There is something special about Christmas but it’s truly magical when you experience it in New York. I have been lucky enough to spend Christmas in New York twice and must say it has been truly magical. It is by far one of the best times to visit the city whether you celebrate Christmas or not. The city is brimming with festivity, dressed in its best and a great time for everyone to enjoy and soak in the spirit of the festive season.
While many other towns across the country and the world may take a bit of a break, New York is never closed. Its is more on a holiday mode then shut-down so if you thinking of seeing closed doors then be rest assured this is not the case.
There are many things to do during the holiday season in this city but if you really want to feel the magic read my little guide to Christmas in New York.
Rockefeller Centre –
I couldn’t think of a Christmas in New York without the celebrations around the Rockefeller Centre. There is the large Christmas tree at the foot of the centre along with its famous ice skating rink which is a landmark event in the NYC calendar. The lighting of the tree itself is a major celebration in the city and is normally lit up until at the end of November. There are several ice skating options in New York during the holidays but the one at the Rockefeller Centre is one of the most popular and can get very crowded.
Window Displays and Stores –
Just after the thanksgiving holidays are over (which takes place in the last Thursday of November) New Yorkers start to get the feel of Christmas through the dreamy holiday window displays of Manhattan and across the country.
Macy’s in Herald Square shows of some of the best windows and the festivity carry on right through the store which inspires onlookers to get into the holiday spirit. The illuminated windows shine brightest at night, but they are as attractive in day light so if you are around the area you cant miss a visit to Macys during Christmas.
Bloomingdales – Another institution which ushers in the holiday season in great style and pomp. They normally partner up with some of the big film releases around the season and the windows reflect these in full glory. There have been instances when Swarovski crystals have been used to embellish outfits and props to make these windows the best the city has to offer.
Saks Fifth Avenue – Saks has always wowed its onlookers with the dazzle of its window displays and store decorations. To celebrate the 80th anniversary of Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs this year it has transformed all the fourteen windows that face Fifth Avenue into scenes from the beloved fairytale. Apart from that Saks put on a great light show on the facade of its building which is a great crowd puller and fun to watch for the entire family.
A walk along Fifth Avenue –
At the heart of Manhattan and home to Tiffany, Trump Tower, Abercrombie & Fitch and the flagship Apple store, Fifth Avenue is a must when visiting New York during Christmas. A walk through the street can keep you occupied for hours with all the trees along the street light up and most shops with offer and decorations.
Radio City Christmas Spectacular – Enjoy an evening with the high-kicking ladies of Rockettes at the annual Radio City Christmas Spectacular where they perform their famous “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers” as well as a variety of other numbers.
Visit the Skyscrapers –
New York is synonymous with skyscrapers and there is plenty on offer at the lobby of some of the most iconic ones. Visit the famous Empire State and get views of the city. Enjoy the festive decorations at the lobby of the Chrysler building. Have a hot chocolate at the coffee shop of the Trump Tower decorated with a large Christmas tree. Most of the famous buildings in New York have their lobbied basking in glory with the best Christmas decorations.
Central Park –
The perfect way to celebrate Christmas in New York would be a visit to the Central Park with the whole family. There is no better place to go ice skating then in the heart of Central Park at the Wollman Rink, which is open all day and into Christmas night. Home to some of the biggest Christmas block busters like Home Alone Central Park is the perfect place to feel Christmas in New York. Whether it is a quick trip to the Central Park Zoo or simply taking a relaxed walk with your loved one and enjoying the views of this iconic park draped in it’s festive attire this is a must visit place. It could only get more magical if it was a White Christmas.
There are several ice skating options in New York with the most popular ones being at Central Park, Bryant Park and the Rockefeller but you can choose the one that is right for you based on your location. Whilst the famous ones draw huge crowds and can get very busy there are some around the city which are relatively quieter and less pricey.
The Museums are another great place to experience Christmas in New York with decorations and ice skating outside the Natural History Museum. There are some great views from the Natural History museum overlooking the park and if you are lucky like I was you might just get that picture perfect shot with the snow.
You cant go wrong with shopping in New York and the best time to go would be around Christmas. If you are looking for great bargains then suggest try and visit in the last week of November and make the most of the Black Friday sales. But if its just for that Christmas feel then Bloomingdales, Macy’s and all the big stores are some of the best places to visit even if it is just window-shopping which can be great fun.
There are two shopping outlets quite close to New York and a very popular with tourists all year round. Both Jersey Gardens and Woodbury Common are great places to complete your Christmas shopping. Easily accessible by public transport and can be a full day outing if you are a shopaholic like me.
Times Square Celebration.
The heart of the Big Apple and the biggest party to finish your Year, there is no better place then Times Square to end your Christmas holidays. The New Year’s Eve ball drop in Times Square is a classic conclusion to ones holiday and one which was on my wish list. Times Square is a great place to visit through the year but with all the festivities around Christmas it only gets better. It’s lively and bustling with locals and tourists late into the night and my favourite place for people watching.
If you want to be part of the New Years Eve celebration then be ready for a long wait on Times Square as you need to take your place in the afternoon. Depending on the weather wrap up warm with several layers but its truly worth it and an experience you can never forget.
- Go ice skating at New York’s iconic rink at the Rockefeller Centre.
- Watch a Christmas movies in NYC (Miracle on 34th Street or Home Alone 2)
- Window shop at the extravagant window displays on Fifth Avenue.
- Enjoy the views of a Central Park in the snow if you lucky.
- Singh along to The Nutcracker, performed by the NYC Ballet since 1954.
- Explore the festive Hotel Lobbies of NYC.
- Soak in the atmosphere at the Winter Village at Bryant Park.
- Indulge yourself in the treats of the famous Magnolia Bakery.
- Take a ride on the Vintage Subway.
- Go people watching at the lively Times Square.
- Capture a view of the iconic NYC skyline from Brooklyn.
- Envy the gingerbread house at the William Poll on the Upper East Side.
- Enjoy the miniature New York Landmarks at the Botanical Gardens.
- Walk the famous Brooklyn bridge.
- Bring in the New Year with the famous Times Square Ball drop.
Whether you celebrate it or not Christmas in New York is truly Magical and as they say it in the Big Apple.