Christmas in New York City is a special time of year. There is something magical and even dreamlike about New York City at Christmastime.
The crowds are large and jovial. Christmas spirit is everywhere. There is much to see and do that is unique to this delightful season.
What makes New York City even more dazzling than usual?
Christmas in New York City is brighter and more embellished than anywhere else. During the holiday season, the city is adorned with beautiful lights and decorations that are sure to put anyone in a festive mood.
When it comes to getting fancy for Christmas, Rockefeller Center does it best. The whole plaza turns into a holiday wonderland this time of year.
The skating rink is the focal point, surrounded by holiday flags and decorations. The soaring Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree stands at one end with the GE Building at 30 Rockefeller Plaza towering above it all.
The famous Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is illuminated in a
Tree Lighting Ceremony every year, typically on the Wednesday after Thanksgiving.
This year’s lighting ceremony will take place on December 4, 2013. The program is from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in Rockefeller Center and features celebrity appearances and performances.
Even if you miss the formal tree lighting, you can still see the tree when you visit Rockefeller Center during the holidays. The Christmas tree is lit daily from 5:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. (24 hours on Christmas) until early January.
Rockefeller Center is located on the block between Fifth and Sixth Avenues and between 49th and 50th Streets.
"My favorite thing about Christmas in New York is the holiday decorations and spirit of the city. With the energy and lights and so much to do in NYC for the holidays, it just feels special to be there at Christmas time."
- Ellen, Cartersville, GA
Department stores love to decorate for Christmas in New York City. Although the intention is to lure people into the stores for shopping, you don’t have to spend a single penny to enjoy the holiday windows. Each set of windows has a different theme and music to go along.
The most popular holiday window displays are at Lord & Taylor, Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Barney's, Bergdorf Goodman, and Bloomingdale’s.
For a cherished and memorable experience, treat your family to a New York City Christmas Show!
Going to the theatre is a popular activity for any New York City visit. Watching a beautiful Christmas show your whole family can enjoy is even more special.
Christmas Show Highlights:
Ice skating is a fun family activity and a festive thing to do if you're spending Christmas in New York City. It is a fine winter sport that's even more special against some of the prettiest backdrops that New York City has to offer!
If you’re not interested in skating, watching the skaters is almost as fun as joining them. Nighttime is the most picturesque time to skate, with the city lit up all around you. During the daytime, the rinks are usually less crowded.
2. Central Park Ice Skating
3. Bryant Park Ice Skating
See the highlights of Christmas in New York City with the convenience of a guided tour! For a fun and informative view of the city, check out these terrific New York Christmas tour options.
New York City's spirited holiday markets have a warm inviting glow on even the coldest of December nights.
You'll never want to shop at a mall again after you've walked around an inviting holiday market with a cup of hot apple cider. Visit the shops of local artisans and find neat gifts for your friends and family.
"I love the winter look. Scarves, hats, rosy cheeks, and Christmas cheer as people walk around the Christmas shops. Everyone looks beautiful and happy. Bright lights and pine smells compliment the air."
- Rosimer, Rego Park, NY
Make your Christmas in New York City special by attending a service at one of the city's gorgeous churches.
This Catholic church is in a large gothic-style cathedral that is inspiring to visit any time of the year. And what time coule be better than Christmas in New York City?
Masses are held on December 24th, including a Midnight Mass with reserved seating by ticket only, and throughout Christmas Day. For a full schedule see saintpatrickscathedral.org.
It typically has three Christmas Eve Services which include an early service for families, a traditional service, and a later service with a choral prelude. For more information see trinitywallstreet.org.
This Protestant church is another terrific option. The building dates back to the 1850s and is made of – you guessed it – marble. It is a lovely church with a spacious sanctuary.
Marble Collegiate has two Christmas Eve services, one for families and one that is more traditional. For more information see marblechurch.org.
Essential New York City Guide Tip
Christmas in New York City is neatest at night when the lights sparkle, the trees light up, and the holiday windows and store fronts glow. So bundle up tight and experience the magic of Christmas in New York City after dark!
See more NYC Christmas photos.
Remember your New York vacation and share it with others. Scenes of New York City make perfect
Cards feature original New York City photography.
New York City is a great place to be during the holidays. Do you have a great experience or recommendation to share? Tell us about it here!
Click below to see what other people have to say...
One of my favorite childhood memories is going into the city (from Long Island or Brooklyn) and standing in line to see the Radio City Christmas Show. …
I Looooove visiting Manhattan at Christmas! New York is a place where anything feels possible. The energy and charisma that surround everything is inspirational. …
Don't have an experience.....YET! There are 7 of the finest, sweetest, greatest, and loveliest the south has to offer, women traveling to New York City …