Christmas Season in New York 2021
Christmas season in New York is a really special time, the atmosphere is indescribable; you’ll be amazed by the countless lights and magical decorations. For Americans, Christmas is an important holiday, and this is reflected in the enthusiasm with which they decorate their homes. Every year a huge Christmas tree is illuminated at the Rockefeller Center and the windows of the shops on Fifth Avenue are beautifully decorated! If you are in New York during the Christmas season, there are several activities that you can do to soak up this atmosphere.
- 1 The Christmas Lights Tour of Dyker Heights
- 2 Rockefeller Center VIP package: Skating Rink and Top of the Rock
- 3 Festive Christmas Cruise
- 4 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree
- 5 New York Holiday Lights Tour
- 6 Christmas Markets
- 7 Decorated Shop Windows
The Christmas Lights Tour of Dyker Heights
The Christmas lights decorating American houses are breathtaking. To see exuberantly decorated houses (you certainly know them from series and movies) you should not stay in Manhattan but go to Dyker Heights in Brooklyn. This affluent area has even been chosen as the “best-decorated neighbourhood of America”. Take part in the 3.5-hour Brooklyn Christmas Lights Tour of Dyker Heights and explore the beautifully lit and decorated homes.
The tour begins in Midtown where your bus with guide heads to Brooklyn. Once in Dyker Heights, you won’t believe what you’re seeing! Some of the extravagant creations cost more than $10,000. To keep your Christmas spirit high, Christmas videos and Christmas carols will be played in the bus.
Rockefeller Center VIP package: Skating Rink and Top of the Rock
In addition to a beautiful Christmas tree, Rockefeller Center is also famous for its skating rink. Skating in New York at Rockefeller Center is a great experience. The queues at the Rockefeller rink can be quite long. Do you want to skate here during the Christmas season? Then you can opt for a VIP package.
You will have access to the chalet, next to the ice rink where you can relax after and during skating and warm up with hot chocolate, coffee, and biscuits. All this is included in the VIP package. And there’s more! This package also offers free access to the Top of the Rock. From the observation deck on the 70th floor, you can enjoy the view of New York City.
Festive Christmas Cruise
Get well and truly in to the Christmas spirit during this festive Christmas cruise in New York. Aboard this 1920s, vintage-style yacht enjoy hot chocolate, cookies and Christmas songs performed by a live band as you pass the Manhattan skyline.
Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree
The famous Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is an attraction in its own right. The tree needs to be a minimum of 20 metres tall and around 7,5 metres wide, but it’s usually much taller (between 23 and 27 metres). The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is decorated with 8 kilometers of fairy lights. In 2020 the tree lighting ceremony will take place on December 2nd. The lights will be turned off in early January 2020. The tree is illuminated daily from 5:30 a.m. until 11:30 p.m. and on Christmas it’s illuminated for 24 hours. On New Year’s Eve the lights are turned off at 9:00 p.m.
New York Holiday Lights Tour
Do you want to see the highlights of Christmas lights in New York but don’t want to do it on your own? Then take this bus tour. The bus drives through the city along the famous Rockefeller Christmas tree and the great displays of the shops on Fifth Avenue. There will be eight stops where you depart the bus and take a short walking tour. The Rockefeller Christmas tree is only lit in late November or early December. To avoid disappointment, I advise you to take the tour only after the tree has been lit.
In New York, there are a number of Christmas markets that you can visit. Two of the best are Bryant Park and Union Square. The Bryant Park Christmas Market starts from October 30th 2020 until January 3rd, 2021. This is a large market and because you can also go ice skating and sit in the cafe, it’s the absolute best Christmas experience. You can buy Christmas decorations and ornaments. These Christmas markets aren’t cheap but it’s all about the experience, after all. I once bought a New York taxi tree ornament, as well as a hotdog stand one! You can also join a Christmas Market Walking Tour.
Decorated Shop Windows
If there is one thing during Christmas in New York that will surely put you in the festive mood, then it’s the beautifully decorated streets and shop windows. Big department stores really dedicate the whole year to preparing their Christmas window displays, each telling its own story. The shop windows are somewhat of a gift to the public and are not prominently sales-driven. It’s popular for both locals and tourists to wander past the stores during this period, especially on Fifth Avenue. The department stores with the best shop windows are: Bloomingdale’s, Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue and Tiffany’s. Macy’s should, of course not be missed.
When will the Christmas decorations go up?
The Christmas decorations in shops are usually revealed at the end of November, beginning of December: typically after Thanksgiving. This is also the case for the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. After New Year, most of the shops will remove their decorations. The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree will be taken down in the first week of January, the lights are usually turned off at 9:00 p.m. on that specific day.
Macy’s during Christmas
The department store Macy’s has dedicated a whole floor to a magical Christmas village called Macy’s Santaland. Everything is beautifully decorated. Even Santa Claus is present and you (or your children) can snap a photograph (for a fee). Bear in mind that the queue for taking a photo with Santa can be very long.
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