A few years ago, I had a number of my travel blogging friends put together a string of articles about Christmas on the road. With Christmas fast approaching, I thought it would be a good time to revisit that theme with a few pieces on the subject.
While I’ll be putting my own piece together on how I’ve been making Christmas in China feel a little more like home, Christy Burroughs has put together this piece on spending Christmas in the Big Apple. I must admit it’s a dream of mine to someday do most of the things on her list. What do you think?
Christmas in New York
If you’re dreaming of a white Christmas, New York just might be the perfect place. The city that never sleeps is at its best during the Christmas season and there are plenty of ways to celebrate the holidays. Read on to discover the winter jewels New York has to offer.
If you see or do nothing else during your holiday, visit Rockefeller Center. Known as the Capital of NYC Christmas, Rockefeller Center does not disappoint. Rockefeller Center is home to the legendary NYC Christmas Tree, which is traditionally lit after Thanksgiving (this year the tree lighting ceremony is scheduled for November 28). The Rockefeller Christmas Tree’s height ranges between 75 and 90 feet tall with over five miles of lights decorating its branches. The tree is lit between the hours of 5:30am and 11:30pm, except on Christmas Day where it stays lit for 24 hours straight.
While the ice skating rink at Rockefeller Center is world famous, it’s also quite expensive and has a ridiculously long queue. Ice skating in Central Park is just as fun, but it’s less expensive and doesn’t have quite the long wait; try the Wollman Rink located just a five-minute walk from the south entrance of W. 59th Street and 6th Avenue. However, the rink does close at 2:30 p.m. on Mondays and Tuesdays, but stays open until late in the evening the rest of the week. Prices and hours vary, so do check ahead of time before visiting. Also, the rink accepts cash only so be sure to bring plenty along for both admission and skate rental.
Horse-Drawn Carriage Rides
Nothing is more romantic than a horse-drawn carriage ride through Central Park. Head to Central Park South between Fifth and Sixth Avenues and you’ll find carriages lined up year-round. While 45-minute long carriage rides can be had on a walk-up basis, availability isn’t guaranteed – especially during one of the busiest times of year. Consider a pre-arranged ride and enjoy a ride up to an hour and a half long, as well as popular add-ons such as flowers, photography or special pick-up and drop-off locations. Carriage rides are pricey, with walk-up rides at about $110 USD and pre-arranged rides starting at $165 USD. Optional add-ons will increase the rate, so inquire about those additional costs when booking.
Throughout the holiday season, the entire city is decked out in all its Christmas finery. Simply strolling the streets and taking in the fantastic window displays is a feast for the eyes. For a great self-guided walking tour, start at Bloomingdale’s on 1000 Third Avenue at 59th Street and then head to Barneys on Madison Avenue at 61st Street. From there it’s a straight shot down 5th Avenue to Bergdorf Goodman, Saks and Lord & Taylor. Finish up at Macy’s in Herald Square on Broadway between 34th and 35th Streets. While you’re at Macy’s, head inside to visit Santaland. Not only is Santaland home to the “one real Santa Claus,” but it also happens to be where the 1947 film, “Miracle on 34th Street,” was set.
The most famous toy store in New York and possibly the world, no visit to the city is complete without playing on the giant floor piano keyboard featured in the film, ”Big.” A word of warning, however; visit FAO Schwartz right when it opens, preferably on a weekday, or else risk waiting in long queues.
Your time in New York during Christmas is not complete without taking in one of the incredible shows for which the city is world-renowned. One of the most famous is the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall, an extravaganza like no other complete with the high-kicking Rockettes. The New York City Ballet’s production of ”The Nutcracker” is a perennial favourite while the Winter Solstice Celebration at the Cathedral of Saint John the Devine is a music and dance performance unlike any other.
The magic of Christmas is thick in the air, but be sure to pack your warmest clothes as temperatures range from a high of 5 degrees Celsius to a low of -2 degrees Celsius. Even so, with iconic sites to see and iconic New York hotels to stay in, you won’t want to leave this winter wonderland.
About the Author
Christy T. Burroughs is a contributing blogger and Christmas fanatic. When not writing, Burroughs loves
traveling around the world documenting various holiday customs.
Ever celebrated Christmas in the Big Apple? What did you think of the experience?
And as I work on putting together my own Top 10 Places to Spend Christmas, I’d love your suggestions. Where do you think Christmas is best celebrated?
Want to read more about Christmas abroad? You’ll find a veritable stocking stuffed with excellent Christmas posts below!