Christmas in New York is something that almost everyone has on their bucket lists. It is truly a magical place to be at this time of year and ever since I was younger, I’ve always wanted to experience New York at Christmas and to live it just like Kevin McCallister from Home Alone 2.
Being here for the entire Christmas period and not just a short break means I get to see and do as many Christmassy things as New York has to offer. So I thought I would compile a list of the top five things to do in New York at Christmas time.
1. See the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall
A tradition that started back in 1933, the Radio City Rockettes have been around for a long time and every Christmas, they return to the stage to bring some Christmas cheer to the city.
It was amazing to see the inside of Radio City Music Hall for the first time as it’s such an iconic venue in New York and it was filled to the brim with santa hats – you even get one to keep as a souvenir. It starts off with a 3D fly over the city and some of the dance routines are world-class.
How they keep so in sync I will never know. Or master.
2. Walk down 5th Avenue
This is one of the top things to do at Christmas in New York. 5th Avenue has it all. Start at 52nd street and work your way down. You’ll pass the designer shops with their Christmas displays (Cartier won this year) and then come across Sak’s and its amazing light display. To catch the light display you’ll have to go when it’s dark.
Stand and gaze at the light show and as soon as it’s over, turn around and you’ll be faced with the Rockefeller Christmas tree and ice rink. Honestly, it really is as amazing as they say. It was definitely a ‘pinch-me’ moment when I saw it for the very first time. It’s still as amazing every time I go back – just expect the crowds of tourists that are all scrambling for that picture.
3. See a show on Broadway
To me, seeing a show in the theater is a very Christmas thing to do. Especially if it’s a pantomime or Christmas show. This Christmas season I got to see two shows on Broadway – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and Aladdin.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was mindblowing. I have no idea how they did any of the staging and I don’t want to know either as I don’t want the magic to be ruined. There may be no singing in it and I’m not usually one for plays but this is definitely a must see if you’re into Harry Potter or seeing shows on the West End/Broadway.
I won $30 tickets to Aladdin through the lottery on Broadway Direct in my first time entering. The seats were perfect and the show was brilliant. Try Broadway Direct for lotteries that will get you tickets for much cheaper than purchasing them at one of the ticket outlets in Times Square.
4. Ice skate and visit the Christmas markets
There is many an ice rink in New York City that I’ve seen, but not stepped foot on. I’ve never ice skated before and imagine that I would definitely be the ultimate Bambi on ice.
Head to Central Park where you’ll find two ice rinks, Rockefeller if you’re skilled enough and Bryant Park. Bryant Park is insanely busy, so not great for those that want to show off their figure skating talents. But while you’re at Bryant Park, you can take in the many market stalls and food tent – make sure to get the smores cone (if only for the ‘Gram).
Another spot for Christmas markets is Union Square that has an entire ring of markets in the park just across from Union Square station. The Oculus at World Trade Center also has a few stalls and a little Christmas grotto, but a little more on the expensive side.
5. See the lights in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn
This is one I had actually never heard of and may just be something to do if you’re a ‘New Yorker’, but if you have time, grab the subway over to Dyker Heights in Brooklyn to be blown away by the many Christmas lights that line the houses from 83rd-86th Street on 11th-13th Avenues.
Each house no doubt paying a small fortune to stay illuminated, there are so many amazing displays and it’s a way to get into the Christmas spirit if you aren’t already. It was -8 degrees out when we went, so it was bitter, bitter cold but it was an eye opener to see such large houses in Brooklyn and to get some motivation to earn a lot of money and one day be lighting your house up like a Christmas tree in years to come.
Just prepare to pay $5 for a hot chocolate because you’ll be cold enough to need one.
6. Listen to Christmas Carols in St. Patrick’s Cathedral
Throwing an extra one in since it’s Christmas and the season of giving. Probably the event that got me in the full Christmas spirit, I went to St. Patrick’s Cathedral during the week for the Christmas Carol evening.
I got there an hour before it started and just about got a seat, as 4,000 people attended. The music was festive, choral and very lovely.
Hearing Carol of the Bells in a New York cathedral was probably the most movie-like experience I’ve had here so far as it was just like a scene from Home Alone.