Christmas Time in New York: Top Attractions & Tips
New York in Christmas is magical! Updated with all the 2021-2022 dates! All the wonderful lights and stunning decorations will brighten up your day and make you say WOW. One of my favorite times of the year in NYC!
You might also want to check out:
When Does Christmas in New York Start?
I would say the day after Thanksgiving Parade, when all the holiday windows start to lit up!
Top Attractions in NYC in Christmas
I love Christmas time in New York and all the things to do! Who doesn’t? A few tips:
- You must-see the holiday window displays at Macy’s & along Fifth Avenue, all the decorations at Rockefeller Center and the SAKS Light Show!
- Skip the Tree Lighting Ceremony at Rockefeller Center if you wanna avoid high-volume crowds. Once the tree is lit, you can go at any other time to see it.
- Expect lots of people in New York at this time of the year.
Thanksgiving Day Parade
UPPER WEST SIDE & MIDTOWN
Also known as the Macy’s Parade. One of the best and most popular parades of the year in NYC!
4th Thursday of November, 9am-noon.
2021: November 25 | 2022: November 24.
- Free viewing of the Balloon Inflation the night before 12pm-6pm.
Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree
Visiting the Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center is a must-do! The entire place is fully decorated and absolutely stunning. I prefer going in the evening because it’s magical to see all the lights when it gets darker, plus the Saks Light Show is right there!
ICE SKATING AT ROCKEFELLER
The most famous ice skating rink in New York. The rink is usually open since mid-October.
You’ll be able to see the Christmas decorations starting about 5-6 days before Thanksgiving Day.
CHRISTMAS TREE LIGHTING CEREMONY
December 1, 2021 @ 7pm-9pm. Where? 30 Rockefeller Plaza.
It usually takes place during the first week of December, after Thanksgiving.
- You’ll be able to see the Christmas Tree through mid-January! (Usually around the 10th).
- The Rockefeller Christmas Tree will be lit daily from 6am to 12am. On Christmas Day it will be lit for 24hs & on New Year’s Eve from 6am to 9pm.
- Best time to beat the crowds: early in the morning or late at night (I do prefer to go at night). It’s especially crowded in peak season (Christmas & NYE week!).
The city’s most famous tree lighting ceremony with live performances. Expect LOTS of people! Even though not so many this year due to the pandemic!
Free and open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis.
Saks Holiday Light Show
You can’t miss this fabulous light show! A MUST-SEE for everyone! Breathtaking.
One of my favorite things to see at Christmas in NYC.
SAKS LIGHT SHOW SCHEDULE
When? It’s always around Thanksgiving through beginning of January. Saks Holiday Light Show 2021/2022 Dates: from Nov. 23, 2020 @ 7pm through Jan. 4, 2022.
What time? Daily starting at about 4:35pm to 11:35pm, every 10 minutes. The Saks light show lasts about 5 minutes.
Where? At Saks on Fifth Avenue between 49th & 50th Sts. Best viewing from Rockefeller Center!
Fifth Avenue Holiday Windows
Department stores with stunning Christmas decoration windows worth seeing along Fifth Ave:
- LORD & TAYLOR: between 38th & 39th Sts.
- SAKS FIFTH AVENUE: between 49th & 50th Sts.
- THE PENINSULA NEW YORK (this is a hotel with stunning holiday decor!): 5th Ave. & 55th St.
- HENRI BENDEL: between 55th & 56th Sts.
- TIFFANY & CO: 5th & 57th St.
- BERGDORF GOODMAN: between 57th & 58th Sts.
- BLOOMINGDALE’S: 59th St & Lexington Ave. Great decor inside the store too!
Giant Red Ornaments
- Giant Red Ornaments: 6th Ave. between 49th & 50th Sts.
- Christmas Lights: 6th Ave. & 48th St.
- Christmas Deers: 6th Ave. & 48th St.
Winter Village at Bryant Park
TIMES SQUARE / MIDTOWN
Bryant Park is beautiful in Christmas season! It’s definitely worth the visit. Located close to Times Square.
Check out all the detailed info here.
THE HOLIDAY SHOPS
The best Christmas market! Plenty of small unique shops in Bryant Park, fun to explore.
When is it open to the public? End of October through beginning of January.
2021/2022: through Jan. 2, 2022. Daily 11am – 8pm.
TREE LIGHTING SKATE-TACULAR
When the Bryant Park Christmas tree is lit up for the first time.
