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What To Do In New York In December

Revisit The Statue Of Liberty

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Located in the Lower Eastern region, the Statue of Liberty continues to be among the most sought-after activities in New York this time of year. Steeped way back in American history, it stands tall at 305 feet, brimming with eager tourists!

If you are looking for events on New Year and free things to do in New York during Christmas, hop on the Staten Island Ferry, from where you will be able to admire the statue free of cost.

While you are in the area, also plan a visit to Red Hook in Brooklyn, and board the widely-popular IKEA water taxi at Pier 11.

Go To Museums For Warmth

We spent a whole afternoon at the 9/11 Memorial Museum so much to see and so much to learn. It was so interesting to learn more about what happened, and how the survivors survived. There were 1000s of exhibits there from phone calls between the the plane passengers and their loved ones, to photos that had been made famous around the world and the symbolic Last Column of the trade centers.

Id definitely recommend going to this in New York. It was interesting to read about their version of events since too.

There are so many museums in New York that are great to seek warmth from the cold, but you might want to book in advance to make sure you get in, and go early too. December in NYC and the museums will be your saviour!

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.

Some of our top value picks near Central Park include:

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The Rink At Rockefeller Center

One of the most world-famous ice rinks is located right at the Rockefeller Center. Constructed in the 1930’s, the ice rink is very popular with tourists and visitors. If you are in NYC in December, be sure to walk by the Rockefeller Center and watch the people skate on this spectacular rink.

This skating rink is right underneath the Christmas tree and the bronze gilded statue of Prometheus.

A little further from the Christmas tree, there is a cute alley decorated with the wire-sculpted angel figures. Each herald angel holds six-foot-long brass trumpet:

Giant toy soldier at Rockefeller Center NYC:

See The Christmas Tree At Rockefeller Center

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The Christmas tree at the Rockefeller Center in Midtown Manhattan is one of the most quintessential NYC holiday attractions. For over 80 years, people to see the giant Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center.

The tree lighting ceremony occurs the Wednesday after Thanksgiving and is televised nationally. This event marks the official beginning of New Yorks Christmas season, and the tree stays up until January 6 of the new year.

If you want to witness the ceremony, be prepared for crowds, standing, and cold weather. Youll need to get there before 3 pm for the 7 pm event.

TIP: Alternatively, you can attend an exclusive tree lighting party and watch the event from a comfortable location. Tickets are hard to come by and expensive, but its definitely a good way to impress someone special!

Another popular holiday tradition is skating on the Rockefeller Centers ice rink. There are many shops and nearby restaurants to enjoy while you gaze up at the tree, a magnificent symbol of the season.

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Broadway Theaters & Times Square

Finally, no December visit to NYC is complete without watching a holiday Broadway show. Get yourselves tickets to shows, such as the Phantom of the Opera, Big Apple Circus, or How the Grinch Stole Christmas, among many others!

This post was originally published in December 2014. It was updated and republished in October 2019.

The Rockefeller Christmas Tree 5 Rockefeller Plaza Midtown

Is there a more iconic sight than the big New York Rockefeller Tree?

The Rockefeller Christmas Tree brings in tourists worldwide.

If you wanna see the giant Christmas tree all lit up in New York, youll need to visit between early December and early January.

The tree arrives in mid-November but isnt lit until early December. The exact date for New Yorks favorite tree lighting changes is always the Wednesday evening following Thanksgiving.

If you want to see the tree lighting in NYC this year, youll need to get there early the event is top-rated, and people come from all over to see it happen.

While youre there, take a spin around The Rink at Rockefeller to get right into the Christmas spirit!

Rockefeller itself is filled with shops, places to eat, and things to see, so when youre starting to get too cold, head indoors to check it out, you can even take a tour of Rockefeller to learn all about it.

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Visit Summit One Vanderbilt To Experience Air At Night During The Holidays

The worlds most immersive observatory, SUMMIT One Vanderbilt, is the place to be in NYC this holiday season. From the gasp-worthy light and sound show AIR at Night , to experiencing what its like to be in your own snow globe over 1,000 feet above NYC when it flurries, to cozying up with a cup of cocoa in the Après bar and café, you must add SUMMIT One Vanderbilt to your NYC holiday bucket list! Due to demand, hours have been extended for the holiday season. Sponsored

Take A Photo With Santa

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Before you go rushing to Macy’s Santaland for that “Santa’s lap” photo, why not compare prices, locations, and hours.

Our post, , will tell you where you can find the many Santa photo locations throughout New York City.

For sure your family will enjoy Macy’s Santaland regardless of getting a photo or not.

