Magical Christmas moments in New York City

There is no denying that New York City sparkles during the holiday season. The parks where people stroll and jog are reimagined as quaint Christmas villages, landmark attractions and hotels transform into winter getaways, and the bustling streets shine a bit brighter with twinkling lights. Christmas in the Big Apple is simply magical.

Whether you’re a proud New Yorker looking for a night of yuletide fun or traveling to the city for the holidays, this list of activities and attractions will make you feel jolly.

Where to Sightsee: Fifth Avenue Holiday Windows


From Rockefeller Center to the magical Christmas villages, NYC is famous for its extravagant decorations and high-spirited traditions during the season. However, no tradition may be as iconic as the fanciful window displays on Fifth Avenue. Stores such as Bergdorf Goodman, Macy’s, and Tiffany & Co. reveal their themed windows in November in elaborate lighting shows. These windows tend to garner a large crowd, so be prepared to do less shopping and more gazing.

Where to Take a Festive Scroll: NYC Winter Lantern Festival

Founded in 2018, the NYC Winter Lantern Festival aims to educate people on the culture and craftsmanship of traditional Chinese lantern festivals. Local artisans build each lantern out of steel frames and wiring with painted Chinese silk cloth to create whimsical displays of animals, architecture, and nature.

Where to See Spectacularly Decorated Homes: Dyker Heights Holiday Lights


What’s the holidays without a little bit of friendly competition? Every year, the residents of Dyker Heights deck out their homes in elaborate Christmas lights and decorations in hopes to be the brightest home on their block. Thousands of people flock to the Brooklyn neighborhood to see what life-size toy soldiers and Santas, snowmen, and exquisite light displays illuminate the streets each season.

Where to See a Spectacular Tree: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Each year, the Metropolitan Museum of Art showcases a radiantly lit 20-foot blue spruce tree, adorned with silk-dressed angels and candles, in its Medieval Sculpture Hall. A Neapolitan Baroque Nativity scene is set at the base of the tree, complemented by a Spanish choir screen from the Cathedral of Valladolid in the background.

Where to Hear the Sweet Sounds of the Season: Holidays with the Philharmonic

Founded in 1842 by conductor Ureli Corelli Hill, the New York Philharmonicis one of the oldest musical institutions in the United States and is considered one of the most revered in the world. The orchestra closes its season with a festive collection of concerts as a part of Holidays with the Philharmonic. This year, the holiday lineup includes a stirring performance of Handel’s Messiah and a holiday-themed brass concert.

Where to Shop for One-of-a-Kind Antiques and Gifts: Brooklyn Flea + Smorgasburg Winter Market 

Two summertime favorites of Brooklynites, the Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg, come together during the colder months to host a massive indoor winter market. Guests can explore the packed markets in Dumbo and Chelsea for unique works of art and furniture while picking up a few savory treats.

60 vendors, composed of antique dealers, local artisans, designers, jewelers, and furniture dealers, make up the Brooklyn Flea section of the market, whereas Smorgasburg highlights around 20 specialty food vendors.

Where to Pick Up Sweet Stocking Stuffers: Union Square Christmas Market 

Squares and streets all throughout New York start to look like mini North Poles at the beginning of December as local craftsmen and artists set up stalls at magical Christmas markets. Located at the heart of the city, the Union Square Christmas Market has over 100 booths with homemade ornaments and decadent sweets that make for the perfect stocking stuffers.

Where to Eat a Fun Christmas Meal: Gupshup

Celebrating the cuisine and lifestyle of Bombay, Gupshup celebrates the holidays with innovative dishes and colorful artwork adorning the walls. Each year, the Gramercy shop serves a range of Indian classics and fun fusion dishes like tikka, and black makhani.


Take in the City views from the Ferry

One of the favorite things to do with friends visiting New York City for Christmas is to take them on the NYC Ferry. The NYC Ferry is part of the public transportation network within NYC, so rides are only $4 per person.

Riding the ferry is a great way to rest your legs while soaking up incredible views of NYC at Christmastime. Just keep in mind that this is an official mode of transportation and not really a tourist attraction, so you can’t spend all day on it.

Images courtesy of Rockefeller Center, Patch, NYC Winter Lantern Festival, Glam of NYC, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Discover Walks and HotelGift

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