OVER 30 Things to Do and See in NYC this December
There is much to do in New York City during the holidays, from visiting the Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Plaza to taking a stroll down Fifth Avenue to finding the best hot chocolate in Brooklyn. Or to browse local shops throughout NYC for the favorite people on your Holiday list. Today we are sharing our list of things to do and see in New York City this December.
NYC is a Holiday experience within itself, so go out there and enjoy every moment because we need good moments—magical moments that take us away from the messiness, stress, and anxiety that have become a part of our daily lives. Yes, it is temporary, but I believe if we take moments to find joy—if we look for JOY in our daily lives, we will see more moments of JOY and MAGIC that will outlast our Holiday fixes of the temporary.
So here is our guide to NYC during the Holidays. These are the best places to experience and fun things to do in NYC this December, and they are in no particular order.
Things to do and try in NYC this Holiday season.
Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Plaza
I believe the Holiday begins with the annual Christmas Tree lighting at Rockefeller Plaza in the heart of New York City.
The Tree will be lit daily from 6 AM to 12 AM.
On Christmas Day, the Tree is lit for 24 hours.
New Year’s Eve: 6 AM to 9 PM.
30 Rockefeller Plaza—New York
Ice Skating in New York City
Although I have not tried ice skating in NYC is one of the best winter activities—most rinks have been open since October. Here is our list of rinks to try. Bank of America’s Winter Village at Bryant Park, Rink at Rockefeller Center, IC Ice Rink and the Woolman in Central Park, Skate the Skyline at Pier 17, Abe Stark Ice Arena, LeFrak Center At Lakeside and World Ice Arena are some of New York City’s MUST-experience ice rinks.
Christmas Trees to visit.
The Botanical Garden in The Bronx. The NYBG features multiple Gorgeously lit trees and an impressive annual train show.
2900 Southern Boulevard—Bronx
The Wall Street Christmas Tree, which debuted in 1923.
11 Wall Street—Financial District
The Seaport District has a beautiful Christmas tree and cozy igloo restaurants on top of Pier 17.
175 Front Street—South Street Seaport
A Festive tree creates the backdrop of the Washington Square Arch. In addition, there is usually caroling around the Tree and a fantastic view of the Empire State Building and One World Trade Center.
Washington Square—Greenwich Village
Santa’s Secret Immersive Holiday Experience
Santa’s Secret Immersive Holiday Experience is a fabulous walk through a winter wonderland and into Santa’s secret speakeasy. The experience features Christmas-themed cocktails, a live band, and a variety show.
Thursdays–Saturdays: 6 PM and 9 PM
Sundays: 4 PM and 7 PM
Open on December 21, 25, and 28
Closed on Christmas Eve
20 Hudson Yards, 5th Floor—New York
Holiday Train Show at New York Botanical Garden
The Holiday Train show is worth the experience. At the enchanting New York Botanical Garden, the exhibit will showcase 175 New York landmarks.
Date and Hours:
November 19th through January 16th, 2023
10 AM to 6 PM
2900 Southern Boulevard—Bronx
Crystal Lake Ugly Sweater Party Hosted by MillerCoors and Maker’s Mark
To get into the Christmas spirit, Brooklyn’s beloved Crystal Lake will throw an ugly sweater Christmas party on December 13 from 7 PM until late. MillerCoors and Maker’s Mark will host the party; all patrons and partygoers who wear their best ugly sweaters will get a free beer upon arrival and have the chance to be entered in a raffle with surprise prizes.
Crystal Lake will also offer $6 Maker’s Mark shots and holiday-themed drinks. For more information, visit Crystal Lake Brooklyn’s website.
Lightscape: Brooklyn’s Winter Spectacular at Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Brooklyn features several excellent Christmas light displays at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, including the Lightscape. The after-dark light spectacular takes you down a one-mile pathway that is weaved through fifty-two acres of the landscape featuring one million shimmering bulbs.
990 Washington Avenue—Brooklyn
Isla & Co.
With locations in Midtown Manhattan at Hotel Hendricks and Williamsburg adjacent to the William Vale, Isla & Co is bringing the cheer with a CAN-NOT-MISS twelve days of Christmas unique beginning on December 12. The Aussie all-day cafe and restaurant will offer guests twelve East Coast Oysters plus a Specialty or Classic Cocktail like a Margarita or an Old Fashion for $12.00.
