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A Guide to the Best Christmas Activities in NYC 2023

What’s even more enchanting than a white Christmas? Celebrating the holidays in the heart of New York City! Whether you’re a seasonal visitor or one of the fortunate locals, the Big Apple offers a wealth of festive experiences to enjoy.

From gliding across the ice at iconic venues like The Rink at Rockefeller Center and Winter Village at Bryant Park to immersing yourself in timeless traditions like watching the Radio City Rockettes perform, here’s your comprehensive handbook for savoring the Christmas season in New York.

Rockefeller Christmas Tree

Best christmas activities in NYC

Every Christmas, New York City’s Rockefeller Plaza is home to the iconic Rockefeller Christmas Tree – a visit to NYC during this magical season wouldn’t be complete without seeing it!

From its first installation in 1931, when it was only 20ft tall and made of wood, the tree has now grown to an impressive 75-90ft.

It’s a symbol of hope, celebration and love for millions who visit each year – the dazzling display of lights counts more than 30,000 in total and provides dazzling entertainment until early January!

George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker Dance Ballet

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Photo courtesy of New York City ballet

If you’re looking for a visit to the Big Apple with a festive twist this Christmas, there’s no better place to visit than the Upper West Side, where George Balanchine’s choreography for ‘The Nutcracker’ is currently being performed by New York City Ballet.

Set to Tchaikovsky’s work and featuring a growing tree that reaches an impressive forty feet high, it’s sure to be magical evening – plus you get to witness an onstage blizzard! It couldn’t possibly lose out in the ground-breaking theatre stakes, so visit New York City Ballet and enjoy some of Balanchine’s finest choreography this holiday season.

Visit Santa Claus at the Empire State

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Photo: Courtesy of the Empire State Building

Every year, Santa Claus makes a special stop at the Empire State Building in New York, famously known as “the city that never sleeps”.

At this beloved holiday event, he offers a new take on New York by providing travelers from around the world an alternative new york for christmas, one which brings peace and joy to families with just one visit.

He puts away his sunnies and replaces them with reading glasses as he takes pictures, listens to wishes and hangs out with friends new and old during what can only be described as a once-in-a-lifetime experience. All who come to visit will be sure to leave with a new appreciation for the holidays and all that it has to offer.

Ball drop at Times Square

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For those looking for some less traditional ways to celebrate NYE, head over to Times Square for its annual ball drop.

Even if it’s not your thing, it makes for a great people watching opportunity (just make sure you get there early!).

You can also find winter markets throughout the city where you can pick up unique gifts, one-of-a-kind souvenirs, and sample delicious food from around the world

Walk through Central Park

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Nowhere else can you catch such a timeless experience as walking through Central Park during Christmastime. Bundle up in your warmest winter jacket and take a stroll to see all of the holiday decorations along the way.

While you’re there check out the massive skating rink in the park and practice your skating skills. Don’t forget to snap a photo with the famous Bethesda Fountain, lit up in all of its holiday glory.

Window Shopping

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A Christmas market at the edge of Columbus Circle

One of the most essential activities for any NYC visitor should be window shopping. Luckily, stores throughout Manhattan put on creative displays that are works of art themselves and make even Scrooge get into the Christmas spirit.

Head over to Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy’s Herald Square, and Bergdorf Goodman to enjoy their holiday window displays. You can also check out one of the many christmas markets in NYC, including the special market in Columbus Circle, and sip on a warm cup of cider or gluhwein.

New York Botanical Garden

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Photo courtesy of NYC Botanical Gardens

The New York Botanical Garden is a must-see during the holiday season! With its abundance of twinkling lights, old-fashioned carousel, and hot chocolate stands, it offers everything you need to get into the Christmas spirit. Take a wander through the stunning winter wonderland as snowflakes flutter around you.

There’s nothing quite like embracing new york for christmas with a visit here – even Santa Claus himself was spotted there last year!

Radio City Music Hall

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Every Christmas new yorkers and tourists alike flock to Radio City Music Hall to see the spectacular tap-dancing extravaganza put on by the ever-amazing Radio City Rockettes.

