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10 Things To Do in NYC in December

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Rockefeller Plaza, toy soldiers, Christmas in NYC, New York City Christmas

New York City is one of the most fun cities in the world during the holiday season. The activities abound, the whole city gets decorated with holiday lights, Christmas decorations, and intricate window displays. Spending holidays in NYC can get expensive, but there are SO MANY fun free things to do (and to see!) in New York City in December – and that’s what this post is all about.  Here is my list of top 10 Things To Do (and To See!) in NYC during the winter holiday season:

Rockefeller Center skating rink, Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, Rockefeller Center people skating

1.  Gigantic Christmas decorations and lights in midtown Manhattan
Giant red ornaments at 1251 Sixth Avenue, near Rockefeller Plaza in NYC.   If you let your imagination run wild, these Christmas ornaments will remind you of huge caramelized apples or gigantic pomegranates, quite appropriately for the season!  Very shiny and deliciously looking, aren’t they?

gigantic ornaments in New York City, NYC at Christmas

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Gigantic Christmas lights on 6th Avenue. They look like huge lipsticks of different colors or rockets ready to launch, don’t they?

gigantic Christmas tree lights in New York City, NYC Christmas

There are beautiful lights everywhere in midtown Manhattan:

Christmas lights in midtown Manhattan, NYC, New York City

Christmas lights and flags in Rockefeller Plaza NYC, New York City

2. Rockefeller Center

Rockefeller Center is one of the main attractions in NYC.  Especially in the winter.  It is home to the iconic Christmas Tree, that’s about 85 feet tall this year:

Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center

The tree is placed right in front of the Rockefeller building:

Rockefeller building with Christmas tree in front of it

This iconic NYC Christmas tree is topped with the Swarovski star topper composed of multiple precision-cut crystals.    A replica of the Swarovski star is also on display in the Rockefeller Center – and you can see all the intricate detail, crystals and facets up-close, which is pretty cool:

a replica of the Swarovski star, star topper to NYC Rockefeller Center Christmas tree

A little further, you can see a famous bronze statue of Atlas in front of Rockefeller Center. In Greek mythology, Atlas was forced by Zeus to hold up the heavens as a special punishment – as we can see on this photo:

Atlas statue at Rockefeller Center NYC

The world famous ice rink at the Rockefeller Center:

skating rink at Rockefeller Center NYC, Prometheus bronze gilded statue New York City

This skating rink is right underneath the Christmas tree and the bronze gilded statue of Prometheus:

Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center

A little further from the Christmas tree, there is a cute alley decorated with the wire-sculpted angel figures.  Each herald angel holds six-foot-long brass trumpet:

angels at Rockefeller Center

Giant toy soldier at Rockefeller Center NYC:

gigantic Christmas toy soldiers, Rockefeller Plaza NYC

3. Radio City Music Hall

Radio City Music Hall is home to the traditional NYC Christmas show – The Radio City Christmas Spectacular featuring the women’s dance team known as the Rockettes.

Radio City Music Hall, Christmas

The front of the music hall is decorated with the huge Christmas tree that constantly changes colors:

Radio City Music Hall, Christmas

4.  Saint Patrick’s Cathedral

Saint Patrick’s Cathedral is another popular attraction in NYC that attracts millions of people each year:

St. Patrick's Cathedral NYC, New York City

5. The Saks Fifth Avenue Holiday Windows.
Every Christmas season, Saks Fifth Avenue’s flagship store in NYC unveils the store’s iconic holiday windows. This holiday season (2014), the holiday windows represent the scenes from classic fairy tales. Besides the holiday windows, the entire facade of the iconic luxury retailer is also decorated with intricate light display:

Saks fifth avenue Christmas

Take a look at these amazing holiday windows. We’ll start with the Little Red Riding Hood:

Saks fifth avenue NYC Christmas window displays, Red Riding Hood Fairy Tale

And, of course, Big Bad Wolf:

Saks fifth avenue NYC Christmas windows display, Red Riding Hood Fairy Tale

And, here is a fairy tale of Rumpelstiltskin by Brothers Grimm, with the miller’s daughter spinning straw into gold:

Saks fifth avenue Christmas window displays, Rumpelstiltskin by Brothers Grimm

The fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty is showcased as well:

Saks fifth avenue NYC, Christmas window displays, sleeping beauty fairy tale

Here is some more of Sleeping Beauty:

Saks fifth avenue NYC, Christmas window displays, sleeping beauty fairy tale

Cinderella arriving at the Ball:

Saks fifth avenue NYC, Christmas window displays, Cinderella fairy tale

Snow White being tempted by an evil apple merchant:

Saks fifth avenue NYC, Christmas window displays, Snow White fairy tale

More of Snow white:

Saks fifth avenue NYC, Christmas window displays, Snow White fairy tale

6. Strolling along 5th avenue from the Rockefeller Center towards Central Park
Take a stroll from the Rockefeller Center towards Central Park, along the 5th avenue and you’ll see a lot more beautifully decorated buildings and displays. This is how the world’s premier jeweler Tiffany & Co. is decorated during the holiday season:

Tiffany store on 5th avenue NYC decorated for Christmas

And here is Harry Winston jewelery store decorated with elegant Christmas lights:

Harry Winston store on fifth avenue decorated for Christmas

7. Giant Snowflake in NYC
As you continue walking along the Fifth avenue from the Rockefeller Center towards the Central Park, you will see a giant snowflake above the intersection of 5th avenue and 57th street. This snowflake is known as UNICEF snowflake, and it’s a beautiful illuminated crystal ornament that lights up the fifth avenue at night.

