For many it is a dream to celebrate Christmas and New Years in the Big Apple, in fact each year about 5 million tourists come to New York to enjoy the magic that takes over the city from late November to mid-January.
As the Christmas season approaches, store showcases are transformed, winter takes over the streets, fans of the ice rinks dust off their skates while Christmas carols and lights take over the buildings; even the Empire State Building participates in the celebration by putting its lights in green, red and white. In fact, this a great opportunity to participate on a New York Christmas Lights Tour since you will be able to check the main locations without wasting your time.
But of course, the Christmas atmosphere is not only present in the Big Apple, in fact in each of the districts that make up New York there is something new to see, because as people from different cultures reside there, the celebrations are a mix of experiences, making this the perfect opportunity to take an excursion of contrasts through New York so that you can detail how Christmas and New Year are celebrated in different countries without having to leave the state.
If you are going to celebrate these holidays in New York in this 2021, below we share a list of important information and activities for you to enjoy without any problem.
Holidays in New York
For you to keep in mind, some days in December are holidays and most of the stores will be closed, so the information we bring next will help you to plan your next vacation in New York.
- December 25: New Yorkers usually spend Christmas as a family, so, in addition to being a holiday, the vast majority of restaurants and shops close, however Asian restaurants open as usual since they are not part of this celebration. In addition, while many stores close on this day, the markets, cinemas, observatories and skating rinks open their doors with limited hours, therefore the plan is reduced to walking through the city to see the windows and enjoy some rink skating or staying home for hot chocolate.
- December 31: The end of the year is not a holiday as such, even so, most stores close early so that their employees can celebrate with their families and be part of the festivities that the city has.
- January 1: A day of rest is always necessary to calm the spirits of the party from the day before. January 1 is a holiday but most of the attractions open normally, so if you don’t want to stay home, you can stroll around town or take part in the annual Polar Dip ritual, bathing in the icy waters of Coney Island.
Celebrate christmas in New York
The city offers plans for young and old, so let’s learn about some of the most fascinating activities to do during New York’s New Year’s Eve celebrations, and if you’re short on time, take a Christmas tour in New York to visit the most important places of the city in only one day.
Activities at the Rockefeller Center
To make things easier, we decided to mention everything you can do at Rockefeller Center during the Christmas season in one section.
Christmas tree lighting ceremony
This is one of the most famous trees in the United States and is installed each year in mid-November in Rockefeller Plaza to officially announce the arrival of Christmas. The tree is lit on the first Wednesday in December between 7:00 pm and 9:00 pm, the tradition is that it is lit on the wednesday that follows the Thanksgiving celebration and it remains standing until the first week of January. Normally to complete the ceremony there are concerts and performances that bring together hundreds of spectators.
This is one of the activities that is most related to Christmas and the Rockefeller Center one is, by far, the best known in the world. It has appeared in hundreds of movies and series making more and more of us want to hit a few slides there. Every year tourists and locals meet to do stunts, slide and even ask for marriage on this ice rink. It is also the first to open this season, access is until midnight and admission is paid, the price varies – and increases – as Christmas approaches.
The decor at Rockefeller Center is an icon during the holidays. In addition to the aforementioned tree, they decorate the square with angels playing trumpets, statues of nutcrackers, elves and everything lit by thousands of lights.
Activities in Bryant Park at the holidays
Bryant Park is a park that attracts attention because it is surrounded by skyscrapers and gives a little respite from the city’s characteristic runs. At Christmas this park dresses up with joy and here we will tell you what activities you can do.
Once again you can let yourself slide between the cold of the season in one of the busiest ice skating rinks in the city, perhaps the reason is because the entrance is free and you only have to pay for the skates rental, their price ranges are between the $ 18 and $ 33 depending on the day.
This is another of the most famous and beautiful Christmas trees in New York, so at the beginning of the festivities they do a whole ceremony, starting at 6:00 pm, next to the ice rink where shows, of music and skating, are also held.
Winter Village Flea Market
Small stalls are set up around the ice rink from the end of October to the beginning of January where you can buy all kinds of products, decorations and food alluding to Christmas.
Activities in Central Park during holidays
Central Park is not far behind with the Christmas atmosphere and the offer of activities to do.
