Two of my favorite things in the whole world are New York City and Christmas. For years, I would watch Home Alone 2, and Miracle on 34th Street, and dream of spending the Holidays in NYC. I would share that dream with people, telling them that it was my ultimate bucket list destination, and they would shake their heads at me, telling me that Christmas in New York was ridiculously expensive, crowded, and unreasonable. Well here’s the thing -they’re all wrong. David and I’ve spent the last two Christmas’s in New York, and it’s a magical wonderland of Christmas-y goodness, that we found to be surprisingly affordable no matter what your budget. Yes, its crowded if you want to spend all your time hobnobbing it in Times Square, but who really wants to do that? I say all that, to say this – DO NOT LISTEN TO THE NAYSAYERS. To quote the great Taylor Swift, ‘haters are gonna hate’. Don’t let anyone steal your Christmas in New York dreams from you. Today, we have decided to put all our elfish, Holiday joy to good use, and make an ULTIMATE CHRISTMAS IN NEW YORK GUIDE, to make your time in the city even more magical. So turn on some Mariah Carey Christmas music, and get ready to feel festive.
Macy’s 34th Street store is the Christmas creme de la creme. For starters, this is the store that Miracle on 34th Street is based off of, and I think we can all just stop, and agree that this is the best Christmas movie ever. Secondly, this is where you can find an ENTIRE FLOOR of Christmas decorations. Thirdly, this Macy’s has some of the best Christmas windows in the whole city. Some of them are revolving, and change every year. Some of them are always based off of the Miracle on 34th Street Movie. But most importantly, this is the store that has the REAL SANTA. His name is Santa Bill, and he’s the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Santa. You meet him in Santa Land, which is a magical experience in and of itself, and he is one of the most enchanting people you will ever meet. Santa Land houses many Santas, so be sure to specify to the elf at the front of the line that you want BILL. You want to get to Macy’s before it opens if you want to see Santa, or you’re gonna be standing in lines that will give you nightmares.
Outdoor ice skating is a New York City Christmas tradition, and our favorite place to partake is at Bryant Park for several reasons. For starters, the rink is far bigger and the links much shorter than others (I’m looking at you, Rockefeller Center). Secondly, they don’t gouge you on price. Skating is free, you just have to pay for a skate rental. If you’re in a hurry and want to skip the line, you can pay for a fast pass which includes a skate rental in it. Bryant Park also has a fantastic Christmas Tree, and Christmas Market to browse.
Central Park has another outdoor ice skating option for you, and, in our option, the best Christmas Market in the city. New York has adopted the European tradition of outdoor Christmas Markets, where merchants can peddle handmade goods, foods, and beverages. We love to browse, while drinking delicious apple ciders or eating street food. These Christmas Markets light up at night with string lights, and an overall feeling of festiveness.
Lets be real – if you’re a tourist, in New York City at Christmas, you’re going to see The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. And you should, because it’s beautiful. It’s also the most crowded place you’re going to be while you’re in New York during the Holidays. Fair warning – trying to ice skate here is a waste of time. The rink is small, overpriced, and overrated. Take your own pictures (not the ones they try to sell you) of the beautiful tree and plaza, and move on.
Every Holiday season The New York City Ballet puts on a famous rendition of The Nutcracker. Even if you aren’t a big ballet fan (we aren’t), it’s worth attending at least once. The building is historic, grand, and watching all the dancing candy will give you visions of sugar plums for weeks.
Radio City Music Hall
You know what’s cliche? The Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular. BUT I DON’T CARE. It’s amazing, and festive, and you need to go at least once. We liked it enough to see it both years we went, and we weren’t expecting to enjoy it. Across from Radio City Music Hall is also where you can find the oversize Christmas ornaments that you see all over pinterest, as well as the oversize Christmas lights.
Fancy yourself a Home Alone 2 fan? Then you have to stop inside the lobby of the historic Plaza Hotel, to check out their fantastic Christmas decorations, even if its just for a quick photo op.
All major New York City department stores are decked out to the nines in their Christmas best, and while none are as good as Macy’s, our second favorite is Saks 5th Ave.
We want to reiterate once again how much we love New York at Christmas – we think its magical, and needs to be experienced at least once by everyone. More than once is preferable if you want to believe the hype we’re selling though.