Insider Tips on Christmas in NYC

Christmas in New York City is magical. The Rockefeller Tree, glamorous store window displays and holiday lights everywhere you look bring the most amazing city and landmarks in the world to a whole new level.

Christmas in NYC Events & Things to Do

  • Special Christmas Holiday NYC Tours
  • Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting
  • Rockettes Radio City Christmas Spectacular
  • New York City Holiday Lights Tours
  • Cocoa & Carols Holiday Cruise
  • Holiday Cruise with Santa Claus
  • Cirque du Soleil ‘Twas the Night Before
  • The RIDE Holiday Bus Tour
  • NY Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show
  • Central Park Holiday Tree Lighting
  • Bryant Park Holiday Tree Lighting
  • Annual Winter’s Eve at Lincoln Square

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Special Christmas Holiday NYC Tours

All year round, New York City offers fabulous tours of all kinds, but there is nothing on the planet like New York City during the winter holidays, when the entire City just sparkles.

These special tours are offered on Christmas Eve and/or Day.

New York City Holiday Lights Tour

Special Holiday Tours Open on Christmas Eve and/or Day

More Holiday NYC Tours

Holiday Cruises

Cocoa & Carols Holiday Cruise

NYC Insider Pick
Price starting at US$62
View details

Statue & Skyline Holiday Cocoa Cruise

NYC Insider Pick
Price starting at US$48
View details

Sunset & Holiday Cocoa Cruise

Price starting at US$72
View details

Best of NYC Holiday Tours

Viator - Dec 8, 2021 - Jan 7, 2022, take 10% off Viator (max $30 discount). Use code "HOLIDAY10" on most of the tours listed below.

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Holiday and Christmas Cruise Specials

NYC Insider Best Sellers every Holiday Season!!!! Classic Harbor cruises has some holiday treats just for YOU!!! Their upscale cruise line offers dozens of NYC Holiday Cruises, like Cocoa & Carols, Holiday Jazz, Holiday Brunch, Holiday Wine Tasting, New Year's and many more, all year round.

These cruises SELL OUT QUICKLY, so make sure to head over to: Classic Harbor Holiday Cruises to book your sail around Manhattan.

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Where to Stay in New York City in December

December is the perfect time to watch the world's most famous ball drop at midnight from your own New Year's Eve NYC Hotel, check into one of our hotels near Rockefeller Center (Rockettes at Radio City, Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, Ice Skating) or near Central Park for more iconic Ice Skating.

Best Hotels Near Rockefeller Center

Some of our top value picks near Rockefeller Center include:

Hotels Near Rockefeller Center

See the Insider Guide for dozens more Hotels Near Rockefeller Center. Rockefeller Center runs from 47th - 50th Streets, between 5th and 6th Aves. Download our free neighborhood maps at Midtown East Hotels and Midtown West Hotels

Best New Years Eve NYC Hotels

If watching the world's most famous ball drop at midnight from your own New Year's Eve NYC Hotel is on your bucket list, then don't miss your chance to reserve a special NYE package in NYC. Some of our favorites include:

Best New Years Eve NYC Hotels

  • New York Marriott Marquis - rooms with Ball Drop views, multiple parties in hotel
  • M Social New York - new in 2021 with bar and lounge right above Times Square with perfect vantage point for the Ball Drop
  • The Knickerbocker (photo) - St. Cloud rooftop bar "New York, New Year's Eve, Times Square, private party on roof top where you can watch the ball drop 180 feet away - what else could you ask for?"

See More: Best New Years Eve NYC Hotels

Central Park NY Hotels

These are NYC Insider hand picked hotels that are not just "near" Central Park, as most NYC hotels claim to be...but on the Park itself, either Central Park South, Central Park West or Fifth Ave. Many other hotels are nearby, or within a few blocks, but these are the closest, and all offer Park views from select rooms.

Central Park NY Hotels

Some of our top value picks near Central Park include:

See the Insider Guide for dozens more Central Park NY Hotels and download our free Central Park map at Central Park NY Guide

NYC Hotels Best Holiday Decorations

Ready to have your own private winter wonderland during your NYC stay? Holiday Trees, Twinkling Lights, Santa's Mailbox, Menorahs and more.

