Christmas in New York 2024

Updated: 9 marzo 2024

This post is a guide to events and things to do in New York at Christmas in 2024.

We include markets, window displays, public Christmas tree lightings, sightseeing tours, shows, and more. 

As local tour guides, we experience Christmas in NYC both as locals as well as through the eyes of our guests. 

And, throughout this post, we have Christmas-themed videos of our guides, such as this one of Katie and Lori giving a virtual tour of the Bryant Park Winter Village.

We have also engaged the help of the roughly 230k members of our NYC Travel Tips Facebook group to create this post.

Recommendations for Christmas in New York

Our group is made up of locals, like our tour guides, expats, regulars to NYC, as well as newbies.

There's no need to become a member to search for and read the posts, comments, and recommendations.

A link to the group can be found at the bottom of the post.


The holidays are always a magical time of year, but there is something extra special about spending Christmas in New York.

There are many things to do during the holiday season, which is why we created this guide.

Timing is everything. Most decorations, lights, and window displays start going up in late November.

Thanksgiving, a national holiday that takes place on the last Thursday of November, is seen by most New Yorkers as the start of the Holiday Season.

And while there is no official Christmas Day parade in New York, Santa does make an appearance at the end of Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade.

All of the most popular musicals and shows, as well as the famous light and window displays, start at the end of November.

However, things really are in full swing by the start of the second week of December.

New York Tourist Discount Passes

If you are planning on visiting many attractions during the holidays, then consider a tourist discount pass, and be sure to check out our definitive guide for things to do in NYC.


If you are looking for cold, you are likely going to be happy in NYC for the holidays.

In late December, afternoon temperatures can reach into the upper 30's f (3 to 4 C) while early morning lows dip into the upper 20's f (-2 to -3 C).  

On a few of the colder nights and mornings, the temperature will dip down into the mid-teens (-9 to -10 C). 

And a white Christmas is certainly a possibility, snowfall on Christmas isn't likely.

Be sure to check out our full December weather forecast for more details on what to expect weatherwise.

Below, we highlight the top things to do in NYC during the Christmas and holiday seasons. 


Free Tours by Foot will offer our popular Holiday Lights and Christmas decorations tour again this year.

Don’t miss this opportunity to see all of the holiday decorations and legendary window displays all at once!

Like all of our other walking tours, you will have the opportunity to pay what you want and see the best and most beautiful of our city’s holiday offerings.

We will cover everything from Lincoln Center to the Rockefeller Tree! The tour will run daily- see our calendar for dates/times.  

Click here to be brought to the tour page or go directly to our booking calendar.

Free Tours by Foot also offers a pay-what-you-like Christmas Movie Tour on a more limited basis.

If you prefer to visit these sights on wheels, then check out the bus tour version.

Christmas Movie Tour

Dyker Heights Christmas Lights Tour

When people think about holiday decorations in New York City, they usually think of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree and the lavish store window displays of Midtown Manhattan.

But some of the best sights to be seen are in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, where some of the most outlandish Christmas decoration displays can be found.  

We are happy once again to offer our very own walking tour of the Christmas lights in Dyker Heights Brooklyn.

The tour runs Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays at 7:15 pm (19:15) for the month of December. Book this tour now.

Christmas Movies Tour of New York City

Experience New York City through some of your favorite holiday classics!  

This tour takes you to iconic film sites used in “Elf,” “Home Alone 2,” “Miracle on 34th Street,” “Serendipity” and “Scrooged.”  

In addition to visiting sites and getting some fantastic photo ops, you will hear “behind the scenes” filming stories about each of these movies.  

Learn how a full Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was filmed for “Miracle on 34th Street,” where the design of Buddy the Elf’s costume came from, and exactly what Kevin McAllister ordered from the Plaza Hotel to rack up a $967 room service bill!

We will use our feet and the New York City subway to get from place to place on this tour, finishing up at Macy’s.

(A perfect time for a visit to Santaland or some last-minute shopping!)  

There is also a bus version of this tour.

Some sites/movies covered include:

  • “Elf” snowball fight location
  • Hobbes apartment Building (Elf)
  • Wollman Rink (Serendipity)
  • The Plaza Hotel (Home Alone 2)
  • Rockefeller Center (Scrooged, Elf and Home Alone 2)
  • Macy’s
  • Learn more


There are so many light and window displays that you could dedicate a whole trip to visiting each and every one of them.

We have listed the top Christmas light displays, not just for Manhattan, but also Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island.

We have done the same things for the window displays in NYC.


