Events for the holidays in NYC are some of the most memorable that the city has to offer. Winter 2019 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
(11/23-1/5) LuminoCity Festival at Randall's Island is a Iight festival/immersive art experience spanning 16 acres with three theme parks: Winter Fantasy, Wild Adventure, and Sweet Dream. You'll find 23 sets of larger-than-life light art displays and a holiday night market. Four special themed nights, featuring live performances and interactive programming, kick off with an All-Day Cosplay event on Saturday, November 30th.
(12/2) Light up the Upper West Side with the 20th Annual Winter's Eve at Lincoln Square, an evening of music, food, dancing, children’s activities, and fun for everyone. Look for processional groups, multicultural dance troupes, ice sculpting, Jazz at Lincoln Center, youth choruses, jugglers, stilt-walkers, and more! At Dante Park on Broadway between 63rd and 64th Sts., beginning at 5:30pm. Rock icon Ronnie Spector & The Ronettes will be performing! Along Broadway from Columbus Circle to 68th St., 212-581-7762, winterseve.org
(Starts 12/4) The towering tree in Rockefeller Center is an international symbol of the holiday spirit. This year’s tree lighting ceremony on Wednesday, December 4th will feature live performances from 7 to 9pm. The tree will remain lit, and can be viewed, through Friday, January 17th, 2020. Note that the lighting ceremony gets very crowded, so it’s best to be there hours in advance, or come back after the 28th, when the scene is more manageable. This year's show will include performances by Gwen Stefani, John Legend, Lea Michele, Idina Menzel, and more. rockefellercenter.com
(12/6-1/26/2020) New York City will shine even brighter this winter with the debut of the Hello Panda Festival, a massive international lantern, food, and arts extravaganza coming to Citi Field in Queens. Expect over 120 Instagrammable lantern exhibits, 60 international food vendors curated by The World’s Fare, and cultural arts experiences that include art, performance, crafts, and a holiday market.
(12/22-12/30) Annual Lighting of the World's Largest Hanukah Menorah. This whopping 32-foot-high, two-ton menorah is set up at Grand Army Plaza in midtown (Fifth Avenue and 59th Street), with lightings for the nights of Hanukah December 2nd through 10th. It remains lit through Jan 1.
(12/5) At the Bryant Park Winter Village's Tree Lighting and Skate-tacular each year, skaters do a performance of “The Lights Before Christmas,” an original story about the Light family, a group of characters made out of light. New Yorkers (skaters on the rink) show Star, the youngest member of the family, how to shine. 6pm.
(12/16) The 11th Annual Late Festival at Brooklyn Museum. Enjoy one of the most delicious and fun tasting events on the New York City food calendar. Come to the Brooklyn Museum to celebrate—and enjoy—the scrumptious versatility of the potato pancake. Net proceeds benefit The Sylvia Center, a nonprofit dedicated to teaching healthy eating habits to children and their families.
(12/20-22) Paul Winter’s 40th Annual Winter Solstice Celebration takes advantage of the acoustics of the world’s largest cathedral, St. John the Divine's on the Upper West Side. This favorite city multimedia event will this year feature the 10-member Paul Winter Consort, the 25 dancers and drummers of the Forces of Nature Dance Theatre, and others. There are four performances over three days.
(12/24) Christmas Eve Services at St. Patrick's Cathedral. 5:30pm and *midnight (*free, but tickets required).
(12/28) Kwanzaa Celebration: Regeneration at the Apollo Theater, 2pm and 7:30pm. Featuring Abdel 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.
(12/31) St. John the Divine's New Year's Eve Concert for Peace. Founded by Leonard Bernstein in 1984, the annual New Year’s Eve Concert for Peace is a signature Cathedral event, gathering old friends and new for more than a quarter of a century. The music, the candles, and the spirit of peace send audiences out into the chill January night with renewed hope for the world we share. With guests With guests Jamet Pittman, Jason Robert Brown, Paul Winter, David Briggs, and host Harry Smith. 7pm. General admission free, tickets required.
NYC Holiday Events: Skating
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 83rd anniversary of the world’s most famous rink. 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 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 asliceofbrooklyn.com
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 newyorksightseeing.com for more.
