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70 Magical Things To Do In NYC Before New Year’s Day

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70 Magical Things To Do In NYC Before New Year’s Day

Holiday season is in full swing in NYC, and the festive spirit is palpable!

During this time of year the city shines particularly bright with lights illuminating every corner you turn. From the epic lights of Dyker Heights and Saks Fifth Avenue, to all the restaurants and rooftops that have transformed for the holidays—here are 70 of the most festive things happening this season to enjoy a truly magical holiday, safely.

*As NYC goes through another surge of this pandemic, please check to make sure businesses on this list are open and follow any safety protocols. As a note, the city requires proof of full vaccination for indoor dining and activities, and encourages residents to get their booster shots to protect themselves against the Omicron variant. Stay safe, New York.*

1. Be dazzled by the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights

shutterstock

The Dyker Heights home are lit up and ready to be seen — starting the weekend after Thanksgiving and carrying through to NYE! The stunning lights and endless decorations have become increasingly more famous over the years and have been a tradition for more than 30 years, spanning three avenues and several streets. Read all about it here.

2-5. Check out the holiday window displays

Saks Fifth Avenue Holiday 2019 Light Show Rendering

Don’t worry if you can’t afford anything at those luxurious shops up and down Fifth Avenue (we can’t either). What we can afford though is some nice window shopping! Here are some of the most mesmerizing displays this year:

6. Buy A Rainbow Christmas Tree

Facebook / Wyckoff’s Tree Farm

Forget the traditional green trees, or  the modern ones that are a crisp white—it’s all about the colorful neon trees! At Wyckoff’s Tree Farm in Belvedere, 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. Get all the details, here. 

7. Be mesmerized by the swirling, twirling colors of Van Gogh

After photos, tickets, and secret locations, all of the anticipation finally came to an end when Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience finally opened in NYCthis summer and we couldn’t be more excited! This incredible exhibition will bring you right into the universe of Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh with a 360° digital presentation of his work, and is the perfect thing to do over holiday breaks! Get your tickets here.

8-13. Visit some holiday markets

Holiday Shops at Bryant Park

What would the holidays be in NYC without our enchanting holiday markets? The Holiday Shops at Bryant Park’s Winter Village are a staple, but there are plenty of others:

  • Nov 14 – Dec 24: Grand Central Holiday Market
  • Nov 18 – Dec 24: Union Square Holiday Market
  • Nov 23 – Dec 24: 3rd & B’zaar
  • Nov 29 – Dec 24: Columbus Circle Holiday Market — check out this special walking tour!
  • Nov 28 – Dec 19: Grand Holiday Bazaar
Read our full guide here!

14. Step into the enigmatic world of Banksy: Genius or Vandal?

NYC’s highly anticipated exhibition on the iconic (and always anonymous) British street artist Banksy has finally opened! Guiding visitors through numerous sculptures, videos, photos, original works and limited edition screen prints, you’ll get to witness over 100 genuine and certified artworks by street art legend and learn more about his inspirations and statements. Get tickets here.

15. Visit NYBG’s charming Holiday Train Show

NYBG

The 30th Annual Holiday Train Show is back at the New York Botanical Garden! Watch model trains travel through NYC landmarks—like the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, Rockefeller Center, and others—as adorable miniatures made out of natural materials like birch bark, acorns, and cinnamon sticks. Get tickets here (they do sell out every year)!

16-22. Go ice skating

Colin Miller / Bryant Park Ice Rink

Nothing says winter (and the holiday season) like a visit to the ice rink! 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.! Some other rinks to check out include:

  • The Rink at Brookfield Place, Tribeca
  • Lafrak Center at Lakeside, Prospect Park
  • WWII Veterans Memorial Ice Skating Rink, Staten Island
  • IC Ice Rink in Industry City

23. Grab at cocktail at Santa’s Secret Speakeasy 

Explore a winter wonderland with six immersive installations in search of Santa’s best-kept secret: a vintage speakeasy (shh, don’t tell Mrs. Claus). Along the way, you’ll find everything from gingerbread girls and rugged lumberjacks to living snow globes. Then, once you stumble into Santa’s speakeasy, you’ll enjoy Christmas cocktails, a live band, and an eye-popping variety show of unique acts, all with a holiday twist! Get tickets right here.

