12 New York City Christmas Musts From 2 NYC Natives

By Madelyn Slattery | 18th December 2023

Everyone knows that Christmas in New York is one of the most magical times of the year and, as New York natives, we know which tourist traps to avoid and which experiences to spend your savings on.

We’ve covered pretty much everything you should know about Christmas in London, from the best Christmas cocktails to the prettiest Christmas trees. But, if you’re planning to hop across the pond to the Big Apple anytime soon and want an inside scoop on how to spend Christmas the right way, these are our top 12 must-dos for this festive season. 

Holiday Markets

Christmas is the most magical time of the year, loaded with gifts, food, and goodies. Based on experience, we think the best way to celebrate is by going to some holiday markets. The city is bustling with millions of places to shop, but the big question when planning what to do and where to go is which markets are worth it and which should be scrapped. Here are a few of our favourite must-visits. 

1. The Bryant Park Winter Village

The Winter Village at Bryant Park is always a staple for tourists and locals alike. The classics, ice skating and the European-inspired open-air markets are back this year, along with a few other treats.

Bump and spin your way into the new year at The Rink on their bumper cars. Not for you? Chill out at The Lodge, a rink-side, open-air, après skate escape where you can cosy up with festive cocktails and food and watch the ice skaters fly around. For some privacy, jump into one of the cosy igloos with friends and family.

Where: 42nd Street and, 6th Ave, New York, NY 10018, United States 

When: 27th October until 2nd January (Winter Village open until March 2024)

S16KWK The annual holiday market in Bryant Park is very popular. NYC

2. Union Square Holiday Market

The Union Square Holiday Market is making it so much easier to shop for friends and family this Christmas. You’ll find decorations, clothing, books, gifts for pets – anything and everything.

If you work up an appetite while crossing presents off your list, check out the iconic open-air Union Square Greenmarket and spend your day finding the freshest fruits + veggies, beautiful floral bouquets, and local provisions from artisan vendors. 

Where: Union Square W &, E 17th St, New York, NY 10003, United States

When: 24th November 2023 until 24th December 2023

3. Colombus Circle Holiday Market

It isn’t a NYC visit without heading over to Central Park, which is easily one of the most beloved NYC staples. Each Christmas, Central Park holds arguably one of the best Christmas markets. Selling crafts, jewellery, artwork, home accessories and our favourite, food from fabulous vendors. You have to try the Glazey Days doughnut pop-up for the most delicate bite-sized sweet treats.

Where: Central Park

When:  28th November 2023 to 31st December 2023

Ice Skating Rinks

There are two types of skaters – an almost Olympian and someone who can’t stand for two seconds without falling. Whether you’re an expert or just starting, skating under the bright lights is the best and NYC is notorious for housing some pretty cool rinks that you, your friends, and family should visit. Check out our top 3 ice skating rinks you should take for a spin during your next trip.

4. The Rink at Rockefeller Center 

Did you go to NYC without lacing up your skates at Rockefeller Plaza? As one of the most iconic ice skating rinks, Rockefeller Center makes you feel like the main character in a wintery rom-com.

With its backdrop being the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, we’d recommend going early in the day as over 250,000 people skate here every season.

Where: Rockefeller Center, 600 5th Avenue, New York, NY 10020

When: 4th November 2023 to 24th March 2024

5. Wollman Rink

Located right in Central Park, Wollman Rink is perfect for a picturesque date night or a day escape with the family. The rink hosts various events and programs throughout the winter season, including a 90s skate night. They also have private and group skating lessons for the young ones, or even you if you’re not keen on the ice. If skating isn’t your thing, enjoy their first come first serve rink-side heated igloos while you sip on a cosy cocktail.

Where: 830 5th Ave, New York, NY, 10065

When: 28 October 2023 to 15 March 2024

6. Glide at Brooklyn Bridge

NYC’s newest rink has surpassed our expectations. Located directly under the famed Brooklyn Bridge and within the historic DUMBO neighbourhood, Glide’s views are unmatched. But this isn’t just a skating rink, as they offer hot drinks and tasty treats.

