmas themed night out in NYC and we think you’ll love it. Just be sure to get your booking in early, as it’s popular!
Watch the New York City Ballet at the Lincoln Centre
- Address: Lincoln Center Plaza, New York, NY 10023, United States
- Pricing: Tickets start at around $50.
- Website: https://lincolncenter.org/
Another wonderful choice for things to do in NYC at Christmas time, is watching the New York City Ballet at the Lincoln Centre. They also have a huge Christmas tree on display at Lincold Square too – so that’s another reason to visit!
There’s something super festive about visiting Lincoln Centre, especially if your visit includes watching the New York City Ballet.
It’s so magic! A great pick for feeling extra festive, and an opportunity to dress up fancy too! Which I abdolutely love (any excuse!).
Read more about NYC: 34 things to do in NYC when it rains
Eat somewhere delicious!
OK, so now you have an epic list of things to do in NYC during Christmas – you’ll want to make sure you’ve found some festive places to eat too!
So we’re finishing my list of things to do in NYC during Christmas with plenty of wonderful places to eat!
Here are some of my favorite places to eat in NYC at Christmas time!
- Quality Meats – This is a classic high-end steakhouse, but it’s cosy and warm and just oozes festive charm during the winter.
- Rolf’s – If you want to visit somewhere with amazing festive decorations, then you HAVE to go to Rolf’s. There’s nowhere quite like it!
- The NoMad Bar – Every year, The NoMad Bar do Christmas themed cocktails and turn their bar into a kind of winter cocktail wonderland. I think you’ll love it!
- Tavern On the Green – This classic bar in NYC is located in the heart of Central Park. It oozes festive loveliness in the winter, and it’s a proper little winter hideaway.
- Prince Street Pizza – Prince Street Pizza is an amazing pizza place located downtown. If you want something ‘grab and go’ this is IT! It’s my favorite pizza in the city, by far.