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

Secret NYC Secret NYC

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

Written by Bianca Bahamondes and Claire Leaden

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!

Most of these activities are outdoors or virtual, but be sure of course to wear face coverings and social distance.

1. Be dazzled by the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights


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. Get tickets to your own magical walking tour here!

2-4. 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 5th Avenue (we can’t either). What we can afford though is some nice window shopping! Saks 5th Avenue and Bloomingdale’s have stolen the show for us so far this year- make your way over to experience the light show and elaborate decorations for yourself! Once you’re done on 5th Ave, be sure to head over to Herald Square to marvel at the gorgeous holiday window display at Macy’s, too.

5. 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. 

6. Partake in a virtual Christmas Eve party & trivia night

This perfect alternative to meeting up in person combines several of your favorite games: Name That Song (holiday songs), Xmas Bingo, Survey Says, and even some Christmas Caroling. The Name that Song, bingo and Survey Says winners will get entered into a raffle for a chance to win a prize at the end. Show up solo or invite your family and friends from across the globe—everyone is welcome! Plus proceeds go to charities that support essential workers in NYC. Get tickets here!

7-10. 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 Winter Village at Bryant Park are a staple, but there are plenty of others (though more are virtual this year):

  • Virtual Grand Central Holiday Fair: November 16-December 24
  • 3rd & B’zaar: November 27-December 24
  • Virtual “Crafts at the Cathedral” St. John the Divine: November 18-December 31
  • Holiday Village at MetroTech Commons: December 2-24

11. Watch a new take on a holiday classic with the “Hip Hop Nutcracker”

Courtesy Hip Hop Nutcracker

If you’re missing the New York City Ballet’s Nutcracker this holiday season, this livestream of a totally unique version of Tchaikovskyʼs classic is the perfect remedy. The Hip Hop Nutcracker is a contemporary dance spectacle, envisioned by award-winning choreographer and director Jennifer Weber. Performed by a supercharged cast of a dozen all-star dancers, a DJ, and a violinist, this evening-length production is yours to enjoy straight from the comfort of home. Find out more here.

12. Get wizard-worthy holiday drinks from the Steamy Hallows pop-up café

Enter into Diagon Alley! Come join Steamy Hallows for the ultimate holiday-themed, witchy coffee shop and liquor bar! Inside you’ll find over-the-top decorations, giant cookies and a magical holiday theme and you can add booze into your coffee for just an extra $2! The magically trained barista will do some tricks that’ll blow your mind – he might even light things on fire! Check it out here.

13-20. 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 10am, the Rink at Rockefeller Center is open daily from 8:30am, and the rink at Bryant Park is open from 8am! 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

21. Enjoy a virtual holiday paint night from home


If you’d rather not venture outside for holiday activities, try this adorable painting class of a snowman from the comfort of home!

22. Watch the Empire State Building nightly music-to-light show

Twitter / @empirestatebldg

Along with the iconic NYC landmark lighting up in red and green every night this week, there will ALSO be a magical music-to-light show at 8 p.m. every evening to Carrie Underwood and John Legend’s new holiday song “Hallelujah”! Find out how to watch it (even if you don’t live nearby) here.

23. Head out on a scavenger hunt through NYC

Instagram / @centralparknyc

Although this scavenger hunt isn’t holiday-themed in and of itself, it does provide the perfect activity to make the most of your extra time off! Explore hidden parts of the city, and you could when amazing swag from Jack Daniel’s…like an electric guitar, goods to stock your at-home bar, and more! Sign-up here — it only goes through December 31!

24-34. Sip on NYC’s best hot chocolates


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!

35. Check Out the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree


The Norway Spruce arrived from Oneonta, New York on Saturday, November 14, and has been shining bright at the Rockefeller Plaza since the 88th Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony on December 2! Watch 50,000 multicolored LED lights light up the 75-foot-tall tree every day from 6am-midnight (and all day long on Christmas Day). Learn about the new COVID-safe line procedure here.

36-40. 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.

  • Lotte New York Palace Hotel’s Tree
  • Washington Square Park’s Tree under The Arch
  • The Peninsula Hotel’s Tree
  • New York Public Library
  • Madison Square Park’s Tree

41. Enjoy an enchanting holiday performance at the Candlelight Series

Liong Photography

The wildly popular Fever Originals Candlelight series is now in open-air spaces! 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 under the stars gently illuminated by candlelight, and prepare to be taken into the clouds! Get tickets here.

42. Bronx Zoo’s Dazzling Holiday Lights

The Bronx Zoo is lighting up 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.

43-62. 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.

63-68. 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:

69. Write your wish for 2021 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 2021 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.

70. And of course, watch the ball drop on NYE!

Though you’ll have to do it virtually! Read about the new plan (which involves an AR video game!) here.

featured image source: Photo Modified: Flickr / Philipp Alexander / CC by 2.0

Also published on Medium.

Tags: christmas, winter
Sponsored Things To Do