Ah, Christmas in the city. It’s the stuff of movies. Literally. When you live in Connecticut, a trip into the city before the holidays is a near right of passage. But, of course, not everyone has such easy access to the city. While everyone, whether they live near or far, is familiar with Rockefeller Center’s famous Christmas tree, there are a plethora of amazing Christmas things to visit because, I don’t know if y’all know this or not, but New York City is kind of big.
The tree at Rockefeller Plaza: the most famous of all of the Christmas things. Can you even scroll Instagram in the month of December without seeing it pop up a few dozen times? It’s almost so touristy it’s cliche. But it’s also iconic. Which makes it an absolute must hit, especially if you don’t often get the chance to go. And, like so many other things, pictures can only show so much. There is no picture that is going to depict the size of that tree. Be prepared to be squished by an uncomfortable amount of people.
This area includes Radio City Music Hall as well, home of The Rockettes. While The Rockettes do other shows, they are most known for their Christmas Spectacular which they run for roughly two months starting early November and through the New Year. It’s a fun show and definitely something to consider. (This year they have cancelled the remainder of their shows due to Omicron).
Do an about-face from the Rockefeller tree and you’re facing Saks Fifth Avenue. The building does a three minute light show to Christmas music. And I’m going to be completely honest: I love it. I saw it again this year and it was more impressive than I remember. Don’t worry about planning when to go; the light show happens frequently and, as long as you’re there after sunset, you won’t have to wait long.
Saks is not the only building on Fifth Avenue that extensively decorates. Walk the area and check it all out. One of my favorites is the Cartier building that dresses itself up like a present.
Okay, I know you’ve all heard of Macy’s on 34th. It’s basically Santa’s second home this time of year. It will also be fabulously decorated both outside and inside. This years theme was a reindeer in flight school trying to gain confidence. If you’re really brave, you can even try and meet Santa.
Hudson Yards is a newer development with the first parts of it having only opened in 2019. It includes food, shopping, and The Edge, which is an outdoor observation deck with beautiful views of the city. There is more slated to come for the area but even incomplete it’s already solidifying itself as a spectacularly decorated holiday spot.
Holiday Street Markets
A ton of these pop up but the most well known is probably the one in Bryant Park. A bunch of little stands selling everything from ornaments, to handmade wooden trays, to clothing, to cat memorabilia. They’re fun and worth checking out.
While you should have no problem finding a holiday decorated eating establishment, some are a little more gung-ho than others. The two I’ll mention are Lillie’s Victorian Establishment and Oscar Wilde. Lillie’s Victorian Establishment is a popular spot that’s been known to really do it up for the holidays. Oscar Wilde is a themed bar based off of the famously extravagant author and, while the bar is ornately decorated all year round, it’s ridiculously over the top for Christmas in the absolute best way.
A Few Final Thoughts
In a city this size, the list of places to go is never-ending. In addition to the Rockefeller Tree there are also lavish trees at The MET, The New York Stock Exchange, and Washington Square Park amongst others. If you’re willing to make the trek to Brooklyn there’s Dyker Heights. I haven’t been there yet (maybe next year!) but they’re known for their completely over the top Holiday lights.
What is noticeably off this list: Central Park and Times Square. While these are some of the most famous places in the city, they don’t bring on the holiday decorating game quite like some of these other spots. But, no matter what I do, this is one of my favorite times of the year to explore the city.