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What to Do During the Holidays in NYC 2017

November 10, 2017 - by City Guide News Desk
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Events for the holidays in NYC are some of the most memorable that the city has to offer. Winter 2017 in New York will be no exception, as skating rinks, Christmas trees, holiday markets, department store windows, and the world-famous Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes® will set the wintry city ablaze with light. Read on for the best of NYC holiday events this season!

NYC Holiday Events: Tree Lightings and Celebrations

christmas tree lighting rockefeller center

(11/29) The towering tree in Rockefeller Center is an international symbol of the holiday spirit. This year’s lighting on Wednesday, November 29 will feature live performances from 7 to 9pm. The tree will remain lit, and can be viewed, through Jan. 7, 2018. Note that the lighting ceremony gets very crowded, so it’s best to be there hours in advance, or come back after the 30th, when the scene is more manageable. Rockefeller Center, 600 Fifth Ave. (btw. 49th & 50th Sts.), 212-332-7654,

(11/27) Kick off the holidays right at a tree-lighting spectacular on the Upper West Side! The the 18th Annual Winter’s Eve at Lincoln Square begins with the lighting of a large tree from an upstate New York farm. No matter the weather, dance troupes will dazzle on the main stage, and Micky Dolenz, a legendary member of The Monkees, will sing for the crowd, which is expected to number 20,000 or more. You can also enjoy ice sculptors, jugglers, and stilt-walkers working their magic as you walk around the festival. Local restaurants will be selling food at three tents stationed along Broadway. Come
out, bring the family, and get in the holiday spirit at this free and festive celebration! Along Broadway from Columbus Circle to 68th St., 212-581-7762,

NYC Holiday Events: Skating

the rink rockefeller center

New York winter fun has officially begun, as the first skaters have hit the ice at The Rink at Rockefeller Center. This year marks the 81st anniversary of the world’s most famous rink. Tuesday and Thursday mornings you can catch Cool Workout Classes with two-time Olympian JoJo Starbuck, who leads skaters in stroking, gliding, turns, and spins. Or take advantage of a package deal, like a VIP dining and skating combo that includes great seats for the Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes®.

For more on skating in NYC, click here.

NYC Holiday Events: Tours

A Slice of Brooklyn’s The Original Christmas Lights Tour of Dyker Heights runs every night in December (except Christmas Day). This three and a half hour tour highlights the festive homes of Dyker Heights, an Italian-American section of Brooklyn that boasts the most extravagant holiday lights show you’ve ever seen. A Slice of Brooklyn knows the homeowners personally and escorts guests around like family. The multimedia presentation includes vintage Christmas variety specials with the likes of Andy Williams, Frank Sinatra, and Bing Crosby. Departs from Union Square in Manhattan. Call 212-913-9917 or visit

Gray Line NY Double Decker Sightseeing Holiday Lights Tour

Gray Line New York Sightseeing offers special Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes™ combo tours, as well as trips to Woodbury Commons, where you can get the jump on designer outlet shopping. See for more.

THE RIDE: 6th Annual Holiday Edition returns to turn the streets of New York into a stage, Nov. 16-Jan. 7, 2018. You’ll cruise in comfort in a patented $1.5 million travelling theater. Technology galore and floor-to-ceiling glass with side-facing VIP seating provide perfect views to dazzling holiday performances you’ll find along a 4.2-mile journey through Manhattan. Original seasonal music, videos, and hilarious hosts complete the experience, definitely one to remember. 234 W. 42nd St. (btw. Seventh & Eighth Aves.), 212-221-0853,

NYC Holiday Events: Cruises

bateaux statue of liberty

Spirit Cruises offers some of the best ways to get out on the water in NYC. All December look for a host of holiday cruises: options include Jingle Bells Lunch Cruises, Holiday Lights Dinner Cruises, Holiday Gospel Brunch, Santa Lunch Cruise (12/9), Christmas Eve Lunch Cruise, Christmas Eve Dinner Cruise, and Holiday Latin Cocktail Cruises.  

Bateaux New York (pictured above) is Manhattan's premier all-glass, European-inspired dining cruise vessel. Holiday cruises in December include Holiday Champagne Brunch Cruises, Holiday Lights Dinner Cruises, Silver Bells Lunch Cruises, and a Christmas Eve Dinner Cruise.

