THE BEST THINGS TO DO IN NYC FOR DECEMBER
By: Stefanie DiMartino
December may be cold, but that doesn’t mean it should be dull. It’s the holiday season, which means it’s the greatest time of year here in NYC! There’s a whole host of awesome things to do in New York City this month. From holiday pop-ups to our holiday-themed Must-See Manhattan Tour, to special shows and more, there are plenty of ways to spice up your December. I’ve done the hard work for you and found the best in entertainment, exhibits, dining, drinking, and things to do in NYC for the month of December and during the Christmas season. Here is everything you need to know until next month!
The Top 20 Best Things to do in NYC for December
For all the best holiday things to do, you can watch my holiday guide here:
THINGS TO DO/SEE + PARTIES
December 10, 2022 | 9am-12pm | $52-$68+
House of Yes, 2 Wyckoff Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11237
“Culture is how we move the human experience forward, both in our individual hearts and as a collective. We are merging our mischievous movement with the arts, music, and institutions that tell our deepest and often most ancient cultural stories. To remember that these spaces are ours, and that CULTÜRE is ours for the making. All you have to do is show up – This last tour of 2022 will be one for the books.” – Daybreaker
Now – January 8, 2023 | Wed-Sun, 4:30-9pm | $32+
Eisenhower Park, 1899 Hempstead Tpke, East Meadow, NY 11554
To save 15% until December 9th, use code SARAHFUNKY
LuminoCity is back! And, this season, the LuminoCity Festival is located at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow, NY. This year’s theme, “Pure Magic” will deliver state-of-the-art production that brings art, light, and color to life through remarkable displays. – LuminoCity
Now – January 15, 2023 | Free!
Essex Market, 88 Essex Street, New York, NY 10002
“Jon Lovitch, owner, artist, and creator of GingerBread Lane drafts, designs, bakes, plans, builds, and decorates for an entire year, to unveil his creations annually in cities all around. This year, Essex Market is hosting the world’s largest gingerbread village! Quintessentially New York, features 700 hundred gingerbread houses, 4,000lbs of candy, and 1,000lb of gingerbread!” – GingerBread Lane/Essex Market
This unique city addition is sure to make the holiday season extra sweet!
Select dates Now – January 8, 2023 | 4-10pm | $36+
Citi Field, 41 Seaver Wy, Queens, NY 11368
Amaze Light Festival is “an immersive outdoor experience where you will journey through five dazzling lands by taking the Arctic Express train to see the magical lights. Grab the whole family to race down Zing’s Thrill Hill but don’t forget to enjoy festive treats, holiday-inspired cocktails, and food from your favorite local vendors. Start the season of giving by going to our Toyporium with must-have holiday season toys and the first of its kind “Zings Buddy Builder”, the interactive toy builder that donates to multiple charities like Make-A-Wish Southern Florida, Hurricane Ian Relief (American Red Cross), and Toys for Tots.” – Amaze
Now – December 30 | Daily, 10am-9pm | $30+
234 West 42nd Street, New York, NY, 10036
“Come discover a unique Winter Wonderland right in the heart of NYC! Just next to Times Square, you’ll find a bedazzling show with millions of lights everywhere that will surely start to get you into the holiday spirit. Engage in a myriad of family-friendly holiday activities as you bake cookies with Mrs. Claus and Chip the Elf, or visit the North Pole Post Office to send a letter to Santa himself!” – Miracle NYC/Fever
Miracle NYC is for December only, so don’t miss out!