This seasonal Winer special offer is available at all Isla & Co. locations from opening until 6 PM, Monday through Sunday. To redeem this offer, guests can book their table via Resy.
Isla & Co., led by Parched Hospitality Group, is one of the many locations launched during their expansion, including restaurants in Midtown, Fairfield, a newly opened location in Dallas, and a soon-to-open spot in West Palm Beach.
107 N 12th Street—Williamsburg
25 W 38th Street—Midtown
Winter Wonderland at Apollo Theater
Winter Wonderland by Coca-Cola at the Apollo Theater. Under the twinkling lights of our famous marquee, the Apollo invites audiences to bring the family for holiday-themed activities, including picture taking with Santa, a book, a toy and food drive, and excellent performances. This event is hosted by the Apollo Theater’s Tour Director and Ambassador, Billy Mitchell.
Event Date: December 10, 2022
Event Time: 2 PM
253 W 125th Street—New York
The Holiday installment at ARTECHOUSE is a holiday event that opened on November 19 and will continue through January 8, 2023, at the Chelsea art center. A Christmas multiverse set up inside a 100-year-old Chelsea boiler room.
Tickets are priced from $17 to $25.
439 W 15th Street—New York
AirOtic Soirée: A Circus-Style Cabaret Dinner Show
AirOtic Soirée is an event in NYC that combines a circus dinner show with a cabaret.
605 W 48th Street—New York
Whiskey Wonderland at Great Jones Distilling Co.
The Great Jones Distilling Co is a speakeasy bar and restaurant with first-class bourbon; you can experience bourbon straight or as a cocktail. During winter, they host a Whiskey Wonderland every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday with matching cocktails, drinks, and snacks.
686 Broadway—New York
GingerBread Lane, the largest gingerbread village, is returning to Manhattan and will be on display at Essex Market from Saturday, November 26, through Sunday, January 15. Artist Jon Lovitch designed the detailed collection.
88 Essex Street—Manhattan
Holiday Nostalgia Rides
Every Sunday during the holiday New York Transit Museum brings the holiday nostalgia train ride back to life. Here is the schedule. Get your metro card ready.
Radio City Christmas Spectacular
The Radio City Christmas Spectacular should be a tradition of every New Yorker. Over 140 sensational dancers perform in the Christmas Spectacular. Ready with fabulous Sparkling costumes, unique set designs, and Christmas Carols. “The Rockettes” are the stars of the show, and they perform with Santa Claus and his elves.
From November through January, you can catch a performance of the Christmas show at Radio City Music Hall. There are up to three performances per day.
1260 6th Avenue—New York
Dyker Heights Christmas lights
The Dyker Heights lights extravaganza has been a tradition for more than thirty years, outfitted with magical lights and decor. The best lights are between the 11th and 14th Avenues.
Broadway Under The Stars
There is always magic in the air on Broadway. You will also feel it at The Shops at Columbus Circle this holiday season during the second annual Broadway Under The Stars; a free concert series held every Monday from November 13 to December 11. Current cast members of popular musicals will be on hand for special performances of the glittering version of the Great White Way on the second-floor mezzanine. Hum So humune and linger afterward for drinks or dinner—and, of course, a little holiday shopping inspired by Broadway’s top musicals.
The Shops at Columbus Circle
10 Columbus Circle—Manhattan
Candlelight Holiday Jazz and Soul Classics featuring Ella Fitzgerald
Candlelight concerts bring the magic of a live, multi-sensory musical experience to awe-inspiring locations like never seen before in New York City. Get your tickets now to discover Holiday themed jazz music at The Williamsburg Hotel under the gentle glow of candlelight.
December 21, 2022
6:30 PM and 9 PM
The Williamsburg Hotel
Visit FAO Schwarz in New York
FAO Schwarz is an excellent destination in NYC for the Holiday season for your children or the child in you. It is a beautiful place to experience the magic of the Holiday with a collection of unique toys and life-sized stuffed animals.
FAO Schwarz is the oldest toy store in the United States; make it a day by visiting the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center, then head to FOA Schwarz.
