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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- My Christmas in New York video on YouTube
- Best of NYC for the Holidays by a New Yorker
- 12 fabulous things to do in New York City
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