Plan Ahead: Experience Christmas in New York October 06 2017

Rockefeller Christmas

Christmas talk already?  We know.  Halloween hasn’t even arrived yet.  However, many people are planning to venture to the winter wonderland that is New York City from November to early January.  The Christmas lights and beautifully decorated store windows exist at every corner of the city.  Most restaurants and bars offer special seasonal items.  Even the offices at New York NightLife will feature festive decorations and most of our tour options will have elements of the holiday season.  While there is no lack of amazing activities and sites to behold, some items need to be planned in advance, especially if tickets are needed or if you know you will be visiting something during an abnormally busy time.  The team at New York NightLife has pulled a few lists of places for the best lights, must-see holiday shows and a few extra bonus activities. 

The Best Christmas Lights and Decorations in New York

Now, almost every area of New York City has beautiful lights and festive holiday decorations during the holidays.  You can stumble into any neighborhood and you will feel holiday spirit.  The Walk at Columbia University is lit with twinkle lights on their trees, Columbus Circle/Time Warner has special silver lights that look like diamonds and LED snowflake displays, and South Street Seaport is all lit up as are many of the pockets in Queens, Brooklyn, The Bronx and Staten Island.  Every New Yorker or visitor has their favorite spot for Christmas lights, but there are some that are consistently the most popular. 

Time Warner Center Christmas

As reported in USA Today, here are the best holiday light destinations in NYC

  • Rockefeller Center, Manhattan.
  • New York Botanical Garden, The Bronx.
  • Dyker Heights Christmas Lights, Brooklyn.
  • Fifth Avenue, Manhattan.
  • Bank of America Winter Village, Bryant Park. Note:  The Christmas Shops here are especially delightful.
Bryant Park Christmas
  • World's Largest Menorah, Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn.
  • Holiday Under the Stars, The Shops at Columbus Circle.
  • Macy's, Manhattan.
  • Historic Richmond Town, Staten Island.
  • Park Avenue, Manhattan.

Holiday Shows

Christmas shows in NYC vary from the classy and traditional, to the kind of new, and maybe a little tacky, but no less fun for those who know what they like.  

Here’s the top list of the most popular holiday and Christmas shows in NYC according to New York City Theatre. 

  • NYCB: The Nutcracker. David H Koch Theater.
  • Elf. Theater at Madison Square Garden.

  • Metropolitan Opera: The Magic Flute. Metropolitan Opera House.
  • A Christmas Carol. Beckett Theatre.
  • Kris Kringle The Musical. Town Hall Theater.
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Count Basie Theatre.
  • Radio City Christmas Spectacular.


The Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular Starring the Rockettes

This New York Christmas tradition is worth seeing once.  While each year varies a bit, the general themes tend to be similar.  However, the dancing is great and they now incorporate multimedia events.  This holiday staple features more than 140 performers including the world famous Rockettes, original music, has real animals on stage and lasts 90 minutes.  The show runs from the second week of November through early January.  The closer it is to Christmas, the more likely the show is to sell out.  Tickets range from $35 to $700. Group rates and coupon codes are available. 

The Mariah Carey Christmas

Mariah Carey is one of Christmas’ most popular divas with 1994’s hit “'All I Want for Christmas Is You” still being a modern favorite. This concert takes place at the Beacon Theater for a limited run from November 27 through December 5.   This show will mostly consist of songs from Mariah's two holiday albums, Merry Christmas and Merry Christmas II You, as well as some classic seasonal favorites. Tickets are available and start at $87.

Tickets for all of these shows are available online and should be purchased in advance.

 Tips for Other Christmas Adventures and Treats

  • Most artisanal bakeries have special holiday treats that are only available for a few months.  Be sure to ask about them. 
  • Unless ice skating at Rockefeller Center has been a lifetime dream: skip it.  Avoid this tiny pool and skate instead at either Bryant Park or Central Park.  It is much more pleasant experience.
  • The night boat cruise or Sunset Jazz Cruise from New York NightLife are especially magically during the holiday season.  The beautiful New York Skyline is even more lovely with the addition of other festive lighting and positive energy.
  • Make time to see the holiday window displays around the city.  Some of the most popular are at Saks Fifth Avenue, Macys, Lord & Taylor, Tiffany's and Bloomingdales.


Enjoy your time in New York over the holidays!