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The Best Christmas Events, New Year Events, and Things to Do in NYC for the Holidays

New York City is a great place to visit during the holiday season: There's something about NYC during the holidays that makes it come alive with extra spirit, excitement, and magic! Many famous Christmas movies have been filmed in the city, so for a lot of people, the image of the city dressed up in garlands and lights for the holidays puts them right in the holiday spirit. The holiday season offers limitless options for fun around the city, and the architecture is just a little more beautiful when decked out with extra lights and greenery.

Whether your plans are big or small, if you're looking for the best things to do in NYC, holidays offer some of the most fun and excitement to be had all year. Book Christmas Cruise and New Year Cruise with Liberty Cruise NYC in December and enjoy the holiday spirit of the season in the most exciting city in the world!

Top 12 Best Things to Do in NYC During the Holidays

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For the 12 days of Christmas, we've rounded up 12 of the best things to do in NYC. On holidays or any days, there's plenty to see, and some of it is even free!

  1. Go Window Shopping: Holiday window displays in New York City are truly one of a kind. We recommend strolling down Fifth Avenue, as you'll be able to visit renowned shops like Tiffany's, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman, and Henri Bendel. Don't forget a stop at Macy's: They're known for their holiday window displays!
  2. Explore Decorated Hotel Lobbies: New York City hotels are known to go all out during the holidays and give their lobbies a strong personality with beautifully arranged decorations. Hopping between hotel lobby bars is a great way to see some incredible decorations while spending time out of the cold.
  3. Visit a Winter Village: During the holidays, you'll find little pop-up shopping villages all over NYC. Wander through the kiosks to find a present for everyone on your list this year! The Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park is a great one to check out and includes a free skating rink.
  4. Go Ice Skating: Speaking of skating rinks, the city is full of them. You've probably seen some of them on TV, like the famous Rockefeller Center rink. You can also check out the small but charming skating rink at the Standard Hotel in the Meatpacking District.
  5. See a Famous Christmas Tree: The Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center is truly awesome and possibly the most famous Christmas tree in the world. Stop by to take it all in before you hit the skating rink!
  6. See the Rockettes: While you're near Rockefeller Center, head to Radio City Music Hall to see the annual Christmas Spectacular. It's one of the most famous Christmas events in NYC for the holidays, and it's been a holiday tradition in the city since 1933, though they add something new every year to keep it fresh.
  7. Buy Some Baked Goods: Gingerbread houses are a tasty and beautiful Christmas tradition, and you can find gorgeous examples at the William Pool gourmet shop on the Upper East Side. You can also check out Two Little Red Hens, known for some of the most delicious gingerbread cakes in the city.
  8. Get a Warm Drink: Bars in the city featured a lot of themed drinks during the holidays, like egg nog cocktails. Holiday pop-up bars like Miracle on 9th Street and Sippin' Santa offer amazing seasonal beverages.
  9. Ride a Vintage Subway Car: The Vintage Fleet, containing cars from the 1930s, runs on the F line and A/C/D lines, and the subway cars are decorated with vintage advertisements and other holiday adornments. Check the schedule to plan your trip, or visit the trains at the Transit Museum any time of year.
  10. See The Nutcracker at Lincoln Center: This holiday classic, choreographed by George Balanchine, comes to life every year in an elaborate stage production starring the New York City Ballet as well as scores of children from the School of American Ballet.
  11. Admire the Empire State Building: Don't miss a glimpse of the Empire State Building in the month of December! Its light display is red and green in celebration of Christmas for most of the month, though blue and white lights are used during Hanukkah.
  12. Go Sledding: Most years, New York City does indeed see snow in time for Christmas. Break out a sled and make the most of the winter weather in New York's beautiful parks, like Central Park or Prospect Park.

Popular Things to Do in NYC on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day

Ring in the new year in the most exciting city in the world. There is no shortage of things to do in NYC on New Year’s Eve; it’s one of the most popular New Year’s destinations. We’ve included some of the best things to do in New York City on New Year’s Day, so you can start out the year off right. Book a New Year’s Eve or Day cruise to kick start the festivities, then pair it with any of these fun New Year's Eve events or activities:

  1. See the Times Square Ball Drop: This one is an obvious classic, but people gather from all over the world to be in Times Square when the ball drops at midnight. Show up early and try not to move from your spot. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more crowded location than Times Square on New Year’s Eve.
  2. Go to a Concert: No matter your tastes, there’s probably a venue showing some music that you’ll love on New Year’s Eve. There are shows going on all over the city.
  3. Take a Plunge at Coney Island: This New Year’s Day activity is not for the faint of heart. Every New Year’s day polar bear plungers take a dive into the cold ocean to raise money for Camp Sunshine, a camp for terminally ill children.
  4. Attend a Poetry Marathon: Support NYC writers and listen to some poetry at this poetry marathon at St. Mark’s Church in the Bowery. Over 100 poets read from 2 pm until 2 am.