Top 15 Festive Things to Do in New York in December - ESTAForm.org

Things to Do in New York in December

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New York is one of the most visited cities in the world and before the pandemic, the city welcomed over 65 million per year. The lead-up to Christmas and New Year is a very popular time of year to visit NYC, with so many festive attractions and magical settings to enjoy.

If you are planning a trip this winter, here are the top 15 things to do in New York in December.

Our Take on Top Things to Do in New York in December

There are so many amazing places and attractions in New York that you will struggle to see everything on one trip. Setting out your itinerary before you arrive and booking the busiest attractions will ensure you make the most of your time in New York during the holiday season.

1. Experience the Magical Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Plaza

Probably the world's most famous Christmas tree, the giant Rockefeller Center Christmas tree is adorned with stunning Christmas decorations and lights. Last year's Rockefeller Christmas tree stood at an impressive 79ft and this year's will be of similarly impressive height.

2. Visit the Outdoor Winter and Holiday Markets in NYC

From November to January, there are numerous outdoor holiday markets all across the city. Bryant Park's Winter Village is regarded by many people as the top pick of the markets, with free ice skating (if you have your own skates) and over 170 kiosks to visit.

Union Square Holiday Market is also a spectacular place to wander through, with arts and crafts gifts, as well as an array of food vendors serving all kinds of cuisine. Another market that is very popular is America Winter Village, which is where Winter Wonderland is based.

3. Watch the Radio City Christmas Spectacular

The Radio City Christmas Spectacular is an annual musical holiday stage show that takes place at Radio City Music Hall. The show is the perfect way to get into the Christmas spirit and be entertained by the Rockettes, for a show that is fun for all of the family.

4. Go Ice Skating in Central Park

If you have watched movies based in New York at Christmas, you will probably have watched scenes from the famous Central Park Wollman ice skating rink.

The ice rink is open from October to March every year and although there are several other ice rinks in New York City, Central Park is the most traditional place to skate, having been open since 1950!

5. Take a Holiday Tour - Dyker Heights Christmas Lights

When you are in New York at Christmas time, you have to take a trip to see the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights. The most impressive Christmas lights displays you will ever see awaits you and the tour is highly recommended for the full experience.

6. Treat Yourself With a Festive Holiday Cruise: Manhattan Christmas Yacht Cruise

One of the best ways to see the great New York landmarks is from the water and the Manhattan Christmas Yacht Cruise is a great way to do it in style. There are many different themes and cruise experiences to choose from, including live music, gourmet dining and even Christmas carols.

Whether you like jazz music, classical, or any other type of genre, there are cruises with all types of different types of entertainment and dining options. You can relax with a glass of bubbles to enjoy the backdrop of the New York skyline, or book a Christmas party cruise.

7. Enjoy New York Christmas Markets and Lights Walking Tour

Combine the fun and festivities of the Christmas markets with a Christmas Lights walking tour to plan a full evening of Christmas-related events in New York. There are several different Christmas markets in New York through November and December but the closest to Dyker Heights is the Brooklyn Borough Hall Holiday market which is new for 2022.

You can also spend some time in the historic Brooklyn Heights neighborhood while in the area.

8. Experience New Year's Eve in Times Square

When you talk about iconic New Year's Eve parties and where to celebrate, nowhere does it better than Times Square. The famous Times Square Ball Drop attracts people from all around the world, with entertainment from the biggest music artists in existence.

It is a free event but people need to get there very early to get a spot where they will be able to enjoy watching the entertainment and the Ball Drop countdown. The New York City NYE event is televised to countries across the globe to celebrate the start of a new year.

9. Make Yourself Comfortable at Warm Rooftop Lounges

The nightlife in New York is second to none, which is partly the reason that is gained the nickname the city that never sleeps.If loud nightclubs are not your thing, a warm rooftop lounge is a perfect way to spend an evening looking up at the stars and across the New York skyline.

Igloos at 230 Fifth Avenue has NYC's largest rooftop space and it is an amazing place to enjoy drinks in a seasonal-themed bar housed in wood cabins and transparent domes.

10. Go on Holiday Nostalgia Rides On Sundays

The New York Transit Museum is the place to visit for a trip down memory lane in their vintage 1930s trains. The Nostalgia Holiday trains run on Sundays after Thanksgiving and the first three Sundays in December.

11. Visit the Winter Wonderland at the Bank of AmericaWinter Village in Bryant Park

Your New York trip is not complete unless you visit Bryant Park Winter Village. As well as hosting holiday shops and food stalls, the fun of the Winter Wonderland 17,000 square foot ice skate rink is another top reason for visiting Bryant Park in December. Head to The Lodge for apres skating festive cocktails in a selection of bars.

