Top 10 Christmas Traditions Every New Yorker Must Experience

Christmas in New York City is a vibe that can’t be explained; you have to experience it. It’s the time of year when all stores are bright, shiny, decorated, and inviting. You can feel the city’s excitement in the air.

This list is what you need to get in on the action! Peppered with an assortment of shops throughout Manhattan, there’s a little something for everyone here. New York City lights up like no other place at Christmas time – tall tree-lined streets filled with twinkling lights and grand department stores that do their best to outdo each other by putting up festive window displays as far as your eyes can see (and we mean *far*).

Christmas Season | Image Source – Times Magazine

1. Ice Skating at Rockefeller Center

The most iconic Christmas tradition in all of New York City has got to be ice skating at Rockefeller Center. As soon as the weather starts to cool down, the lines start forming for people wanting to get their skate on (pun intended) at this world-famous spot. The rink is open from October until March, so there’s plenty of time to check it out.

2. Going to a Christmas Show

Christmas Show in NYC | Image Source – Pinterest

Broadway shows are always popular in New York City, but around Christmastime, they really take things up a notch. With festive music and stories that will get you into the holiday spirit, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Some of our favorites include “A Christmas Carol,” “The Nutcracker,” and “Elf.”

3. Window Shopping on Fifth Avenue

No trip to New York City at Christmastime is complete without a stop on Fifth Avenue to take in all of the amazing window displays. From Saks Fifth Avenue to Bergdorf Goodman, the best stores in the city pull out all the stops to wow shoppers with their holiday scenes. It’s definitely a sight to see!

4. Eating Chinese Food on Christmas Day

In most parts of the world, Christmas is a time for family gatherings and traditional meals. But that’s not the case in New York City! Here, eating Chinese food on Christmas Day is practically tradition. There are so many great places to choose from, but our favorite is definitely The Golden Unicorn in Chinatown.

5. Seeing the Rockefeller Christmas Tree

Rockefeller Christmas Tree | Image Source – Pinterest

Another must-do when in New York City during Christmastime is seeing the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. This massive tree is lit up and decorated with billions of LED lights and typically stays up until the end of January. It’s a truly beautiful sight to behold.

6. Going on a Holiday Shopping Spree

If you’re looking to do some serious Christmas shopping, then New York City is the place for you. With so many amazing stores to choose from, you’re sure to find something for everyone on your list. From big department stores like Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s to unique boutiques, you’ll be able to find anything and everything you’re looking for.

7. Checking out the Christmas decorations in Central Park

Central Park is one of the most beautiful places in all of New York City, and it’s even more special around Christmastime when it’s decked out in festive decorations. From the massive Christmas tree to the illuminated ice skating rink, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

8. Drinking hot chocolate in Bryant Park

Another great spot for checking out Christmas decorations is Bryant Park. This small but charming park is always filled with people enjoying all sorts of activities, from ice skating to relaxing on the lawn. And of course, no trip to Bryant Park is complete without a cup of delicious hot chocolate.

9. Watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade

Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade | Image Source – Pinterest

One of the best (and most festive!) parades in New York City is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade! Floats and balloons make their way down the street to celebrate the start of one of my favorite times of year – and it’s a great way to get into the Christmas spirit.

10. Attending a Christmas Eve Mass

At Christmas time nothing says “holidays” quite like going to church! For those looking to keep up with some proper Christmas traditions, attending a Christmas Eve Mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral is definitely a must-do on your list. It’ll help you connect with others celebrating this special time of year as well as get you excited for what’s to come!

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