NYC Hotels Best Holiday Decorations

  • Lotte New York Palace - “Beautifully decorated for the holiday season” (photo)
  • The Peninsula Hotel - Nights Before Christmas Package & Holly Jolly New York Holiday Package + their amazing rooftop
  • Club Wyndham Midtown 45 - The "Elf" Suite inspired by the classic holiday film is like “Sleeping inside a Christmas card”

See More: NYC Hotels Best Holiday Decorations

New York City Christmas Eve & Day Dinner Cruise

NYC Christmas Eve Dinner Cruise

  • 2021 Circle Line Christmas Eve Dinner Cruise (7-9:30pm) – This family-friendly cruises offers a buffet dinner, standard open bar, beer and wine, while an onboard DJ plays favorite holiday hits all night. There’s no better place to enjoy Christmas Eve than a spectacular view of the most beautiful city in the world, painted in holiday colors. Get your tickets today! Seats are limited.
  • 2021 Bateaux New York Christmas Eve Premier Dinner Cruise (7-10pm) – Celebrate the holidays in style on this 3-hour European-inspired Bateaux cruise on the Hudson River. See the New York City skyline sparkle at night from panoramic views aboard your all-glass ship while enjoying a gourmet 3-course dinner and live music.
  • 2021 New York Christmas Eve Signature Buffet Dinner Cruise (7-10 pm) – Celebrate Christmas Eve in New York City aboard a three-hour dinner cruise across New York Harbor. You’ll have spectacular views of Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty, and the Brooklyn Bridge as you dine and dance on the water, enjoying a special Christmas buffet and a luscious spread of desserts.
  • 2021 New York Christmas Day Signature Dinner Cruise – (7-9:30) Bring the magic of the season to life with a dinner cruise departing from New York. With cruises featuring festive décor and a delicious meal, celebrating Christmas Day on the East and Hudson Rivers with your friends and family will keep your holiday merry and bright!
  • 2021 Bateaux New York Christmas Eve Premier Lunch Cruise – (12-2pm) With cruises featuring festive décor and a delicious meal, celebrating Christmas on the East and Hudson Rivers with your friends and family will keep your holiday merry and bright!

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Project Scene NYC Christmas Pop Up

Project Scene NYC Christmas Pop Up

December 22 (1-9pm) December 23 & 24 (10am-9pm) December 25 (12-6pm)
208 Bowery New York, NY 10012

Join us this Holiday and explore our Christmas Pop Up! We will have fun activities for you to express your creativity through interactive photo experiences, decorating your own ornaments, writing letters to Santa, games, fun props with which to take photos and giveaways! More Info: Project Scene NYC, IG & FB: Projectscenenyc.

At the crossroads of art and interactive photo experience, comes Project Scene NYC. We create different scenes to bring a new, innovative experience aimed at stimulating the senses and building human connections. This harmonious blend focuses on capturing precious moments of joy and excitement.

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Christmas in New York City Open Attractions

Christmas in New York City

Many New York City Tourist Attractions are open 365 days per year, although some with limited hours.

Christmas Day may be a great day to try and see some of the more popular attractions as many people will be celebrating the holiday

Christmas in New York City – Open Attractions

Download our NYC Holiday Hours Cheat Sheet

Wondering what's open on Thanksgiving or How to Spend Christmas in New York? Which attractions are open late and what days they are closed? We put together this awesome NYC Holidays and Hours Cheat Sheet for you. You can download it free just by giving us a share! Keep in mind, schedules are subject to change, so you should always check in advance, but this chart is current as of November 2021.

NYC Holiday Hours Cheat Sheet

See Also : Christmas in New York City – Closed Attractions

Which is the BEST New York City Discount Pass?

Christmas in New York City is a great time to visit the 9-11 Memorial and Museum, Empire State Building, Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, take a New York City Bus Tour and much more! The New York City Pass Discounts are a GREAT way to save if you plan on seeing a lot of attractions in a short time!

Save with a New York City Attractions Pass

Want to find the BEST NYC Attractions Pass for your trip? Compare All NYC Passes - Download our FREE side by side Comparison Chart.

