There is no place quite like New York City in December. The city is full of life, lights, and is sure to put you in the holiday spirit! I visit NYC frequently, so I compiled a New York City in December guide featuring can’t miss sights and experiences in the city during the holidays!
Disclaimer: This blog post was originally published in December 2018 and was updated in December 2021 for relevancy.
Browse the Christmas Markets at Bryant Park
My number one recommendation for New York City in December! Head over to Bryant Park on 5thAve for some Christmas market fun. Each winter there are several pop-up shops that sell homemade goods and treats. There is also an ice skating rink in Bryant Park that is cheaper and less crowded than the one in Rockefeller.
Shop in Times Square
Although this area is always swarmed with tourists, it’s an iconic NYC destination and has great stores for Christmas shopping. I was able to score some great deals on gifts while here and also enjoyed visiting M&M World to look at all their holiday goodies!
See the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall
Seeing Radio City Music Hall in New York City in December is a must! It’s beautifully decorated and there are several Christmas displays around the area, including Christmas lights and red ornaments.
If you are looking to go into Radio City Music Hall you have to see a show. What better way to get into the holiday spirit than seeing the Christmas Spectacular featuring the world famous Rockettes! Although there are several shows a day, they tend to fill up quickly. Additionally, the show is expensive – each ticket was close to $200 the day that we were trying to go.
We decided to try our luck and check the box office to see if there were any last minute deals and we were able to get seats that were ten rows back from the stage for only $60! I’ve heard of people having similar luck with Broadway shows, so definitely try your luck at the box offices in NYC!
Ice Skate at Rockefeller Center
After seeing the show we walked a block to Rockefeller Center to see the famous Christmas tree at night. The skaters and the tree are really a sight to see!
We ended up returning to Rockefeller Center again the following day to go ice skating and to see the tree during the daytime. If you are trying to ice skate, I recommend arriving early in the morning to avoid the crowds. We skated on a Monday morning and still had about a 40 minute wait. Since you have to rent skates, the total cost is quite expensive, but well worth it! They played Christmas music and there was a skating Santa to accompany us!
Visit St. Patrick’s Cathedral
St. Patrick’s Cathedral is a can’t miss spot in NYC (really it sticks out like a sore thumb from Manhattan’s skyscrapers). During the holiday season the inside is beautifully decorated with wreaths and a nativity scene.
Check out the Window Displays on 5th Ave
Spend some time browsing the window displays on 5thAve. The stores on this street spend months planning their displays and are truly amazing. Be sure to swing by Saks 5thAve at nighttime to watch their light show!
Take a Horse-Drawn Carriage Ride Through Central Park
Each winter there are guided horse-drawn carriage tours that will take you through Central park! The ride lasts about 30 minutes and is well worth the price.
Another fun thing to do around Central Park is to check out the Plaza Hotel. This iconic hotel is the setting for several famous movies, such as Home Alone 2, and is beautifully decorated this time of year.
See the Famous Christmas Displays in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn
If you’re itching to get out of the hustle and bustle of midtown Manhattan, I recommend taking the hour train ride or 30 minute Uber to Dyker Heights in Brooklyn! This neighborhood is known for its elaborate Christmas displays and is worth the trek. Buy yourself some hot chocolate from the food trucks, flick on some Christmas music, and enjoy the holiday walk!
That’s all for my New York City in December Holiday Guide! New York is so magical around Christmas time, I hope these ideas help put you in the holiday spirit!
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