It wouldn’t be Christmas in New York without this enormous green symbol of the season!

The tree lighting on Rockefeller Plaza is a major celebration in the city.

The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is lit on the first Wednesday after Thanksgiving at roughly 9 pm (21:00).

Be sure to read our post on the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree for more information including where to get a good view, the full dates and hours when the tree is lit up, and more.

TIP: Since you are already at Rockefeller Center, why not visit the Top of The Rock observation deck to see all of the city's sparkling lights?

Saks Fifth Avenue

The show is made up of hundreds of thousands of LED lights synchronized to holiday music projected onto the side of its flagship store on 5th Avenue between 49th and 50th Streets. 

Read more about the Saks Fifth Ave. lights show.

Bergdorf Goodman Windows

As one of NYC's most luxurious department stores, Bergdorf's (as it's known locally) is regarded as the store with the most extraordinary and fashionable holiday window displays.

Read more about this store's holiday windows.

Bloomingdale's Christmas Windows

The home of the ‘Big Brown Bag’, Bloomingdale’s puts on a fabulous holiday window display.

It’s worth walking a few extra blocks from 5th Avenue to see it.

Macy's Christmas Window Displays

Macy’s was America’s first department store to decorate its windows for Christmas, back in 1874 when the store was located on 14th Street.

Now located on 34th Street, Macy’s decorates the windows that run along the Broadway side of the store. 

Since the early years, Macy’s has chosen a unique theme each year. 

In 2023, the windows will be unveiled on November 16 and stay up until January 1, 2024.

Be sure to read our post on Macy's Christmas window displays.

The Shops at Columbus Circle

Next to the Columbus Circle Holiday Market is this upscale indoor shopping mall.

During the holiday season, the atrium is decorated with 14-foot stars.

The stars are synchronized to blink to holiday music. See their website for times when the light show takes place.

Bronx Zoo Holiday Lights

Every November to January, the Bronx Zoo becomes an illuminated Winter Wonderland. 

See 260 lanterns in the shapes of nearly 70 animal and plant species. 

In the Forest of Color, you’ll see larger-than-life lanterns of frogs, turtles, butterflies, and more.

There’s also a holiday train, ice carvings, plenty of hot cocoa, and more.

Don't miss the Bronx Zoo this holiday! Find out more here.


Every year, the residents of the Dyker Heights Brooklyn neighborhood deck out their homes with elaborate Christmas lights.

Many homes are professionally decorated, with some displays costing up to $20,000!

Many homes are decorated the week after Thanksgiving, but the prime viewing time is mid-December.

Read our post on how to experience the Dyker Heights lights, including tips on how to get here and which areas to visit.

  • Location: Dyker Heights, Brooklyn. The best lights are from 11th Avenue to 13th Avenue and from 83rd Street to 86th Street. The closest subway is the D/M train at 18th Avenue.
  • When to go: The best viewing hours are from 5 pm to 9 pm. (Also, most say that weekends have better displays than weeknights)
  • NOTE: The best lights are about a mile from the subway stop, so prepare accordingly in terms of footwear and dressing for the cold!
  • Read the full post here.


From late November until the beginning of January, New York City hosts several Christmas and winter holiday-themed plays, musicals, and other performances.

Read our full post on awesome Christmas and holiday-themed shows, musicals, ballets, and other performances taking place in NYC. 

Below are the two most beloved, the Radio City Christmas Spectacular and the Nutcracker.

Radio City Christmas Spectacular

Even though the Radio City 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. 

Read our full post for more details.

  • 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 17, 2023 - January 1, 2024. The number of shows per day varies, but it is usually 4 or 5. 

Tickets: Purchase tickets here (affiliate disclosure).

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

The Nutcracker

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

Famed artistic director George Balanchine created the version that the New York City Ballet performs every year at Lincoln Center in 1954.

Don’t miss your opportunity to travel with Clara through the Kingdom of Sweets!

  • Location: David H. Koch Theatre at Lincoln Center. The closest subway station is the 1 train at 66th Street.
  • Dates/Times: November 24 - December 31, 2023. There will be performances on most days, with 2 on Saturday and Sunday during November and then 2 a day in December.
  • Price: Tickets start at $115 for upper balcony and run as high as $325 for orchestra.
  • Purchase tickets or learn more.

Our Happy Holiday Gospel Special

  • Venue: Memorial Baptist Church, 141 W.115th Street (between Malcolm X Blvd/ St. Nicholas Ave)
  • Dates/Times: Wednesdays at 12:00 pm. (There is an accompanying Gospel Music walking tour of Harlem at 10:00 am)
  • Tickets: Purchase here.


