Christmas and Holiday Shows in New York City

This post lists the many Christmas shows in NYC, including musicals, ballet performances, winter holiday-themed plays, and movies that you can see during the holidays.

Many shows will be available in 2021, but you will most likely be required to follow both state ordinances and the rules put in place by individual venues regarding vaccination and masks.

 

 


MUSICALS AND CONCERTS

Radio City Christmas Spectacular

Even though the Rockettes originated in St. Louis, these high-kicking ladies have become synonymous with New York City.

 

 

During the annual Radio City Christmas Spectacular, the Rockettes perform their famous “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers” as well as a variety of other numbers.

  • Location: Radio City Music Hall at 50th Street and 6th Avenue. The closest subway is the B, D, F or M trains at 47-50 Sts Rockefeller Center.
  • Dates/Times: November 5th, 2021 – January 2nd, 2022
  • Tickets: Purchase here.

Read our post on how to get a Radio City Christmas Spectacular Discount and also Discounts for Radio City Music Hall Stage Door Tour.


The Elf on the Shelf: The Musical

If you’re visiting New York City with children, you might want to consider taking them to the musical version of this classic Christmas story.

 

 

In 2021, this production will only be available at the King’s Theatre in Brooklyn.

  • Location: 1027 Flatbush Ave
  • Dates: December 26th, 2021 at 2 pm and 7 pm
  • Tickets: Purchase here.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Watch the continuing tale of Harry Potter unfold through this stage production of the eighth story in the franchise.

 

 

Fans of the Wizarding World won’t want to miss this opportunity to experience the last Harry Potter story written to date.

The performance is 5-6 hours long, with just one intermission, which might be a bit much for younger children.

  • Location: Lyric Theatre, 214 W 43rd St
  • Dates/Times: November 12th, 2021 – January 30th, 2022
  • Tickets: Purchase here.

Big Band Holidays at Lincoln Center

Get jazzy with the Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis playing your favorite holiday music. It is a holiday extravaganza for people of all ages and backgrounds.  

 

 

  • Location: Jazz At Lincoln Center, 10 Columbus Circle 
  • Dates: Dates for December 2021 have yet to be announced.

Learn how to get discounts for Lincoln Center Tours tickets.


Hip-Hop Nutcracker 

Tchaikovsky’s classic score meets hip-hop choreography.

With a dozen all-star dancers, including legendary rap music founder Kurtis Blow, a live DJ, and electric energy, this show celebrates love, community, and the magic of the holidays. 

 

 

  • Location: Kings Theatre, 1027 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn 
  • Dates/Times: December 19th, 2021
  • Tickets: Get ticket info here.

Check out our post on things to do in Brooklyn


A Christmas Carol – The Musical

This off-Broadway production has run every holiday season for 10 years. This will be especially fun for children.

The Players Theater is in Greenwich Village, a fun neighborhood to explore. 


Jingle Ball 

The iHEARTRadio Jingle Ball is a charity concert with top pop stars. 

  • Location:  Madison Square Garden, 4 Penn Plaza 
  • Date: Dates for December 2021 are uncertain.

 


CLASSICAL MUSIC AND BALLET

The Nutcracker

Tchaikovsky’s Christmas ballet has become a must-see for many people during the holidays.

George Balanchine created the version that the New York City Ballet performs every year at Lincoln Center. Don’t miss your opportunity to travel with Clara through the Kingdom of Sweets!

 

 

  • Location: David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center
  • Dates: ​November 26th, 2021 – January 2nd, 2022
  • Tickets: Purchase here. (mirror)

Holiday Brass with the New York Philharmonic

This family-friendly performance showcases the virtuosity of the New York Philharmonic Brass and Percussion. Open to everyone ages 4 and up.
 

 

  • Location: David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center
  • Dates/Times: ​Dates for December 2021 are unconfirmed.

Christmas Eve Concert with the New York String Orchestra 

Hear Mendelssohn’s overture, a Vivaldi concerto, and a Beethoven piano concerto all played by the youthful and inspired New York String Orchestra at this historic venue.

  • Location: Carnegie Hall, corner of 7th Avenue and 57th Street
  • Dates/Times: Dates for December 2021 are uncertain.

TIP: Did you know that this historic venue offers tours? Find more from our post on Carnegie Hall Tours.


Handel’s Messiah

See the New York Philharmonic perform this masterpiece, which is a holiday favorite around the world. 

  • Location: David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center
  • Dates/Times: Dates for December 2021 are uncertain.
  • Tickets:  Prices run between $34-115

Winter Solstice Celebration at Cathedral of St. John the Divine

This multimedia event takes place in the world’s largest cathedral, with its extraordinary acoustics. 

  • Location:  St. John the Divine, 1047 Amsterdam Ave. at 112th Street & Amsterdam Ave. 
  • Dates/Times: Dates for 2021 are yet to be determined.
  • Tickets: Prices range from $38-148

Click here for more information and to purchase tickets. 