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Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting 2021

Rockefeller Christmas Tree Lighting 2021

Dec 1, 2021 - Jan 16, 2022 (Confirmed Dates)
Ceremony, 7-9 pm

The Rockefeller Christmas Tree Lighting is a highlight of every winter in NYC. The unlit tree arrives in November, and after Black Friday and Thanksgiving, the department stores open their famous window holiday displays.But, it is the week after Thanksgiving that represents the true start of Holiday Season in NYC for many New Yorkers.

Check the full NYC Insider Guide to the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting and these December 1st, Exclusive Insider’s Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting Gala (General Admission) or Private Tree Lighting Ceremony Dinner Gala (Private VIP Table). Only book for Dec 1, do not book any other dates.

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Christmas Shows in New York City

Christmas is a great day to find excellent tickets for a Broadway or Off Broadway show in New York City! Broadway and other NYC shows are hit or miss on Christmas. In prior years, some Broadway Shows have performed, the Rockettes always have multiple shows and other shows are open around the city.

Christmas Shows:

Christmas Shows in New York City Schedule

Christmas Eve Shows in NYC

Christmas Day Shows in NYC

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Christmas Spectacular Starring the Rockettes 2021 - Closed Early

Radio City Christmas with Rockettes

November 5, 2021 - December 17, 2021 (Originally January 2, 2022)
Daily @ 11am, 2pm, 5pm, 8pm (some variations)

With up to 5 shows per day on weekends, the Rockettes are a tradition during the NYC Holiday Season for more than 75 years. Don’t miss the signature eye-high kicks, precision choreography and exciting, show-stopping numbers – including one with Santa.

Rockettes Tour Packages

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Christmas Basketball!

New York Knicks Symbol

NY Knicks vs Atlanta Hawks
December 25, 2021, 12:00pm @ MSG

Watching the Knicks at MSG on Christmas Day (or sometimes Christmas Eve) is a really fun NY Tradition! The game always has a great crowd, awesome food choices and some holiday fun for those who participate!

Knicks MSG Schedule

New York Knicks Tickets

No matter how they are performing, Knicks games are always a blast and there's nothing like an event at MSG. Come join our NY basketball team live in action at Madison Square Garden, "The World’s Most Famous Arena." Go NYC style with cheap seats, fast paced sports action, hot dogs and beer and cheer on the New York Knicks today! As a general rule, with plenty of exceptions, basketball games start at either 7:30pm or 12:00pm, November through April.

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NYC Store Holiday Window Displays

NYC Store Holiday Window Displays

Mid-November through Dec/Jan

NYC’s famous and smaller store windows during the holidays are a must-see! Most stores reveal their displays in mid-November, the week before Thanksgiving and some of the best windows are Barney’s, Bergdorf Goodman, Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Tiffany & Co., but there are plenty more all around the city.

You can check this great list of NYC themed holiday windows, explore them with a guided Holiday Lights Tours or check out this New York Holiday Markets and Christmas Lights Tour

Holiday Markets in NYC

Holiday Markets in NYC

Explore the top holiday markets in NYC, sip hot cocoa, ice skate and shop your way through our fantastic holiday bazaars, featuring unique artisan gifts for the whole family. We review Grand Central Holiday Market, Union Square Holiday Market, Shops at Winter Village Bryant Park, flea markets, Holiday Markets Shopping Tours and more. Cross off your holiday shopping list with our full season Guide to Holiday Markets in NYC

  • Holiday Shops at Bryant Park - October 29, 2021 – January 2, 2022
  • Grand Central Holiday Fair - November 15 - December 24, 2021
  • Union Square Holiday Market - November 18 - December 24, 2021
  • Columbus Circle Holiday Market - November 27 - December 24, 2021

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Macy’s Santaland NYC

Where to see Santa in NYC

November 26 – December 24, 2021 (7am-9pm, hours vary)
Online Reservations Open November 2021
Macy’s 34th Street, 8th Floor

Santa kicks off the holiday season the day after the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and gladly welcomes your children for a photo opp through Christmas Eve. Santaland is home to a 13,000-square-foot Christmas Village, which is like an amusement park ride or tour – there’s no quick way through it and you’ll have to go with the crowds. However, new in 2019, offers a Santa Express Lane Pass on weekends. You’ll still be waiting a while, but it’s a local and tourist favorite during the holiday season.

