Whether you’re a visitor or a local, New York is the ultimate place to celebrate the holidays. It can be tricky to find the best spots to shop, eat and be with your family in the packed streets of the city. Luckily, we have a list of the must-see spots and events that will make you wish the holiday season never ends!
Psst… Looking for the most instagrammable places in New York City to snap your family holiday card? We’ve got you covered!
Bryant Park Winter Village
New York, NY 10018 behind the New York Public Library in Midtown Manhattan, between 40th and 42nd Streets & Fifth and Sixth Avenues.
Bryant Park is transformed into a winter wonderland every year. With string lights, food and events all winter long, The Winter Village is worth a visit. Kids can visit Santa or partake in the super fun Kids Week. Guests will also have the chance to slide on ice with bumper cars or play broomball. If your children take the time to read books with Cali Co Cat they can earn a free skate rental as well as free books (while supplies last).
45 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10111
Overlooked by a huge Christmas tree adorned by what must be thousands of lights, Rockefeller Center is a must-visit during the holidays. Guests of all ages can ice skate in the wide-open rink, although kids under 6 are required to be accompanied by an adult. Interested parties can book reservations for all sorts of packages. For example, families can have breakfast with Santa at Rock Center Café or The Sea Grill. After that, Santa will join you on the ice for a morning of fun. You can even reserve a space to propose on the ice! If you’re only interested in skating, you can go through general admission which is first-come-first-served and doesn’t accept any reservations.
Columbus Circle Holiday Market
Columbus Circle, 59th Street, and Central Park West
This market is known for its large array of vendors that showcase items perfect for the holiday season. Guests can find all sorts of trinkets, art, jewelry, and home goods. Food is around every corner with everything from bakeries, to candy shops to German sausages. This is its 15th year running and you’ll be sure to have an amazing time.
Macy’s Herald Square / Santaland
151 W 34th St., New York, NY 10001
Some of the most notable holiday traditions involve Macy’s on Herald Square. Not only is this the home of the widely cherished Thanksgiving Parade but it also has Santaland. If you’ll be in the city for the parade, there are tons of hotels where you can get a wonderful view from without being in the thick of it. If you’re in the city close to Christmas, your family can talk to elves, take pictures and then board the Santaland Express to head towards the North Pole. The area is filled with wintery scenery of the city, complete with lights and gingerbread houses. It’s recommended to make an online reservation because everyone wants to meet Santa!
225 E 60th St., New York, NY 10022
Nothing says the holidays like a delicious cup of hot chocolate. The ever-popular shop Serendipity has put a spin on the classic drink by making the Frrrozen Hot Chocolate — a massive cup of chocolatey goodness topped with rich whipped cream. Serendipity promises its guests a relaxed dining experience that is sure to be a good experience for both local and foreign patrons. The food, drinks, and desserts are all meant to be memorable. Since it’s opening, they’ve had millions of visitors. The place is almost always a popular destination during the holidays so make sure to reserve your spot.
Winter’s Eve at Lincoln Square
Lincoln Square New York, NY
Since its founding in 2000, Winter’s Eve has become one of the largest festivals focused on the holidays in New York that attracts more than 20,000 people. It spans the public spaces along the sidewalks of Lincoln Square and around Broadway from The Shops at Columbus Circle all the way to 70th Street. The event starts off with a tree lighting ceremony at Dante Park. After that, it’s nothing but good times all around. There will be everything from free live music and entertainment at more than 20 venues, food from 30 of the best spots in New York, and shopping for everyone. Kids can join in on the fun with the award-winning “kindie” music phenomenon, Twinkle. She’ll be having her Twinkle Time concert filled with different musical styles and dance.
Apollo Kwanzaa Celebration
253 W 125th St., New York, NY 10027
The Apollo Theater is hosting its annual Kwanzaa Celebration. The tradition began in 2006 and since then has been a source of culture, music, joy, and dance. This year’s performance will feature the spectacular New York-based dance company Abdel Salaam’s Forces of Nature Dance Theatre and other guest acts. The event falls on one night of Kwanzaa and has two showings that promote family and community during the holidays. Tickets are $25 and $40 for premium seating.
