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12 Things to Do in NYC During the Holiday Season: An Insider’s Guide to NYC at the Holidays

As a native New Yorker, who generally doesn’t enjoy the cold, the coming of chillier nights does cheerfully symbolize the coming of the holiday season. There isn’t a more magical place to be than New York City as trees and lights and decorations go up all over the city, it’s hard not to feel warm and festive.

Below are 12 things tried, loved and recommended from one New Yorker to another, or a tourist here for the season.

1. Go see the tree – The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree is a must! The biggest tree put up and lit in the city, it’s towering beauty will leave most amazed. While there, lace up some skates and skate in the very kid friendly, inexpensive famous rink.

2. Go Shopping – Or at least, look in the windows. Every year stores compete for best window display. Creating elaborate scenes and designs drawing crowds in awe. The stores to look for are Macy’s, Lord & Taylor, Barney’s, Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdale’s. They are worth the stroll up and down Fifth Avenue.

3. Get “Under the Stars” – Put on at the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle. Holiday Under the Stars takes place Every evening night at 5pm until January 2nd, visitors can go enjoy the show, and even be sprinkled with some fake snow upon entering the center – however, that’s a special treat reserved for the weekend showings!

4. Go see Santa – Just like in Miracle on 34th Street Santa is waiting to listen to the Christmas wishes of little boys and girls in a big red chair in Macy’s. Located in Herald Square, the famed best Santa in New York City is a must do over the holidays.

5. Go to the market – The Union Square Holiday Market. Open seven days a week, the red and white tents are set up and ready to offer up a plethora of goodies. From precious jewelry to handmade knits to wooden crafts for the home. Even better for a night stroll, the lights strung up between tents, makes this little village of tents seem especially enchanted.

6. Go see The Nutcracker – Performed at Lincoln Center, by the New York City Ballet, tickets can be as inexpensive as $10 each! It’s a special show, only performed during the Christmas season, epitomizing the joy and merriment experienced and shared by people all over. A ballet even children will love!

7. Go to Tea – A little more costly, but an experience often unparalleled. For the little girls who grew up reading Eloise, High Tea at the Four Seasons is a dream unto itself. Add a decorated tree and the warmth of the Christmas season, and this Holiday High Tea experience is worth the $55 (for adults, $30 for kids). It takes place every day until the 28th of December, from 3pm to 5pm.

8. Go see the TrainsThe Holiday Train Show. Hosted by the New York Botanical Gardens, it runs until January 10, 2018. With intricately built New York City monuments and structures, the mini city is awe-inspiring and not to be missed. For hours and ticketing information visit The New York Botanical Garden’s webpage.

9. Go Caroling – At the South Street Seaport Fridays – Sunday until December 27th, the Big Apple Chorus performs holiday carols in front of the Seaport’s lit fir tree. With beautiful voices, their harmonizing makes the holiday spirit come to life, and surrounded by cobblestone streets and water, it’s a chance to get out of the center of the commercial holiday frenzy.

10. Go Swimming – Or watch everyone else go swimming in the icy waters off Coney Island. Called the Polar Plunge, this annual event which was started in the early 1900’s and helps raise money for charity. The Polar Plunge at Coney Island takes place on New Years Day and anyone is allowed to participate or watch if the cold water is not so inviting!

11. Go see a ShowWintuk by Cirque du Soleil is an amazing show filled with winter mysticism and intrigue. Great for the whole family. Wintuk features a boy and his search for snow. With the usual Cirque du Soleil acrobatics, Wintuk brings magic to the WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden. For tickets and availability visit Cirque du Soleil in New York.

12. Go for Snow – New this year, but worth mentioning is the new UNICEF Fridays. UNICEF as joined the Holiday happenings with a giant lit snowflake on Fifth Avenue and 57th street. Live music, hot chocolate and snowflake shaped cookies are all part of the 6pm Friday fun running until January 3rd.

There is much more than what is just listed here, many more trees and light spectacles around the city! Wrap up in a cozy scarf, grab a hot chocolate and enjoy all this great city has to offer during the holiday season!

Happy Holidays!