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7 ways to have the best ever Christmas in New York City

7 ways to have the best ever Christmas in New York City

I’m a little overexcited for my first Christmas in New York City.

Of course, Christmas back in the southern hemisphere ain’t so bad (plus it has the added benefit of squeezing in some beach time between family functions and gift giving) but for an Australian, there’s something enticing about the idea of a White Christmas.

I first sought the wintery depiction of Christmas when I visited Europe in late 2013. However, I was denied a White Christmas. The only time we got snow during December was in Ukraine, and let’s face it – the country was a tad preoccupied to get into the holiday spirit.

So this year, I’m giving it another go – this time in NYC. In an effort to make this holiday season as ridiculously Christmassy as possible, I’ve asked around to find out how to have the best ever Christmas in New York City.


Christmas Bar in New York City

Christmas in New York City

1. drink at a Christmas themed bar

If you need a boost of Christmas spirit, this is going to be the best way to get your hit.

A Christmas pop up bar called Miracle on 9th Street appeared in the East Village between Avenues B and C last December. It was so popular that it became a regular bar (Mace) after the holiday season was over, but they’ve gone all out again this year by decking the halls with an insane amount of Christmas decor.

There’s even a Hanukkah corner if you fit into that category. And the best thing? The entire cocktail list consists of Christmas themed drinks, including a Bad Santa, Christmopolitan, and Jingle Balls Nog.

Another option is the Sippin Santa’s surf shack pop up at Boilermaker in East Village. More Christmas cocktails, anyone?

Holiday markets in New York City

Holiday market at Bryant Park

2. Hit up some holiday markets

While the NYC holiday markets don’t quite live up to the European ones, I still have to admit, they were pretty darn good. I seriously enjoyed munching on a choc-covered churro while peeking in to stalls filled with Christmas decorations and trinkets.

The best known markets are the Winter Village at Bryant Park, and the Holiday Markets at Union Square and Columbus Circle.

You can find a full list with some more info on the holiday markets here.

Santacon NYC

Santacon attendees queueing for a bar in Williamsburg

3. Take part in (or lol at) Santacon

Santacon looks kind of stupid and ridiculous, but even still – it’s somewhat amusing to watch the large number of drunk Santas / slutty Santas / hideously dressed people wandering the streets of New York City on this eventful Saturday.

Santacon starts at 10 AM on December 12, but the starting point and route of the parade does not get revealed until the day before. Follow them on Twitter to find out where it will start.

Christmas in New York City

Christmas in New York City

4. SEE THE CHRISTMAS DISPLAYS

The department stores in midtown go all out with their Christmas window displays. These elaborately decorated facades are a must see for anyone visiting NYC during the holidays.

I followed the route suggested by Mary in Manhattan, but I would also include starting on Avenue of The Americas opposite Radio City, as that’s where you’ll find the oversized ornaments pictured above.

Be prepared, this route can get crazy busy with a lot of pushy tourists, each trying to take their photos by getting in the way of everyone else. Things can get hectic. Have your bumping elbows ready, and don’t be afraid to stand on random benches to get your own photos.

Ice skating in New York City

Rockerfeller Plaza Ice Rink, Christmas in New York City

Skating rinks at Bryant Park (top) and Rockerfeller Plaza

5. SKATE YOUR HEART OUT

Confession: I am notoriously bad at ice skating. Which is weird because I am OK at skiing, but skating usually results in me spending a lot of time on my ass cursing the slippery surface beneath my feet.

Still, I don’t think it would be a proper Christmas in NYC without skating. There are a number of rinks in Manhattan, including:

  • Central Park (North and South)
  • Rockerfeller Plaza
  • Chelsea Piers
  • Battery Park
  • Bryant Park

Here’s a list of the most popular rinks with prices and opening hours.

Christmas train in New York City

Christmas train in New York City

6. Catch a Vintage subway train

Ever wondered what it would be like to catch the NYC subway in the 1930’s? No? Even if that thought hasn’t crossed your mind, you can now experience it for realsies.

The MTA and Transit Museum have an annual tradition of replacing select Sunday train services with some old school vintage train cars. I managed to catch one of these yesterday, and I have seriously never seen so many smiles on the faces of New York City residents as when they saw this vintage train approaching the platform. It was truly a beautiful moment.

Find more details and schedules here.

Winter in Central Park, New York

Winter in Central Park, New York

7. Walk through Central Park covered in snow

I was advised that the timing of the first snow in New York City is very unpredictable. Over recent years, it has started as freakishly early as Halloween. Last year it was around Thanksgiving, and this year, it doesn’t even look like it will snow before Christmas (booo).

So if you’re lucky enough to be in NYC when the first snow hits – go for a walk in Central Park for some picture perfect snowy scenes of New York City. Take your camera and get snap happy.

More resources:


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Ashlea Wheeler

This post was written by Ashlea, a colourfully clothed and excitable vegetarian who loves photography and exploring the world. Find out more about me.

13 Responses to “7 ways to have the best ever Christmas in New York City”

  1. Carole

    Just love this post Ashlea. Yes, New York is on my travel list and in the winter for Christmas so much the better for all that atmosphere which your blog exudes. I have spoken to so many people originally from the Northern Hemisphere and they too like me have trouble with Christmas in the warm weather which is how it is in my part of the world these days. I totally could have an absolute blast of a day in the Santacon. In the warm weather, can’t even get the slightest bit excited about dressing up like this. All best wishes, have a ball and meet lots of interesting people. Then tell us all about it.

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      I agree, Carole – it’s hard to get excited about dressing up and getting into the Christmas spirit in warmer weather! I really hope you make it to NYC over Christmas sometime soon, the excitement pumping through the city is just magical!

      Reply
  2. Sara

    Thanks so much for this as I am off to NY for two weeks in 10 days so I will be partaking in all of these things!!!

    Reply

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