Christmas in New York
Visions of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree dance in the heads of all who hear “Christmas in New York”; after all, its dazzling lights and impressive height make for a spectacular sight. However, this is only one of New York’s many Christmas highlights. The entire city transforms into a magical wonderland during the holiday season! As such, New York is an excellent place to get into the festive mood.
Christmas in New York is an incredible experience! Curious to know why? Then join us on a trip to this East Coast metropolis, and we’ll show you how New Yorkers celebrate. Let’s go!
When Does the Holiday Season Start in New York?
Christmas in New York begins on the last Thursday of November. Wait, doesn’t that coincide with Thanksgiving? Precisely! But on that same day in New York is Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Comic book heroes, celebrities, marching bands, and others march from Central Park to the well-known Macy’s department store. The best part is saved for the last float, which features Santa Claus on his famous sleigh. His arrival at Macy’s marks the end of the parade and the beginning of Christmas in New York.
The festivities continue the next day with Black Friday, opening the floodgates to Christmas shopping. If you want to see the beloved Christmas lights, you’ll need to be patient; the Christmas Tree Lighting only occurs the Wednesday evening following Thanksgiving. The impressive Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center is lit up for the first time during this ceremony. It’s a key component of New York’s holiday season – and you could see it live!
When the lights sparkle at the beginning of December, you know Christmas in New York has begun. But what else can you expect from this marvelous city? We’ll tell you now!
The Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center
You’ve probably already seen the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center in magazines or movies. It’s the most popular Christmas tree in the world, after all. But seeing it with your own eyes is even more mind-blowing! Don’t miss this unique attraction at any cost – it amazes millions of people every year.
The tree’s size and splendor are truly outstanding. It’s over 20 meters high and adorned with real Swarovski stars. The 30,000 LED lights add an extra dose of sparkle. If you can’t make it to Rockefeller Center for the lighting ceremony, no need to worry – in December, you can admire the stunning Christmas tree every day!
Ice skating is a must during Christmas in New York, which explains all the ice rinks. If you’re already at Rockefeller Center, you can do a few laps in front of the Christmas tree. The glittering decorations and cheerful holiday music animating the square make for a genuinely enchanting skating experience.
Wollman Rink in Central Park is another popular place to skate. A magnificent view of the Manhattan skyline awaits your arrival. Or does gliding by a Christmas market sound more exciting? Then Bryant Park has the rink for you!
Christmas markets have spread around the globe, and New York is no exception! They feature all kinds of delicious pastries (even some from Europe), hot beverages, tasty food, and plenty of unique gifts and souvenirs. The one at Union Square even took inspiration from European models. You can also enjoy some rich mulled wine there! How does it compare to other holiday drinks?
The city’s biggest Christmas market, Winter Village, is right next to the skating rink in Bryant Park and has an otherworldly atmosphere. When the glowing lights on the trees and surrounding skyscrapers flick on for the night, your heart fills with that unforgettable cozy Christmas feeling.
Columbus Circle’s well-known Christmas market is near Wollman Rink. You’ll pass it by while walking through Central Park. Another exciting attraction awaits – you can attend a Broadway show, free of charge!
Grand Central Terminal, the biggest train station in the world, hosts an indoor Christmas market. It’s convenient on particularly cold and windy days.
Christmas Lights in Dyker Heights
Can’t get enough of the illuminated streets and buildings? Then set out for Brooklyn! The Dyker Heights residential area will leave you convinced you stepped into a fairy tale as you wander among the gorgeously decorated houses. Everywhere you look on these tree-lined streets, it sparkles and shines. It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen! A trip to see these famous Christmas lights is an absolute must during the holiday season in New York. The festive decorations begin appearing on Thanksgiving and stay until the first days of January.
It goes without saying that your trip to New York will be filled to the brim with entertainment. New York’s classic Christmas show is the Christmas Spectacular, featuring the Radio City Rockettes and their stunning dance performance. While the story is lovely, the performance makes it much better than a regular Christmas movie! Get the most out of this New York tradition by experiencing it live. It takes place at Radio City Hall inside Rockefeller Center, starting in September.
Christmas shows on Broadway are also popular. As part of Broadway Under the Stars, you can watch professional-level performances for free! Since the venue is the Deutsche Bank Center’s shopping mall in Columbus Circle, you can also shop your heart out. As you do so, you’ll notice twelve colorful stars twinkling overhead – hence the name “Under the Stars.” They captivate millions of visitors every year with their phenomenal light show and make a visit to this department store twice as worthwhile.
The light show at the Deutsche Bank Center is just one of many you can experience in New York City. Another example is the world-famous Music-to-Light event, which occurs the week before Christmas. During this show, the Empire State Building glows with breathtaking illuminations. The best part? The lights dance along to songs chosen by some of the world’s top celebrities!
Walking along Fifth Avenue, you’ll pass by the luxurious department store Saks Fifth Avenue, where the next light show awaits after dark. The Botanical Gardens, the Bronx Zoo, and many other places also offer phenomenal displays. Most of them occur every evening, so you can see multiple per day, depending on your schedule.
Leisurely window shopping is arguably the best way to admire the beautiful Christmas lights and decorations. The famous Fifth Avenue is a great place to purchase a New York City keepsake, as it’s home to many beautiful Christmas storefronts. Take a good look at the shop windows! Many are not only beautifully decorated but also tell a story. The amount of creativity and effort put into their designs is very admirable.
Christmas Shopping in New York
After learning about some festive spots in New York, one thing is for sure: the atmosphere while Christmas shopping in New York is one of a kind! All the glitz and glam will leave you thinking, “What an experience!” Extensive spending is also integral to the American Christmas tradition. With such enchanting surroundings, it’s no surprise people linger in department stores and love buying more, more, more.
Macy’s is one of the most frequently visited department stores during Christmas in New York, and for good reason. It contains the fascinating Macy’s Santaland – an entire floor transformed into a Christmas wonderland, straight from a fairy tale. Children get to share in the fun, too. They can meet Santa, take a picture with him, and share their wishes in person! If you’re already visiting Santaland and haven’t finished your Christmas shopping, you’re guaranteed to find the perfect present here.
For more places with excellent shops, visit the Christmas markets, Columbus Circle, and Fifth Avenue. All the shopping locations in New York have a very special charm during the holidays and, as mentioned earlier, also offer exciting attractions.
Have you always wanted to experience the essence of the American Christmas spirit? Then New York’s the place for you! As soon as you arrive downtown, you enter a Christmas paradise. Expect twinkling lights, colorful light shows, and mesmerizing decorations that an extra spark of magic to the air.
What’s more, you can explore real Christmas villages, such as Winter Village in Bryant Park, the Dyker Heights residential district, and Macy’s Santaland. You’ll feel like you’re in a movie! New York’s legendary Christmas shows will also transport you to a cheerful holiday paradise. All the fun and heartwarming activities in this megacity feed the Christmas spirit and make for an incredibly memorable stay.
Would you like to learn even more about the Big Apple? Then let inspiration take over and discover more sights and locations off the beaten path in New York.