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  • New York Christmas

Best things to do in New York at Christmas

It's the most wonderful time of the year, so the song goes, and where better to spend the festive season than in New York, the city that specialises in the spectacular! A New York holiday at Christmas is your chance to live like they do in the movies: taste the best food, see the best events and experience the very best that the city can give. It's not just any Christmas; it's a New York Christmas, so eat, drink and be merry!

Mark Written by: Mark Johnson / 2 December 2016
New York at Christmas

Outdoor Fun

Don't let cold weather stop you exploring the city. Think Christmas in New York: think ice skating. It's a classic holiday activity for couples and families alike. For the ultimate encounter with the ice, head to the rink in Bryant Park. Not only does the rink have free admission, there are skating lessons available for newbies. Skating shows and special events are also put on over the Christmas period.

New York at Christmas

For fast and furious fun in the snow, head to Central Park for sledding. Provided it's snowed at least six inches, the sledding areas are open for all; go to Pilgrim Hill and Cedar Hill for the best sledding slopes. If you're looking for something a little more refined, there’s always a ride in the horse drawn carriages!

New York at Christmas

Take things slower with a walk through Union Square Christmas Market, where you’re guaranteed to tick off everything on your Christmas shopping list. At the heart of New York City, Union Square Market is loved by both locals and tourists. You can find unique jewellery, artwork, skincare and gourmet pantry foods.

New York at Christmas

Food from the Heart

America takes its food seriously and you won’t want for good grub while you’re here. Mas Farmhouse prides itself on sustainably raised ingredients in rustic French dishes with a modern twist, and a menu that changes with the seasons. Many restaurants go all out when Christmas comes to town, especially Rolf’s German Restaurant, which spares no detail covering its walls with baubles, and garlands on every table.

New York at Christmas

Of course, the most famous eat-out experience in New York is the Russian Tea Room. Founded in 1927 by members of the Russian Imperial Ballet, this restaurant has fed writers, actors, and politicians; no dining experience in New York quite compares to it. You can fit in a visit to Russian Tea Room for lunch, dinner, and pre/post theatre dining.

Alternatively, go all out and have the ultimate festive dinner at the Tea Room: Meat Solyanka, Sea Bass, and Chocolate Mousse Cake anyone? Go on, treat yourself, it’s Christmas! Book ahead as everyone will be wanting a table.

New York at Christmas

Cultural days

New York is famous for museums, galleries and cultural experiences, which can give you a refreshing break from the cold weather. Catch a free holiday performance taking place in various venues near the World Trade Center; go into the atrium itself to see the Winter Garden. Don’t forget to make time to visit the Museum of Modern Art, famous for exhibiting work by artist Georgia O’Keefe, Andrew Wyeth and Alfred Stieglitz.

If you’re new to New York, take one of the many tour buses that run through the city. It’s an excellent way to see New York, especially in the evenings when the festive lights stand out. Most buses have a hop-on-hop-off policy, so you can include a quick tour on your way to ice skating. Christmas is prime tour season, so you’re bound to find a time that suits your holiday schedule.

New York at Christmas

Bright lights, big city

They say that New York is the city that never sleeps and there’s plenty to see at night as well as during the day. The Lincoln Center is a grand complex that hosts a number of performing arts organisations, and is the ultimate cultural evening out. You haven’t experienced Christmas until you’ve seen The Nutcracker on the stage.

New York at Christmas

Christmas Spectaculars

A show stopping December experience is the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, where the experience begins right from when you walk through the doors. Put an evening aside to see the annual Tree Lighting at Rockefeller Center; the electric atmosphere and live performances simply aren’t the same when you watch them on TV.

New York at Christmas

Retail Therapy

There’s nothing quite like a little retail therapy to kick off the holidays. New York takes its shopping seriously, so you’re in for a memorable experience in every store. Start in the more alternative areas like Soho and Nolita, where you’ll find authentic and original boutiques selling bohemian trinkets and clothing. Don’t miss the store that inspired the classic Christmas film Miracle on 34th Street: Macy’s.

The store is more like a mini city, with ten floors bursting with goodies – get a directory as soon as you walk through the doors! Round off your day of retail by having a look at the extravagant Christmas window displays. With Henri Bendel, Saks Fifth Avenue, Tiffany & Co. and many more all vying for the most memorable holiday window display, we’ll leave it up you to decide which is the best!

New York at Christmas

Prospect Park

In-between all the exciting holiday activities, remember to leave some space for down-time. New York is a busy city so leave aside days where you can take it easy and really enjoy your surroundings. Prospect Park is a beautiful area to take a break by taking a stroll, and tends to be less touristy than the more popular Central Park.

If you’re looking for activities, the Prospect Park Alliance organises events that include bird watching, historic arts and crafts and games that help children and adults learn about their environment. Whether you’re interested in a game of baseball, taking your child on the carousel, or just sipping a coffee on a park bench, Prospect Park is the place to be.

Final Thoughts

Christmas in New York is truly one of the most special experiences. It’s shown in movies, posters, songs and adverts. If you’re in New York in December, you’re in for a treat, so don’t miss a thing. Keep your eyes peeled when visiting the Rockefeller Center, and the Museum of Modern Art. Give it your all when you go ice skating in Bryant Park, sledding in Central Park, and wandering through Prospect Park. Experiences like the Radio City Christmas Spectacular and the unique taste of the Russian Tea Room are all part of what will be a magical and memorable holiday.

Mark Johnson

Blogger Profile - Mark Johnson

Mark is an avid traveller and loves to explore the world with all of its varied cultures. He is also an adventure sport enthusiast and has tried everything from Skydiving to Scuba Diving!


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