(11/14-1/5/20) THE RIDE: HOLIDAY EDITION returns to turn the streets of New York into a stage. You’ll cruise in comfort in a patented $1.5 million traveling 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. Here is a $10 off coupon! 234 W. 42nd St. (btw. Seventh & Eighth Aves.), 212-221-0853, theridenyc.com
NYC Holiday Events: Cruises
(12/1-12/28) Spirit of New York offers a series of December Holiday Lights and Christmas Eve Lunch and Dinner cruises, departing from Chelsea Piers. Jingle Bell Lunch Cruises sail from noon-2pm, from $64.90 per person; their Holiday Lights Dinner Cruise sails from 7pm-9:30pm, from $119.90 per person. The little ones will want to have Lunch with Santa 12/7 and 12/14. 12pm-2pm. From $64.90 pp. spiritofnewyork.com
(12/1-1/1) Bateaux New York offers a Holiday Lights Dinner Cruise, sailing from 7-10pm. Includes a three-course dinner, an acoustic quartet and piano performance, and panoramic views. From $149.90. Grab the gang for the Holiday Bottomless Mimosa Brunch, starting at $94.90. Ring in the new year with Bateaux's New Year's Eve Cruise, from 9pm-1am, starting at $599.90. bateauxnewyork.com
(Ongoing) You can take in unparalleled skyline views from the water aboard one of Hornblower’s breathtaking sightseeing cruises. For the holidays, don't miss two Christmas Eve specials. The Christmas Eve Brunch Cruise in New York cruises at 12:30pm and Santa's Christmas Eve Dinner Cruise in New York departs at 6pm. There's also Festive Holiday Lunch Cruises and Festive Holiday Dinner Cruises on December 6th, 13th and 20th. hornblower.com/new-york
NYC Holiday Events: Bronx Zoo Holiday Lights
For the first time since 2007, the Bronx Zoo Holiday Lights are back, with dazzling light displays all across the zoo. New for this year are an Ice Bar, Ice Throne & Ice Slide (December 21 to 31), nightly ice-carving demonstrations, an ice carving celebration on December 28th, and carolers, characters, train rides, and a lantern safari. The celebration runs from Thursday, November 21st through Sunday, January 5th.
NYC Holiday Events: Holiday Markets
(Sundays 11/24-12/22) Every Sunday on the Upper West Side you can check out Grand Bazaar NYC, the city’s largest curated market—and most distinctive! For the holidays you’ll also find the market’s annual Grand Holiday Bazaar. Browse unique gifts indoors and out from 150+ hand-picked independent local artisans and dealers. Come hungry! There are great artisanal food options as well. 10am-5:20pm. grandbazaarnyc.org
No need to brave the elements for holiday shopping: visit the Grand Central Holiday Fair (Nov. 18-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. 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.), grandcentralterminal.com
(Now-3/1/20) Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park is back with ice skating, shopping, hot chocolate and other tasty treats, and more. wintervillage.org
(12/14) Santa's Corner at Bryant Park. Santa will be stopping by Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park for photos! Bring your cameras, or you can download images. 1pm-3pm.
(Now-1/11) Century 21 Pop Up by Herald Square. Check out the Instagram room decked out in red, glitter, and gold at 34th Street. #C21Miracle
(Ongoing) Year round, Chelsea Market offers a wide selection of new and antique finds, great for gifts and treasures. Every weekend enjoy spectacular holiday shopping! annexmarkets.com
NYC Holiday Events: Performances and More
(11/28) 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 families—locals and visitors alike—lining 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. 2019 guest performers include Posse star Billy Porter, Chicago, Black Eyed Peas, TLC, Kelly Rowland, Ciara, Idina Menzel, Lea Michele, Debbie Gibson, and others.
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™
The NYC perennial holiday favorite Christmas Spectacular runs this year from November 8 through January 5, 2020. 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, rockettes.com/christmas
George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker
Photo credit: © Paul Kolnik
(11/29-1/5) 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.” nycballet.com/nutcracker
(12/1) A Pentatonix Christmas Tour at Radio City Music Hall.
(12/2) A Darlene Love Christmas at Sony Hall. A holiday staple on David Letterman with her performance of "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)," The New York Times raves about the singer..."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."
(12/8) The Vienna Boys Choir perform at Carnegie Hall.
(12/11) Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden.
(12/11) Linda Lavin with Billy Stritch: No More Blues! at Birdland Jazz Club.
(12/12) Make Spirits Bright! Christmas with David Jeremiah at the Beacon Theatre.