12. Check Out the Glamorous NYC Holiday Window Displays

Some of the best fashion stores in the world are located in New York and as you would expect, the window displays are the most extravagant too. Take a walk down Fifth Avenue to marvel at the window displays at Prada, Saks, and nearby at Macy's and Bloomingdales.

Tiffany & Co. and Barneys always have great displays too, so whether you are shopping or just taking in the sights, the NYC window displays are worth a visit.

Rainy Day Options to Do in New York in December

When you visit New York City in December it is a good idea to have some rainy-day options in case the bad weather stops you from enjoying outdoor activities.

13. Classic Experience: Watch the Nutcracker New York City Ballet

The traditional Christmas ballet Nutcracker is on in New York throughout November and December at the New York City Ballet. There is no better ballet performance to build up the excitement for Christmas and it is the perfect way to stay warm and sheltered from the rain.

14. For a Holiday Cheer Visit the Rolf’s Restaurant

Another nice way to hide away from the bad weather is to find a good restaurant where you can eat, drink and be merry. Rolf's Restaurant is transformed into a Christmas wonderland with the restaurant serving festive treats such as roast suckling pig surrounded by Christmas decorations and lights.

15. Attend Broadway Under the Stars Shows - For Free

Broadway Under the Stars brings you live performances featuring the most popular shows on Broadway, completely free of charge as a promotional campaign. Head over to Time Warner Center to find the 12 huge stars hanging from the ceiling at Columbus Circle and stars from Broadway will be performing songs and answering interview questions.

What's New York Weather Like in December?

The temperatures can drop to zero or even lower in December, so it is recommended that you pack warm clothes for your trip to the Big Apple. The nights can get as cold as -10 C so if you are planning on walking around NYC at night, you will need to get wrapped up warm, wearing a hat, gloves, scarf, and a thick coat to avoid getting too cold.

It rains on 8 days on average in December, so waterproof clothing will also be necessary if you want to spend time exploring the outdoor attractions at Central Park, Madison Square Garden or take a walk over Brooklyn Bridge.

Do You Need a Visa to Visit New York?

Non-US citizens must have a visa unless they are citizens of a visa waiver program country. In that case, they can enter the US using an ESTA instead. ESTA is an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation that is electronically linked to the traveller's passport.

The benefits of an ESTA application include a fast and easy process, and it only requires the completion of a short online form in which you will be asked to provide the relevant information. ESTA applications are screened by the US authorities and are usually processed within 24 hours or sometimes even less.

While the ESTA is valid, the holder may use it for multiple visits to New York and any other areas of the US over the period of 2 years.

FAQs

Yes, if you enjoy the magic of Christmas then December is the ideal time to visit New York. You are not guaranteed a white Christmas but there are so many amazing festive attractions and wonderful things to do for a dream trip.
The most popular things to do in NYC in December include visiting a Christmas market, watching a Christmas show, ice skating at Central Park or Rockefeller Center, and NYE on Times Square. To get into the Christmas spirit, a walk to see the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree and the Dyker Heights Lights are also spectacular festive activities.
A Christmas spent in New York will be filled with amazing memories, and the usual NYC attractions like the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, and the New York Public Library are also not to be missed on your New York trip.
Yes, December is one of the best times of year to visit New York for all of the festive attractions and events. The city is filled with decorations, lights, and entertainment that is certain to get everyone excited for a very special Christmastime.
It can get quite cold in New York City in December but as long as you wrap up warm with several layers, you should be able to enjoy walking around New York City in December.
The average temperature will be around -2/-3 c in the early morning and warms up in the afternoon before dropping to somewhere between -5 and -10 on the colder nights in December.
Although the peak holidays over Christmas Day and New Year can be expensive for holidays in New Year, earlier dates in December can be much cheaper than other times of the year.
Hotel occupancy and flight rates are usually low in the first few weeks of December, so it is a more cost-effective time to visit New York City. The cheapest day to fly to New York is usually the 2nd of December, while the most expensive days to fly to New York and between the 27th - 31st of December, with many travelers booking to spend New Year's Eve in New York to celebrate in style. Many people take a short trip to do their Christmas shopping as well as the top attractions in the holiday season.

Written by Abisola Fikayomi

Abisola is an accomplished writer interested in US Travel, immigration, passports and visas. She’s passionate about exploring new places and cultures and willing to share her experiences, expertize and findings with others. That is her primary drive for specialising in this industry.



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