The hint of snow in the air, the ice rinks and sleigh rides, ducking into a diner for a seasonal hot chocolate and cinnamon cookies… there's arguably no better time to visit New York than Christmas, when this dynamic city is transformed into a glittering wonderland. They take Christmas very seriously Stateside, and no window is left unadorned or department store devoid of a grotto. These are our favourite things to see and do in the Big Apple over the festive season:
• Check out the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular – an annual stage show including a flying Santa.
• Ice-skate – a must-do in New York at Christmas time. Wrap the kids up warm, fortify yourself with an eggnog, and take to the ice at the Rockefeller Center with its breathtaking, world-famous Christmas tree, or The Pond at Bryant Park.
• While nobody does Christmas markets quite like they do in Germany, NYC’s are wonderful, atmospheric and fun, from the splendour of the Grand Central Terminal's Holiday Fair to the German-style version in Central Park. There are always things for little ones to do, see and taste while you’re eyeing up the jewellery and other goodies on offer.
• NYC is a wonderful place to go shopping year-round, but especially at Christmas – kids love the live window displays with their dancing elves and Santas. Macys, Saks 5th Avenue, Barneys on Madison Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman, Bloomingdales, and Lord & Taylor have gorgeous windows, generous Santas and inspired shopping.
• Take in a museum. Many of the best holiday shows and kids’ events are those hosted by the city’s top museums, beginning with the lighting of the Christmas tree candles, the most famous of which are at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Museum of Natural History.
• Head for Little Italy, which is transformed for the season with parades, carol-singers in costume with lanterns, dazzling Christmas lights, street fairs and wonderful feasts.
• See the lights and trees shimmer at St John the Divine on Riverside, the Bronx Zoo, the Lincoln Center and the Rockefeller Center, all truly dazzling after dark. Times Square and Broadway are also lit up by enough wattage to be visible from Space.
• Make time for other highlights including The Nutcracker at the New York City Ballet, the Holiday Train from Grand Central Station to the ‘North Pole’ and Santa’s workshop, the Big Apple Circus at the Lincoln Center, the ‘Messiah’ at St John the Divine , sleigh rides around Central Park, and a trip up the Empire State Building at dusk to look at the lights from on-high.
Read more on things to do, places to eat and family-friendly places to stay with kids in New York.
Offer of the week
Choose an action-packed First Choice Holiday Village for your family's summer holiday and pick up a free child place when you BOOK NOW. Prices from £2,418 for a family of 3*.
Sign up to our newsletter
For regular family travel inspiration and ideas