When it comes to Christmas wonder, no other city compares to New York. Five million visitors are expected to flock to the Big Apple from the end of November to New Year’s Day, coming to take part in the holiday cheer that winds its way from uptown to downtown and everywhere in between.
Whether you’re a born-and-bred New Yorker or just passing through, here are some must-see city stops that perfectly capture the magic of the holiday season.
Macy’s Santaland at Herald Square
Macy’s Santaland at Herald Square offers a world of wonders for visitors of all ages. Located on the eighth floor of the iconic New York City store, Santaland features holiday window vignettes, a charming train façade, North Pole villages and friendly elves who help lead the way. Adorned with glittering pine trees, twinkling lights and garlands galore, visitors will feel like they’ve been transported straight to the North Pole as they travel through the winter wonderland, which ends with a visit with Santa.
Visitors to this free family-friendly attraction should be sure to reserve a spot in advance online at macys.com/santaland.
George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker
Blending brilliant choreography, elaborate stage elements and the best ballet dancers in the nation, George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker is a breathtaking display of Christmas magic. The world-renowned production takes visitors on a dazzling journey with beloved characters such as young Marie, The Nutcracker, toy soldiers and the Sugarplum Fairy, and has been delighting audiences of all ages for years at the David H. Koch Theater.
For more information, visit www.nycballet.com.
A Christmas Carol
Even the biggest Scrooges will love this ghostly retelling of the classic Dickens’ tale. The stage adaptation at the Beckett Theatre takes a fresh look at the treasured Christmas story, with clever action and creative staging.
For more, visit www.newyorkcitytheatre.com.
5th Avenue Holiday Window Displays
Window shopping has never been more fun then when taking a stroll along 5th Avenue to check out the elaborate displays put out by New York’s largest department stores. Bergdorf Goodman, Lord & Taylor, Barneys New York, Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s and Saks Fifth Avenue take their window displays to the next level in the weeks leading up to the holidays. Ranging from classic and minimalist, to elaborate and fanciful, these winter-centric works of art are sure to make you stop in your tracks.
Holiday Train Show
Train enthusiasts won’t want to miss this show at New York Botanical Garden, which features more than a dozen large-scale model trains zipping through 150 landmarks. The show’s setting plays a huge part in the show, as the landmarks are recreated with bark, leaves and other natural materials. Visitors can marvel at G-scale locomotives chugging along familiar sights such as the Brooklyn Bridge, Statue of Liberty, Times Square and Rockefeller Center on nearly a half-mile of track. The show is not only perfect for the kids, but Bar Car Nights allow adults to enjoy the exhibit after-dark, while sipping on cocktails and enjoying live entertainment.
For more information, visit www.nybg.org/event/holiday-train-show.
Bryant Park Winter Village
Grab some hot cocoa and peruse the booths of more than 150 boutique vendors offering gift items, homemade jewelry, decorative goods, apparel, artisanal food and more. Strap on some skates at the free skating rink, grab some grub at one of the village’s eateries, or warm up on the overlook as you enjoy a game of chess with some friends.
For more information, including a full list of events, visit bryantpark.org/shop-eat/holiday-shops.
Rockefeller Christmas Tree
Sure it’s a tourist hot spot and guaranteed to be crowded, but the Rockefeller Christmas Tree is the city’s epicenter during the holidays. Adorned with more than 45,000 lights and topped with a Swarovski star, the 78-foot Norway Spruce will be lit for the first time Wednesday, Nov. 29 and stay aglow until Jan. 7.
For more information, visit www.rockefellercenter.com.
Glamour, glitz and glitter abound at the Rockettes’ annual Christmas Spectacular, which takes over Radio City Music Hall every December. The premier dance troupe has been kicking their way into the hearts of audiences since the 1920s, and their annual holiday show serves as a love letter not only to the season but New York City as well. And while the main attraction is the perfectly in-sync dancers, the show’s high-tech production elements give the show extra drawing power.
Find out more at www.rockettes.com.