Ice Skating – Wollman Rink
The lung of Manhattan is dressed in white and offers an amazing skating rink and with one of the most striking settings, the winter landscape that surrounds it is both beautiful and delicate. The track is open from mid-November to early April, to access it is best done through the southeast entrance of the park.
It is a market that is only installed during Christmas in one of the busiest entrances of the park. In addition, there you can live one of the most romantic experiences, tour the park in a horse-drawn carriage at night.
Shows not to be missed – Christmas in New York
One of the tourist spots that you will surely see on your next NYC Christmas Lights Tour is Washington Square Park, a place that is currently full of tourists and students from New York University, but which a few years ago was used as a cemetery. From 1791 to 1821, the yellow fever outbreak caused a high volume of deaths that led to the use of the park as a mass grave, where more than 20 thousand bodies of low-income people who could not afford a grave were buried.
The Rockettes have been entertaining all audiences with their choreography at Radio City Music Hall for more than 50 years, in fact it is one of the most desired shows on Broadway during the end of the year, so much so that they have been presented up to 5 times at the end of the year, for 7 days a week, during several consecutive weeks. They have also participated in the Macy’s parade and the Rockefeller Center lighting ceremony.
From the end of November to the beginning of January, luminous stages are installed on Randall’s Island commemorating Christmas and winter. Take a night walk through small villages and enjoy like a child.
In the Botanical Garden of the Bronx a train that runs through different scenes is installed. What is marvellous and unique about it is that it is made with natural elements such as stones, branches, leaves and others. You must book in advance on the garden’s website.
The best showcases in the city
There are those who take these dates seriously and take the time to create Christmas arrangements and adorn their showcases with great dedication. As soon as you take a Dyker Heights Christmas Tour you will see how more than 80% of the stores in the city are concerned with creating pieces of art that leave more than one astonished. These are some of the shop showcases that have attracted all the attention.
The store in charge of the Thanksgiving parade is the main character of Christmas in New York by kicking off the Christmas season with its parade and store lighting. Regardless of whether you go shopping or not, Macy’s is a mandatory Christmas stop to appreciate the wonderful decoration of its windows. Even inside its stores people crowd to leave a letter or sit on the legs of the most famous Santa Claus in the country, thanks to the movie “Miracle on 34th Street”.
Sacks Fifth Avenue
In addition to filling the entire store with lights, they project videos alluding to Christmas on its facade, here is a tip: The best place to watch the projections is from the Rockefeller Center promenade, thank us later.
Appreciate the lights on Fifth Avenue
Touring Downtown and Fifth Avenue to see the decorations is almost a must, especially if you love the Christmas atmosphere and everything that evokes these celebrations. This is a good occasion to surprise yourself with the originality and creativity with which they decorate streets and showcases.
Other stores like Bloomingdale’s, Tiffany & Co and Bergdorf Goodman also take this decorating issue very seriously.
Other spectacular decorations in New York
It is one of the most visited neighborhoods in Brooklyn during this time, as most of the neighbors worry about decorating every corner of their houses with lights and figures both inside and outside the house. The objective is to win a contest for the best decorated house, which is the reason why several of the residents hire professional decorators to take care of this work. In itself this is a very beautiful neighborhood, but the magnitude of the decorations makes it look even more beautiful, although it is a little far from Manhattan you can take a NYC Christmas Lights Tour in Dyker Heights and visit it because it is really worth it.
Radio City Hall
In addition to the Rockettes, Radio City Hall and the other buildings on Sixth Avenue adorn the streets with huge, gigantic, decorations that attract all eyes.
Grand Central Terminal
Inside the station they install a miniature train that travels through different stages of New York, the Holiday Train Show is a show for fans of trains and models. On the other hand, to escape the cold you can seek refuge in the Grand Central Holiday Fair where you will find a luxurious market full of handicrafts and other decorative elements.
Thanks to the multiculturalism that identifies this city, it is possible to enjoy different scenarios that are magical during the day, but even more so at night. As soon as you take a Dyker Heights Christmas Lights bus tour, you will fall in love with the diversity of the city and even want to stay longer.
What To Do At Christmas In New York?
The Big Apple and the other districts have plans everywhere, plans that start from the month of November to January, starting with the Thanksgiving Day by the famous Macy’s store, continuing with the turning on of the tree lights from Rockefeller Center to the iconic New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square. In addition, dozens of windows of the best shops in the city are filled with color to illuminate the commercial corridors, but also excursions like the Night Tours in NYC turn out to be the most wanted ones.
