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29 Things to Do in NYC During December 2020

things to do in nyc december
Photo by Andre Benz on Unsplash

Que the holiday music because we have 29 things to do in NYC during December. We have you covered with holiday windows, chocolatey pop-ups, bright lights, and more for you and your family. What are you waiting for? Check out our amazing list of things to do in NYC!

Things to Do in NYC During December 2020

manhattan

Things to Do in Manhattan

Courtesy of Maman

Miracle on Centre St: Holiday Cookie and Hot Chocolate Bar – Lower Manhattan
237 Centre St., New York, NY 10013
November 23 – December 31; 8 am – 5 pm daily

This holiday pop-up is a little slice of heaven on Earth. What better way to spend these colder months than by stopping by Maman’s holiday cookie and hot chocolate bar. Kids will love the cookies and hot chocolate and parents will love their boozy libations. Stop by for Maman’s Advent Cookie of the Day or choose from their incredible cookie selection. And their hot chocolates are so decadent, from hazelnut semi-sweet to white chocolate cherry — what a treat!

LuminoCity Festival

LuminoCity Festival – Randall’s Island

LuminoCity Festival is back again this year for 29 nights of incredible lights. This year, families can wander through a wonderland of ancient civilizations and illuminated jungles. The sparkling light park invites visitors on a 30-45 minute walking journey through distinctly themed sets and dreamlike worlds. At the center of the adventure is Lumi, a magical light bulb and the host of the festival.

things to do in nyc during december
Photo credit: Giada Paoloni on behalf of the Howard Hughes Corporation

The Greens – Pier 17
89 South St.
Open daily Monday – Wednesday 12 pm – 10 pm  & Thursday – Sunday 11 am – 10 pm
Reservations required

Outdoor dining is going to be limited this winter season but The Greens is making it possible and comfortable in their cozy rooftop cabins. Enjoy your own personal cabin equipped with a heated floor plan, Molekule air purifier, on-site contactless food and beverage purchasing, virtual fireplace, views of NYC, and more! Most of all you can enjoy their delicious menu of seasonal food and drinks such as cheese fondue, truffle grilled cheese, hot buttered rum, and much more. There is even a kids menu for your little ones — perfect for the whole family. New dates are released every Monday at 10 am for the following week’s reservations.

PINKMAS at the Museum of Ice Cream – SoHo
558 Broadway
November 19 through January 10

PINKMAS is coming back to the Museum of Ice Cream. This interactive holiday pop-up is perfect for the ice cream enthusiast with three levels of contactless games and activities. There will be special holiday-themed, and of course, pink installations throughout the Museum for you and your family to enjoy. With the ongoing pandemic, there will be several precautionary measures in place. Masks, social distancing, handwashing, and temperature checks are mandatory. Visit their site to reserve your ticket for entry.

Getty Images

Holiday Windows – Midtown

2020 may have brought many changes this year, but the traditional unveiling of NYC holiday windows will still be here. Get a sneak peek of NYC holiday windows here: Where to See the Best NYC Holiday Windows in 2020

North Pole Express by Top View – Midtown
2 East 42nd Street, New York, NY 10017

Take a holiday journey with Santa on the North Pole Express. Enjoy the sights of New York while sipping on a delicious cup of hot chocolate and munching on scrumptious cookies. Meet the Express Conductor, one of Santa’s elves, and, of course, Santa.

This trip has two packages:

The North Pole Express Standard Experience is $49 and includes a 45-minute journey where you get to meet the Express Conductor and Santa. Activities included on this trip are: looking at North Pole Christmas lights, writing a letter to Santa, Christmas caroling, and meeting Santa.

The North Pole Express Enhanced experience is $79 and includes a one hour and 15 minute trip. What separates this package from the Standard Experience is that the route is longer, so there are more sights. One of Santa’s elves will be joining your bus journey, in addition to your Express Conductor, and there will be storytelling onboard. Just like in the Standard Experience, children will still get to write a letter to Santa, partake in Christmas caroling, and meet Santa.

Gotham + Nordstrom – Midtown
225 West 57th St.
Open daily 12-6 pm

Get your dose of chocolate goodness at the Gotham + Nordstrom pop-up. Shop from a variety of chocolates like their wide selection of chocolate bars, salted caramels, hot chocolate mix, rainforest bark, and fan-favorite bonbons.

Turnstyle Underground Market – Hell’s Kitchen
8th Avenue (between 57 st. & 58 st.)

