Each year on Thanksgiving morning, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade takes place in New York City and signals the beginning of the holiday season in the city. Even though it was a different parade this year, I still enjoyed watching it on tv and remembering all the fun things to see and do in the Big Apple during the holidays. It’s definitely a magical place to visit between Thanksgiving and New Years.
Here are some of my favorite things to see and do during the holiday season in New York City.
Christmas Spectacular starring the Radio City Rockettes: What is more iconic than seeing the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall? The first show was on December 21, 1933. Since then it has grown so much in popularity that there are multiple shows a day from November thru the beginning of January each year. The music and dancing will definitely get you in the holiday spirit. For the first time in 87 years, it’s been cancelled for the 2020 season, but tickets are already on sale for 2021, show dates are November 5, 2021 – January 2, 2021.
Rockefeller Center: Nearby Radio City is Rockefeller Center. This is a must visit during the holiday season. There is no more iconic New York City holiday view than the Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center. Every year the Wednesday after Thanksgiving, they have a tree lighting ceremony. The first ceremony took place in 1931 and it has been televised since 1951. I’m sure most of you have seen the photos of the tree arriving in Rockefeller Center this year from upstate New York. In full 2020 fashion, the photos of the tree looking more like a Charlie Brown Christmas tree were all over social media and then there was an owl stuck in the tree. You just can’t make this stuff up in 2020! Well, luckily, the owl has been saved and the tree will be as beautiful as ever for a somewhat different lighting this year. While there will be no public access to watch the tree lighting in person, it will still be televised this Wednesday night, 12/2/20 at 8pm on NBC.
Beneath the Christmas tree is the popular ice rink. Normally open from November until April, the rink is open for a shortened season this year due to planned renovations. It will be open from November 21, 2020 – January 17, 2021. Tickets will be sold for a specific time and limited to 50 minutes of skating with face masks required.
Ice skating in Central Park: Speaking of ice skating, the Wollman Rink at Central Park is another great place to skate off all the delicious holiday treats. Ice skating is the only thing I enjoy about winter. It’s such a fun winter activity and pretty much the only athletic thing I did as a kid. Ice skating in Central Park with the New York City skyline creating a beautiful city backdrop is just amazing. The rink is open this season until the beginning of April 2021 with covid guidelines such as temperature checks, hand sanitizer available, face masks required and everyone is also required to have their shoes and the rest of their belongings in a bag that they bring with them on the ice as there are no lockers available this year.
Winter Village in Bryant Park: Ice skating at Rockefeller Center and Central Park can get quite expensive. Thankfully if you are looking for a more economical way to skate, the rink at the Winter Village in Bryant Park is free.
Another great thing to check out at Bryant Park are the holiday shops which are a great place to find unique gifts to buy from local artisans. Great place to support small business and find that special one of a kind gift. Both the ice rink and shops are open this season with face masks required and sanitizing and social distancing protocols enforced.
Shopping: We all have Christmas shopping to do and what better place to do it than New York City. The city has every store you can possibly imagine. From the high end stores of 5th Avenue to the iconic Macy’s in Herald Square to the holiday markets spread throughout the city, there is something for everyone. And even if you aren’t up for the shopping crowds, just walking down the street and checking out the many holiday window displays is a great way to spend the afternoon.
Food: No trip is complete to New York City without food! The holiday season is a perfect time to find a great independent cafe and grab a hot chocolate and a sugary snack to warm up from the cold weather and fuel up for more holiday activities.
New York City is the perfect place to visit during the holiday season. It will definitely get you into the holiday spirit! Let the holidays begin!