How to Win Christmas (and New Year's!) in NYC

Written by | Miscellaneous, Things to Do

The busy sidewalks (dressed in holiday style) of New York City come alive to celebrate the season. There is so much to see and do that it can be a challenge to figure out what to prioritize — not to mention what’s worth putting on the list to show out-of-town guests.

How to Win Christmas (and New Year's!) in NYC

So, we’ve put together a list that includes a mix of both activities that hit traditional holiday notes while also allowing you to enjoy what is uniquely NYC.

First, welcome the season with the annual lighting of the city’s biggest decorated tree at Christmas in Rockefeller Center (December 2, — a celebration full of performances by famous faces culminating in the illumination of a huge, Swarovski-star-topped mega-tree, which will be on display through January.

For a New York spin on the holiday tradition of model trains, check out the Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Garden (November 21–January 18,, which for this year has increased — by a whopping 3,000 square feet — the amount of space devoted to model trains winding through recreations of NYC landmarks created exclusively from plant materials.

And if you’re itching for some holiday fun with a healthy side of sarcasm, you won’t want to miss the Ugly Christmas Sweater Party at Cielo (December 17, It’s a chance to celebrate the season as only club co-owner Nicolas Matar — Ibiza’s infamous Pacha Nightclub — could dream up. Let’s just say we don’t expect all the sweaters to stay on.

After a month of Christmas festivities, it’s time to welcome the New Year. Of course, the “main attraction” is the Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball Drop (, where thousands will gather to see the nearly 12,000-pound, Waterford-crystal-covered, LED-lit Times Square Ball drop. But we prefer to steer clear of that mess and embrace more alternative celebrations.

Indeed, there are as many ways to welcome the New Year as there are New Yorkers: Sporty types will love the New York Road Runners’ Midnight Run (December 31,, where runners can queue up for dancing, a parade, and a fireworks show before taking off around the Central Park loop at the stroke of midnight for the first run of the new year.

Those who prefer the Brooklyn side of the East River can head down to Prospect Park for the Grand Army Plaza Fireworks Display (December 31, to celebrate the arrival of the New Year with a few big bangs. And when you just don’t want the night to end, there’s Sunrise, Alegria’s New Year’s Day event (January 1,, where you can dance the morning away under an entirely different kind of light show.

Last modified: July 27, 2017