 


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FREE MUSIC

Make Music Winter

A free outdoor music-making celebration featuring parades around the city, showcasing many cultures and genres. This takes place on the winter solstice and the longest night of the year.  

  • Location: Click here for the various events around the city 
  • Dates/Times: Dates for December 2021 have yet to be announced, but they have held other events this year, so chances are the winter series will also take place.
  • Tickets: Free

Merry Tuba Christmas

Celebrate the Annual Merry Tuba Christmas as hundreds of tuba players of all ages gather in the Rink at Rockefeller Center.

They will be right next to the iconic Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree and will play Christmas carols and other crowd favorites.  

  • Location: The Rink at Rockefeller Center
  • Date: Dates for December 2021 are uncertain.
  • Tickets: Free

TIP: While you are at Rockefeller Center, take the time to discover the beauty of this Art Deco complex of buildings.

Our post on Tours of Rockefeller Center lists all the options from a free self-guided tour to an official guided tour. 


Unsilent Night

A very unusual way to celebrate the holidays, and an unforgettable one. 

People gather in Washington Square Park to prepare for this one-mile parade in which everyone is invited to bring their own boomboxes or sound-blasters.

Everyone downloads the specific track for the event and then make a lot of noise in unison! 

  • Location: Meet in Washington Square Park under the Arch at 5:45 pm. 
  • Dates/Times:  Dates for 2021 are unconfirmed.
  • Tickets: Free

Click here for the details of how to participate.

Learn more about what there is to do in Greenwich Village.

 


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CHRISTMAS IN HARLEM

Harlem is always a colorful, bustling neighborhood and during the holiday season, you will find even more cheer and festivities.

You can find shows of different musical genres including Gospel music for which Harlem is known for. 

Below is one Gospel holiday event, but for other opportunities to hear this buoyant music, see our post, Gospel Music in Harlem and the Rest of New York City


Harlem Gospel Holiday Celebration

Join this 1-hour holiday celebration with uplifting music by this renown Harlem gospel choir of Mt. Olivet Baptist Church in Harlem. You can choose between Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

  • Location: Mt. Olivet Baptist Church
  • Dates/Times:  December 24th & 25th, 2021
  • Tickets: $20

More information and to purchase tickets.  


A Christmas Carol in Harlem

This production by the Classical Theater of Harlem takes this Charles Dickens classic and adapts it to present-day Harlem and brings in the modern-day issues affecting the neighborhood like gentrification and social inequality.

While weaving in serious social issues, this production is still humorous and maintains a joyful holiday spirit. 

  • Location: City College Center for the Arts’ Aaron Davis Hall 
  • Dates/Times:  Dates for December 2021 are uncertain.

Kwanzaa Celebration: Regeneration Night 

An annual celebration at the Apollo to recognize another seasonal holiday, Kwanzaa. Hear music and see dance that exemplifies the values of the holiday, family, community, and culture.

  • Location: Apollo Theater, 253 W 125th St. 
  • Date: Dates for December 2021 are uncertain.
  • Tickets: $25; Premium $40

Learn how you could take a tour of the historic Apollo Theater


Winter Wonderland at the Apollo Theater

This free event takes place at the legendary Apollo Theater.

Underneath the famous marquee, the whole family can take part in holiday-themed activities including picture-taking with Santa Claus and see fantastic performances from local choirs.

  • Location:  Apollo Theater, 253 W 125th St. 
  • Dates/Times: Dates for December 2021 are uncertain.
  • Tickets: Free

More information hereLearn how you could take a tour of the historic Apollo Theater


Amateur Night at the Apollo – Holiday Edition

This special holiday show includes the talented children dancers, musicians, and singers who have won past Amateur Night’s Stars of Tomorrow.

  • Location:  Apollo Theater, 253 W 125th St. 
  • Dates/Times: Dates for December 2021 are uncertain.
  • Tickets: Prices start at $20. 

Learn how you could take a tour of the historic Apollo Theater

 


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PLAYS AND MOVIES

A Christmas Carol at the Merchant’s House

Be transported back in time when you see this classic Charles Dickens tale in the landmark 1832 Merchant’s House Museum. 

  • Location:  The Merchant’s House Museum, 29 East 4th Street between Bowery and Lafayette Avenue 
  • Dates: December 1st – 31st, 2021
  • Tickets:  From $55 – $125.

For more information and to purchase tickets, click here


New Year’s Eve – AMC

Watch movies or dance all night on New Year’s Eve on adult-only floors with open bars and mini buffets, or get tickets for the Family Fun New Year’s Eve without alcohol.

  • Location: AMC Theater on West 42nd Street.
  • Dates/Times: Dates for December 2021 are uncertain.
  • Tickets: For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.

See our post about spending New Year’s Eve in Times Square.

 


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About the author

Courtney is a lifelong New Yorker fascinated with the city’s history, culture and cuisine. She loves exploring the world, as well as sharing her travel expertise with others.

She joined the Free Tours by Foot team in 2011, first as a guide and then as a writer. She has a law degree, a teaching degree and a worn-out passport. Her motto is “Have backpack, will travel”.