Every year, it is expected to welcome around 7,000,000 visitors from different destinations around the world, who hope to have the best experiences of each New Year’s season.
1. The Rockettes
Year after year the Radio City Rockettes dress up to dazzle adults and children with their performance of the Christmas Spectacular, a Broadway event held at Radio City Music Hall. This show is full of glitter, costumes, Christmas music, and perfectly timed dancing.
- Date: From November 8 to January 5
- Place: Radio City Music Hall
2. Illumination Of The Iconic Belmont Tree BID Arthur Avenue
In the district of the Bronx, you will be able to appreciate a neighborhood full of lights and food in the best Italian style, the little Italy is in the Belmont BID Arthur Avenue neighborhood where they, annually, light up one of the largest trees in the area, joined by Santa Claus and some good cookies with hot chocolate. This is one of the espectacles that you will see during the New York Christmas Lights Tour.
- Date: November 30
- Location: Belmont BID Arthur Avenue, Bronx
3. The Nutcracker
This renowned play can be seen in 3 versions and in 3 different districts:
- Queens dress up in magic at the Salzburg Puppet Theater in the Flushing neighborhood, with a handcrafted puppet show presenting The Nutcracker in a play for all ages. ( Date: December 4 – Place: Salzburg Puppet Theater)
- Manhattan brings this classic to life at Lincoln Center Plaza with choreography and music based on the work of George Balanchine. ( Date: From November 29 to January 21- Location: Lincoln Center Plaza)
- Brooklyn opens the doors of the Kings Theater to present a new version of The Nutcracker, representing the traditions and cultures of the melting pot of this district with characters and scenes typical of this classic. ( Date: December 14 – Location: Kings Theater)
4. Times Square At New Years
This is one of the most anticipated shows by hundreds of spectators who yearn to see the ball fall from the Waterford Crystal Times Square just minutes before midnight on December 31st. People come to wait for hours in this place, because everyone wants to have the best location but there are so many spectators that the place becomes totally crowded, however seeing the famous sphere of lights fall excites more than one.
- Date: December 31
- Place: Times Square
5. Thanksgiving With Macy’s
The famous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is a classic New York event that kicks off Christmas. In this event dozens of giant balloons parade through the main streets of Manhattan joined by floats with Broadway musicals and celebrities. Starting at 9 am, one of the most important events in the country begins, passing through 77th Street and Central Park West to 34th Street and Seventh Avenue.
- Date: November 28
- Location: Manhattan
6. Dyker Heights
It is one of the best decorated places in all of Brooklyn, a complex of huge houses that since 1986 have been decorated from floor to ceiling, with thousands of lights and Christmas decorations that will dazzle anyone. Every year a new owner joins the tradition, because the atmosphere is such that everyone goes out a little more for Christmas than when they arrived. To learn more about this plan read about Christmas in Dyker Heights or you could participate on a Christmas lights in NYC.
- Date: December 1-30
- Location: Dyker Heights, Brooklyn
7. Rockefeller Center Tree
Lighting the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center is quite a ceremony, as it is a tradition that has illuminated Rockefeller Plaza for more than 80 years. During the great ceremony, classic Christmas performances are performed with typical Christmas carols and musicals. It is also a perfectly romantic and emotional setting, because next to the tree there is an ice rink on which you can skate from October.
- Date: Confirmed annually
- Location: Manhattan
The list of plans goes on and on, New York offers activities for all tastes, budgets and for every day, in fact every corner of the city has something new to fall in love with and you can discover all this on a Dyker Heights Christmas Lights Tour in New York. Some of the events that you can enjoy these days are:
- Fireworks in Brooklyn to celebrate New Years.
- Enjoy the Lantern Festival on Staten Island.
- Walk through the illuminated Bronx Zoo.
- Train show in the Botanical Garden.
- Black Friday and Empire Outlet sales.
- Attractions at the Apollo Theater.
- Classic Twilight Tour of Staten Island.
- Illumination of the largest Menorah in the city.
- Presentation of the play “Scrooge’s Ghosts”.
Plan your trip and have the best Christmas of all, let yourself fall in love with the Christmas spirit, be part of a Dyker Heights Christmas Tour, take the time to visit each of the districts and enjoy their events. Make your hotel, transportation and excursion reservations in advance to guarantee availability.