Not only is it a great way to enjoy New York City at Christmas, but it’s also an unparalleled artistic experience that brings all the enchantment of the holiday season together in one place.

And who knows – if you listen closely enough, you might even be able to hear Santa checking his list twice out there!

No matter how you decide to spend your Christmas in New York City, it’s sure to be a festive and memorable experience! With this ultimate guide in tow, enjoy your time in the Big Apple and have a very merry Christmas!

Our Picks For Best Hotels to Stay in NYC

Pendry Manhattan West

Photos courtesy of Booking

This holiday season, New York City is the place to be and Pendry Manhattan West offers all of the festive vibes you need for a memorable vacation. With just a short drive to well-known attractions such as Madison Square Garden and the Empire State Building, this upscale hotel offers close proximity to some of the city’s most beloved sights as well as easy access to 34th Street–Hudson Yards Station and 34 St. – Penn Station.

Make this new year special by spoiling yourself with delicious meals from one of their two restaurants, while you get your new year’s fitness resolution off to a great start by visiting their 24 hour fitness center. Enjoy a new york christmas like no other at Pendry Manhattan West!

The Pierre, A Taj Hotel, New York


The Pierre, A Taj Hotel, New York is the perfect place to stay if you’re looking to explore the Big Apple this Christmas season. From deep-tissue massages and mani/pedis at the spa to new French delicacies that Perrine, one of the hotel’s two restaurants, has to offer; there is something for everyone.

It’s conveniently located just 3.2 miles from the airport and offers a shuttle service for a fee. There’s also lots of activities for those who want a more active vacation—work up a sweat in the 24-hour health club or fitness center. With its friendly staff and easy access to public transportation, The Pierre is an ideal choice for your new year getaway.

1 Hotel Central Park

Photo courtesy of Booking

If you’re looking for new york for christmas, look no further than 1 Hotel Central Park. Your holiday getaway will be extra luxurious with them – you’ll be just a 10-minute walk from Central Park and 5th Avenue! Plus, the onsite 24-hour fitness center is perfect for staying active during the festive season.

The wonderful staff is there to help out with anything that you may need and their restaurant is especially praised by fellow guests. Plus, to make it even easier, you can jump on public transport which is located just a short stroll away (you can see 57 St. Station in 3 minutes and 5 Av.-53 St. Station in 3 minutes). Sounds like fabulous new york christmas getaway? We think so too.

Hotel Barriere Fouquets New York

Photo courtesy of Booking

Hotel Barriere Fouquets New York is the perfect place to stay for a magical Christmas in the city! After getting there quickly with public transportation, either Canal St. Station (Varick St.) or Canal St. Station (W. Broadway), you’ll be in no-time soaking up the holiday spirit in one of the best hotels in NYC.

You can do anything from visiting the spa and enjoying deep-tissue massages, facials, or detox wraps to satisfying your appetite at Brasserie Fouquet’s New Y, one of their two restaurants that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. With its indoor pool and bar/lounge, it’s sure to be a memorable holiday season!

Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown

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Whether you’re visiting NYC for Christmas or coming to make new memories, Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown is an ideal choice. Just a short 3.8 mi (6.1 km) from the airport, and within walking distance of One World Trade Center and Battery Park, this luxurious hotel boasts its very own spa, a bar/lounge, an indoor pool and health club – no stay here will be anything less than comfortable.

Take your pick from international cuisine served at CUT, during lunch and dinner – or take advantage of the helpful staff and public transportation right outside the hotel door! Don’t just take our word for it – Four Seasons stands out as one of the top hotels in Manhattan year after year.

New York City is decked out in holiday cheer and offers something for everyone. From iconic landmarks like Times Square and Rockefeller Center to world-class shopping, there’s no shortage of activities or attractions to keep you occupied during your stay. So what are you waiting for? Book your trip to NYC today and enjoy a magical Christmas vacation.

**Please note that this post may contain affiliate links. When booking through one of our links, we earn a small kickback at no extra cost to you and it’s a big help to keep the site up and running.

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