Adorned in its autumn and winter finery, New York City transforms into a veritable holiday wonderland. The city that never sleeps combines its day-to-day energy with holiday season joy to create an unforgettable environment perfect for celebration. Locals and visitors alike fall in love with the city yet again during the holiday season. From the feasts of Thanksgiving to the spectacular light displays of Christmas, New York City is home to an array of unparalleled holiday experiences.
Continue reading for a local perspective on how best to celebrate the holidays in New York City.
As the red and gold leaves of fall turn into the icy branches of winter, Thanksgiving arrives in full splendor. The biggest Thanksgiving celebration in the city is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, an annual tradition that brings in major performers and an incredible array of floats in a multi-hour extravaganza. We recommend not waiting out in the cold to see it from afar — instead, tune in from the comfort of your home or hotel room with family, friends, or other loved ones. But don’t miss it — the parade is a true embodiment of the city’s Thanksgiving spirit.
Then, at night, indulge in a massive Thanksgiving feast from one of New York City’s best restaurants. From family-style meals to luxe, prix fixe options, there are restaurants that cater to everyone. Try Tavern on the Green in Central Park for its cozy, upbeat ambience — though you’ll have to book in advance — or The Smith for its well-made classic dishes. Other options include Cote Korean Steakhouse, for a multicultural twist on a traditional Thanksgiving meal, or Maman for great desserts.
If you're in the city for Thanksgiving, don't forget to explore the iconic Black Friday sales. New York City's famous shopping districts, such as Fifth Avenue, Times Square, and SoHo, become a shopper's paradise with countless stores and boutiques offering incredible discounts. You can shop for fashion, electronics, and more, all while enjoying the festive atmosphere of the city.
There are so many ways to celebrate Christmas in New York City that it may even merit its own article. At this time of year, every nook and cranny of the city is adorned with twinkling lights and festive decor. One of the best Christmastime activities is to wander the city soaking in the gorgeous window displays and holiday spirit all around; Midtown Manhattan is especially good for this purpose.
Specific events that are New York City Christmas traditions include the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting, an iconic yearly event that will take place on November 29 this year; it always features well-known live performers (like Gwen Stefani last year). Rockefeller Center itself is a hub of Christmas activity, from its public skating rink to performances by the Radio City Rockettes.
Other Christmas events worth a visit include the countless holiday markets across the city, particularly Bryant Park’s Winter Village and the Columbus Circle Holiday Market. At these destinations, vendors offer artisanal seasonal products and delicious food and drinks, perfect for a cozy winter afternoon. You can also head to Dyker Heights in Brooklyn, a neighborhood known for its elaborate Christmas light displays.
When it comes to Christmas shopping, you're in for a real treat. The city's department stores go all out with their holiday displays and window decorations. Iconic stores like Macy's, Bloomingdale's, and Saks Fifth Avenue offer a wide array of gift options.
Closing out the holiday season is New Year’s, a time to reset, reflect, and celebrate. The countdown to a new year is always a time of revelry in New York City, full of elaborate parties and other events. No matter where you are at midnight, tune into the New Year’s Eve ball drop in Times Square, to share an experience with tens of millions of others. Otherwise, explore New Year’s Eve parties at the city’s hottest bars, clubs, and restaurants, which you can typically find on sites like Eventbrite.
As New Year's Eve approaches, many stores in the city offer special sales and promotions to help you find that perfect outfit for your New Year's celebrations. Boutiques in the Meatpacking District and Upper East Side are great places to explore for upscale fashion options. Additionally, don't forget to visit Times Square, where you'll find shops selling all sorts of New Year's Eve memorabilia to commemorate your visit.
This holiday season, feast with friends, explore Christmas lights and ring in the New Year with a glass of champagne amidst the excitement of New York City. Don’t miss out — Book your stay at The Marmara Park Avenue now.