30 Rockefeller Plaza—New York
Winter Lantern Festival
The Winter Lantern Festival is back for a FOURTH year to transform SIUH Community Park [new venue] into an immersive world of light! This is one of four spectacular events the Winter Lantern Festival will host in New York. From October 21 through January 8, 2023, take a Journey To The East with friends and family to explore the wonders of over 1000 Chinese lanterns, all handmade by artisans with decades of dedication to their craft. Their lanterns and immersive light displays will light the night and bring warmth this holiday season.
SIUH Community Park
75 Richmond Terrace—Staten Island
Illuminate the Farm
Join the annual Winter Lantern Festival for the second year as we night the light and transform Queens County Farm into an immersive world of light. They have doubled the number of lanterns and lights compared to last year. From November 11 through January 8, 2023, enter and wander a unique, radiant oasis with friends and family as they ?????????? ??? ????.
Queens County Farm
73-73 Little Neck Parkway—Queens
The Santa Clauses’ Winter Wonderland
The Watermark at Pier 15 becomes the North Pole from November 15 through January 15. Inspired by Disney’s The Santa Clauses, the waterfront will be decked out in candy canes and gingerbread houses.
November 15, 2022, through January 15, 2023
78 South Street Pier 15—New York
Amaze Light Festival
Experience the Amaze Light Festival in Queens, where the magic comes to light. Amaze Light Festival welcomes everyone of every age to feel the spirit of the Holiday unfold in a universe of sparkle, music, food, dance, celebration, and wonder.
November 18th through January 8th 2023
41 Seaver Way—Queens
The Origami Holiday Tree
The Origami Tree returns. This year’s 13-foot tree theme is Beautiful Bugs, featuring specially created models inspired by the upcoming Susan and Peter J. Solomon Family Insectarium opening in Winter 2023 as part of the Museum’s new Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation.
Among the more than 1,000 origami pieces decorating the Tree will be intricately designed models of long-legged grasshoppers, brilliantly colored butterflies, and iridescent beetles, as well as those depicting iconic Museum, exhibits like the Blue Whale and Tyrannosaurus rex.
Produced in partnership with OrigamiUSA, the Origami Holiday Tree is delightfully decorated with hand-folded paper models created by local, national, and international origami artists.
November 21st through January 16th, 2023
American Museum of Natural History
200 Central Park West—Manhattan
Macy’s at Herald Square in Midtown Manhattan is hosting Santa from November through December.
November 25th through December 24th, 2022
Macy’s Herald Square
151 West 34th Street [8th floor]—Midtown
2023 NUMERAL ARRIVAL
It is almost 2023, and it is coming to Times Square. The iconic Times Square New Year’s Eve Numerals go up to the top of One Times Square and will light up when the Ball drops to mark the beginning of 2023. The seven-foot-tall numerals for “2023.” arrives in Times Square on December 20 and will remain there until the 23rd before moving to the top of One Times Square.
December 20th through December 23rd
11:00 AM to 11:59 PM
Broadway Plaza between 46-47 Street—Times Square
Lighting Largest Hanukkah Menorahs
The world’s giant Hanukkah menorah’s lighting occurs at sundown during the Jewish festival of lights. The lighting will take place at Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn and Grand Army Plaza in Midtown. Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn and Grand Army Plaza in Midtown compete for that title with their 32-foot-high, 4,000-pound steel menorahs. Lightings occur at different times throughout the week in both locations, so check the website. In Brooklyn, lightings accompany live music, hot latkes, and gifts for children.
NYE Wishing Wall
The NYE Wishing Wall tradition in Times Square happens every December in NYC. Write your wishes for the New Year on paper and drop them in the box provided. All the notes will become confetti fluttering as the ball drop just in time for New Year’s Eve.
December 1st through December 29th
11 AM to 8 PM
Broadway Plaza between 46-47 Street—Times Square
Gingerbread NYC: The Great Five Borough Bake-Off
Local bakers transformed gummy bears, Rice Krispies Treats, PEZ, Hershey’s Kisses, M&M, mini croissants, candy canes, and pounds of icing into realistic gingerbread renderings of New York City neighborhoods, and you view their creation at the Museum of the City of New York in Manhattan this holiday season.
