Celebrating the holiday season together as a culture is one of the things that adds joy and wonder to life. There is no place better to experience that joy and wonder than New York at Christmastime. The entire city gets all dressed up in garland and lights. It is one place everyone who wants to have a magical Christmas experience should go at least once in their lifetime.
If you’re fortunate enough to live in the city, it’s easy to take it for granted and not do the so-called “touristy” things that people fly in from all over the world to experience.
I want to challenge you if you live in the city to do at least one iconic thing you’ve never done this Christmas.
Having visited NY during the holidays a handful of times, here are 7 of my favorite iconic ways NYC will make your Christmas merry and bright.
Rockettes Christmas Spectacular
The Rockettes began kicking up their heels in St. Louis Missouri in 1925, but they have been a staple of New York City since 1933. Their Christmas Spectacular is an amazing spectacle including the Rockettes’ signature eye-high precision kicks, the Parade of Wooden Soldiers and a special visit from St. Nick. There is an 8K LED Screen that serves as the backdrop for the show and for the first time ever this year all eight of Radio City Music Hall’s arches will have digital imagery projected on them, further immersing the audience in the experience.
Tickets begin at $50 and go up from there depending on the section and date of performance.
Performances are happening through January 1st.
Get tickets here: https://www.rockettes.com/christmas/calendar/
Fun Facts: when the Rockettes are doing a tap number during the show they wear custom dance shoes that have a special compartment in the heel for a sound transmitter. The tapping you hear is the actual synchronized tapping of their feet.
Did you know? To be a Rockette you have to be proficient in tap, jazz and ballet. You also have to be at least 5’6” tall.
If you love to dance and always dreamed of dancing like a Rockette, there are special experiences for you!
Intermediate and advanced dancers ages 10+ can purchase a 3 hour dance experience where you learn choreography from the Christmas Spectacular and do a mock audition and do a Q&A with the Rockettes. (Pricing: $229)
If you’re a beginner, you can take a dance class with a Rockette in their rehearsal dance hall where you will learn choreography from the Christmas Spectacular. It’s a 1 hour class. Pricing $139). I SO want to do this next time I’m in NY for Christmas.
Radio City Music Hall: 1260 Avenue of the Americas (6th Avenue between W. 50th and W. 51st Streets)
NYC Ballet Nutcracker
There is nothing more magical to me than watching ballet. I used to purchase last minute tickets the day of the show whenever I happened to be in town for a performance. Same day purchase is a great way to score cheap tickets, especially if you’re going alone because you can get great single seats in the Orchestra section last minute.
Thru December 31st, the New York City Ballet Company performs Tchiakovsky’s The Nutcracker. Even if you are not a lover of Ballet, like my husband, you would enjoy seeing this installment of the Nutcracker.
Tickets: start at $85 and go up from there. https://www.nycballet.com/Ballets/N/George-Balanchines-The-Nutcracker.aspx
Getting there: 20 Lincoln Center Plaza (Subway 1 local train to 66th street/Lincoln Center Station)
Serendipity Frozen Hot Chocolate
If you’ve seen the movie, Serendipity, with John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale, you will remember that one of the places they go to is a restaurant called Serendipity 3. This restaurant actually exists in midtown Manhattan and is famous for its Frozen Hot Chocolate. Frozen Hot Chocolate is a cross between hot chocolate and ice cream served in a huge cup and perfect for sharing.
They only accept reservations for lunch and dinner, no dessert only reservations, but we always just ordered dessert after our meal!
Menu here: http://www.serendipity3.com/food.htm
Call for reservations: 212.838.3531
Getting there: Serendipity 3 is located at 225 East 60th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues. Bloomingdales is a block away and Dylan’s Candy bar is practically next door (1011 Third Avenue at 60th) Subway: N, Q, R, 4, 5 or 6.
We can thank Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, for making window shopping in NY an aspirational activity, but Christmastime takes NY department store window displays to a whole other level. Some of them feature elaborate mechanical moving parts and in years’ past some have featured smell-o-vision with cinnamon scents wafting through the air.
Unlike Holly Golightly, I have never frequented the windows at 5am but I have found the best time to see them during the holidays is around 9pm. By then the commuter crowds have all gone home and you can have a more peaceful time to take photos and soak in the magical displays. There are six main department stores to hit and they are all within a 2-mile span of each other so you can walk them all if you prefer to make an evening of it.
Here’s the list:
Macy's Herald Square
Until December 24th, the entire 8th floor of Macy’s Herald Square gets transformed into a Christmas wonderland. Kids can meet Santa, but beyond that it is a fantastic 13,000 square-foot display of the North Pole, complete with iconic snow globes and all-around Christmas fun. This year, the experience is made even better with mandatory reservations that can be made online and from your phone anywhere from 30 minutes up to 5 days in advance. Make your reservations here: https://www.macys.com/social/santa-land/
Admission is free.
Getting there: 151 W. 34th Street, 8th Floor (Subway: B, F, D, M, Q & R to 34th /Macy’s Herald Square Stop)
Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree
The 2017 Rockefeller Christmas Tree is 75 feet tall and over 80 years old. The famous tree is scouted out a year in advance and when found, the owners agree to give it as a donation. The owners are honored with front row seats to the lighting ceremony. The star topper is made with over 25,000 Swarovski crystals and the 45,000 multicolored LED lights are powered in part from hundreds of solar panels on top of Rockefeller Center.
Ice skating in front of this iconic tree lit up in all of her glory is one of the greatest ways to enjoy a magical Christmas. General admission is $37 and first come, first served. If you’d rather make a reservation, you can do so here: https://therinkatrockcenter.com/Reservations
Getting there: 45 Rockefeller Plaza Between 48th and 51st streets and 5th and 6th Avenues (Subway: B, D, F, M 47-50 Streets/Rockefeller Station stop)
Fun Fact: The Rockefeller Christmas Tree is donated to Habitat for Humanity after it’s taken down and milled into lumber for building window and door frames of homes for those in need.
Top of The Empire State Building
Open from 8am-2am, 365 days a year, the Empire State Building is an Icon that every American should experience at least once. Located in Midtown Manhattan, the observation deck on the 102nd floor allows for views of Central Park and the city like you’ve only ever seen in the movies.
On December 24th and 25th the top of the Empire State Building lights up in red, green and white. My advice is to splurge for the Express passes and skip the lines ($85 vs. $57) but it is SO worth the $30 bucks, trust me. You’ll thank me as you’re sailing by all of the other folks standing in line for hours.
Getting there: 350 5th Avenue (It’s only a quarter-of-a-mile walk from Macy’s Herald Square)
NYC is one of the best places to experience the Christmas season. Here are the 7 iconic spots sure to make your season merry and bright.
Welcome to Honey & Figs! I'm Lisa. I love helping people with practical ways to live more abundant lives based on my own experience. You can click here to find out more about me.
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