December in New York City means sumptuous Christmas trees, fabulous light displays, and fun-filled holiday markets. It also means gliding on the ice under the twinkling sky, staring at the glamorous window displays along Fifth Avenue, and ringing in the New Year along with millions of people from around the world in Times Square.
To unwrap the Christmas magic of NYC, make your way to these 9 addresses that ooze festive cheer and get you in the holiday mood in no time.
Home to spectacular ornaments, an iconic ice skating rink, and the city’s most famous Christmas tree, it’s no wonder December is a magical time to visit Rockefeller Center.
A tradition that dates back over 75 years ago, the tree lighting ceremony here is the most anticipated event of the season, while the Radio City Music Hall plays host to the city’s most emblematic holiday show – The Radio City Christmas Spectacular, featuring the Rockettes. Additionally, there will be Christmas carols in Rockefeller Plaza, and tons of shopping, dining, and festive things to do around the landmark.
Wollman Rink, Central Park
Step into cinematic New York with a visit to Wollman Rink. Featured in movies such as Love Story and Serendipity, this urban oasis in the heart of Central Park is one of the city’s most romantic and beloved winter attractions. A lovely place to skate under the stars with your special someone as you take in the dazzling skyline views framing the rink.
Times Square is a constant spectacle, and even more so in December, when its bright neon lights combine with seasonal magic to put passersby in festive mood. One of this year’s highlights is Gifted – a charming holiday market featuring 16 independent NYC businesses, as well as a huge gingerbread scene depicting the square’s history.
The season culminates with the world-famous New Year’s Eve ball drop, when over 1 million people gather in Times Square to watch the spectacle and celebrate. Otherwise, the area’s bars and restaurants host various concerts and events throughout this time of year.
From Bloomingdale’s to Macy’s, a walk down 5th Avenue in December is sure to get you in the holiday spirit. Every year, Manhattan’s flagship department stores put on a big show to reveal their elaborately designed windows, which usually remain on display until January 1st.
Each storefront is beautifully decorated with stunning lights and garlands, and has its own unique theme. Some of them depict whimsical, wintry scenes, others tell fascinating stories, yet all look like genuine art installations, attracting visitors from far and wide.
With glittery garlands, charming characters, and high-end fashion at every step, window shopping doesn’t get more glamorous that this.
Perched on Eataly’s 14th floor, high above the hustle and bustle of Fifth Avenue, BAITA 2.0 is one of the best places in town to enjoy a drink with a view during the holidays. Make no mistake though, this is not your usual NYC rooftop, but a cozy chalet-inspired retreat, complete with rustic wooden decor, hearty beef shanks, and the city’s first ever polenta bar.
The pop-up restaurant resembles a ski lodge, transporting guests to the Italian Alps with regional delicacies like homemade stews, cured meats, and delicious vin brulé.
The Bank of America Winter Village in Bryant Park
One of New York’s most sought-after Christmas addresses, the Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park is brimming with festive fun all day long. From a spin on the ice to seasonal shopping and rinkside dining, there’s nothing you can’t do in this winter wonderland in Midtown Manhattan. A holiday market filled with food and artisanal boutiques keeps visitors happy and entertained, while carol singing and a grandiose Christmas tree add to the jolly atmosphere.
Rolf’s German Restaurant
If hearty Bavarian cuisine and over-the-top Christmas decorations are your thing, then Rolf’s German Restaurant is the place to be in December. Adorned with sparkling ornaments, cute dolls, and over 100,000 lights, this famed establishment in Gramercy Park becomes an attraction in and of itself during the holidays.
No December trip to NYC would be complete without a stroll around Dyker Heights, the city’s most Christmassy neighborhood. Every season, over 100,000 people visit this Italian-American enclave in southwest Brooklyn to admire the vibrant, colorful spectacle, as each house is decked out in extravagant Christmas lights and decorations. Expect life-size nativity scenes, toy soldiers, huge inflatable Santas, and even joyous holiday tunes complementing the lavish displays.
To explore the area, there are lots of guided tours to choose from, whether you prefer to take in the splendor of it all from the comfort of your bus seat or simply walk past the stunningly decorated houses, hot cocoa in hand.
The Peninsula New York
The Big Apple is filled to the brim with fantastic hotels, but if you’re looking to capture the true magic of New York City at Christmas, go to The Peninsula New York. Its enviable location right on Fifth Avenue and exquisitely decorated Neo-classical facade along with the tempting seasonal packages on offer make this 5-star establishment one of the city’s best Christmas hotels.
Stop at the elegant Gotham Lounge for a holiday-themed afternoon tea, feast on a four-course Christmas dinner accompanied by Victorian carolers at the onsite Clement Restaurant, and sleep in one of the festively decorated rooms, complete with gingerbread playhouses and Christmas movie libraries.