(12/13-12/14) New York Gay Men's Chorus presents its Annual Holiday Extravaganza concert at Skirball Center. With selections of everyone’s favorites and important traditions all our own, this evening of sparkling entertainment shines with the powerful sound of nearly 300 voices. 8pm.
(12/15-1/4) Met Opera presents The Magic Flute. A beloved holiday tradition continues as Mozart’s delightful fairy tale returns in the Met’s abridged, English-language version for families, perfect for younger audiences, with no intermission and a running time of less than two hours. Lothar Koenigs conducts a dynamic cast of standout Mozarteans in Julie Taymor’s magical production, an enduring Met classic with its eye-popping puppetry and stunning visuals.
(12/15) Mariah: All I Want for Christmas Is You Tour stops at Madison Square Garden.
(12/16, 12/18-12/19) Andrea Bocelli performs at Madison Square Garden.
(12/17-12/21) New York Philharmonic performs Handel's Messiah. Dazzling vocal solos, instrumental fireworks, and splendid choral writing make Handel’s Messiah the Philharmonic’s most beloved holiday tradition. This year Baroque master Harry Bicket leads all forces in the Messiah of Messiahs, the quintessential musical crown of the season.
(12/18) Hot for the Holidays with Khalid, H.E.R., Aija, Kiana Lede, Layton Greene, The Bonfyre at Barclays Center.
(12/18) Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion Christmas Show at The Town Hall. The cast of “A Prairie Home Companion” reunites for a Christmas show all about coming together during these politically divisive times. The Royal Academy of Actors, Tim Russell and Sue Scott, join with the Guy’s All-Star Shoe Band, sound effects wizard Fred Newman, writer/host Garrison Keillor, and vocalist Heather Masse to bring you the show you’ve been missing on your radio dial ever since Keillor’s retirement in 2016. Expect witty scripts, parody songs, sweet duets, and of course, the latest News from Lake Wobegon.
(12/19) Kent Tritle conducts the 200-voice Oratorio Society of New York performing Handel’s glorious Messiah, a New York holiday tradition since 1874. Soloists Leslie Fagan, Heather Petrie, Brian Giebler, and Adam Lau appear alongside the Orchestra of the Society at Carnegie Hall.
(12/22-12/29) Yo La Tengo : Eight Nights of Hanukkah at Bowery Ballroom.
Photo: Russ Rowland
(Ongoing) Sit back and enjoy music and three cocktails, while the cast of The Imbible gives insight into the history and science behind alcoholic beverages. Shows include A Spirited History of Drinking; Day Drinking: The Brunch Musical; and Christmas Carol Cocktails, which opens on November 22nd for its fifth smash/smashed season. Cheers to that! Save $15 with City Guide's coupon.
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 2020. newyearseve.nyc
Ring in the new year at Applebee's in Times Square! Celebrate all the intensity and excitement of New Year’s Eve at the crossroads of the universe—Times Square, in the comfort of The World’s Largest Applebee’s. Take your choice, Applebee’s Broadway, 205 W. 50th St. (btw. Broadway & Seventh Ave.) or Applebee’s Times Square, 234 W. 42nd St. (btw. Seventh & Eighth Aves.), just steps from the ball drop. Both parties offer an all-inclusive evening of a lifetime, including top-shelf premium open bars, a chef’s selection of passed hors d’oeuvres and buffet dinner selections, DJs and dancing, party favors, and a champagne toast at midnight.
(12/31) New Year's Eve with The Strokes at Barclays Center.
(12/30-1/1) Spirit of New York is offering a choice of New Year's Eve Lunch or Dinner Cruises, or New Year's Eve Fireworks Cruise, from $329.90 per person, 10pm-1am. New Year's Day Lunch and Dinner cruises also available, $69-$122.90. All ages welcome, bar, 21+. spiritofnewyork.com
(12/31-1/1) Bateaux New York (866-817-3463) is offering a New Year’s Eve Fireworks Dinner Cruise and New Year’s Day Bottomless brunch and dinner cruise. All offer unparalleled views, premium open bar, live music with jazz classics and Broadway show tunes, party favors, and much more.
(12/31-1/1) You can take in unparalleled skyline views from the water aboard one of Hornblower’s breathtaking sightseeing cruises. For New Year's Eve they're offering five options, ranging from a cocktail attire Champagne New Years Eve Fireworks Cruise in New York up through four dinner cruises: the Captain's, the Admiral's, the Nautical, or the Premier. Look for great food, dancing and DJs, photo ops, and incredible views. hornblower.com
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.