Introduction

Imagine a city adorned with a glistening winter coat, its streets twinkling with a million lights, and the air alive with the joyous tunes of the season. That’s the magic of celebrating Christmas in New York City. It’s a time of enchantment, where a cherished Christmas meal brings hearts together. Picture yourself savoring a delightful feast while the city adorns itself in its holiday finest and carolers serenade the streets with their harmonious cheer. In this blog, we’ll guide you through the top things to do on Christmas Day in New York City that know how to make every moment unforgettable. So, let’s unwrap the magic of NYC’s Christmas together with our New York Travel Guide.

12 Best Things To Do On Christmas Day in New York City

As the holiday season approaches, the glittering streets of New York City transform into a winter wonderland, offering an array of activities and attractions that will make your Christmas Day in the city truly magical. If you’re wondering, “How can I make Christmas special?” and searching for free things to do in New York City at Christmas, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s dive into the 12 best things to do on Christmas Day in New York City, including some free things to do in New York City at Christmas to turn your day into an unforgettable adventure. And if you’re wondering where to stay in NYC at Christmas to make the most of your festive experience, look no further – we’ve got you covered, too!

1. See the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

Location: Rockefeller Center Plaza, 5th and 6th Avenues, and 49th and 50th Streets.

Start your day by gazing at the iconic Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. Its shimmering lights and towering presence are a sight to behold. Feel the holiday spirit wash over you as you join the crowds of enthusiastic onlookers.

Highlights:

  • The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is one of the most iconic Christmas trees in the world. It is typically a Norway spruce that is over 70 feet tall and weighs over 12 tons.
  • The tree is decorated with over 50,000 multi-colored LED lights and a Swarovski star that is over 9 feet in diameter and weighs over 550 pounds.
  • The tree lighting ceremony is a major event in New York City and is typically held on the Wednesday following Thanksgiving.
  • The tree remains on display until January 6th of the following year.

2. Go ice skating at Wollman Rink in Central Park

Location: 830 5th Ave, New York, NY 10065, United States 

Embrace your inner child and hit the ice at Wollman Rink in Central Park. Glide under the crisp winter sky, creating memories that warm your heart for years.

Highlights:

  • Wollman Rink is one of the most popular ice skating rinks in New York City. It is located in the heart of Central Park, making it a perfect place to enjoy the winter weather and the festive holiday atmosphere.
  • The rink is open from October to April and offers stunning views of the city skyline.
  • Wollman Rink is also popular for private events, such as weddings and corporate outings.

3. Visit Dyker Heights in Brooklyn to see the Christmas lights

Location: Dyker Heights is a neighborhood in the southwest corner of Brooklyn, New York City. It is bordered by 11th Avenue to the east, 13th Avenue to the west, 83rd Street to the north, and 86th Street to the south.

Take a trip to Dyker Heights in Brooklyn, where the locals turn their homes into dazzling displays of holiday lights. It’s a true spectacle that will leave you speechless.

Highlights:

  • Dyker Heights is known for its over-the-top Christmas light displays. Many homeowners in the neighborhood go all out with their decorations, which is a truly magical sight to behold.
  • The displays typically start to go up around Thanksgiving and stay up until after New Year’s Day.
  • The best time to visit Dyker Heights to see the lights is in the evening when they are all turned on.
  • There are a few different ways to see the Dyker Heights Christmas lights. You can drive through the neighborhood, take a bus tour, or walk around and admire the displays up close.

4. See the Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Garden

Location: The New York Botanical Garden is located at 2900 Southern Blvd, Bronx, NY 10458, United States. 

Step into a world of miniature trains and enchanting landscapes at the New York Botanical Garden. It’s a charming experience for the whole family.

Highlights:

  • The Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Garden is a must-see for anyone visiting New York City during the holiday season. It is one of the largest and most elaborate train shows in the world.
  • The show features over 25 G-scale model trains and trolleys that chug along nearly a half-mile of track.
  • The trains travel through miniature replicas of New York landmarks, all made from natural materials such as bark, leaves, and twigs.

5. See the Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall

Location: Radio City Music Hall is located at 1260 6th Ave, New York, NY 10020, United States. It is easily accessible by subway, bus, or car. 

The Radio City Rockettes’ precision dancing and stunning costumes are a holiday tradition. Catch a performance that will leave you in awe.

Highlights:

  • The Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes is a New York City holiday tradition that has been running for over 80 years.
  • The show features the iconic Rockettes dancers performing high-energy precision dance routines, as well as singing, comedy, and live animals.
  • The show is set in a winter wonderland and features some of the most iconic Christmas songs, such as “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and “Jingle Bells.”
  • The Christmas Spectacular is a must-see for anyone visiting New York City during the holiday season. It is a fun and festive experience for the whole family.

6. Visit the Bronx Zoo to see the holiday light show

Location: 2300 Southern Blvd, Bronx, NY 10460, United States 

Explore the Bronx Zoo’s twinkling Holiday Light Show, where the animals and exhibits come to life in the glow of thousands of lights.

Highlights:

  • The Holiday Light Show at the Bronx Zoo is a truly magical experience. The zoo is transformed into a winter wonderland with over 2 million lights, animated displays, and live music.
  • Visitors can walk through the zoo and see animals from all over the world illuminated in festive lights. There are also special events and activities throughout the night, such as ice skating, carousel rides, and visits with Santa Claus.
  • The Holiday Light Show is a great way to get into the holiday spirit and see the Bronx Zoo in a whole new light.