NYC Holiday Events: Holiday Markets

grand central holiday shopping fair

Every year, NYC offers a variety of pop-up holiday markets. For off-the-beaten-path gift shopping, these are excellent destinations.

No need to brave the elements for holiday shopping: visit the Grand Central Holiday Fair (Nov. 13-Dec. 24) and browse in comfort. This season features a new look and a more intimate shopping experience, with a tightly curated grouping of 40 artisans in Vanderbilt Hall selling art and home goods; holiday-themed items; bath and body products; toys; and clothing and accessories for men, women, and children. For the first time during the holiday season at Grand Central, visitors will be able to take advantage of both dining and shopping options, with the critically acclaimed Great Northern Food Hall standing by witj four Nordic-inspired food pavilions and bar. The Holiday Fair is open Monday through Friday, 10am-8pm, until 7pm Saturdays, and 11am-6pm Sundays. Closed Thanksgiving and open 10am-6pm on Christmas Eve. Grand Central Terminal, 89 E. 42nd St. (Park Ave.),

Year round, Annex Markets, which include Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen locations, offer a wide selection of new and antique finds, great for gifts and treasures.

For more on holiday markets, click here.

NYC Holiday Events: Performances and More

The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

(11/23) The Macy's Thanksgiving Parade is a longstanding New York City tradition, responsible for unofficially kicking off the holiday season. Dating back to 1924, the parade sees generations of familieslocals and visitors alikelining up to see floats, live entertainment, iconic hot air balloons (Snoopy, Hello Kitty, Spiderman, and many others), plus a glimpse of Santa on his sleigh at the end. The parade gained popularity after being prominently featured in the film classic Miracle on 34th Street, starring a very young Natalie Wood. The parade route runs down Central Park West from 77th Street to Columbus Circle, along Central Park South to Sixth Avenue, down Sixth Avenue to 34th Street and along 34th Street to Macy's Herald Square. Line up early! Starts 9am. Check here for the latest on the 2017 performers, including the Big Apple Circus!

Looking for Thanksgiving dinner in NYC? We've got the best of turkey and fixin's here.

NYC Holiday Events: Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes™

Radio City Christmas Spectacular

The NYC perennial holiday favorite Christmas Spectacular runs this year from November 10 through January 1, 2018. Fan favorites include "New York at Christmas," where the Rockettes board a real double-decker bus, and the high-energy tap number "Twelve Days of Christmas." Of course, beloved classics like "The Parade of the Wooden Soldiers" and "The Living Nativity" will also be back. Radio City Music Hall, 1260 Avenue of the Americas at 50th St., 877-941-7457,

Holiday Express

holiday express train show new-york historical

Holiday Express: Trains and Toys from the Jerni Collection returns to the New-York Historical Society to delight and inspire children of all ages. With items from the Jerni Collection of more than 10,000 toys and trains dating from 1850 to 1950, the show modernizes the miniatures with multiscreen, multimedia displays. Kids can crawl through to a a transparent bubble to get an up-close-and-personal view of a display that suggests an early 20th century toy department. A holiday must-see in NYC! Through Feb. 25, 2018. 170 Central Park W. (btw. 76th & 77th Sts.), 212-873-3400,

For more on NYC's other holiday train shows, click here.

Annual Lighting of the World's Largest Hanukah Menorah

(12/13-12/19) A whopping 32-foot-high, two-ton menorah is set up across from The Plaza in Midtown East each year (59th Street and Fifith Avenue). Look for lightings at 5:30pm (earlier on Friday and later on Saturday to accommodate Shabbat).

George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker

nutcracker nyc ballet 2017

Photo credit: © Paul Kolnik

(11/24-12/31) Dreams come to life when Tschaikovsky’s iconic melodies begin to play. As the clock chimes midnight, a brave young girl turns the tide in a battle between toy soldiers and mischievous mice, and a blizzard of ballerinas reveal a wonderful world of confection. This holiday season, be swept away by the magic of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker®, performed by the world-renowned New York City Ballet. The New York Times says, “Balanchine’s classic production felt like coming home.” David H. Koch Theater, 20 Lincoln Center,


(12/3) The Vienna Boys Choir sings  Christmas in Vienna at Carnegie Hall.

