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. Let’s find out about the Things to do in New York for Christmas.

It is by far one of the best time to visit New York 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. It 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 New York but if you really want to feel the magic read my little guide – Things to do in New York for Christmas.

Things to do in New York for Christmas.
View of Manhattan

Things to do in New York during Christmas

Visit 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 Christmas tree at Rockefeller Centre is a major celebration. It is lit up 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 ice rinks and can get very crowded.

Rockefeller Centre Christmas decorations
Rockefeller Centre Christmas decorations

Window Displays and Stores  in New York 

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. The dreamy holiday window displays of Manhattan and across the country start to get ready .

Macy’s at Herald Square

Macy’s 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 can’t miss a visit to Macy’s during Christmas.

Bloomingdales during Christmas

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.

Things to do in New York for Christmas.
Things to do in New York for Christmas.

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 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 – Things to do in New York for Christmas.

At the heart of Manhattan and home to some of the biggest names such as Tiffany, Trump Tower, Abercrombie & Fitch and the flagship Apple store is the Fifth Avenue. It is a must when visiting New York during Christmas.

A walk along Fifth Avenue can keep you occupied for hours and all the trees along the street are light up.

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 of NYC during Christmas

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.

Ice Skating at Central ParkThings to do in New York for Christmas.

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 than the Wollman Rink in Central Park. The rink is open all day and into Christmas night.

Home to some of the biggest Christmas blockbusters 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 ones. Enjoy the views of this iconic park draped in it’s festive attire. It is a must visit place during Christmas.

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.

Visit the Museum during Christmas in New York.

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.

Christmas Shopping in New York

You can’t 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 it’s just for that Christmas feel then Bloomingdales, Macy’s are the best places to visit.

All the big stores have something on offer but even if you are not looking to shop it is great for window-shopping.

Where to shop for Christmas deals in New york ? Outlet Malls near New York

There are two shopping outlets quite close to New York and a very popular with tourists all year round. 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 New Years Eve Celebration – Things to do in New York for Christmas.

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 Year’s 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.

New Years Eve at Times Square is truly worth the pain but an experience you will never forget.

My List of – Things to do in New York for Christmas.

  • 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.

                        ”Happy Holidays”

New York is a great place to visit all year round. Find out What’s New in new York 


  1. I can truly imagine appreciate why you used the term ‘magical’ in describing the atmosphere of New York City during the Christmas season. From everything I ever seen and heard, the entire city does such a wonderful job of all working together to celebrate the season and provide the best of Christmas cheer. I really do hope to get there one day to experience that magical time myself.

  2. I’m not a big shopper, which is the only thing that puts me off about visiting NY at Christmas, that a lot of the attraction for many seems to be the Christmas displays and decorations in and around many of the famous stores. But I’d love to do the ice skating and walk around the city when all festive like this!

    • Indeed something to do for everyone. If you not shopping 🛍 then the ice skating will keep you occupied

  3. I’ve never actually spent Christmas or NYE in New York, but can imagine it’s full on. The shopping is too tempting for me, because it’s never ending! I enjoy the window displays however, and would like to try the ice skating rinks too. The miniature buildings at the Botanical Gardens sound sweet!

  4. Thanks for sharing! NYC is also amazing in the autumn! It’s hard to have a favorite time to visit because there is something so awesome about each season! But yeah, Xmas in NYC is an amazing experience

  5. New York is beautiful in all seasons. Festive times are always great to visit a city which is full of vibrant life. I loved how streets of New York are dazzled with Christmas lights and brimming with full festive mood. It must be great to see all hotel lobbies are having bejeweled Christmas trees. Thanks for sharing all details about celebrating Christmas in New York.

  6. I absolutely adore the pictures in this post! Christmas in NYC has been something that I’ve been wanting to do ever since I say Home Alone 2. I want to skate in Rockefeller Center, watch the ball drop, and eat all the cupcakes at Magnolia Bakery. Everything you described just sounds perfect!

  7. New York City at Christmas is truly magical. I love to see all the trees lit up and window decorations at the stores. I like watching people ice skate (I have weak ankles!) while drinking hot chocolate. This is a perfect time of year to see all those iconic NYC sites – Serendipity is my favorite (though it isn’t really about Christmas). Fabulous suggestions!

  8. Wow! thanks for a sneak peek into New York’s Christmas. The city truly looks magical and that skyline is magnificent. Have seen it in so many movies but I want to see it with my eyes some day. This is a perfect guide. The walk along 5th avenue must be great fun i believe

  9. Your entire post reminded me of every Christmas movie I’ve ever watched haha. So many take place in NYC over the holidays. I dream of going ice skating at Rockefeller center and see all the window displays at the iconic stores. This looks like a magical holiday, indeed.

  10. I went to New York over the Christmas holidays a few years ago and it was such a fantastic experience! All those lights and decorations are truly beautiful and the city is surrounded by a super special atmosphere!

  11. I’ve been to NY before but I’m desperate to visit again at Christmas time, it looks so magical! I love how everything is lit up and all of the decorations in the stores, they really go to town! Love your list of must-dos. For me, The New Year’s Eve ball drop in Times Square is high on my bucket list!

  12. New York is a special city but Christmas in New York is so very magical. The window displays in all the shops, the lights, the ice skating. Everything is just so festive. Love all the great suggestions I had not thought about exploring all the decorated Hotel lobbies but that is a fabulous idea and also one that is free. Will need to do that next time I am in the city during the holidays.

