Christmas in New York is the magic we’ve all heard of. And I was fortunate enough to experience it.
New York always seemed like an incredible place to visit, but I’d never really thought much about going at Christmas time. That was, until I heard someone talking about visiting at Christmas, and a lightbulb switched on.
Christmas films I love are set in New York– Elf, Miracle on 34th Street, Home Alone 2! It’s an iconic place to be. I wanted to see snow in Central Park, the Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center and see the Ball Drop in Times Square for New Year’s Eve. So I decided to do it!
This was my very first trip abroad ever, (you can read about my journey into travelling here) and it was such an incredible way to start what I hope is a lifetime of travel and adventure. So here’s all of the reasons you too should see New York at Christmas Time.
Everywhere, and I mean everywhere, is decorated for Christmas. Some streets were decorated with giant candy canes and nutcrackers, forecourts outside of buildings had giant baubles outside, even the parks were decorated with snowflakes and stars hanging from trees! Every single department store was decorated inside and out with stunning decorations and festive window displays, one store even had a light display on the front of the building that was perfectly timed to music! There are also Christmas baubles to be bought in most stores and even some specific Christmas shops that are there all year round!
For me, the most iconic scene had to be standing outside the Rockefeller Centre, seeing the ice rink, the spectacular Christmas tree and the lit up angels in rows EXACTLY as Kevin sees it in Home Alone. The tree is magical, unfortunately it means that this whole area is incredibly busy. But it’s worth dealing with the crowds to see it, because it really is amazing.
Another iconic place to visit was definitely Central Park. This park could be hours and hours worth of exploring if you wanted it to be because it’s huge. On this adventure I chose to just explore the more iconic areas in the South part of the park, but I’ve since been back and seen most of it! There are beautiful lakes and parks, a skyline of trees and incredible architecture, fountains and bridges, and some boulders to climb on to get the perfect photo of you with the park in the background! Unfortunately when I visited a snow covered park was not meant to be, but it was still incredible to see.
I also loved seeing the park from the Top of the Rock at the Rockefeller Center. All the observation towers in New York are great and have their own merits, but Top of the Rock for me was the best. I timed it perfectly to see all the views in daylight and in darkness, with a beautiful sunset in between. From here not only do you get to see Central Park, you also get to see the iconic Empire State Building. At Christmas it is lit up in beautiful greens and reds, and seeing it from up here was simply incredible. I was up here for hours and I could have stayed for longer.
There are always lots of things going on in New York City, but it seems that there’s even more at Christmas time. One of my absolute highlights of the trip was going to Radio City Music Hall to see the Rockettes perform in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. This was a Christmas show unlike any I’ve seen before (I’ve spoken about a few others I’ve seen here) the Rockettes are some of the most incredible dancers, but the live music, the lighting, the set designs, everything was just incredible and you absolutely must go if you get the chance!
Another thing specific to the Christmas season is NEw Years Eve (Ok so it’s a tentative link I guess). Times Square is obviously the place to be, annoyingly that means there’s thousands of people there. You have to get there early, and I mean REALLY early to see anything. We only caught glimmers of the stage lights and parts of songs but I still enjoyed seeing the countdown, the fireworks over Times Square and the confetti that fell around us out of nowhere. That made me feel like I was in a movie.
New York Highlights
There are so many other things I loved about New York that having nothing to do with Christmas, they just added to my overall love of my time in NYC!
A personal favourite is the High Line. This is an old railway line that has been turned into a park running down the West side of Manhattan. Because it’s higher above the city you get a beautiful view of the city and the Hudson river.
I also really enjoyed the Brooklyn Bridge and the brilliant views this gives you of the city. Another free way to get incredible views is the Staten Island Ferry. Take an hour trip there and back, stand on an outside deck and take all the photos you want of the stunning Manhattan skyline, I certainly did!
An attraction that I loved and spent hours at was the 9/11 memorial and museum. I was relatively young on 9/11. I knew all about it from the constant media coverage and learnt more about it over the years, but I learnt so much more at this museum. I found it so fascinating to get that level of insight into what happened, the people who died and the brave people who saved so many lives.
Another museum I loved, because I’m a Science nerd, is the American Museum of Natural History. I loved seeing and learning about all the different animals, and seeing such a grand building.
I also explored the Hudson River Greenway. This won’t be something you see on many lists of ‘what to do in New York’ but I enjoyed the view of the river and the calm of the park in the hustle and bustle of busy Manhattan.
What would you like to see in New York?
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