Now – December 31 | Thurs-Sat, 6pm & 9pm; Sun, 4pm & 7pm | $58+ | Age 18+
The Shops at Hudson Yards, 20 Hudson Yards, 5th floor, New York, NY 10001
“Come dashing through the snow to the best elfing holiday experience this side of the North Pole! Explore a winter wonderland with six immersive installations in search of Santa’s best-kept secret: a vintage speakeasy-style room featuring some naughty performances (shh, don’t tell Mrs. Claus). Along the way, you’ll find everything from gingerbread girls and rugged lumberjacks to living snow globes. Then, once you stumble into Santa’s speakeasy, enjoy Christmas cocktails, a live band, and an eye-popping variety show of unique acts, all with a holiday twist! You’ll be laughing, singing along, and getting your buzz on. Santa and his elves sure know how to let loose after a long day in the workshop.” – Santa’s Secret/Fever
CLASSIC HARBOR LINE: HOLIDAY CRUISES
Now – December 30 | Select days/times | $96+
Chelsea Piers, Pier 62 (W. 22nd St.) New York, NY 10011
Truly, there is no better way to get into the spirit of the holiday season than with one of Classic Harbor Line’s amazing holiday cruises. I absolutely love Classic Harbor Line and it’s such a fun and unique way to experience the holidays and magic of NYC! There is just something extra special about seeing the skyline from the water.
There are a variety of holiday cruises to choose from: Statue & Skyline Holiday Cocoa Cruise, the Sunset & Holiday Cocoa Cruise and New York City Lights Holiday Cocoa Cruise, our scrumptious Holiday Brunch Cruise, Holiday Jazz and the memorable Cocoa & Carols Cruise. These all book fast, so if you’re visiting for the holidays or you’re a local that’s never done one, buy tickets now! You won’t regret it!
Now – January 7, 2023 | $46+
One World Observatory, 117 West Street, New York, NY 10006
“Celebrate the season at Onederland, One World Observatory’s limited-time holiday experience. Climb to the top of the One World Trade Center and enjoy a magical mountaintop inspired experience with unforgettable views and cheer-filled moments at every turn! You can enjoy Onederland Square, with one-of-a-kind photo ops, cozy chalet lounges and a holiday marketplace set against the awe-inspiring backdrop of the world’s most iconic skyline. And, you can catch a lift to the Onederland Restaurant & Bar on the 101st floor with cozy, gingerbread décor, themed dining options and seasonal beverages! Simply stop for a holiday cocktail, a quick bite, or make a reservation for a gourmet meal.” – One World Observatory
BRYANT PARK/BANK OF AMERICA WINTER VILLAGE
Holiday Shops: Now-January 2, 2023 | Mon-Fri, 11am-8pm, Sat & Sun, 10am-8pm
The Lodge: Now-March 5, 2023 | Mon-Wed, 10am-10pm, Thurs-Sun, 8am-midnight
The Rink: Now-March 5, 2023 | Mon-Wed, 8am-10pm, Thurs-Sun, 8am-midnight
Bryant Park, 40th – 42nd Street, 5th – 6th Avenue, New York, NY 10018
Visiting The Winter Village at Bryant Park is the perfect place to kick off the holiday season. Experience holiday cheer and a winter wonderland right in the heart of the city. There is something for everyone! If you’re looking for shopping, then you can find that perfect and special holiday gift at The Shops. For food, enjoy rink side eats and drinks at The Lodge. And, for even more fun, you can try iceless curling or you can reserve a cozy igloo!
The Bryant Park Winter Village provides many Instagram-worthy photo ops and is the perfect place for people-watching! You can also admire the festive Christmas tree!
Admission to the Bryant Park ice rink is free! Yes, free! But, if you don’t have your own skates, you will have to pay for skate rentals which range in price from $15-$50.
NEW YORK BOTANICAL GARDEN GLOW + HOLIDAY TRAIN SHOW
Now – January 16, 2023 | Tuesday-Sunday, 10am-6pm | $35+
2900 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, NY 10458
The New York Botanical Garden is always worth a visit, especially when there are special exhibits on display. One of the best things to do in NYC in December is pay a visit to the Botanical Garden! Special this month, and next, is the NYBG train show. It’s the perfect way to get into the holiday spirit! “NYBG’s Holiday Train Show—a favorite holiday tradition—is back for its 30th year! See model trains zip through an enchanting display of more than 175 New York landmarks, each delightfully re-created from natural materials such as birch bark, lotus pods, and cinnamon sticks.” – NYBG
Another special exhibit this month is NYBG GLOW. Explore the illuminated grounds while listening to soft holiday music. There are plenty of wonderful photo opportunities – perfect for everyone! NYBG GLOW has music, dancing, food, and more, making it the perfect holiday activity!
