Friday,  August 7, 2020  11:53 pm

The top 10 things to do in NYC over the holidays

The top 10 things to do in NYC over the holidays
Rockefeller Center Holiday Tree
Christine Hogg

Christine Hogg is the Associate Digital Editor at PAX Global Media. Prior to joining PAX, she obtained her Honours BA in Journalism from the University of Toronto. Upon graduating, she went on to write for several travel publications while travelling the world. Her longest trip was a three-week stint in Europe, and the shortest was a 16-hour adventure in Iceland. Get in touch:

New York City comes alive during the holiday season.

Just a quick flight across the border, from strolling through Times Square with a hot chocolate, to catching a performance by the world-famous Rockettes, the festive spirit of the city can be felt anywhere.

NYC & Company, New York City’s official destination marketing organization, forecasts that seven million visitors will visit the city during the 2019–2020 holiday season. From the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade to the Christmas Tree Lighting at Rockefeller Center and the New Year’s Eve ball drop in Times Square, New York City offers unparalleled ways to celebrate the holidays with vibrant performances, tours, lightings and more taking place from November through January.

Following are festive events, performances and activities across the boroughs to celebrate the holiday season in New York City.

The top 10

1) Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony

  • Dec. 4 | Midtown, Manhattan

The Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center has been a tradition for more than eight decades. Lighting up Rockefeller Plaza, the tree lighting ceremony features performances and classic Christmas songs. The tree lights up on Dec. 4 and be on view through early to mid-January.

2) New Year’s Eve Times Square Ball Drop

  • Dec. 31–Jan. 1 | Times Square, Manhattan

Each year, millions of viewers watch the Times Square Ball Drop from New York City and around the globe. The Waterford Crystal Times Square New Year's Eve Ball sparkles in Times Square for visitors to see all season, but its descent is a specular, once-in-a-lifetime way to ring in the New Year.

New Year’s Eve Times Square Ball Drop

3) LuminoCity Festival

  • November 23-January 5 | Randall’s Island Park, Manhattan

Sixteen acres of lights will illuminate themed worlds during this inaugural festival, creating an immersive journey for visitors that includes a castle, skating unicorn and enchanted forest. 

4) Holiday markets

New York City is full of incredible holiday markets, with must-buy gifts, sweets, drinks and winter activities. This year, the Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park opened earlier than ever on October 31. Other popular markets include the Union Square Holiday Market, Columbus Circle Holiday Market, Brooklyn Flea and Astoria Market.

New York Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show

5) New York Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show 

  • November 23–January 26 | Fordham, the Bronx

Conveniently accessible via the Metro-North Railroad from Grand Central Terminal, head to the New York Botanical Garden to be enchanted by model trains zipping through a display of more than 175 NYC landmarks, each re-created with natural materials.

6) Gingerbread Lane at New York Hall of Science 

  • November 23–January 12 | Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens

Gingerbread Lane at the New York Hall of Science invites visitors to witness the vast collection of gingerbread structures embellished with candy canes, chocolate and frosting.

A performance of The Nutcracker

7) The Origami Holiday Tree at the American Museum of Natural History

  • November 25–January 12 | Upper West Side, Manhattan

 This beloved tradition includes a 13-foot tree and 1,000 origami models. The signature Origami Holiday Tree, themed “Oceans of Origami” this season, has been a part of the celebrations for more than 40 years.

8) Radio City Christmas Spectacular Starring the Rockettes 

  • November 8–January 5 | Midtown, Manhattan

The Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes returns to Radio City Music Hall, dazzling audiences of all ages with incredible costumes, festive songs and synchronized high kicks.

Radio City Christmas Spectacular Starring the Rockettes

9) A performance of The Nutcracker

10) A performance of A Christmas Carol

  • The Players Theatre will bring Charles Dickens’ timeless tale to life in their 11th annual A Christmas Carol the Musical Dec. 1–20 in Greenwich Village.

For more fun things to do in New York City over the holidays, visit

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