Where: Emily Warren Roebling Plaza at Brooklyn Bridge Park Brooklyn, NY 11201

When: 15 November 2023 to 1 March 2024

Holiday Bars

After a long day of Christmas markets and skating rinks, you’re going to want to head to a bar and grab a drink or two. Nothing sounds better than mulled wine or spiked egg nog to ease the chill of a cold winter day. If you’re feeling a tad thirsty after your festive finds, follow along with our top 3 holiday-themed pop-up bars to keep on your radar. Keep in mind these pop-ups are only standing for a limited time, so book ASAP and cheers to a day well spent.

7. Frosty’s NYC

Located in the heart of the Big Apple, Frosty’s is an extravagant Christmas experience. This pop-up bar offers sensational cocktails, photo experiences and all the Christmas decorations your heart could desire.

Come for a good time with as many friends as you’d like – the bar is available to book group parties if everyone needs a night out.

Where: 220 W 44th St, New York, NY 10036

When: 30 November 2023 to 10 January 2024

8. Miracle on 9th St.

One thing about NYC is that locals will always love an interactive bar… so that means another Christmas pop-up bar and this one is a miracle but not the one on 34th Street.

This bar was born in the East Village but is now an international success. Miracle offers holiday-themed drinks and over-the-top kitschy holiday decorations. We’d recommend the holiday spiked chai and you have to buy the ‘Santarex’ mug to take home and enjoy all festive drinks in.

Where: 649 E 9th St, New York, NY 10009, United States

When: 9th November 2023 to 31st December 2023


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9. Sleyenda at Leyenda

If you want a more chill bar vibe but still crave those festive cocktails… Leyenda turns into Sleyenda and we are obsessed. The interiors are decked out to the nines in Christmas decor and the cocktails will make you fa la la (not literally). We recommend the Mexican hot chocolate for a warm pick-me-up.

Where: 221 Smith St, Brooklyn, NY 11201, United States

When: 24th November 2023 to 30th December 2023

Shows, Sights & More

Sometimes, we like to sit back, relax, and take in some entertainment. This holiday season, we have a plan for those who want to watch the fun from afar.

10. Après Skate Chalets

Did you think we forgot the iconic Rockefeller Center? Never. This year, enjoy skating from afar and sit warm and cosy in these Après Skate Chalets.

In partnership with Balsam Hill, visitors and skaters alike are welcome to enjoy alcoholic beverages in the chalets, with a seasonal menu of drinks by Other Half Brewery, served alongside a warming menu of après-skate bites by 21 Greenpoint. 

Where:  600 5th Avenue, Rockefeller Center, New York, NY 10020, United States

When: November 1st – January 15th

11. The Nutcracker with the New York City Ballet

When the first few notes of Dance of the Sugar Plum start to play, our minds go straight to the holiday season. Now, imagine dressing up all fancy and enjoying an entire evening filled with beautiful dancing and classic soundtracks. Sounds perfect, right? We can assure you, that a night with the New York City Ballet is the ultimate way to spend your time in NYC this holiday season.

With 90 dancers, 62 musicians, 40 stagehands and more than 125 children, the School of American Ballet creates a magical performance each night. 

Where: 20 Lincoln Center Plaza, New York, NY 10023

When: November 24th – December 31st

12. Christmas Spectacular with Radio City Rockettes

The holiday season does not officially begin in NYC until you see the Rockettes kicking away during the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. For those who cannot get enough of those talented ladies, the Christmas Spectacular with Radio City Rockettes is the place to be.

Filled with holiday-inspired numbers, characters, choreography, and costumes, the Christmas Spectacular fully encapsulates the spirit of the festive winter season. 

Where: 1260 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020

When: November 17th – January 4th


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Written by Madelyn Slattery and Alison von Haefen

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