  13. I have seen the Christmas atmosphere in New York in some of the movies and would agree that it does look magical. Looking at the pictures here, it seems majestic. Good to know that New York is never closed during this time. Saks Fifth Avenue is unique and not seen decoration like this anywhere. I would go with you that Times Square would be a perfect choice to end Christmas holidays or may be .. go on till New Year 🙂 Have been to New York a few times and now definitely would love to see the Christmas in New York when we plan next!

  14. NYC is indeed festive during the holidays! The touristy stuff is fun for sure for a first timer, but I’ve found the smaller Christmas markets to be my favorite thing to check out during the holidays in NYC. I love the overall vibe of the city during the holidays too – everyone tends to be a little happier and more friendly around the holidays. Glad you enjoyed your trip!

  15. Amazing!!! I only want to spend my Christmas in NYC and Berlin! You’re so blessed to be there and witness the icy cold NYC and stress-free people on the greatest time of the year! <3 have a great one!

  16. Its always been a goal of mine to see simon doonan’s window displays for Barney’s but i honestly dont think i could take the crowds!

  17. Its always been a goal of mine to see simon doonan’s window displays for Barney’s but i honestly dont think i could take the crowds! Detroit has similar interests for me that are just as captivating, on a smaller scale. Do there still serve hot dogs on the street in December?

  18. I was in New York recently for a week on holiday. It is such a big, busy and wonderfull part of the world. So much to see and do! I would love to see New York at Christmas time.

  19. I remember a friend who wanted to go to NYC during Christmas for skating in Rockefeller Center. Now I know why. It’s not for me, but I would like to stroll in Central Park and yes, like you said, hopefully it snows. Although I’m not into shopping, I will enjoy walking along Fifth Avenue just looking into the decorations and watching light display on Saks Ave will be a wonderful thing to do as well.

  20. All the buildings and streets looks so brabeauti during christmas time! Shopping there would be so tempting, I bet. I loved the look of the fifth avenue with the lights, like from a movie scene. Thank you so much for bringing up the Christmas spirit, can’t wait for making up the Christmas tree!

  21. I’ve only been to New York once many years ago and i’m planning on visiting in the next few years again. i love Christmas and i love New York to be there during the festive season would be amazing.

  22. I would love to visit New York before Christmas to see the lights, decorations and festivities! Skating would be top of my list! I think your top tips at the end were really useful.

  23. I’ve only been to NYC once, and believe it or not, it was right before the Christmas holiday. I wasn’t there for Christmas Day, but that would have been awesome. I agree – going ice skating in Rockefeller Center is a must-do. I’m also not a huge shopper, but seriously who can resist Macy’s at Christmas??

  24. These photos are incredible! Tiffanys! I’ve been to several, but the one in NYC is on my list. How beautiful is this place at Christmas?! You are right…you cannot go to New York and not get into the holiday spirit. I’ve always wanted to go there, and especially at Christmas time!

  25. New York is such a beautiful city and Christmas is an amazing festival. Needless to say, the combination had to be great. And that reflects in all your photographs. I have been to NYC a few times but never during Christmas. But now I know what I have missed. I would love to see that tree at the Rockefeller center and those decorations at the Saks Fifth Avenue.

  26. You are so right about it being a fairyland. I have heard so much about the Central park and the 5th avenue turning into a winter wonderland and with your pics, I see how true it is. You have been really lucky to have been able to see it. It is my dream to get there too during the festive season. Fingers crossed for it. Beautifully captured in words and pics

  27. Wow! It is indeed magical! I haven’t been to the USA yet, so thank you for this fabulous virtual tour.
    How is public transport on Christmas day in NY? In London, I was shocked to discover that its shut down!

  28. As of late, so many people I know have been bashing NYC, especially at Christmas time! Thank you for restoring my faith that NYC is fabulous all year round! I have yet to get their during the winter months, but I would definitely like to ice skate at the Rockefeller Center and see the fabulous displays at Macy’s.

  29. I am reminded of Home Alone as I scroll and read through the post and pictures. Fifth avenue looks beautiful and Newyork indeed looks majestic during Christmas.It indeed is a beautiful feeling to revel in the festive vibes of such a lovely city,

  30. I was lucky to spend Christmas in New York a couple of years ago and I can say it was such a wonderful experience. I agree with you that it’s magical and it one of the best places to choose. The decors are really pretty and spending an afternoon in Central Park is love. I can’t wait to back soon.

  31. I have been to New York but I definitely want to go back for Christmas to feel the magical vibe! Your photos look great! My dream would be skating at the Rockfeller. You said there are more around the city. Do you know where they are?

  32. NYC is the quintessential city for Christmas fun. It is pretty magical. I can’t wait to take my kids to the Radio City Music Hall show. And Rockefeller Center is a “must do” for sure. Love your fun photos. Thank you so much for sharing!

  33. As a native New Yorker, I loved reading this to get the impression of my city from a foreigner. I couldn’t agree more. There is something special about the energy of the city during Christmas. Instead of shutting down, more people are out and about and there are more activities than at any other time in the winter season!

  34. I couldn’t agree more with you. It is a helluva town… (as the famous song says).
    I’ve spent a few winters there as well as 2 Christmases. My only complaint is having to carry your coat and scarf and hat around when you go indoors as all the shops have the heating up too high.

    • It’s a great city and even better in the festive season. But if a pain carrying all that stuff no doubt.

  35. I love being in New York for Christmas, it’s a city that really comes alive over the festive season. I’d love hanging around Rockerfella centre with the iconic Christmas tree and the ice skating. Thanks for bringing back such great memories, I’d love to go again one year.

    • The city does look its best around the festive season and I would love to return as well.

Leave a Reply