New York hosts several Christmas markets, where you can buy gifts, decorations, and festive treats!

It is a fun and unique way to do some of your holiday shopping.

Below is a list of the most popular markets in Manhattan, but for a full list, read our post on the best Christmas markets to find some unique markets located beyond Manhattan.

Bank of America Bryant Park Winter Village

Also known as the Bryant Park Winter Village, it has temporary shops put up for the season.

There are over 125 offerings, from apparel to accessories to local restaurants. Combine this with a trip to the Bryant Park ice rink!

The dates are October 27, 2023, to March 3, 2024. (The shopping stalls close on January 2, 2024).

Grand Central Holiday Fair

This market is located in Vanderbilt Hall (inside Grand Central Terminal) and offers over 70 vendors, with things you can’t find anywhere else in New York!

Past items have included hand-painted table linens and mosaic mirrors.

This indoor market occurs in 2023 from November 13 to December 24 (closed Thanksgiving, November 23).

Union Square Holiday Market

Located in Union Square (14th to 17th Street between Broadway and Park Ave South), the Union Square Holiday Market has over 150 vendors.

It includes an array of gifts, from jewelry to leather goods.

This market will take place from November 16 to December 24. The market is closed on Thanksgiving Day, November 23rd.

Columbus Circle Holiday Market

This market is similar to the Union Square Market. (It is run by the same people.)

This location is at the southwest entrance to Central Park, so it could be done in conjunction with a trip to Wollman Rink!

This market is slightly smaller than its downtown counterpart, with about 100 stalls.

Columbus Circle Holiday Market will run from November 28th to December 31st, 2023 (closed Christmas Day).


These restaurants are known for having fantastic holiday decor and serve yummy food as well.

The Christmas decor is classy at some and a bit outlandish at others. Expect loads of garland, baubles and ornaments, colorful lights and even a Christmas tree in one or two places.

It’s always best to make a reservation in advance. Just click on the restaurant’s name to be taken to their website.


For decades this German restaurant in Gramercy Park has been THE spot to go for over-the-top Christmas decorations.

It’s great fun for the holidays, though it has become a bit of a tourist trap. This means that Rolf’s can charge whatever they like for food that is just ok. 

Main dishes like pork and veal schnitzels with potato and cabbage-based sides cost about $35. Portions are big and Christmas ornaments are even bigger!

Papillon Bistro & Bar

This bistro delights beyond belief. It oozes Christmas charm, with thousands of sparkling lights, stockings, garlands, wreaths, tinsel, and more.

You can't miss the cuddly giant teddy bear and stuffed reindeer both dressed up for the occasion.

It’s in Midtown Manhattan and just four blocks from the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree!

Tavern On The Green

A meal any time of the year at this iconic restaurant in Central Park is something special. At the holidays it’s even more so.

Filled with lush greenery and lights indoors, the outdoor courtyard has a Christmas tree. After your meal, take a stroll through the park.

La Grande Boucherie

This grand French restaurant has traditional decor that is even more beautiful when dressed up with hundreds of twinkling lights, lights, and garlands. 

It’s in Midtown Manhattan, a ten-minute walk away from the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree.



Ice Skating in New York City

There are several ice skating options in New York during the holidays.

You can choose the one that is right for you based on your price point and location.  

Some, like Rockefeller Center, can get very crowded, so plan ahead or be ready to pay for quick access.  

Ice Skating in New York City

Others, like Central Park, are not as crowded. However, it's easy to plan around the busiest of times.  

So, lace up your skates and have a quintessential New York City experience.  

Read our post on where to go ice skating in New York City.

Attend a Christmas Tree Lighting

In addition to the Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting, there are some other opportunities to see tree lightings in beautiful settings.

Lighting ceremonies are usually accompanied by live music, dancing, tree decoration making, and hot chocolate or hot cider.

Central Park on November 30, 2023, from 5:30p.m. to 7:30 p.m at the Charles A. Dana Discovery Center, inside the Park at 110th Street between Fifth and Lenox Avenues.

Winter Village in Bryant Park on November 28, 2023 from 4 pm.

Wall Street on November 30, 2023 from 3 pm – 6 pm, in front of the New York Stock Exchange.

South Street Seaport on November 28, from 6pm – 7pm at Water and Fulton St intersection.

Washington Square Park on December 6, 2023 6:00 – 7:00 pm.

