One of the most magical places on earth for Christmas is undoubtedly the big apple. I fell in love with the city even more when I witnessed it during the holidays. The city comes alive with decorations, music and ample amounts of joy from early December until sometime in January. Unfortunately a lot of other people think this too, which can mean accommodation prices jump, people are everywhere and attractions are crowded. But still 100% worth it…
A tip to help with Christmas accommodation…
It’s hard to avoid the high costs, but booking early will always help. If prices are still crazy high, try Airbnb. Airbnb is a site that offers accommodation options in other people’s homes or apartments. Sometimes you can score a whole apartment, sometimes a room in an apartment to share with the owner. You can leave reviews, so it’s always safe and home owners are thoroughly checked out. Christmas time is a perfect time to check this site out in the city, as many people leave their apartments in the city to go to family homes in other parts of the country. These options can be a fraction of the cost of hotels.
Things to do…
– Bryant Park Holiday Market
This small park in the center of midtown is located between 40th & 42nd street and 5th street. The park comes alive with cute Christmas market stalls and decorations surrounding a huge ice skating rink. Find delicious food and cute homemade gift ideas.
– Rockefeller Center & Radio City Music Hall
The most popular attraction in the city is the huge christmas tree at the Rockefeller Center Plaza. The decorations are so festive but the tree does bring crazy crowds, so be careful and watch out for pick-pocketers. The famous Christmas Spectacular featuring the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall is a great night out to get you in the christmas spirit.
– Ice Skating
In Manhattan there are four major outdoor ice skating rinks to choose from. Here’s a list with a bit of information and prices based on adult age, children and seniors prices are cheaper. Remember that prices in the major holiday period (Christmas – New Years) can jump as I witnessed in Central Park in 2014.
~ Bryant Park:
A large rink in the middle of the city, it can often get pretty crowded on weekends and peak holiday times due to its cheap prices in comparison to the Rockefeller Center.
Admission – Free
Skate rental – $15-19
Lockers – Free (but $9 for a lock or bag check is $8-10)
~ Rockefeller Center:
A smaller rink right under the famous big christmas tree. A beautiful spot in the heart of all the action of the city, but a bit more pricey than your other options.
~ Wollman Rink – Central Park:
This is the main ice rink tourists flock to at Central Park and is located in the bottom right corner of the park. Reasonably prices and with beautiful views of the park and skyline.
Prices: CASH ONLY
Admission – $11.25 (Mon-Thurs) or $18 (Fri-Sun and Holidays)
Skate Rental – $8
Locker rental – $5 + $6 lock deposit
~ Lasker Rink – Central Park:
A less tourist filled rink in Central Park, this one is located up the other end of the park but would be much quieter because of this.
Prices (prices go up at peak holiday times):
Admission – $7.50
Skate Rental – $6.50
Lockers – $3.25 + $4 deposit for lock
– Walk down Sixth Avenue
Around the entrance of the Rockefeller Centre on Sixth Avenue, the city comes alive with Christmas decorations. Find huge ball-bells, trees covered in lights, giant christmas lights and more.
– Look up at the colorful Empire State Building
The top of the Empire State Building lights up in green and red for the holidays, or sometimes other color variations. For a view of this against the magnificent skyline, Top of The Rock has the best views. Make sure to book a time-slot to visit as early as popular as they can sell out fast.
– Go inside the eight-story Macy’s store
I was amazed once I walked into the gigantic store at Herald Square. Beautiful decorations cover the whole eight stories that feels like a large mall. It’s hard to believe it’s all just one store. Make sure to check out the cool Christmas themed windows out the front first of course.
– Visit the other department store windows
Whilst many store’s get on board the tradition of holiday window displays and light shows, here are some of the best:
Saks Fifth Avenue:
Staying close to the Rockefeller Center area, walk across the road on Fifth Avenue at 49th Street to Saks Fifth Avenue. This store hosts bold displays popular among children and at night, witness a spectacular light show on the facade of the building (PHOTO: below, left).
Lord & Taylor:
Just across the road from Saks, on Fifth Avenue & 39th Street, is one of the most popular window displays in the city (PHOTO: above, right).
Another one to wander past on Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman is located at 58th Street. Displays are a little more cutting edge and daring for something different.
A more artsy take on the holiday windows can be found on Madison Avenue at 61st Street. They provide more comical, adult-friendly windows with many live performances or mechanical displays.
On the Upper East Side, this is a little further away, but worth a visit. They have some of the best holiday displays every year with a unique theme and some interactive windows. Visit it at 1000 Third Avenue at 59th Street
– Chelsea Market
These markets are magnificently decorated and are a must whilst visiting NYC. They are open most days over the holidays, apart from Christmas Day and New Years Day. Visit the Chelsea Markets site for holiday hours.
New York City is one of the most exciting places to be for Christmas, and I hope my post makes your trip one to remember!