More Info: Macy’s Santaland

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Annual Winter’s Eve at Lincoln Square

2021 Update: "We are planning a new and different holiday celebration by offering the community and visitors a month-long series of smaller pop-up family friendly performances and activations for everyone to enjoy. Although we are bringing back a holiday tree at Dante Park, a large tree lighting celebration will remain on pause. "

Annual Winter’s Eve at Lincoln Square

December TBD, 2021

Winter’s Eve kicks off with a neighborhood tree lighting ceremony and features free entertainment, food tastings, in-store activities and shopping around and about this colorful and vibrant neighborhood.

Stores, restaurants, cultural organizations and public spaces in the district will be buzzing with activities for both children and adults. At the same time, sidewalks along Broadway from Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle to 68th Street will be alive with performers, street musicians, jugglers, stilt-walkers and more, making for a festive fun-filled stroll through the streets of this dynamic Upper West Side neighborhood. More on Annual Winter’s Eve at Lincoln Square.

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Bryant Park Christmas Tree Lighting

Bryant Park Christmas Tree Lighting

December 6, 2021, 6:00pm–7:00pm

Winter Village at Bryant Park will kick off the holiday season with a live countdown and ceremonious lighting of its iconic Holiday Tree. The 50-foot tree has more than 3,000 ornaments and tens of thousands of lights. Don’t forget to browse through the amazing Bryant Park Holiday gift fair and take a spin on their FREE Ice Rink.

  • Host Ty Jones
  • Christmas choir by Classical Theatre of Harlem
  • Performances by world-class skaters Mirai Nagasu, pairs team Meagan Duhamel and Dylan Moskovitch, Shawn Sawyer, and The Haydenettes
  • Plus, fireworks, Santa, and special guests!
  • The in-person event is free and open to the public, but advance registration is required.

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Central Park Holiday Lighting

Central Park Holiday Lighting

December 2, 2021
Charles A. Dana Discovery Center, inside the Park at 110th Street between Fifth and Lenox Avenues
5:30 – 6:30 – Photos with Santa
6:00 – 6:30 – Caroling and Lighting Ceremony

Celebrate the season at the 25th Annual Holiday Lighting in Central Park. Meet Santa and friends, sing carols on the Plaza, and take part in other seasonal festivities. The event concludes with lighting a flotilla of trees on the Harlem Meer.

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Christmas Holiday Tours Dyker Heights Brooklyn

Christmas Holiday Walking Tour in NYC

There are dozens of walking and bus tours that highlight the festive homes of Dyker Heights, the Italian-American section of Brooklyn made famous in the PBS documentary “Dyker Lights” and seen on TLC’s “Crazy Christmas Lights.” You’ll also visit the festive homes in the Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst sections of Brooklyn.

More Info: Brooklyn Christmas Lights Tour

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Christmas Dinner in New York City

Christmas Dinner in New York City

Some restaurants are open on Christmas in New York City, though not nearly as many as on Thanksgiving. Open restaurants post their Christmas Menus and begin accepting online reservations for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in late October or early November.

Many restaurants in Little Italy and Chinatown are open as well, though some may not serve traditional Christmas Dinner. More NYC Christmas Dinners.

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Christmas in New York City – Ice Skating

Ice Skating New York City | Rockefeller Center

For tourists and locals alike, ice skating at Central Park, Rockefeller Center and Bryant Park is a classic New York winter experience.

We also have several other Ice Skating Rinks around the city and outer boroughs.

Here are the details for Ice Skating in New York City, including rates and dates plus NYC Insider Tips for discounts and coupons.

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Christmas in New York City Photos

Christmas in New York City

Christmas in New York City Stock Exchange Christmas in New York City Saks Fifth Avenue Holidays in New York City Central Park Christmas in New York City Rockefeller Center Christmas in New York City Midtown Lights

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More Christmas in New York City Events Coming Soon

Christmas in New York City
Christmas in New York

Christmas in New York City – Closed Attractions

  • Statue of Liberty (Open Thanksgiving)
  • New York Botanical Garden Train Show (closed Thanksgiving and Christmas)
  • Guggenheim Museum (closed Thanksgiving, and Christmas )
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art (Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Jan 1st)
  • Museum of Modern Art (Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas)
  • Whitney Museum (Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day)
  • American Museum of Natural History (Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas)
  • Ground Zero Museum Workshop (closed Thanksgiving and Christmas)
  • Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum (Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas)

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