Saturdays, Sundays, Custom day + time | Starting at $49+
I love New York City so much that I started a tourism company here. We offer a variety of tours around the city, from history, to sightseeing, to shopping, and one of my favorites – our food tour!
Rated 5-stars on TripAdvisor and the winner of the “best of the best” award in NYC, you definitely do not want to miss out on any of these amazing tours! There are different tour options available to choose from to fit your interests AND your budget! For a truly unique experience, book a custom-designed private tour with our expert NYC guides!
Brand new to our tour lineup is the Must-See Manhattan tour with tickets to the Top of the Rock included! That’s right, this experience not only shows you Manhattan’s most iconic sites during a 2-hour walking tour but also includes Top of the Rock tickets. You’ll end with breathtaking views of the city’s skyline on a historic skyscraper! How cool is that?
Visit and learn the unique history of iconic sites such as Times Square, Grand Central, the NY Public Library, Fifth Avenue, Rockefeller Center, Radio City Music Hall, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and more! Plus, we’ll take you inside Grand Central for an exclusive tour of its secrets.
Special for the month of December, we’ll be running this tour with a holiday twist!
Not only will you see all of the iconic Midtown sites, but you’ll also see holiday window displays, two winter villages, and multiple beautiful Christmas trees, including the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree!
For the best of both worlds, with food and sightseeing, consider joining the Best of New York Food Tour offered on Sunday mornings. The tour includes five dishes at delicious restaurants and a historic walking tour through Brooklyn!
Another option is to join the Secrets of New York Tour on Saturday mornings and visit hidden locations in lower Manhattan and learn secrets most New Yorkers don’t even know! Tours book up fast, so get your tickets today!
Planning a vacation to NYC? If you’re feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin, we are here to help! With Funky Tours Concierge, our team of experts can help you plan your dream NYC vacation! You can make your NYC trip and experience more special with custom-designed plans that fit your budget and your unique interests.
DINING + DRINKS: FESTIVE EDITION
HEATED WINTER WONDERLAND
Now – January 8, 2023
Lorely Beer Garden, 7 Rivington Street, New York, NY 10002
If you want to get into the holiday spirit, visit Lorely Beer Garden. They transform their cozy space into a winter wonderland with the halls fully decked! The food is good and so are the drinks! Enjoy seasonal cocktails and hot drinks such as Spiked Eggnog, Bourbon Hot Chocolate, Jameson Hot Toddy’s, Winter Sangria, and much more!
MIRACLE ON 9TH STREET
Now – December 31, 2022
The Cabinet, 649 East 9th Street, New York, NY 10009
Miracle on 9th Street is back! This Christmas-themed pop-up bar has seasonal drinks in a most-merry setting! Only for a limited time, you don’t want to miss this fun, festive pop-up!
Now – mid-January 2023
The Garret Cocteleria, 349 Broome Street, New York, NY 10014
Feliz Navidad! To get even more into the holiday spirit, visit The Garret Cocteleria’s special Feliz Cocteleria holiday pop-up! You can enjoy seasonal cocktails, bites, tacos, and holiday decor guaranteed to spread Christmas cheer!
