The Holiday Season in New York City

Dreaming of a new york holiday

New York City during the holidays is a magical experience, with numerous festive attractions and activities to enjoy. Many travelers flock to the city every year to experience the holiday spirit in full force with endless decorations, delicious foods, and boundless cheer. If you’ve never been to New York City for the holidays, we highly recommend it. Here are just a few examples of what makes the city so enchanting during the season!

Endless Dazzling Decorations

The entire city is bedecked in lights, ornaments, and decorations for the holidays. Some of the most iconic must-sees are:

1.
Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree: The lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is a must-see event. The towering tree is adorned with thousands of twinkling lights and is a symbol of Christmas in NYC.

  • Fun fact!: The tradition of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree lighting dates back to 1933 when construction workers erected a small, decorated tree at the site during the Great Depression. The first official tree lighting ceremony was in 1933.

2. Holiday Window Displays: Many of the city’s top department stores, such as Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Bloomingdale’s, create elaborate holiday window displays that are a delight to see. Even if you’re not planning on making extravagant purchases, strolling along Fifth Avenue to see the high-end stores’ holiday decorations can be a festive experience.

  • Fun fact!: The tradition of elaborate holiday window displays in NYC department stores began in the late 1800s. Macy’s was one of the pioneers, and they continue this tradition today.

3. Central Park: Stroll through Central Park, which is beautiful year-round but takes on a special charm during the holidays. You can often find horse-drawn carriage rides and picturesque spots for photos.

4. Dyker Heights Christmas Lights: Take a trip to Brooklyn’s Dyker Heights neighborhood, where residents go all out with extravagant Christmas light displays and decorations.

  • Fun fact!: The tradition of extravagant holiday light displays in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, began in the 1980s and has grown into a must-see attraction. Some homeowners spend thousands of dollars on decorations each year.

5. Holiday Bus/Boat Tours: Enjoy a festive boat tour on the Hudson River or around Manhattan to see the city’s skyline lit up for the holidays. Some companies offer guided bus tours that take you to the best holiday light displays in the city, making it easy to see multiple attractions in one evening.

Delicious Holiday Treats

New York City is a food lover’s paradise year-round, and the holiday season brings its own special culinary delights. Here are some holiday foods and treats you should definitely try when visiting NYC during the festive season:

1. Rugelach: This traditional Jewish pastry is often enjoyed during Hanukkah. It’s a sweet, flaky pastry filled with ingredients like chocolate, nuts, or fruit preserves. You can find excellent rugelach at bakeries in NYC.

2. Roast Chestnuts: Roasted chestnuts are a classic holiday snack often sold by street vendors throughout the city. They make for a warm and comforting treat as you explore the holiday lights and decorations.

3. Latkes: During Hanukkah, you’ll find plenty of places serving up crispy potato latkes with applesauce or sour cream. Some restaurants even put their own unique twist on this classic dish.

4. Chinatown Lunar New Year Foods: If your visit extends into January or February, don’t miss out on the Lunar New Year celebrations in Chinatown, where you can enjoy traditional Chinese holiday dishes and snacks.

5. Italian Holiday Sweets: NYC’s Italian bakeries go all out with holiday-themed treats. Look for pignoli cookies, panettone, and torrone (a nougat candy) among other delicious options.

Festive Fun

New York City offers a wide range of holiday-specific activities and experiences that are unique to the season. Here are some holiday activities you can enjoy in NYC:

1. Ice Skating: Lace up your skates and glide across the ice at iconic rinks like the one at Rockefeller Center, Bryant Park’s Winter Village, and Central Park’s Wollman Rink. It’s a quintessential NYC winter activity.

2. Attend the Rockettes’ Christmas Spectacular: Head to Radio City Music Hall to watch the world-famous Rockettes perform their spectacular Christmas show, featuring stunning dance routines and holiday-themed performances.

3. Holiday Markets: Explore the various holiday markets that pop up throughout the city. Shop for unique gifts, enjoy seasonal snacks, and soak up the festive atmosphere at locations like Bryant Park, Union Square, and Columbus Circle.

4. Volunteer Opportunities: Consider giving back to the community by participating in holiday volunteer activities. NYC offers various opportunities to help those in need during the season.

5. Holiday Train Shows: Don’t miss the annual holiday train shows, such as the New York Botanical Garden’s Holiday Train Show, where model trains wind their way through intricate miniature landscapes.

Spread the Holiday Cheer

New York City offers so much holiday cheer during the season that even Scrooge wouldn’t be able to help but smile and celebrate. Now is the perfect time to start planning your holiday trip to New York! Remember that NYC can be very crowded during the holiday season, so plan ahead, book tickets in advance where possible, and be prepared for cold weather. Enjoy the festive spirit and the unique holiday charm of the city!

If you make it to the city during the holidays, be sure to share your experience with us on social media using #MRGvacations!

Lisanne Beeman
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