7. See the Saks Fifth Avenue Light Show

Location: Saks Fifth Avenue is located at 611 5th Ave, New York, NY 10022, United States. It is located on Fifth Avenue between 49th and 50th Streets, in the heart of Midtown Manhattan. 

Don’t miss the captivating light show at Saks Fifth Avenue. It’s a mesmerizing display of holiday magic that will leave you in wonder.

Highlights:

  • The Saks Fifth Avenue light show is a New York City holiday tradition that has been running for over 40 years.
  • The show features a dazzling display of lights and music that is projected onto the facade of the Saks Fifth Avenue flagship store.
  • The show is set to a variety of holiday songs and features images of Christmas trees, snowflakes, and other holiday symbols.
  • The Saks Fifth Avenue light show is a must-see for anyone visiting New York City during the holiday season. It is a free and festive experience for the whole family.

8. Visit the Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park

Location: Bryant Park is located between 40th and 42nd Streets and Fifth and Sixth Avenues in Midtown Manhattan.

Bryant Park turns into a winter village filled with charming shops, an ice skating rink, and a sense of holiday cheer that’s hard to beat.

Highlights:

  • The Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park is a free, open-air holiday market and skating rink.
  • The market features over 170 shops selling unique gifts, food, and drinks.
  • The rink is open from October to March and is one of the most popular ice skating rinks in New York City.
  • The Winter Village also features a variety of family-friendly activities, such as ice skating shows, story time with Mrs. Claus, and visits with Santa Claus.

9. See the lightscape at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Location: 900 Washington Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11225, United States 

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden transforms into an illuminated paradise during the holiday season. Stroll through the radiant gardens and immerse yourself in the enchanting atmosphere.

Highlights:

  • The Lightscape at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is a dazzling display of over a million lights that transforms the garden into a winter wonderland.
  • The lights are arranged in a variety of creative and festive displays, including illuminated trees, flowers, and animals.
  • Visitors can walk through the garden and enjoy the lights at their own pace.
  • There is also a special Lightscape café that serves seasonal food and drinks.

10. See the Holiday Window Displays at Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Other Department Stores

Location: 

  • Macy’s Herald Square is located at 151 W 34th St, New York, NY 10001, United States. Saks Fifth Avenue is located at 611 5th Ave, New York, NY 10022, United States. 
  • Other notable department stores with holiday window displays include Bergdorf Goodman (754 5th Ave, New York, NY 10022, United States) and 
  • Bloomingdale’s (1000 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10022, United States).

Take a leisurely walk along Fifth Avenue to marvel at the elaborate holiday window displays in department stores like Macy’s and Saks Fifth Avenue.

Highlights:

  • The holiday window displays at Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, and other department stores are a New York City tradition.
  • The displays feature elaborate and creative scenes that will delight visitors of all ages.
  • The displays are typically unveiled in late November and remain on view through the holiday season.
  • Many department stores also offer special events and activities related to their window displays, such as meet-and-greets with Santa Claus and story time for kids.

11. See a Broadway Show

Location: Broadway theaters are located in Midtown Manhattan, between 41st and 53rd Streets and between Sixth and Eighth Avenues.

Make your evening unforgettable by catching a Broadway show. The city’s theaters come alive with captivating performances that leave you spellbound.

Highlights:

  • Broadway shows are known for their high production values, talented casts, and catchy songs.
  • There is a wide variety of Broadway shows, including musicals, plays, and comedies.
  • Many Broadway shows are family-friendly, making them a great option for a Christmas Day outing.

Popular Broadway shows:

  • The Lion King
  • Wicked
  • Hamilton
  • Chicago
  • The Phantom of the Opera
  • Aladdin
  • The Book of Mormon
  • Dear Evan Hansen
  • Come From Away
  • Moulin Rouge! The Musical
  • Tina: The Tina Turner Musical
  • Hadestown

12. Attend a Christmas concert or service

Location: There are many churches and concert halls in New York City that host Christmas concerts and services. Some popular options include:

  • Christmas Concert at St. Patrick’s Cathedral (Fifth Avenue between 50th and 51st Streets, New York, NY 10019)
  • The New York Philharmonic Christmas Concerts at David Geffen Hall (10 Lincoln Center Plaza, New York, NY 10023)
  • The New York Philharmonic Christmas Concerts at David Geffen Hall (10 Lincoln Center Plaza, New York, NY 10023)
  • Christmas at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine (1047 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10025)
  • Christmas with the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir (175 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, NY 11238)

Highlights:

  • Christmas concerts and services are a great way to celebrate the holiday season with your loved ones.
  • Many concerts and services feature talented musicians and performers.
  • Christmas concerts and services are often held in beautiful and historic buildings.

Conclusion

Christmas Day in New York City is a true embodiment of holiday splendor. The city’s beauty shines brighter, becoming a canvas for unforgettable memories and hidden gems waiting to be discovered.

If I am not mistaken, you got your answer, “How can I make Christmas special? “

As we conclude our guide on the best things to do on Christmas Day in New York City, we encourage you to plan your next magical Christmas in New York City. Check out our upcoming tourist blogs for more valuable insights and tips. 

Christmas magic awaits you in New York City!