Dec 6, 2021 | 6pm-6:45pm. Free! Check here for updates.
ICE SKATING RINK
One of the Top Ice Skating Rinks in New York.
- Free admission (you only pay for rental).
- Great to go with kids!
Christmas at Macy’s
MIDTOWN / HERALD SQUARE
Many locals hate Macy’s because it’s a very touristic area and always crowded, but nobody can deny that it’s worth the visit at Christmas.
You’ll be able to see them about a week before Thanksgiving Day (5-6 days earlier).
The store shows off its legendary display titled “Believe” on 34th St (between 7th & Broadway). Why? To inspire onlookers to have faith in the magic of the holiday season.
VISIT SANTA AT MACY’S SANTALAND (for kids)
A great Christmas event for kids. 13,000-square-foot winter wonderland will make your kids live a magical experience. Good for locals and tourists. All the info here!
By reservations only. You can book your spot from 30 minutes to 5 days in advance.
- WHEN: It usually starts 1-2 days after Thanksgiving through Dec. 24.
- RESERVATIONS: Reserve your spot here starting 5 days before the opening.
- COST: Free admission, but professional photos with Santa start at $39.99 (optional). You can ask an elf or an assistant to take a picture with your phone.
- WHERE IS SANTALAND: Macy’s at West 34th St. between Broadway & 7th Ave. 8th Floor.
Dyker Heights Christmas Lights
DYKER HEIGHTS, BROOKLYN
If you get the chance, visit Dyker Heights in Brooklyn to see the over-the-top Christmas decorations. It’s amazing! Good to go with kids!
- WHEN: starting the weekend after Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve. All the info and tips here.
Ice Skating in NYC
CENTRAL PARK / ROCKEFELLER / FINANCIAL DISTRICT / BATTERY PARK
Check out the Top Ice Skating Rinks in New York: Rockefeller Center, Bryant Park & Central Park.
New Year’s Eve Ball Drop
One of the most popular events in New Year’s Eve in New York.
Ball Drop Time: Dec. 31st at 11:59pm.
Plan ahead and try to be there early! Many people go there from 2/3pm. No kidding! You have to be there at least 8 hours in advance in order to get a good spot and watch the ball dropping at a close distance.
Locals and many tourists avoid this area because it’s extremely crowded. Not a good program to do with kids!! Long hours till the ball finally drops!
Besides this, it’s epic, millions of people counting close to midnight and live performances with internationally famous artists at midnight!
More info here.
A Map of Top Christmas Attractions in NYC
More Things to Do in Christmas in NYC
RADIO CITY CHRISTMAS SPECTACULAR
An annual Christmas Show at Radio City Music Hall. More info.
- Union Square Holiday Market: Nov. 18 – Dec. 24, 2021.
- Columbus Circle Holiday Market: Nov. 29 – Dec. 24 2021.
LUMINOCITY FESTIVAL AT WHITNEY POND PARK
This fabulous event is still ON this year! It was located at Randall’s Island on previous years. A wonderland of lights with stunning displays from Nov. 12, 2021 till. Jan. 9, 2022!
AFTER CHRISTMAS SALES
Many department stores and boutiques hold post-Christmas and end-of-year shopping deals.
- Dec. 26 – Jan. 8.
A very fun event in which you’ll see tons of people dressed as Santa all over the city! The location is revealed the night before the event!
Santacon 2021 Day, Location & Schedule:
2021 Date: Saturday, Dec. 11!
WHAT TIME: 10am – 8pm.
- Santacon is every year around Dec. 9, starting at 10am.
- Dress up. A Santa hat alone is not enough. The theme is red.
- Why did they create this event? Just for fun!
- COST: Free to attend. They only request a donation.
- Official Website. VENUES ANNOUNCED ON SANTACON’S EVE.
HOLIDAY TRAIN SHOW at NEW YORK BOTANICAL GARDEN in THE BRONX
Good program for families.
- Nov. 20, 2021 – Jan. 23, 2022.
- Website and tickets
- Book tickets in advance as they do sell out.
Tchaikovsky’s Christmas ballet is a classic performed by the NYC Ballet at Lincoln Center (on the Upper West Side of Manhattan). Nice program for kids and parents.
- Nov. 24, 2021 – Jan. 2, 2022.
- Tickets: start at $45.
Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays! Hope all this info was helpful to enjoy Christmas in NYC. Please, recommend and share my blog with friends & family 🙂
Follow me on Instagram Here @NewYorkerTips.