New York: What to do and what to visit at Christmas?

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Midtown Manhattan

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There is truly no place in the world that celebrates Christmas like New York. If you're like me and grew up watching Christmas classics set in New York, then chances are the Big Apple at Christmas time is at the top of your wish list too. But there are a million and one things to do in New York, so it can be quite overwhelming to plan your trip. At the end of this video, you will know everything you need to plan your stay.

Right in the heart of Manhattan, you'll find New York's largest concentration of festive sights: Rockefeller Center with its famous Christmas tree, which is probably the most iconic Christmas scene in New York and featured in many films and Christmas TV shows. A ride on the Rockefeller Ice Rink is every New Yorker's Christmas dream, even if your skating skills resemble those of a drunken Bambi. The magic of this place is incomparable, so it's no surprise that it's one of the busiest places in New York during the holiday season. So plan to visit it outside of busy periods, such as early in the morning or late in the evening. For a unique view of the tree away from the crowds, you can book a Rockefeller Center tour which will give you special access to the tree up close.

While visiting Rockefeller Center, don't miss the Top of the Rock, which has probably my favorite view of New York as it offers a direct view of the Empire State Building. Contrary to popular belief, Rockefeller Center includes much more than its most famous building, 30Rock. Another festive highlight of this complex is the Radio City Music Hall, the largest indoor performance hall in the world. Around this iconic location are fun Christmas decorations like giant bubbles and candy canes. But the real magic lies behind the closed doors of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, an incredible show featuring the famous Radio City Rockettes, which is performed four to five times a day during the holiday season.

Fifth Avenue is also a great place to experience the sparkle of Christmas in New York. However, you should know that this avenue extends for more than 10 km and that only a few places are fully decorated for Christmas. You can of course book a tour to see them all, including a double-decker bus tour that gives you the best views possible. Some highlights include the window displays at Cartier, Bergdorf Goodman and of course the fabulous Saks store, which features a special light show each year as well as new themed window displays. This year the theme was Carousel of Dreams and it was truly breathtaking.


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Hudson Yards and Chelsea Market

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On the west side of Manhattan, in the Hudson Yards neighborhood, you'll find even more festive magic. One of the highlights here is visiting the Edge, the tallest open-air observatory in the Western Hemisphere. For the holiday season, they even set up a small ice rink, as well as other festive photo facilities. For those who dare, there is even an opportunity to walk by hanging on the outside of the building. Hudson Yards itself is a festive force to be reckoned with, with a variety of beautiful hot air balloon-themed Christmas decorations and plenty of shops to browse.

Nearby you'll also find the Vessel, which offers another fun spot to take photos, although unfortunately it was closed to the public during my visit. From there, you can walk along the High Line to Chelsea Market, a place known for its delicious food options and, during the holiday season, some fun surprises like cute Christmas decorations and an impressive bread village. spices with more than a thousand houses inspired by the streets of New York. This market is a foodie’s paradise with many overwhelming options. For my part, I opted for tacos, which probably wasn't the most festive choice, but I assure you this horchata tasted like Christmas in a cup.

Other neighborhoods in New York

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Of course, like most itineraries for first-time visitors to New York, this video focused on Manhattan, but there's so much more Christmas magic to be discovered in other parts of the city. In Brooklyn, for example, you'll find Dyker Heights, a neighborhood known for its extravagant Christmas decorations. In the Bronx, the New York Botanical Garden offers several interesting festive events, such as the Holiday Train Show and the Holiday Light Show. In Queens, there's the Astoria Rendezvous of Lights, a mile-long promenade lined with magnificent lights at the Queens Botanical Garden.

You can also take the free Staten Island Ferry to enjoy incredible views, fun festive shows, and shopping on the other side. Here are the best things to do in New York this holiday season. New York at Christmas time can be as overwhelming as it is magical, but I hope this video has helped you discover all the sparkling possibilities that await you. 

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Clara & Danny

For several years, we have been traveling the world together in search of new experiences, cultures, and different landscapes.

Our passion for travel has led us to create our own blog, where we share our adventures, tips, and tricks for traveling authentically and responsibly.

We have been fortunate enough to explore many countries in Europe, South America, and beyond.

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