14 Family Things To Do During Christmas In NYC

New York City during the holidays is magical and a favorite time for people to visit. Here are 11 activities to add to your NYC trip holiday itinerary.

August 27, 2023

14 Family Things To Do During During Christmas In NYC

Christmas in New York City is like stepping into a fairy tale. The streets are all decked out with sparkling lights, and you'll see families everywhere having a blast with holiday fun. Think ice skating, checking out cool holiday markets, and being part of the big moment when they light up the massive Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. This year, mark your calendar for November 29th, 2023. The tree will light up at 9pm, but if you want a good spot to watch the show, try to get there around 6 - 7pm. 

Once the tree is lit it feels like Christmas officially starts in New York. The retail stores quickly put up their holiday lights and the cities ice skating rinks start take on a new energy as the Rockefeller tree lighting marks the start of Christmas season around New York City. It’s a season of magic, a season of excitement and the most popular season of the year. This is a list to help you take advantage of the season when you’re visiting with kids. 

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Here is our list of 14 amazing things to do in NYC in December for visitors with families. 

The Rockettes Radio City Christmas Spectacular

One of New York City's most cherished cultural traditions, the Radio City Christmas Pageant is the ultimate romp through the city of lights. After all, it doesn't get much better than watching 80 dancers act out holiday scenes dressed in stunning white tuxedos, flowing red velvet robes and holiday-themed costumes while they perform a series of traditional Broadway musical numbers. As entertaining as it is beautiful, this performance has delighted generations of audiences for almost 90 years.

Dyker Heights Holiday Lights

If you are looking for a holiday adventure that is second to none, NYC has got you covered! Brooklyn has become the epicenter for Christmas decorating thanks to the The Dyker Heights Christmas Lights. You’ll see life-sized Santas, sleighs, snowmen and houses plastered with lights. You might even hear a few Christmas carols. It’s a great way to get into the holiday spirit and explore some unique side streets in Brooklyn.

Bryant Park Winter Village

Everyone needs to answer their holiday shopping queries—from finding the perfect gift for your kids to stocking stuffers and wrapping necessities. So, this year, check out Bryant Park's Winter Village in Midtown (plus the festive cocktails and dishes at The Lodge Deck), where you'll find some of the city's best shopping and a free (with your own skates) ice skate rink to build up some holiday cheer.

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

For almost a century, the Rockefeller Christmas Tree has been a part of Christmas time in New York City. It is a world-famous icon, with millions of visitors annually looking to see it up close. Whether you're driving down Fifth Avenue with your family or walking through the city on the way to Times Square, the tree will stand out as an undeniable symbol of NYC's rich holiday tradition.

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Saks Fifth Avenue Light Show

Saks Fifth Avenue is one of the most popular holiday destinations in NYC. Their annual light show is a must-see, it is accompanied by music and repeats itself every 10 minutes from 5 pm to 11 pm. Each year it features additional light features, music and shapes that are animated to a dot-matrix pattern.

Retail Windows

One of the best parts of Christmas is getting to see all the beautiful light displays in New York City. In addition to famous windows like Rockefeller Center and the Empire State Building, many retail holiday window displays around the city are worth visiting. Our favorites are Saks Fifth Avenue (mentioned above), Macy's, Tiffany's, and Bergdorf Godman. A Khonsu trip consultant can help you figure out which windows are best for your plan.

New York Botanical Garden Glow and Holiday Train Show

The New York Botanical Garden is transforming once again into a magical winter wonderland at its third annual NYBG Glow. The all-season celebration will light up the Garden with thousands of energy-efficient LED lights and installations. There will be holiday performances, ice carving demonstrations and other seasonal activities to enjoy. Plus, take advantage of the opportunity to pair your ticket with Holiday Train Show tickets for a small upcharge!

See A Christmas Carol

The phenomenally talented Jefferson Mays takes on a multitude of characters in this holiday touring production. Starring Jefferson Mays, the multiple-Tony Award nominee portrays all of the characters from Charles Dickens’s beloved 19th-century classic A Christmas Carol. Don’t miss his incredible performance!

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ARTECHOUSE's Spectacular Factory: The Holiday Multiverse

Enjoy a festive holiday experience that is immersive, imaginative and 3D. This year, the Spectacular Factory: The Holiday Multiverse exhibit at ARTECHOUSE in New York City will bring holiday magic to life for visitors of all ages with a city-sized Christmas village and enchanted toy factory filled with enchanting handcrafted toys and beautiful handmade ornaments.

See Santa and Mrs.Claus at Macy’s Santaland

A magical experience for children of all ages, Macy's Santaland has been delighting families since 1861. The immersive and over-the-top winter wonderland features animatronics elves and teddy bears, life-size and model trains, and even a life-size replica of Santa's workshop. But the highlight is meeting Santa Claus himself, where kids get to have their picture taken with him and tell him their Christmas wish list. Reservations are required and there is a fee for photos with Santa. The line to meet Santa can be long, so it is best to arrive early.

Bronx Zoo Holiday Light Show

The Bronx Zoo shines with holiday cheer with immersive light displays, animal lanterns and animated light shows. The celebration includes entertainment, treats, the Holiday Train and classic holiday music. This beloved tradition is fun for all ages. More than 360 lanterns representing almost 90 animal and plant species are on display, including 70 new lanterns representing 30 new species.

Ice skating

The Rink at Rockefeller Center is an iconic New York City landmark, and it is definitely worth seeing, even if you don't skate. It can be crowded and expensive, but it is a truly magical experience worth checking out. If you're looking for a less crowded and expensive option to actually skate in, the city has plenty. The Rink at Bryant Park is free to use (you will have to pay for skate rentals), and it offers stunning views of the Empire State Building and the city's best winter markets. Wollman Rink in Central Park is just as iconic as the Rink at Rockefeller Center, and tickets tend to be cheaper.

FAO Schwarz in Rockefeller Plaza

FAO Schwarz, the cherished toy store that closed in 2015, has made an amazing comeback in recent years. Now located in 30 Rockefeller Plaza, just steps away from the iconic Rockefeller Tree, this wonderland of toys promises to make all your Christmas wishes come true, creating an epic holiday shopping experience you won't want to miss!

Custom Tailored NYC Travel Plans
Custom Tailored NYC Travel Plans

Our team of trip consultants builds tailored plans for travelers from around the world visiting NYC. We’ve built a wide range of plans for family trips, anniversaries, birthdays, and other special occasions, even for solo travelers treating themselves. Each plan is built with a 3-step process: 

Step 1: Bucket your must-see attractions 

Step 2: Add in restaurants, rooftops & other hidden gems 

Step 3: Create a custom map and provide transportation tips, so you know the best way to navigate the city. 

Click here to have our team tailor your New York trip itinerary today or check out a few of our sample plans here.

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