Once Thanksgiving dinner is over, NYC gets ready for Christmas. The streets are filled with the sight of Christmas lights and decorations, the smell of fresh fir trees and the sound of cheesy Christmas songs. Add snow and you will get the perfect Christmas atmosphere. If you plan to visit New York City for Christmas, don’t miss these events.
credit: Marco Verch
Radio City Christmas Spectacular
The annual Radio City Music Hall Spectacular is one of the most popular Christmas traditions in NYC, attracting millions of visitors. Since 1933, the all-female dance company The Rockettes star at the spectacular music-dance-humor show at the Rockefeller Center. This year, the show will run from November 7 to December 31, and it will feature original music as well as Christmas classic and innovative digital projection and digital mapping technology.
Radio City Music Hall
1260 Avenue of the Americas
The classic Tchaikovsky ballet the Nutcracker returns every Christmas to New York City in various versions and interpretations. This year you can choose between the critically acclaimed version of the father of American choreography George Balanchine (December 9–31 at the Lincoln Center) to the contemporary version of Tamara Saari (December 13 & 14 at Ailey Citigroup Theater), the queer-Latino combination of the Nutcracker and Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (“Los Nutcrackers: A Christmas Carajo”, December 11–20 at the Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance) or the educational The Colonial Nutcracker (December 14 at the Brooklyn Center of Performing Arts).
NYC’s Largest Christmas Tree
The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree is NYC most iconic holiday symbol. The 85-foot Norway spruce is covered with about 45,000 colorful LED lights and topped by a glittering star studded with 25,000 Swarovski crystals. The festive lightning event already took place in the beginning of December, but you can still watch the enormous lit tree until January 8, 2015.
30 Rockefeller Plaza New York
credit: Dov Harrington
Dyker Heights Christmas Lights
Dyker Heights takes the Christmas lights tradition very seriously. Every year, many of the houses in the southwestern Brooklyn neighborhood are decorated with spectacular light, color and sound installations including inflating life-size figures of Santa Claus, the reindeer and baby Jesus. Dyker Heights Christmas extravaganza usually begins in Mid-November, but to view the best light displays it is recommended to visit about a week or two before Christmas, especially on the weekend. Note that Dyker Heights’ most lit area is located around a mile from the nearest subway station, so renting a car might be a good idea.
12th Ave & 84th St
Ice skating in any of various seasonal ice rinks in NYC is also a local Christmas tradition, especially when accompanied by a cup of hot cacao. Romantic couples will choose the ice rink at the Rockefeller Center, near the large Christmas trees, while others will prefer the spacious rink in Central Park or will even go as far as Bryant Park or Long Island City Ice Pavilion. Note that the ice rinks get crowded at the peak of the holiday season, and stay away from the outdoor rinks on real freezing days.
The winter brings out the best of NYC mixologists, and the holiday season is characterized by creative alcoholic and non-alcoholic versions of the classic eggnog. You can sip a boozy eggnog made of Australian ostrich egg yolk, Goldschlager, bourbon and cognac at the davidburke & Donatella bar or a Caribbean flavor coconut eggnog martini at Tommy Bahama Restaurant & Marlin Bar, or warm up with Starbucks eggnog latte.