The Museum’s first Gingerbread NYC: The Great Five Borough Bake-Off runs through Sunday, January 8, 2023.
1220 Fifth Ave at 103rd Street—East Harlem
Governors Island Winter Village
The Trust for Governors Island launched a Winter Village, a holiday season Must-Visit. It is back for a second year. The Winter Village will run through February 2023 with expanded public hours for winter-adjacent activities, food and drink, on-site games, fire pits, and a 7,500-square-foot skating rink for visitors of all ages.
Take a Stroll Down Fifth Avenue
Fifth Avenue is the epicenter of the Holidays in NYC—every shop along Fifth Avenue from 59th Street to 34th Street creates Holiday displays. Many of these stores spend up to one year planning their Holiday window display.
First stop at The Plaza, where you can indulge in high tea at the Palm Court inside The Plaza. Then make your way to these fabulous stores with unique Holiday windows Bergdorf Goodman, Cartier, Saks Fifth Avenue, et cetera.
Big Apple Circus: Dream Big
The Big Apple Circus invites you to experience the excitement of its dazzling newest extravaganza: “DREAM BIG.” Join them under the Big Top at Lincoln Center, where astonishing wonders and daring acrobatics set imaginations soaring to the most astounding, awe-inspiring heights. Get ready for incredible performances from King of the High Wire Nik Wallenda, comic daredevil Johnny Rockett, The Kiriku Brothers, aerialist Alan Silva, trapeze artist Elli Huber, juggling master Gena Cristiani, Veranica and Her Talented Dogs, and more.
Holly Jolly Holiday Bar at Mad Morton
Get into the holiday spirit with some festive spirits at the Holly Jolly Bar. The halls of Mad Morton will be decked from top to bottom, and you will feel like you just stepped into a Hallmark movie. $30 gets you 90 minutes of good vibes, entertainment, and cocktail. The event runs from November through January.
47 7th Avenue South—West Village
LuminoCity Holiday Lights Festival
This holiday season, an Immersive World of Magical Light installation comes to life at the LuminoCity Festival at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow, NY.
Historic Eisenhower Park in Long Island will transform into a magical world of lights through January 8. Walk through incredible, illuminated art installations with themes of Wildlife Safari, Dinosaur Adventures, Magic Kingdom, Alice’s Enchantment, Winter Wonderland, HolidayLAND, and more. With more than 17 acres to explore.
1899 Park Boulevard—East Meadow
Tinseltown: Where Everyday Is Christmas
Tinseltown is about celebrating Christmas. So there will be decked halls Santa, elves, presents, tinsel, festive tunes, and lots of winter warmer drinks, including a unique Christmas cocktail menu.
594 Amsterdam Avenue—New York
Shine Bright Only at Hudson Yards
Two million shimmering white lights illuminate the neighborhood featuring a 32-foot hot air balloon suspended inside The Shops. The annual Shine Bright event includes 115 miles of string lights, 725 evergreen trees dressed to create a gleaming forest, 16-foot tall illuminated hot air balloon decorations, and a massive 32-foot hot air balloon centerpiece suspended in The Great Room of The Shops.
Shine Bright runs through January 8.
Grab Hot Chocolate
And I have saved the best for last. Here are my favorite places to grab a hot chocolate.
Maman has ten locations throughout NYC [this is my favorite], which is gorgeous. From their flagship Soho location to their charming Bethesda space, each of their cafés reflects the unique character of the neighborhood they call home. From rustic exposed brick & toile wallpaper, lovely wooden farm tables, and signature blue and white china, there is no need to look far and wide.
For a location nearest to you, click here. There are loads of locations in Brooklyn.
Try Jacques Torres’s “Wicked” hot chocolate. It features pinches of ancho chili and chipotle powders.
107 East 42nd Street—Lexington Passage
66 Water Street—Dumbo
Dominique Ansel is the cronut creator and has now brought his innovative mind to hot chocolate. His “Blossoming Hot Chocolate” features a bud-shaped marshmallow that blooms when dropped in the beverage.
189 Spring Street—South Village
Visit the Standard East Village for a Haute Chocolate. This adult-friendly boozy chocolate beverage is the best.
25 Cooper Square—East Village
Happy December, Dahlings. Comment below and share your favorite things to do and see in NYC in December.