Holidays in NYC Guide

‘Tis the season to love living in NYC despite the frosty cold. Be dazzled by trees, trains, markets and more holiday decor, see a seasonal show and say hi to Santa. Click on the links in bold for more info on the plethora of festive (and many free) options.

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Decor & Lights

Check out ultra-creative department store windows and rainbow light shows in (indoor!) malls like the jazzy holiday under the stars and downtown Luminaries. See an elaborate gingerbread village in Queens, a giant gingerbread house in Madison Square Park, a gingerbread cottage with giant snow globes and free ice skating at Bloomingdale’s or a gingerbread hut serving hot cocoa among neon trees.

See all lights & decor


You better watch out…Santa is all over NYC. Face the crowds for the handsome ABC Carpet & Home Santa, get reservations for the full Macy’s Santaland experience join Santa for breakfast and ice skating at Rockefeller Center and many more options. The shortest lines are usually at Bloomingdale’s, the Paley Center (where you can see him on the big screen too) and the Plaza.

More info on NYC Santas


Beyond the famous Rockefeller tree, find unique evergreens all over town. Go classic and classy at the Plaza Hotel or Lotte New York Palace, admire original decorations including origami ocean creatures, hundreds of paper cranes and baroque Italian figurines and  enjoy proximity to ice skating, holiday markets, gingerbread houses and iconic architecture.

More info on holiday trees


Train lovers are in luck during this season. Make a day of it at the New York Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show, stop by the much smaller, free Holiday Train Show at Grand Central Terminal or actually ride vintage subway cars.

More info on holiday trains

Holiday Shows

While family-friendly theater and dance abound all year long in NYC, we are especially spoiled during the holidays. Quality classics like The Nutcracker at Lincoln Center or Radio City Christmas Spectacular are worth a splurge, but more intimate, less expensive and less traditional options are also available from Yeti, Set, Snow! at the charming Swedish Marionette Cottage to a multicultural holiday rock jam.

More info on holiday shows

Holiday Markets

Shop for one-of-a-kind gifts and sample treats at festive outdoor and indoor markets & pop-up shops, often with nearby trees, ice skating and other attractions.

Plus check out our weekly deals for savings online and in NYC.

More info on holiday markets shopping



How Santa Really Works
In this imaginative picture book, Santa oversees a vast operation with elves as toy designers, testers, makers, wrappers, and packers, not to mention spies (naughty or nice? asleep or awake?). Clever and entertaining for older kids (and grown-ups) and fun to peruse for the younger set, with sprawling, detailed illustrations.


How the Grinch Stole Christmas
This holiday classic belongs in every family’s library. Perfect for reading aloud at special holiday moments to cleverly celebrate the true meaning of Christmas (spoiler alert – it’s not about the presents).


Schmuck the Buck: Santa’s Jewish Reindeer
In a contemporary satirical take on Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer,  Larry,  a young Jewish reindeer  overcomes his awkward  youth to save Christmas. His tale of acceptance and inclusion, told with sixty pages of vibrant illustrations is fun for anyone who loves Christmas, Hanukkah, or both.


The Nutcracker by New York City Ballet
Prep for the quintessential New York City Ballet Nutcracker with a gorgeous picture book that mimics George Balanchine’s choreography and illustrations inspired by the backdrops and scenery from the actual production. A holiday favorite with stylish and modern sensibility.


Winter’s Tale: An Original Pop-up Journey
Pop-up master Robert Sabuda’s original pop-up story uses his signature extraordinary paper engineering to capture the magic of winter. Stunning visual effects of foil, glitter, and twinkling surprises further are complemented by simple, elegant text. A delightful gift for any age or addition to home holiday displays.