giant snowflake in NYC, snowflake above the intersection of 5th avenue and 57th street, UNICEF snowflake

giant snowflake in NYC, snowflake above the intersection of 5th avenue and 57th street, UNICEF snowflake

8. Plaza Hotel, Apple store, and Pulitzer Fountain on Fifth avenue
Right by where the Central Park starts at the 5th avenue, you can see The Plaza Hotel, a iconic century-old luxury hotel:

Plaza hotel NYC

Right next to the Plaza hotel, is the Pulitzer fountain in Grand Army Plaza. During the winter holiday season, the basin of the fountain is decorated with lighted trees:

Pulitzer Fountain Central Park NYC, near Plaza Hotel and Apple Store

Across from the Plaza Hotel, is an iconic Apple Store glass cube on Fifth Avenue:

Apple Store glass cube New York City across from Plaza hotel

The Apple Store glass cube is at the base of the General Motors building:

Apple Store glass cube at the base of the General Motors building

And here is the World’s largest Hanukkah Menorah.  It’s a 32-foot-high, gold-colored, 4,000-pound steel structure at Grand Army Plaza (Fifth Avenue and West 59th Street, across the street from The Plaza hotel):

World's largest Hanukkah Menorah, Grand Army Plaza, Fifth Avenue and West 59th Street, across the street from The Plaza hotel

9. The Frick Collection Museum and The Metropolitan Museum of Art
If you’re cold or tired from walking, visit The Frick Collection Museum and The Metropolitan Museum of Art – 2 amazing art museums in NYC.

10. Broadway Theaters & Times Square
Finally, no December visit to NYC is complete without watching a holiday appropriate Broadway show. Get yourselves tickets to shows, such as the Phantom of the Opera, Big Apple Circus, or How the Grinch Stole Christmas, among many others!

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{ 17 comments… add one }
  • Monique December 28, 2014, 9:06 am

    Looks like fun Julia..I went once with my daughters about 8 years ago..Loved it..
    You would not believe here..no snow! in the 40’s this is the first time in my 60 yrs I have seen this..we went from one extreme to another in the space of 10 days I would say..
    Happy New Year!
    Great pics!

  • Matt December 28, 2014, 8:16 pm

    NYC is my fav!

  • Kayle (The Cooking Actress) December 29, 2014, 10:22 am

    Yepp yepp yepp-done all of ’em! 😀

  • Chris @ The Café Sucré Farine December 29, 2014, 6:26 pm

    What a fun and beautiful post Julia! I love NYC and it is delightful to see it through your lens!

  • Stacy | Wicked Good Kitchen December 29, 2014, 6:51 pm

    Beautiful photo essay on NYC at Christmastime, Julia! Very well done. 🙂 Thank you for sharing, my friend!

  • Beth January 1, 2015, 7:26 pm

    You’re bringing back happy memories for me! Last year, we were in New York just after Christmas. We loved skating at Rockefeller Center, and watching the Rockettes’ show. I still haven’t made it to the Frick – next time I must!

  • Shashi @ RunninSrilankan January 1, 2015, 7:30 pm

    NYC is simply beautiful in December! It’s been awhile since I was there at that time of the year – but I do remember those amazing windows!
    Hope you and your family had a wonderful Christmas and here’s hoping yall have a wonderful 2015!

  • Pamela @ Brooklyn Farm Girl January 2, 2015, 5:44 pm

    Come on, you need to come downtown and to Brooklyn! 😉

    Happy 2015 to you!

  • Monica January 3, 2015, 7:33 pm

    Happy New Year! Great pictures – you make me glad we made it to the city to enjoy these amazing sights. It’s pretty incredible at Christmastime. We thought the windows at Bergdorf were pretty incredible this year, too!

  • Queen of Spices January 5, 2015, 7:18 am

    I am hoping to go to NYC in Dec 2015… never been there, so fingers crossed it all works out.

  • Juliana January 6, 2015, 5:43 pm

    Happy New Year Julia! Yes, NYC is amazing during this time of the year…thanks for the pictures…I sure enjoy them all.
    Have a wonderful week 🙂

  • Really good pictures! NYC is great any time, but you’re right — the holiday season is always special. You’ve brought back happy memories. Thanks — and Happy New Year!

  • Lindy November 6, 2015, 9:06 am

    The Church of the Intercession on Broadway and 155th Street (part of the Trinity Wall Street family) hosts a Twas the Night Before Christmas service on the Sunday before Christmas. The story’s author, Clement Clarke Moore, rests in the beautiful churchyard across the street overlooking the Hudson River. The family friendly service includes treats for children, a musical showcase by the church choral groups, and the reading of Twas the Night Before Christmas by a special guest. Afterward, the congregation is led in a candlelit processional to place a wreath on the author’s grave. The parishioners are a warm and welcoming lot and the magical service is well worth attending.

  • Mae December 2, 2015, 3:53 pm

    How exciting are all of these! Another event I think is perfect for all the ladies’ is an event at Whiskey Blue next Tuesday! They have free manicures! I RSVP’d here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/naughty-or-nice-tickets-19732512476

  • Andre Beluchi January 29, 2016, 6:01 pm

    The view of NYC sure is beautiful and one of my goals to with my wife. I’ve been to that city before and happened to stay in one of those luxurious hotels. Oh, it was a neat experience and one that I would like to be at with my wife.

  • Kim September 16, 2016, 1:24 pm

    I am going to NYC from 12/12/16 to 12/16/2016. My son is going with me. He will turn 21 on 12/13. I am obsessed with this trip. It is something that I have wanted to do for a while. I hope it will be as magical as I am hoping. I have our tickets for the Radio City Christmas Spectacular show. Thank you Julia for all of the wonderful pictures.

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