Shop your way through the subway! This super-edgy underground market is very on-brand for NYC, and we are loving it. You’ll find 39 kiosks consisting of the tastiest macaroons, eateries, hair cutteries, jewelry and more. The best part? No metro card required! Grab your mask and head for this unique market in Columbus Circle. You can be the one to decide if everything really does taste better underground!

Hours: Vary according to vendor

Grand Central Holiday Fair – Grand Central Terminal
89 E 42nd St

Grand Central’s Holiday Fair is the ultimate holiday New York City experience. Artwork, clothing, accessories, home goods, toys and more can be found in Vanderbilt Hall from Nov. 16 to Dec. 24. Although smaller than normal, this shopping spree will still be ever-so-productive with all of the holiday cheer. Grand Central has implemented focus on handcrafted American-made products, frequent cleaning, and a climate-controlled space for customers to feel comfortable while shopping, and it is even hosting a Virtual Holiday Fair that will be open 24/7 completely online!

Hours: Vary according to vendor

Photo: Angelito Jusay

Bank of America Winter Village – Bryant Park

Skate reservations are now open! Ice skating at Winter Village is now a fully outdoor experience, and the Holiday Shops have a reconfigured layout with fewer shops to allow for more spacious walkways. This magical winter village in Bryant Park will still be happening this year with changes to keep your family healthy and safe. 

The Origami Holiday Tree – Upper West Side

The American Museum of Natural History is gearing up for their famous Origami Tree, which will run November 25, 2020 through January 10, 2021. The theme of this year’s 13-foot tree is Cranes and Colors, featuring 1,000 brilliantly colored origami cranes, presented as symbols of peace and good wishes as New York continues to endure the many challenges posed by COVID-19, and drawing inspiration from The Nature of Color special exhibition, which explores the role and power of color in the natural world.

Central Park Horse and Carriage Rides – Central Park

Experience Central Park’s winter wonderland with a horse and carriage ride. Visit well-known attractions like Belvedere Castle, Strawberry Fields, Bethesda Fountain, and the Mall. Each carriage will be detailed and sanitized fully every day. Seats will be sprayed after each ride and hand sanitizer/wipes will be available for guests. If you’re looking for a peaceful winter activity, this is perfect for your family! 

Holiday Under The Stars – Columbus Circle
10 Columbus Circle

Twelve 14-foot stars that hang from the ceiling of the 150-foot Great Room overlooking Central Park…can you say illuminating? Visit The Shops at Columbus Circle for a free and colorful experience that the whole family will enjoy. The show will run from 4-7 pm daily up until Dec. 24!

holiday lights
Getty Images

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree – Rockefeller Center
45 Rockefeller Plaza

For more than eight decades, the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree has stood as a holiday beacon for New Yorkers and visitors alike. This year, there will be special tree viewing entrances and traffic patterns, tree viewing time limits, and masks and social distancing will be required at all times. The tree will be lit from 6 am to 12 am daily, and will be lit for 24 hours on Christmas. There is even a live stream of the tree on the website that you can view any time of day from the comfort of your home!

Virtual Menorah Lighting – Stuytown

If you still want to participate in a Menorah Lighting but want to avoid the crowds this year, here is a virtual Menorah Lighting option. Stuytown is hosting a virtual Menorah Lighting ceremony via Zoom and Instagram. Grab your Menorah and some candles and join in at 6 pm on December 10 to participate from the safety of your home.

Brooklyn

Things to Do in Brooklyn

Dyker Lights – Dyker Heights

If you don’t feel like paying to see holiday lights this year, check out Dyker Heights. This Brooklyn neighborhood goes all-out on their holiday decorations. Here, you can expect to see life-size Santas, gorgeous light displays, and possibly even hear Christmas carols. These light displays are between 11th to 13th Avenue or 83rd Avenue to 86th St.

Brooklyn Navy Yard Holiday Market – Brooklyn Navy Yard
Admirals Row 1 Flushing Ave. (located at the corner of Flushing Ave. and Navy St.)
Hours: 12 pm – 6 pm

Brooklyn’s own Navy Yard Holiday Market offers Brooklyn-exclusive goods with over 40 vendors ranging from food, wine, clothing, accessories, wellness and skincare! There is even going to be a create-your-own gift section that will feature cookie decorating, ornament engraving and screen-printing bags and prints. Some COVID-19 protocols include hand sanitizing stations, routined bathroom cleanings and PPE available for purchase. The historical market will be open from Dec. 7-8, along with the virtual market that will run until Jan. 3!

Brooklyn’s Largest Menorah – Grand Army Plaza
Flatbush Ave.

