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Travel tips, upcoming events and information on all things New York City.

7 NYC Holiday Events You need to Book & Plan in Advance

Holidays in NYC

Event Recap

  • Holiday Train Show: From Saturday November 23rd through Sunday January 26th, you can experience one of New York’s favorite holiday traditions. This unique event highlights model trains as they zip through more than 175 iconic Big Apple landmarks, including: the Statue of Liberty, Rockefeller Center, the Brooklyn Bridge and many others. Even more fascinating? Each landmark is recreated through the use of items like acorns, birch bark, and cinnamon sticks. The 2019 winter wonderland showcases Central Park and its architectural treasures, including the Belvedere Castle. Located adjacent to the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, look forward to enjoying crafts, carolers, seasonal treats, and a visit from Thomas the Tank Engine.
  • George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker: We’d be remiss not to mention one of the most iconic holiday performances of all time. The New York City Ballet’s 65th annual performance of this classic kicks off in late November at the David H Koch Theater. Get ready to be transported to a magical place with breathtaking costumes, elaborate stage elements, and intricate lighting – amazing stimulation for your festive imagination.
  • Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting: Although free and open to the public, every year thousands of people flock to Rock Center to watch the live broadcast of the tree lighting ceremony so you have to be prepared to plan in advance to snag a spot. This year, the ceremony will be held on December 4th on the plaza between West 48th and 51st Streets and 5th and 6th Avenues. It will be on display through early 2020, and will shine brightly for 24 hours on Christmas Day.
  • Radio City Christmas Spectacular: The annual musical holiday stage show by Doug Wright and Mark Waldrop will be running from November 8th through January 5th, 2020. Starring the Radio City Rockettes, the 90-minute show features more than 140 performers, an original musical score, and a combination of singing, dancing and humor. Tickets start at $55.
  • Cirque du Soleil’s “Twas the Night Before…”: Experience Cirque du Soleil’s first ever Christmas show between December 12th and 29th at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden. This modern spin on a holiday classic is a festive show designed to highlight the wonders of sharing and friendship. Fun for the whole family, discover what happened before Santa came down the chimney.
  • New York Philharmonic – Holiday Brass: On December 15th, experience a special family-friendly event presented by the New York Philharmonic. Tickets range from $59-$79 for the Sunday matinee at David Geffen Hall.
  • Christmas Day Brunch Cruise: Embark on the experience of a lifetime via Event Cruises Christmas Day Brunch expedition. Enjoy a complimentary beverage and some of the most remarkable views of New York City aboard this incredible liner. The family-friendly Christmas cruise departs from Pier 36 at 1:00p and the approximately 3-hour loop will take you by sights that include the Manhattan Skyline, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Governors Island and the New Jersey Skyline. Tickets are currently available for $79.

Other infamous Big Apple holiday celebrations and free festivities include: the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, ice skating in Central Park and Bryant Park, and viewing window displays along 5th Avenue.

Have you ever traveled to and spent Christmas Day in Manhattan specifically to enjoy the festive time of year in one of the most magical places in the United States? Let us know about the events that you enjoyed during your stay and what you would like to add to your bucket list for your next holiday trip to New York City.

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