It’s officially December and that means holiday mania!
As 2020 comes to a close, New York City is bustling with activities — and even with various safety measures in place due to the pandemic, there’s simply no better place to get in the spirit of the season.
From bar transformations, dazzling light displays, and all the icy fun and shopping in between—here are 60 magically festive things to do in NYC this month.
LuminoCity is a massive wonderland of lights where the holiday spirit meets our wildest imagination for an experience unlike any other. For 2020’s festival, LuminoCity has prioritized health & safety with timed-tickets, reduced capacity & mandatory mask-wearing. The 30-45 minute tour through glittering displays is guided by Lumi, a magical light bulb & festival host. The experience is topped off with NYC food trucks to grab a bite to make this the perfect night! (Tip: if you use the promo code Secret15 you’ll get 15% off your tickets!) ️Sponsored
Like most things this year, even shopping for all of the perfect gifts is already looking quite different. But if you’re searching for a convenient and, most importantly, safe way to get something special for everyone on your list, Westfield World Trade Center has you covered. The Shops at the Oculus just started “Shops on the Go,” which has two new services that will make holiday shopping infinitely easier. Find out more here. ️Sponsored
This new digital scavenger hunt will let you will win some amazing prizes from Jack Daniels while rediscovering New York City! Register to join the hunt — in partnership with Let’s Roam — here, and once it begins you’ll earn points for each challenge you complete. At the end, your points with be matched with other participants so you can win big. Jack Daniels Encourages Its Friends To Drink Responsibly. ️Sponsored
Is there anything more quintessential Christmas than the giant trees all around NYC? Here are festive tree lightings you can check out!
- Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting Ceremony: Wednesday, December 2, 7 p.m.–10 p.m.
- Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park: To be announced soon, monitor this page.
- Central Park Holiday Lighting: Thursday, December 3, 5:15 p.m.
- Holiday on the Hudson: Saturday, December 7, 4:30 p.m.–6:30 p.m.
- Washington Square Park: Monday, December 9, 6 p.m. – 7 p.m.
You can discover the carnival’s hidden, decadent history in the Museum of Sex’s sensational new exhibition Super Funland: Journey into the Carnival! Experience four floors of ecstatic amusements created by some of the world’s most innovative artists and designers, and indulge in a carnival experience that you’ve never had before. Get tickets here.
The Dyker Heights home are now lit up and ready to be seen! The stunning lights and endless decorations have become increasingly more famous over the years. Dyker Heights’ impressive light display has been a tradition for more than 30 years and spans three avenues and several streets. A few less houses are participating this year, but there will still be plenty to see!
Whether you’re looking for a beautifully unique classical music performance or a romantic candlelit experience, this performance is for you! You don’t need to know all things classical music to enjoy the evening, simply sit back and savor the stunning pieces you’ll hear. Held in a comfortable setting so you can enjoy classical music in a laid back yet classy atmosphere, while the surroundings flicker by candlelight. Prepare to be taken into the clouds with these most treasured masterpieces! Get tickets here.
12-14. Check out the holiday window displays
Don’t worry if you can’t afford anything at those luxurious shops up and down 5th Avenue (we can’t either). What we can afford though is some nice window shopping! Make your way over to experience the light show and elaborate decorations for yourself:
- Saks 5th Avenue: 611 5th Ave
- Bloomingdale’s: 1000 Third Avenue 59th Street and, Lexington Ave
- Macy’s: Once you’re done on 5th Ave, be sure to head over to Herald Square to marvel at the Macy’s display too – this year it’s dedicated to essential workers!
Bottomless cocktails dispensed from a unicorn or dragon with your working magic wand while you brunch—what more could a wizard or witch ask for? The Cauldron combines fantasy with molecular mixology to bring a little magic into our world. Grab some tickets with friends and head to this unique bar and restaurant on Manhattan’s historic Stone Street to enjoy a boozy brunch for 90 minutes with some of the most magical drinks you’ll ever drink!
Fully heated with floor-to-dome panoramic views of Manhattan, these cozy igloos on New York’s largest rooftop garden, 230 Fifth, are the perfect place to be on a chilly NYC evening. Along with piping hot cocktails, like boozy hot chocolate or Apple Pie Cider, and yummy comfort food bites, each igloo also has an individual TV screen so you can snuggle up with your favorite movie. Get tickets here!
Beneath the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral are the only catacombs in Manhattan, and one of only a handful that exists in the entire United States. It is by far one of the most significant collections of tombs in the country historically. Underneath the nave of this 200-year-old church are the crypts that have been a silent witness to the many struggles and accomplishments of prominent New Yorkers. Just recently, the Basilica decided that it was time to open the underground crypts for public touring. Get tickets and don’t miss your chance!