24-25. Check out a cozy rooftop holiday concert

Liong Photography

Shake off the fall and winter chill with these romantic rooftop concerts in NYC. Take in unique vintage sounds in beautiful star-lit venues at the Concert Under the Stars series, featuring NYC’s best musical talents atop incredible rooftop spaces. And there are special options for the holidays! Check them out here:

26-31. Sip on NYC’s best hot chocolates

Unsplash

NYC has no shortage of trendy spots to try, but when it comes to this chocolatey drink there’s a handful of places you absolutely have to taste, so we decided to map it out for you! Some of these tasty creations are particularly chocolatey, others are all about the marshmallow topping, but one thing is undebatable—you’ll be smiling from the warmth and deliciousness with each sip. Don’t believe us? We’ll let the pictures do the talking…check it out here!

  • Angelina Paris, Bryant Park
  • Blue Stripes, Union Square
  • Dominique Ansel Bakery, SoHo
  • Martha’s Country Bakery, Williamsburg
  • Max Brenner, Union Square
  • Snowdays NYC, Bay Ridge

32. Check Out the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

shutterstock

The Norway Spruce arrived for the first time from Maryland on Saturday, November 13, and will be shining bright at the Rockefeller Plaza after the 89th Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony on December 1! Watch 50,000 multicolored LED lights light up the 75-foot-tall tree every day from 6 a.m.-midnight (and all day long on Christmas Day).

33-37. Or Other gorgeous trees around the city

Instagram / @thepeninsulanyc

Sure, the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree gets all the glory—but there are so many other stunningly decorated trees all over the city! From the park to the Palace (hotel, that is), these stops are perfect to add to your route as you explore all the holiday fun in NYC:

  • Washington Square Park’s Tree under The Arch
  • The Peninsula Hotel
  • New York Public Library
  • Madison Square Park
  • Brookfield Place
Check out our full list here!

38-39. Enjoy an enchanting holiday performance at the Candlelight Series

The wildly popular Fever Originals Candlelight series is now back with holiday-themed concerts! Enjoy some smooth, jazzy renditions of holiday favorites, and feel the music usher in all the good feelings that arrive with the most special time of the year. Join our musicians for an evening gently illuminated by candlelight, and prepare to be taken into the clouds! Check them out here:

40. Get your glow on at NYBG

Photo by Ben Hider/The New York Botanical Garden

Illuminate your holiday season at The New York Botanical Garden’s second annual GLOW experience! Everyone loves dazzling lights during the winter months, and for a second year the NYBG is putting together an outdoor, immersive experience that is sure to satisfy! They have created a “glowing world of color” that is centered around their famous landmark, the Haupt Conservatory. Grab tickets here!

41. Get your glow on at NYC’s Winter Lantern Festival

Winter Lantern Festival

Get ready to be awed—an elaborate display of enormous lanterns is open on Staten Island (and Queens…and Long Island)! That’s right, NYC’s magnificent Winter Lantern Festival has returned after last year’s COVID-19 hiatus with three different events that will have New York glowing like never before. Get tickets here.

42-47. Check out the best holiday light displays all over NYC

Facebook/ Hudson Yards

Even with virtual tree lighting ceremonies and no SantaCon, the holiday spirit in NYC still holds strong! Lights have been appearing all across the boroughs, dazzling New Yorkers everywhere they look. Here are our favorites.

