This website uses Cookies to offer you an enhanced browsing experience. Find out more about how we use Cookies.

x
OK
USA Radio
New York, New York

Christmas in New York

Catch the holiday spirit amid the glitter of the big city


New York is crazy for Christmas. It's a time when the city is at its most beautiful, strung with lights, bundled for winter and brimming with the warmth of human kindness—as long as you steer clear of the last-minute Christmas shopping mania.

At the heart of it all is Rockefeller Center. Built in the 1930s by John D. Rockefeller, the complex of office buildings is a masterpiece of art deco architecture. Rockefeller Center looks its best at Christmas, when a towering light-strewn Norway spruce is displayed above the small but incredibly romantic ice-skating rink in the lower promenade plaza off Fifth Avenue between 49th and 50th streets. Take a spin, or grab a meal at the elegant Sea Grill right next door, its windows offering an eye-level skater view. On the other side of the rink, the Rock Center Café is a larger, brighter spot serving high-end comfort food. For a different perspective, the Top of the Rock observation deck offers stunning 360-degree city views from the 70th floor of 30 Rockefeller Center. In the evening, head to Radio City Music Hall for the annual Christmas Spectacular, a grand stage show starring the legendary Rockettes, who have been high-kicking their way across this stage since 1932.

North and south of Rockefeller Center, mostly along Fifth Avenue, the city’s high-end department stores mount elaborate holiday window displays that draw locals and tourists by the thousands. Start at Bloomingdale’s and Barneys, then head down Fifth Avenue past Bergdorf Goodman, St. Patrick’s Cathedral (not a retail stop, granted, but a vital Christmas stop nonetheless), Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor, then cut west on 34th to see the extravagantly decorated windows at Macy’s, billed as the world’s largest store and the most historic of them all. Stop in and see Santa while you’re there.

Head back uptown to Bryant Park, behind the New York Public Library, where an ice-skating rink and some 100 stalls selling gifts and crafts keep the air festive. Further uptown, the Metropolitan Museum of Art sets up a Christmas tree in its Medieval Sculpture Hall, surrounded by an exquisite baroque nativity crèche. At Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall, the National Chorale performs its annual Messiah Sing-In, in which 3,000 audience members are invited to sing along with the choir. The Cathedral of St. John the Divine hosts the annual winter solstice performance by the Paul Winter Consort, with a big dash of world flair that has always set the cathedral apart.

This trip idea can be found in:

1,000 Places to See in the United States & Canada Before You Die®

Trip idea text ©Patricia Schultz. For contact information about the places mentioned and many more USA trip ideas, see Patricia Schultz's blockbuster book.

Welcome to Visit The USA!

Now that you have registered, you can save trip ideas to your suitcase.

Start exploring

Enter your email address and we’ll send you a link to reset your password.

Please check your email.

Start exploring

The password on your account has successfully been changed. Please use your new password to login.

Start exploring

This website is set to 'allow all cookies' for the best user experience. By continuing without changing this setting, you are consenting to this. You may change your settings at any time at the bottom of this page.

More information about cookies

Cookies are very small text files that are stored on your computer when you visit some websites.

We use cookies to make our website easier for you to use. You can remove any cookies already stored on your computer, but these may prevent you from using parts of our website.

If you choose to disable non-essential cookies, the website will:

  • Allow you to log in and remember you are logged in, while in session
  • Determine your country of origin in order to serve you the most relevant version of the site

This website will not:

  • Restrict welcome messaging to the first time you visit the site
  • Track any activity on the site for analytics purposes

More information about cookies