It’s located in the flagship Macy’s store in Herald Square, on 34th Street between Broadway and Seventh Avenue.

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Get Your Dose Of German Christmas Magic At Rolfs

If hearty Bavarian cuisine and over-the-top Christmas decorations are your thing, then Rolfs German Restaurant is the place to be this December in New York. Adorned with sparkling ornaments, cute antique dolls, and over 100,000 lights, this famed establishment in Gramercy Park becomes an attraction in and of itself during the holidays. Yes, the food is pricey and there may be a long line outside, but the magical, picture-perfect experience you get is more than worth the effort.

Celebrate Unsilent Night In Washington Square Park

If youre looking for an event that is a little more arty and quirky, then you may be keen to participate in New York Citys Unsilent Night, which is the brainchild of composer Phil Kline.

Participants usually meet at Washington Square arch, armed with a boombox or smartphone, and they all play four chosen tracks of music simultaneously while walking through the streets of the city. Unsilent Night usually lasts about 45 minutes and ends at Tompkins Square Park.

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Take Time For Shopping In New York

Shopping: the ultimate on the list of things to do in NYC in December, hey?

To manage expectations though, shopping in New York is no cheaper than in the UK. I think maybe once upon a time it was, but with the ££ being so low, not any more.

It didnt stop the window shopping though and as long as you treat every shop as a museum where you can look but dont touch youll be alright. And of course, being Christmas, some of the shop window displays were awesome.

The highlight of my shopping experiences was walking up Broadway with a hot cider from Union Square as there were so many pretty and unique shops to look at.

I also walked round Chelsea Market picking up a few presents as I went and I filled my basket in Century 21 with gifts for others, but mostly for myself. I actually had to buy a new bag to fit all my new possessions in.


Whether you like shopping or not, the window displays on the main streets of NYC are just magical.

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Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

37 Best Things To Do in New York in December

If skating isn’t your thing, Rockefeller Center Plaza is still worth checking out for its iconic Christmas tree scene. The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree is carefully selected each year among candidates from across the country, this world-famous tree is the best of the best.

Lights go on just after Thanksgiving, and the tree is available on display for all to see for the entire month. Its worth a visit to Rockefeller Center for even just a glimpse of this tree.

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Broadway Under The Stars 10 Columbus Circle Manhattan

Musical Theatre lovers looking for things to do in NYC in December can get a sneak peek of the best of the current Broadway season at Broadway Under the Stars.

The name is derived from 12 gigantic 14 foot colorfully lit stars hanging from the 100-foot ceiling at Time Warner Center that serves as the backdrop for the Broadway stars to perform.

If you visit The Shops at Columbus Circle on a Monday from late November to early December, youll get to listen to 2-3 songs from each show as well as a Q& A with the actors starting at 5 pm sharp.

Dyker Heights Christmas Lights

Dyker Heights, Brooklyn is not in Manhattan, but if you have extra time, I would definitely check out the Christmas lights here!

During December the homes of Dkyer Heights, Brooklyn go into a Christmas lights battle royal where each house goes above and beyond making the ultimate Christmas spectacle!

The best time to enjoy the Dyker Heights Christmas lights with fewer crowds is at the beginning of December, however, all the houses might not be lit up. For the best light show, mid-December is better, however, the crowds are much much larger!

The lights go on at Sundown and end around 10ish . For the best lights travel around 11th Ave. to 13th Ave. and from 83rd to 86th Street.

If you are traveling from NYC, you can take the R, N, and D trains. From there its about a 15-20 min walk from all 3 train stations to get to the lights.

The best way to get here is actually by car since it is usually very cold during this time of year. If you dont have a car, the next best option is to either rent a Zip Car or doing one of the many tours.

A Dyker Heights tour, of course, will be the most informative and know the best houses to bring you to!

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Plan An Evening At The Greens Pier 17

The Greens at Pier 17 is famous for its vibrant drinking and dining events in NYC. This year, however, it is offering a new experience with a socially distanced restaurant along with manicured lawns turned into tiny cozy cabins. It also includes a heated floor plan, a virtual fireplace, and tantalizing views of the East River Waterfront.

Dont forget to also sample Christmas cocktails and festive bites and at The Greens.

Visit One Of New York’s Best Rooftop Bars Event In The Wintertime

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A very small rooftop bar very close to Bryant Park with a nice view of the Empire State Building is the Refinery Rooftop from the Refinery Hotel. This two-story rooftop bar in Midtown isnt particularly large, but it certainly has its appeal due to the combination of location and quality of the cocktails.