This NYC premier Chanukah event is a must on everyone’s calendar. Celebrate every night of Chanukah with live music, hot latkes and a beautifully lit menorah. Both the lighting celebration and concert are free of charge! Celebrations are scheduled to occur from Dec. 10 to Dec. 17, so plan your visit as soon as possible.

Queens

Things to Do in Queens

Photo by The Floral Escape

The Winter Escape by the Floral Escape – Queens County Farm Museum
73-50 Little Neck Parkway
Floral Park, New York 11004-1129
November 28 – January 10
Thursday & Friday 11 am – 4 pm, Saturday & Sunday 10 am – 4 pm

If you loved Queens County Farm Fall Escape, you are going to want to see this new holiday pop-up. Stop by for this magical floral experience as you visit the Gingerbread Village, see the Candy Cane Rose Garden, and take a picture with Santa in his throne chair. There are plenty of photo opportunities here to snap a family pic to share with loved ones or to include on your Christmas cards.

Winter 2020 at Queens County Farm – Queens County Farm Museum

Queens County Farm is such a joy throughout the year, but we especially love the fall/winter season. On December 26-28, 12-4 pm, the farm will host a free Holiday Open House (with COVID-19 guidelines in place). There will be kids crafts, tours, and much more! 

12th Annual Jackson Heights Winter Caroling Sing & Stroll – Jackson Heights

On December 12 from 7-10 pm, bring your family to this outdoor caroling event. Bundle up, because it will definitely be cold! You’ll get to sing winter and holiday songs of all faiths, languages, and cultures as you stroll through Jackson Heights. Meet in front of Cassidy’s Ale House, corner of 31st Ave & 75th St in Queens.

Holiday Skating Program at World Ice Arena – Flushing

Don’t know how to skate but want to learn this holiday season? Check out the Holiday Skating Program at World Ice Arena! This is great for your kiddos who are looking to get some time on the ice in a safe environment. Class sizes are limited due to COVID-19, so register soon. The December program runs from the 26th to the 31st.

Bronx

Things to Do in the Bronx 

Holiday Train Show at NYBG – Bronx Park

The New York Botanical Garden returns with its magical Holiday Train Show this season. Note that this year, with tickets and capacity very limited due to enhanced safety protocols that include social distancing, the only way to see this captivating display is as a Member, Patron, Corporate Member, or Bronx Community Partner. Marvel at model trains zipping through an enchanting display of famous New York landmarks each re-created from natural materials such as birch bark, acorns, and cinnamon sticks. The show will run November 12-January 31. 

NYBG Glow – Bronx Park

This all-new outdoor experience illuminates New York Botanical Garden’s landmark landscape and Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. With lots of room to spread out, explore a glowing world of color and light! Picture-perfect installations fill the Reflecting Pool and enliven surrounding gardens and collections. You’ll even get to enjoy artistic ice carving displays, roving dancers and musicians, plus more outdoor fun. Advanced tickets are required, and the experience is limited, so buy your tickets soon. The event will run November 27-28, December 5, 13, 18-19, 26-30, January 1-2, 9.  

Holiday Lights at Bronx Zoo – Bronx Park

This iconic light show full of plenty of winter-themed activities is perfect for some family fun. There will be five animal lantern safaris, ice-carving demonstrations, holiday treats, costumed characters, wildlife theater, stilt walkers, and more! The lantern safaris, spread out throughout the park, each showcase a different wildlife region and will lead you on a fun, safe, and leisurely tour of the attractions. The event is on select dates from November 20-January 10, and tickets must be purchased in advance. 

Citywide and at Home

where to see santa

See Santa Virtually and In-Person

No matter how you celebrate the holidays, they will definitely be looking different this year. While 2020 may have canceled many fun, holiday traditions this year, one thing that hasn’t changed is getting the opportunity to meet the one and only Santa Claus. Whether it be virtually or in-person, there are still a few locations that are offering the chance for your little ones to see Santa and tell him what’s on their Christmas list.

Menorah Candle Lighting – Virtual

If you are looking for another virtual Chanukah lighting ceremony, check out the Congregation Emanu-El of the City of New York. Their Chanukah ceremony goes virtual this year with fun for the little ones where they learn how to make dreidels and learn a new dance before lighting the Menorah together.

Pre-register for the event to get a list of materials and the private Zoom link, or watch the event through Facebook or their Livestream. The event starts at 4 pm, December 14, and is appropriate for children 2nd grade and under and their families.

Holiday Movies

Watching holiday movies on Netflix is the ultimate way to get into the holiday mindset; so grab the hot cocoa and gather your loved ones around the TV for these 10 family-friendly jolly films!