  • Hudson Yards / The Vessel
  • Chelsea Market, Meatpacking
  • Seaport District, Manhattan
  • The Shops at Columbus Circle, Midtown West
  • Pulitzer Fountain, Midtown
  • Zucotti Park, FiDi

48-53. Check out the holiday & winter transformations at NYC’s bars

Facebook /Mr. Purple

Each year the city as a whole transforms into a winter wonderland, and that includes a number of the bars and restaurants! Of course, right know they are only open for outdoor dining. Here’s a few of our favorite outdoor rooftops:

54. Dine in a glass greenhouse at Watermark Bar

Watermark Bar

Take in gasp-worthy views of the waterfront and the Brooklyn Bridge at Watermark’s Winter Wonderland. Enjoy spiked hot chocolate, a ‘make your own s’mores’ section, a jumbo screen playing seasonal films, and so much more! The entire pier is illuminated with enormous Christmas trees and lit up glass houses for on of our favorite cozy atmospheres! Join the waitlist to reserve your spot here.

55-60. Get into the holiday spirit at these 10 NYC spots go ALL-OUT with decor

Facebook/ Lilly’s Victorian Establishment

There’s no time of year quite like this in New York City…And one of the best ways to get in a festive mood is completely immersing yourself in all of the gorgeous decor around town! From restaurants, to lighting displays, to hotels, these NYC locales are the perfect places to get in the holiday spirit.

61. Visit Times Square’s famous “Show Globes”

Times Square

“Larger-than-life” snow globes are decorating Times Square, kicking off NYC’s holiday displays! Head to Times Square now through December 26th to catch the enormous “show globes” set up on Broadway Plaza in Times Square. Inspired by Broadway favorites: Dear Evan Hansen, WickedAin’t Too Proud and The Lion King, the wowing installations celebrate the return of Broadway and the beginning of the holiday season. Read more here.

62. Try ice-less curling at Bryant Park’s Curling Café & cozy igloos

Angelito Jusay for Bryant Park

Bryant Park is the place to be for the holiday season in NYC! Besides its expanded holiday market and iconic ice rink, the Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park is bringing back last year’s new winter-friendly activity: curling! It’s the first-ever iceless curling experience, so it can be enjoyed no matter what the weather. Read more here.

63. Sip on mulled wine in City Winery’s Rockefeller Center igloos

City Winery

If you’ve been to Chicago you’re likely familiar with the City Winery igloos along the serene Riverwalk. Now a tradition in NYC as well, City Winery has brought them back to Rockefeller Plaza for the season! The four Winter Domes at Rockefeller Plaza are a great way to warm up this winter if you’re looking to be at the heart of all the holiday buzz. Find out more here.

64. Check out Fifth Avenue’s Winter Wonderland with playful penguins, seals & more

Instagram/ @stevecardino

Penguins, and Jaguars, and Polar Bears oh my! And as the temperatures drop and the holiday season fast approaches, tons of dazzling displays are taking over the city. Fifth Avenue kicked off their “Fifth Season” of holiday cheer on Wednesday and they truly have outdone themselves this year! Find out more here.

65. Go holiday shopping at the brand new Stranger Things Store in Midtown

Stranger Things Store

Right in Times Square, step into an 80s kinda world where demogorgons and vines wander—and become part of the gang… from your head to your toes! Hair-raising goodies featuring fan favorite elements from the show will be available for a limited time—the perfect holiday gifts for that Stranger Things stan in your life. Reserve your spot in line here!

66-69. Head out on a New York day-cation for a quick winter getaway

Saratoga.com

Though NYC is quite magical over the holidays, it’s also nice to visit some spots outside of the city to see how they are celebrate! ‘Tis the season for wreathed street lamps and garlands lighting up small town streets. Here are some of our suggestions:

  • Camelback Mountain, PA
  • Beacon, NY
  • Montauk Point, Long Island
  • Saratoga Springs, NY

70. Write your wish for 2022 on official Times Square NYE confetti

As the clock strikes midnight on January 1, roughly 3,000 pounds of confetti will descend on Times Square to ring in the new year. That said, your wish for 2022 can be written on one of those pieces of confetti coating the streets of NYC.  The NYE Wishing Wall in Times Square Plaza will be located between 46th and 47th Streets on Broadway, and is where to go if you’d like to jot down your submission. You can write on one (or several) pieces of confetti between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. any day before December 29.

Written by Bianca Bahamondes and Claire Leaden


Also published on Medium.

Tags: christmas, winter
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