Destination Guides

Why New York City is the most Christmassy city in the world

When you think of all of the Christmas movies you’ve ever seen, it’d be safe to say that most of them featured New York City, right? There’s no denying it; Christmas time in New York is truly special. The atmosphere is abuzz as the streets of Manhattan come to life with countless lights and big, magical decorations.

As the merriest time of the year is fast approaching, we’ve been non-stop dreaming about the perfect New York City Christmas. While jumping across the Atlantic to celebrate the festive season may not be an easy option this year, we can certainly start planning our dream once-in-a-lifetime holiday for 2022 to the most Christmassy city in the world.

From uptown to downtown, there’s one thing for certain about a New York City Christmas; the festivities hold the power to grow the hearts of even the most Grinchiest amongst us. So, without further ado, here are some of the top things to do for Christmas in New York City.

Marvel at the Rockefeller Christmas Tree

What can only be described as New York City’s Christmastime pride and joy, the famous Rockefeller Christmas Tree is a beaming symbol of the holiday season. While the tree changes every year, the annual sense of awe remains the same. The tree is so iconic to the city’s Christmastime celebrations that both tourists and locals alike flock to see the tree in all its glory every year.

Adventure through The Big Apple and ascend to the Top of The Rock at the Rockefeller Center and enjoy dramatic views of the Manhattan skyline when you travel with Trafalgar on the New York Explorer tour.

Stroll through Dyker Heights on a Christmas Light tour

If you’ve always dreamed of seeing American houses exuberantly decorated in Christmas lights – just like in the movies – you won’t want to miss the chance to see the houses in Dyker Heights all lit up. The residents of Dyker Heights (a one-hour subway ride out of Manhattan) take their holiday decorating very seriously – with some houses reporting to have spent upward of $10,000 on their annual decorations. There’s no denying that New York is by far the most Christmassy city in the world; the houses that line the streets here are decorated with thousands of lights, life-size toy soldiers, inflatable Santas and so much more.

Ice skate in Bryant Park

If you’re looking for activities for how to spend Christmas in New York, look no further than the Winter Village at Bryant Park. Every year, the park turns into an urban winter wonderland. On the grounds of the park, there’s a Christmas market, which is home to more than 60 shopping stalls and food kiosks. Then, of course, the major attraction is the huge 17,000-square-foot ice skating rink, which is a popular spot for both locals and tourists alike. In fact, in a normal year where Midtown is filled with office workers, you can find people dressed in their corporate suits with their ice skates on and headphones in as they do a few laps before the working day begins.

RELATED CONTENT: 24 hours in New York: what to see and do in the Big Apple

Watch the New York City Ballet perform George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker

Every year from late November to early January, the New York City Ballet performs The Nutcracker. With music by Tchaikovsky and choreography by George Balanchine, the performance is a New York City christmas classic that is loved and watched by many.

Get into the Christmas spirit at the Radio City Christmas Spectacular

It doesn’t matter if you’ve never seen the performance, or if you’ve seen it a million times, the Radio City Christmas Spectacular starring The Rockettes is one of the most iconic Christmas shows in New York City. Guaranteed to get you into the Christmas spirit, the performance includes Santa, the Nutcracker and the Nativity.

Enjoy the festive shop window displays

If there’s one thing that will put you in the most festive of moods during Christmas in New York, it’s got to be the beautifully decorated streets and shop windows. Department stores including Barneys, Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s and Saks Fifth Avenue to name a few, show off their holiday spirit with ornately decorated window displays that are a favourite amongst both locals and tourists alike.

Take a bite of The Big Apple and explore the sights of the City That Never Sleeps when you travel on the East Coast USA and Canada End New York tour with Trafalgar.

Shop til you drop at a New York City Christmas market

It makes sense that the most Christmassy city in the world has an abundance of Christmas markets to visit. Some of our favourite markets include the Bryant Park Christmas Market, the Turnstyle Underground Market and the Grand Central Holiday Fair.

Set sail on a festive cruise

Looking for things to do for Christmas in New York City that may not be so high on the tourist radar? Dive headfirst into the Christmas spirit whilst onboard a festive Statue and Skyline Holiday Cocoa Cruise. When onboard the 1920s, vintage-style yacht, you can enjoy warm freshly-baked cookies, hot chocolate and Christmas songs performed by a live band, with a view of the Manhattan skyline and Lady Liberty herself in the background.

RELATED CONTENT: Christmas traditions from around the world

Explore the Bronx Zoo’s Winter Wonderland

Stepping foot into the Bronx Zoo around Christmastime is like entering a real winter wonderland. Everywhere you look, there’s something to see, from brightly lit trees, carollers singing and acrobats walking on stilts. However, the main attraction is the lantern safaris, where visitors can see illuminated animals from all over the world.


Inspired to find out more about New York? Get in touch with our Travel Advisors to request a quote

Have you ever experienced a New York City Christmas? Or, are you planning to in the near future? Let us know in the comments!  Or, head to our website to read more about how you can discover the best of New York with Trafalgar.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Sign up to our newsletter

Sign up to our newsletter and receive $250 of FREE Trafalgar travel credit

Terms and Cons*
Generic filters
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in excerpt
Search in content
Send this to a friend