Union Square Holiday Market
E 14th Street, New York, NY 10011
This market is another popular destination for shoppers looking for the perfect gifts for the holidays. There, guests can take their pick between the vast options of unique items that were made by talented artists and local craftsmen. Union Square Holiday Market now has a new and improved look as well as new sections like Little Brooklyn and Urbanspace Provisions, a Warming Station and Lounge, and a Kid’s Arts Studio. That’s in addition to live music and some of the best vendors in New York.
Grand Central Holiday Fair
Grand Central Terminal 89 E 42nd St. New York, NY 10017
Just heading into the main terminal at Grand Central Station gives us a festive feeling! With the added holiday vibe, it’s a sight to behold. Since its founding in 1993, the fair has been one of the cities many must-shop destinations. For almost six weeks, the hall will be filled with vendors selling art, clothes, accessories, and toys. They promise that the range of prices and products will allow anyone to find something worthwhile for themselves or others.
Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 990 Washington Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11225. Enter at 1000 Washington Avenue
It’s the fifth year of this performance and it’ll definitely be one to remember. Unlike most shows, in Winterize attendees can actually participate! Singer Tobias Greenhalgh will lead the performance which moves throughout the newly restored areas of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Guests play the important role of providing the musical accompaniment through hand-held radios that play beautiful piano music. Radios are available for the first fifty participants, but people are also invited to bring their own.
The Hip Hop Nutcracker
Kings Theatre 1027 Flatbush Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11226
The Hip Hop Nutcracker puts a modern spin on Tchaikovsky’s classic music. Guests will be amazed by the creative use of digital graffiti that helps transformation E.T.A. Hoffmann’s classic tale into a story that fits right into the heart of New York City. The performance itself is comprised of a unique and talented cast of dancers, a violinist, a DJ, and even MC Kurtis Blow, one of hip hop’s founding fathers.
47-01 111th St., Corona, NY 11368
If you’ve ever made a gingerbread house, you know how much skill it actually takes to make them look as presentable as they are delicious. GingerBread Lane is made entirely of edible gingerbread, icing, and candies. The houses are homemade and designed by the talented chef Jon Lovitch over the course of the whole year. It holds the Guinness World Records for the largest gingerbread village. Lovitch will be trying to break his own record with this year’s GingerBread Lane. Visitors will be able to own gingerbread houses or trains in the GingerBread Lane Workshop – an event that sells out every year. Each attendee gets a kit with all of the materials Lovitch used to create the exhibition.
Hello Panda Lights Festival
123-01 Roosevelt Ave., Queens, NY 11368
Nothing is more eye-catching than over this display of 120 lantern sets. Citi Field will be packed with over 100 delicious international food vendors, great entertainment, interactive VR games, and art exhibits curated by local and international artists. On top of that, the festival will have a holiday market and live stage performances. The event is actually the largest lantern show in New York’s history!
New York Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show
2900 Southern Blvd., The Bronx, NY 10458
With a display of more than 175 famous New York landmarks being framed by track and seasonal trains, you’re sure to be amazed. Highlights include replicas of everything from the Statue of Liberty to the Brooklyn Bridge. This show promotes an incredible winter wonderland, tons of crafts, carolers singing, and a visit from Thomas the Tank Engine.
Bronx Zoo Holiday Lights
2300 Southern Blvd., The Bronx, NY 10460
The Bronx Zoo takes a spin on the traditional holiday lights by creating animal lanterns and animated sculptures out of animals like zebras and tigers. The brightly colored figures will light up the night, making the scenery magical. There will be roaming carolers spreading holiday cheer. Guests can also hop aboard the holiday train for a fun ride. In addition, there will be a bunch of seasonal treats like roasted marshmallows and hot chocolate.
Looking for more holiday fun around New York City? Check out our Events Calendar!