“Welcome to our wonderland of the Navidad celebrating the holiday traditions of our neighbors and friends to the south. The cocktail program travels the Latin world taking inspiration of different regions and cultures, instilled with a holiday spirit and the merriest of attitudes.” – Feliz Cocteleria
AT THE ILLUSIONIST’S TABLE
Beginning December 4th-January 30, 2023 | 7:30pm | $295+ | Age 16+
The Hideout at Gallow Green, 542 West 27th Street, New York, NY 10001
“After sell-out runs across the globe, At The Illusionist’s Table has returned to The McKittrick Hotel. World-renowned illusionist Scott Silven hosts an intimate evening of fine dining, whisky-tasting,
and storytelling interwoven with mind-bending illusion and mystical mentalism. Candles flicker. Whisky pours. Conversation stirs. Before the night is over, your thoughts will transcend; mysteries will materialize; and your dreams will be revealed.” – The McKittrick
PAPILLON BISTRO & BAR
Monday-Friday, 11:30am-12am | Closed Saturday & Sunday
22 East 54th Street, New York, NY 10022
Papillon is located in the heart of Midtown. “Just steps from Central Park, Museum of Modern Art & the famous 5th Avenue shops, Papillon offers a fun environment where guests feel like family. The large space offers dining experiences to match any and every mood. You can enjoy a craft cocktail or glass of wine on the sidewalk café, mingle with colleagues in one of the private dining rooms, or enjoy the festivities of the season with their unforgettable decorations and seasonal interior design exhibitions.” – Papillon
MUSEUM + ART EXHIBITIONS
SPECTACULAR FACTORY NYC
Now – January 8, 2023 | $25+
ARTECHOUSE, 439 West 15th Street, New York, NY 10011
“Get ready to embark on a dazzling journey where the imaginary world of a gift factory comes alive. Traverse immersive digital multiverses filled with dreamlike yet familiar holiday themes, from floating giant swinging bells to thousands of nutcrackers, thrilling train rides through wreaths, spinning candy cane carousels and more. Unwrap the spectacular in this interactive cutting-edge experience created to ignite imagination, wonder and joy.” – Artechouse
A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Now – January 1, 2023 | $99+
Nederlander Theatre, 208 West 41st Street, New York, NY 10036
“The timeless tale of Ebenezer Scrooge comes to thrilling new life as Tony Award® winner Jefferson Mays plays over 50 roles in a virtuosic, master class of a performance that must be seen to be believed.” – A Christmas Carol
COMPANY XIV: NUTCRACKER ROUGE
383 Troutman St., Brooklyn, NY 11237
Now – January 29, 2023 | $115+ | Age 21+
Company XIV is always a must! Nutcracker Rouge is an imaginative retelling of the classic Nutcracker, combining burlesque, acrobatics, aerial arts, theatre, dancing, and singing all into one memorable show. Simply put, it’s incredibly amazing! It is captivating, exciting, glamorous, entertaining, risqué, sexy, and funny!
The bar offers unique holiday themed cocktails, as well as wines, beers, ciders, and absinthe. I highly recommend the VIP couch with champagne or absinthe. It offers a great stage view and with some bubbly added in, you have the key ingredients for a sexy and cozy date night. The show itself has some of the most gorgeous and talented people I’ve ever seen perform. The entire production is on par with the best Broadway performances. Perhaps, it’s even better! The extensive choreography, the acrobatics and aerial work, the elaborate costumes, the storytelling, the production value, the singing, the dancing – all of it is executed so perfectly and you are truly mesmerized the entire time. I really cannot say enough good things about this show. It is such a unique experience and a definite must-see this holiday season!
RADIO CITY CHRISTMAS SPECTACULAR
Now – January 2, 2022 | $72+
Radio City Music Hall, 1260 6th Avenue, New York, NY 10020
Does anything represent New York City during the holidays more than the Rockettes? One of the quintessential NYC activities during the holiday season is to see the Rockettes at Radio City! You really can’t get more classic NYC than that! Enjoy Santa Claus, Toy Soldiers, Nativity scene, famous NY department store windows, Rockefeller Christmas Tree, and more. It’s fun for the whole family and definitely an experience you don’t want to miss out on!
For my NYC holiday gift guide, read here, or watch below:
The New York City holiday season has a lot to offer, so if you’re planning on coming to the Big Apple, be sure to check out these top 20 best things to do in NYC for this December. Have fun and stay safe! Wishing you all a happy holiday season!
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When I decided to come to New York I always had those Hollywood pictures in my mind. Seeing them firsthand and reading and introducing myself to new ones is just great! Thanks for the blog!