It’s the most wonderful time of the year, that’s what the song tells us and if you want to truly experience this then there is only one place to head for the festive holiday season and that’s New York. New York during December is such a magical place that even the most hardened New Yorker’s have to admit that it’s a wonderful place to spend the holiday season in. Whether you are planning to be there right over the festive period or are just planning a shopping break and long weekend stay during December you will be captivated from the moment you touch down.
New York seems to be swept up in the festivities like nowhere else, department stores that look like fantasy grottos, giant christmas trees, hotel lobbies oozing old world Christmas charm, it truly is a breath-taking sight.
Whilst in New York there are certain things that just have to be done. It may seem like a tourist cliché for some events but then Christmas is about enjoying yourself and not getting too hung up so just go with it and have a fabulous time. Five of the best things to do whilst in New York at Christmas are:
Trip to the Rockefeller Plaza.
No where seems to sum up Christmas in New York quite like the Rockefeller Plaza. From the iconic Christmas tree to the world-famous ice rink, Rockefeller Plaza is Christmas in New York. Yes it is probably the ultimate in tourist destinations but its fun and encapsulates Christmas in a magical way. The tree, usually a Norway Spruce, stands around 70 foot tall and is lit from the end of November until the end of the first week in January and has been a Christmas tradition in New York since 1933. The lighting of the tree marks the start of the holiday season in New York so if you are around at the end of November when the ceremony happens, take your place alongside the thousands of people who turn out every year to watch this event.
As well as the world-famous Christmas tree, the Rockefeller center is also known for its ice rink. Situated in the heart of Midtown just moments from Time Square and the theatre district, this is another long-standing tradition in New York that is a must to go and see. Even if you don’t want to skate there, just going and soaking up the atmosphere is enough.
Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular.
Another Christmas tradition in New York that started in 1933 is the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. This is the show to go and see and will really set you in the mood for the Christmas season. The 90 minute extravaganza encapsulates singing and dancing and performances by the renowned Rockettes. A New York tradition in the same way as Pantomimes in the UK, the Radio City Christmas Spectacular is a real treat.
The stunning Art Deco venue which is located at the Rockefeller center is worth a trip to in its own right, even if you don’t take in a show. Amazing interiors and art work and of course the giant “Mighty Wurlitzer” pipe organ, which is the largest in any music hall venue. All in all another must do stop whilst in New York at Christmas.
Visit Grand Central Terminal.
Grand Central Terminal is famous the world over and probably an image that most people will know well. It has had a starring role in many films and tv shows over the years and is a wonderful destination at any time of the year but at Christmas it seems to really come into its own. This iconic piece of New York architecture is a huge place, 44 platforms and 67 tracks that is located in Midtown Manhattan at 42nd Street and Park Avenue.
The main concourse is a huge space and the massive painted ceiling and stunning architecture is worth a visit in their own right. Head down there though during the Christmas period and you are in for a real treat. In the Vanderbilt Hall you will be able to visit the Christmas Markets, which run from mid November until Christmas Eve. Another event dating back to 1933, the Christmas Markets in Grand Central Terminal is another must stop destination. Whether you want to do some Christmas shopping and pick up something extra special or you just want to browse through some of the finest gifts on offer, including art work, clothes toys and homewares a visit to Grand Central Terminal is a real Christmas treat.
Take in a Window Display.
Nowhere does window dressing quite like New York at Christmas time. The iconic window displays that decorate the department stores and shop fronts throughout the city will certainly help entice you if you are heading to New York for a shopping spree before Christmas. When you think of Christmas in New York you think of Saks, Macy’s, Barney’s and Bloomingdale’s to name but a few who go all out to dress their store windows in the most magical way, it is eye candy the likes of which will be hard to beat anywhere else.
Even if you are not going to shop whilst in the city, a walk past these iconic stores is what Christmas in New York is all about. Whether you just stick to the main stores in Midtown or head out a little further afield to take in the independent boutique stores, Christmas window dressing has become another New York holiday tradition that just seems to get better and better. If you are in New York anytime after mid November you will be able to enjoy the store fronts in all their holiday glory and the best thing about it is that it is free.
Experience Central Park.
No trip to New York would be complete without spending some quality time in Central Park and whether you go to just take a stroll, participate in some ice skating on one of the ice skating rinks or enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride though the park, you will create wonderful Christmas memories that will last a lifetime.
You can take a sightseeing tour of Central Park with an experienced guide, who can take you through all the delights that New York has on offer during the holiday season, from the fabulous lights at the Rockefeller center to the stunning store window displays to the holiday Christmas Markets. If you are looking for a great activity to do with families whilst in Central Park then check out the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre which offers unique marionette puppets shows which will delight all.
At the South end of the park there is always a Christmas Market set up, a great place to go and soak up some Christmas atmosphere away from the frenetic hustle and bustle of the main shopping areas of the city and if all you want to do is to go for a stroll and relax a little bit from all the Christmas fun and sight-seeing then there is no better place to do it than Central Park.
New York Christmas Breaks – Final Words.
If you are looking for a great place to enjoy Christmas then look no further than New York. This is the City where Christmas really comes alive. From mid November until early January, New York will captivate you with its Christmas magic, stunning window displays, fun activities and lights that will be-dazzle you where ever you go. A trip to New York at Christmas is to experience a wonderful,
traditional time of the year that will fill you with awe and amazement and will leave you wanting more. If you are looking for a place to capture some lasting Christmas memories it will take an awful lot to beat what New York has on offer over the festive season.