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New York Botanical Gardens Holiday Train Show

Located in the Bronx, The New York Botanical Gardens is worth a visit to see the Holiday Train Show. 150 miniature New York City Landmarks span a half a mile track that are meticulously lit with bright lights as model trains move through the miniature city.

There are plenty of things to keep you busy at the gardens during the holiday season including performances, acapella groups, concerts and poetry readings.

Eataly Serra By Birreria 200 5th Avenue Manhattan

Eataly is a cultural institution in New York it is part restaurant, part wine bar, part home store, part grocery store, and all * chefs kiss* perfection.

On the rooftop of Eataly, youll find a SERRA by Birreria, a seasonally changing greenhouse restaurant that not only changes its decor to match the current season but also the entire food and drinks menu changes as well all inspired by the Italian Countryside.

In 2020 it was transformed into a winter woodland with dishes like wild-boar ragù, blistered dumpling squash filled with fontina or taleggio, and braised leeks drizzled with balsamic on the menu.

You could honestly spend an entire day here wandering and shopping in Eataly and having a long, luxurious Italian-style meal in SERRA by Birreria.

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Go On An Aerial Adventure With Riseny

Rediscover your favorite city from new heights at NYCs one-of-a-kind attraction opening on December 15th. This uplifting experience pairs a soaring theme park style ride with seven distinctly themed galleries that explore the most iconic aspects of NYC. See everything from a re-creation of NYCs first subway station at City Hall circa 1904, Madonnas custom Keith Haring jacket, to Central Park from a birds-eye view! Buy your tickets now to experience this exciting new attraction.Sponsored

Stroll Around Dyker Heights

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Witnessing the over-the-top Christmas lights decorations of Dyker Heights in Brooklyn is one of the top things to do in New York in December. Every year, the houses in this neighborhood are covered in lights, with life-size Santas, angels, snowmen, and giant nutcrackers, bows and sleighs. The Christmas lights tradition started in the 80s when Lucy Spata, an inhabitant of the neighborhood, decorated her house in her moms memory to carry on the tradition she had started.

Walking the streets of Dyker Heights is like entering a fairytale. Nowadays, many families participate in the tradition, which has even become a sort of unspoken competition between the homeowners. Some even dress up in Christmas characters to entertain visitors and other houses play Christmas carols through loudspeakers, making you feel like youre in the middle of Santa Clauss Village! Definitely a must see for all Christmas lovers out there.

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Hanukkah Celebrations And Menorah Lightings The Worlds Largest Menorah

Every year to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, public menorah lightings take place around the world. The worlds largest menorah is near Central Park. Standing 36 feet high outside the Plaza Hotel, this menorah lighting has been celebrated here annually for over 40 years.

Brooklyns largest menorah is only slightly smaller, 32 feet high. Standing at Grand Army Plaza, it has been a tradition for nearly 40 years. Every night during Hanukkah, children receive special gifts while thousands celebrate with live music and hot latkes for all.

Rink At Brookfield Place

The Rink at Brookfield Place is smaller but also less crowded. Situated on the waterfront terrace, it is a nice way to end a day spent at the shopping center.

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A post shared by The Rink at BFPL w G& P on Dec 19, 2015 at 7:27pm PST

If you want to know more about where to go ice-skating in New York, Time Out has a nice article listing the best ice rinks including indoor ones.

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Is New York Magical At Christmas

However, much closer to home is another winter wonderland that is absolutely magical at this time of year: New York City. Christmas in New York City is pretty amazing. From European inspired Christmas markets to lights, decorations, and window displays. Not to mention the décor in the hotels, bars, and restaurants.

Binge Satcs Reboot And Just Like That

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We couldnt help but wonderwhat could be a better holiday gift than the release of SATCs highly-anticipated reboot And Just Like That?! Coming to HBO Max on December 9th, prepare to catch up on all the goss of Carrie Bradshaws life that weve all been curious about. Its sure to be one fabulous adventure!

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Watch The New Years Eve Ball Drop In Times Square

Times Square is a constant spectacle, and even more so in December when its bright neon lights combine with seasonal magic to put passersby in a festive mood.

The season culminates with the world-famous New Years Eve ball drop when over 1 million people gather in Times Square to watch the spectacle and have a good time. Add a prevalence of live music and cultural performances along with balloons, confetti, and a stunning pyrotechnic display, and you have one of the best free things to do in New York City.

Otherwise, the areas bars and restaurants host various concerts and events throughout this time of year, and some of them even offer a view of the ball drop. Reservations are mandatory, though.

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