(12/9) The streets of New York overrun with Santas as SantaCon returns for another year of good-natured mayhem.

(12/9) Coca Cola Winter Wonderland at the Apollo Theater. Under the twinkling lights of our famous marquee, The Apollo Theater and Coca-Cola invite you to bring the family for holiday-themed activities including picture taking with Santa Claus and amazing performances. 

(12/9) The Cecilia Chorus of New York (180 voices with orchestra) presents J.S. Bach Christmas Oratorio at Carnegie Hall.

(12/10) Judy and the Maccabees-A Chanukah Musical for Families at Merkin Concert Hall, featuring the Kaufman Kids. In this delightful re-imagining of the ancient Hanukkah story, Judy is a feisty young girl who leaves her father to help the Maccabees in their fight for religious freedom.

(12/9, 12/10, 12/25) Early Music New York’s chamber ensemble of men's voices and instruments performs selected carols, noels, and motets from European sacred and secular rituals. Special Renaissance holiday repertoire, Cathedral of St. John the Divine.

(12/12-12/16) NY Philharmonic performs Handel's Messiah at Lincoln Center. 

(12/14-12/16) Grammy winner Paul Winter oversees the Paul Winter Consort's Winter Solstice Celebration at NYC's Cathedral of St. John the Divine. The multi-media, highly theatrical event has become a yearly tradition; this year will be the first time that a classic rock artist, Gary Brooker of Procol Harum ("A Whiter Shade of Pale"), will be featured.

(12/21-12/23) A Darlene Love Christmas at B.B. King Blues Club & Grill. A holiday staple on David Letterman with her performance of "Christmas, Baby Please Come Home," The New York Times raved ..."Darlene Love's thunderbolt voice is as embedded in the history of rock and roll as Eric Clapton's guitar or Bob Dylan's lyrics." 

(12/24) Spend Christmas Eve with some of the best Jewish comedians in the country as part of A Very Jewish Christmas at Gotham Comedy Club.

(12/24) St. Patrick's Cathedral: Christmas Eve Midnight Mass. It’s always standing room only for this beloved annual mass at NYC’s most famous church. Get there early.

(12/30) Kwanzaa Celebration: Regeneration Night at the Apollo Theater (2pm, 7:30pm). Featuring Abel R. Salaam’s Forces of Nature Dance Theatre. Since 2006, the Apollo has established an annual show to celebrate this holiday tradition  on one day of the Kwanzaa holiday. The Apollo’s celebration is a joyful evening of dance  and music honoring the principles of Kwanzaa—family, community, and culture.  

For more on the best holiday shows in NYC, click here.

NYC Holiday Events: Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball Drop

The clock will strike midnight, the ball will drop, kisses will be exchanged, and the promise of a New Year will light up the night sky. If there’s any town that can be trusted to get New Year’s right, it’s New York City, where the Times Square New Year’s Eve Celebration and Ball Drop provides a focal point for the entire world. Get there hours early if you want to be close to the center of the action as the city counts down to 2018.

Every year, at 11:59pm on December 31st, people from all over the world are focused on the Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball. Millions of voices unite to count down the final seconds of the old year and celebrate the beginning of the new. Now you can get up close and personal with the Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball at Ripley’s Believe It or Not—Times Square any day of the year! Press the button yourself and ring in the New Year. A home to rare artifacts and thrilling interactive exhibits, Ripley’s is for anyone who wants to immerse themselves in the unexpected and the unbelievable. Here's a coupon.

Bateaux New York (866-817-3463) is offering a special Eve of the Eve Dinner Cruise on December 30th, as well as a New Year’s Eve Fireworks Dinner Cruise and New Year’s Day brunch and dinner cruises. All offer unparalleled views, premium open bar, live music with jazz classics and Broadway show tunes, party favors, and much more.

For more on New Year's Eve happenings and other New York events in December, click here.

Looking to save over the holidays in New York? Check out our long list of coupons and savings in NYC.

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