With how busy the Big Apple usually is, it's no surprise the holiday cheer sets in a little early here. I, too, would like a break sooner. New York is full of Christmas traditions, many of which are followed almost religiously. What Christmas events will the average New Yorker — or a tourist — die to attend?
Here are 10 of the most popular things to do in New York in December:
1. Broadway Under The Stars at Time Warner Center
Broadway Under The Stars is a Time Warner Centre event that involves five weeks of free indoor Broadway performances. Yes, I imagined Broadway under the actual stars, instead, 12 huge stars hang from the ceiling. That's fine, though, because the stars do hang about a hundred feet from the ground. Performances mostly take place about five Thursdays before Christmas on the second floor of the Time Warner Center right. The seventh edition started on the 4th of November and will end on the 16th of December, 2021.
2. Santaland at Macy’s, Herald Square
I wasn't sure how much fun Christmas shopping could be until I learned there are up to 10000 shoppers daily at NYC’s Macy’s — a popular American chain store. The New York location holds a yearly Christmas event called Santaland. To shop here during this period, you must make a reservation online. Santaland started on the 26th of November, 2021 and it ends on Christmas Eve this year, so you might want to be quick about that reservation.
3. Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall
The Radio City Christmas Spectacular is an exciting presentation from the stars, Santa Claus and the Rockettes. They are made up of almost 150 synchronised dancers with striking moves that create excitement in no time. They’ll perform for 90 minutes multiple times every day, except Saturdays in December 2021.
Tickets are available here.
4. Bryant Park Winter Village Christmas Market
This ice skating and shopping combo is an annual event anticipated by many New Yorkers. In fact, for some people, it has become a family tradition. There are almost 200 kiosks at the market and the 17000-square foot rink is open to all. Bryant Park Winter Village has been open since October for ice skating, but the shopping fun doesn't really start till December. Also, keep in mind that the rink might be open till the 6th of March, 2022, but the shopping ends on the 2nd of January.
5. Jewish Festival of Lights
A Hanukkah Menorah is a Jewish monument that’s lit in celebration of the Jewish holiday, Hanukkah. Manhattan is home to the biggest public Menorah, weighing up to 4000 pounds and standing tall at 32 feet. Did I mention it's made of gold? The first lighting is on the 28th of November, 2021, signifying the start of the Jewish Festival of Lights. After this, lighting the menorah around 5:30 pm becomes a part of nearly every December evening in Manhattan. The menorah is lit a little earlier on Fridays around 3:00 pm and a little later on Saturdays around 8:00 pm. There's usually live music and something to snack on as you enjoy the view.
6. Ice Skating and the Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Plaza
Nothing says holiday spirit more than ice and a giant Christmas tree. But when you multiply that by 45000 LED lights and Swarovski crystals, New York gets a crowd at Rockefeller Center on the 1st of December for the lighting. The tree stays up all month, and for a few more days in January 2022.
7. Dyker Heights Holiday Lights Bus Tour
This New York tour is one of the most booked tours in the city. The ride lasts four hours, and you’d be surprised how incredible it can be to drive over a bridge in a bus. Everyone is picked up in front of the Row NYC Hotel and the last stop is Bryant Park Winter Village with the ice skating rink from the November post [insert hyperlink to New York In November post]. The tour happens every day from the 1st of December, 2021 to the 2nd of January, 2022.
You have to book tickets online.
8. Santa Con
If I was making a list of reasons to go on a friendcation to New York in December, SantaCon is the type of whimsical activity that would go on that list. On the 11th of December, 2021, half the city dresses up like Santa Claus or any of their favourite Christmas characters. The other half of the city is...boring. The event is free to attend but access to the bigger sections will require a $13 donation, which you can make here.
9. Numeral Arrival at Times Square
Times Square becomes a hotspot at the end of the year because of the famous illuminated structure of the year. From 21st of December, 2021, you, friends, families, magical strangers you're willing to marry because they sing duets with you and all other sorts of people can take photos in front of Numeral Arrival.
10. NYE’s Times Square Ball Drop
On the last day of the year, at least one million New Yorkers gather at Times Square for this New Year’s Eve (NYE) tradition. For more than a century, a shiny ball sits at the top of a special flagpole on the roof of One Times Square. The ball descends the flagpole at 11:59 pm on the 31st of December, 2021. Recently, we’ve come to expect a bit of a party as part of the tradition, and this starts around 6:00 pm. The event is free to everyone as long as you provide proof of full vaccination.