Harlem at the West Harlem Piers on December 2, 2023, 4:30 – 6:00 pm.

See the New York Botanical Garden's Holiday Train Show

One of the best holiday train shows happens every year at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx. 

Over 25 G-scale model trains and trolleys run along half a mile of track as they circle 190 New York City Landmarks.

The dates are November 17, 2023, to January 15, 2024, between 10 am to 6 pm.

Find out more here.

Take a Picture with Santa

Santa Claus is not camera shy and he’s arriving in New York in late November to pose for photos with your kids – or grown-ups too! 

a marquee that says Santa is Here

Macy's Santaland

Expect a long but jovial wait. It's free to see Santa but if you want a photo, it costs $39.99 and up. You must reserve a time slot to take a photo.

  • Where: Macy's West 34th St. bet. Broadway and Seventh Ave. on the 8th Floor.
  • When: 11/24-12/24, 2023.
  • Hours: Hours vary with starting times between 7 am and 9 am and closing time at 9 pm, except 12/24 when Santa leaves at 4 pm.
  • Reservations open on 11/19.

Winter Wonderland

See Santa at the historic Apollo Theater in Harlem along with a free choir performance.

  • Where: Apollo Theater in Harlem at 253 W. 125th Street
  • When: December 9, 2023, 2 pm - 6 pm
  • Cost: Free!

Santa at Brookfield Place

Bring your camera or phone to take a free selfie with Santa Claus! No reservations are required.

Instead, register on the spot by scanning a QR code onsite at Santa’s North Pole to join the virtual line.

Arrive before the sessions start, as the virtual line might close before the listed closing time if capacity has been reached. 

See the website for more details on how the virtual line system works.

  • Where: The Winter Garden at Brookfield Place at 220 Vesey Street.
  • When: December 7 -10, 13-17, and 20-24, 2023. 
  • Hours:
    • Dec 7: 10:00 am- 12:00 pm
    • Dec 8: 10:00 am -12:00 pm and 3:00 - 7:00 pm 
    • Dec 9, 13-16, & 20-23: 10:00 am- 12:00 pm & 3:00- 7:00 pm 
    • Dec 10, 17, & 24: 10:00 am- 2:00 pm & 4:00 - 6:00 pm
  • Cost: Free!

Bloomingdale's Santaland

At Bloomie’s Santaland, lines are usually shorter than Macy's AND if you are a Sex and The City fan, a trip to Bloomingdale’s is essential!

  • Where: Bloomingdales at 1000 Third Avenue at 59th St. on the 6th Floor
  • When: November 16 to December 15, 2023 from 10:15am to 7pm
  • Tickets: Photo packages start at $25. Buy tickets here.

Christmas House at the Oculus

Christmas House is a unique indoor immersive, all-ages, holiday experience. It’s where Christmas sights, sounds, and even smells come to life!

Walk through more than ten themed rooms like the Snow Room, where it is actually snowing. Plus there is the North Pole Movie Theater, Buddy the Elf Room, the Indoor Light Show and more.

When you are done, check out the holiday market in the Oculus or go ice skating at nearby Brookfield Place.

  • Where: The Oculus, 185 Greenwich Street, Main Level
  • When: November 24, 2023 through January 2, 2024
  • Time: Every half hour starting from 10 am through 9 pm.
  • Cost: $40 for adults and $35 for children. VIP tickets are available for an extra fee.
  • Purchase your tickets here.


One of the most-watched events on television, the New Year's Eve ball drop in Times Square is a classic conclusion to the holiday season.

NYE celebrations in Times Square first occurred in 1904 when the New York Times relocated to that area.

Times Square Ball

However, the now-famous ball drop was not added until a few years later. Today, over 1 million people gather in Times Square to ring in the New Year.

Learn how to get a good spot for the ball drop.

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade 

The official kickoff to the holiday season is the Macy’s Parade.

In 2023, the parade will be on Thursday, November 23.

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Route

Head out to see new balloons and floats as well as old favorites. Make sure you stay to greet Santa Claus at the end!

For detailed information on the parade, see our post on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Route.

New York Travel Tips


About The Author

Stephen Pickhardt

Stephen is the CEO of Free Tours by Foot and has overseen the transformation of a local walking tour company into a global tour community and traveler’s advice platform. He has personally led thousands of group tours in the US and Europe, and is an expert in trip planning and sightseeing, with a focus on budget travelers. Stephen has been published and featured in dozens of publications including The Wall Street Journal, BBC, Yahoo,, and more.
Updated: marzo 9th, 2024
Back to Top