18-26. Ice Skating
Winter is practically here, and there are a handful of outdoor ice rinks that are already open! The Wollman Ice Rink in Central Park is open daily from 10 a.m., the Rink at Rockefeller Center is open daily from 9 a.m., and the rink at Bryant Park is open from 8 a.m.. You can also ice skate on the city’s only rooftop rink this year at the William Vale Some other rinks to check out include:
- The Rink at Brookfield Place, Tribeca
- Lafrak Center at Lakeside, Prospect Park
- Lasker Rink, Central Park
- WWII Veterans Memorial Ice Skating Rink, Staten Island
- IC Ice Rink in Industry City
27-31. Holiday Markets
What would the holidays be in NYC without our enchanting holiday markets? Though many have gone virtual this year, they still offer the perfect way to support local artisans and businesses!
- The Holiday Shops at Winter Village at Bryant Park: Oct 30 – Jan 3
- The Grand Central Holiday Fair (Online): Nov 16 – Dec 24
- 34th Annual Miracle on Madison Avenue: December 5
- Fort Hamilton Holiday Market: December 4
- Brooklyn Flea: Ongoing
This year marks the 29th annual holiday train show at the New York Botanical Gardens and the focus will spotlight Central Park “with its iconic landscape fashioned in mosses and hollies,” and replicas of park staples like the many gorgeous bridges, walkways, and even the Belvedere Castle and Bethesda Terrace. Still, to limit capacity you’ll have to become a member to enjoy the show…
33-38. Visit the Rockefeller Christmas Tree — and others that are just as beautiful
Don’t forget: this year you’ll need make a line reservation for the iconic Rockefeller Christmas Tree! But, there are actually plenty of others that you can still walk by anytime you’d like. Our other favorite Christmas trees around the city include:
- The Lotte Palace Hotel Courtyard: 455 Madison Ave.
- New York Public Library Flagship: 476 5th Ave.
- The Plaza Hotel: 768 5th Ave.
- The Peninsula Hotel: 700 5th Ave.
- Madison Square Park: 11 Madison Ave.
At Wyckoff’s Tree Farm in Belvidere, New Jersey they sell trees in a rainbow of colors using a technique of latex-based colorants that are specifically created for painting Christmas trees. The farm has been selling these colorful trees for several years now, and their uniqueness is certainly a draw. Find out how to get one here.
Explore 13 exhibition spaces with immersive and innovative concepts for all dessert lovers at the Museum of Ice Cream! Ever-changing with seasonal themes, fan favorites include the Oh Yeah Room (dessert feast suspended by floating balloons), Rainbow Tunnel (tribute to the city’s history of gay pride) and the Sprinkle Pool! Join us in celebrating Pinkmas, a special winter-scape. Explore a wonderland of holiday- themed spaces and installations. Enjoy special treats, festive surprises, and more! Pick up tickets here.
41. Light up the world’s largest Menorah
New York City is home to the world’s largest menorah, which stands at a height of 32 feet and weights a whopping 4,000 pounds. The sculpture will be up at Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn, from Thursday, December 10 through Thursday, December 17. The menorah will be lit at 5 p.m. on 12/10, 3:30 p.m. on 12/11, 7 p.m. on 12/12, 5:30 p.m. on 12/13, and at 6 p.m. the rest of the evenings.
With outdoor dining open through the winter, you’ll want to cozy up with NYC’s best warm cocktails to keep you feeling warm and fuzzy all season long. Here are 10 delicious and piping hot cocktails to cozy up with!
In a time when community is key, this new art installation at the Flatiron Building is bringing connectivity to the city. The Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership and Van Alen Institute recently announced its seventh year selection for the Flatiron Public Plaza Design Installation (remember last year’s kaleidoscope of colors?!). The piece, by Studio Cooke John is titled Point of Action and will remain on display from November 23, 2020 – January 1, 2021, located on Fifth Ave, Broadway, 23rd Street in Manhattan.
Each year the city as a whole transforms into a winter wonderland, and that includes a number of the bars and restaurants! Here’s a few of our favorites:
- 230 Fifth Rooftop Igloo Bar
- City Winery at Rockefeller Plaza
- Pier 17 Winter Cabins
- Miracle’s Enchanting Holiday Bars
- Miracle on 9th Street
- Miracle on 12th Street
- Sippin’ Santa at Boilermaker
After returning from a 10-year hiatus last year, The Bronx Zoo is lighting up once again for the holidays! Using LED lights, you’ll find all sorts of wildlife lanterns throughout several acres of the park. It’s an illuminated safari unlike anything else.
60. And of course, watch the ball drop on NYE!
Though like most things it is going virtual-only this year, you still won’t want to miss the iconic event and ring in a very welcome 2021!
Also published on Medium.