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NYC & Company Invites Visitors To Book Now For Annual Holiday Season In New York City’s Five Boroughs

July 21, 2015 Destination North America No Comments Print Print Email Email

NYC & Company, New York City’s official marketing, tourism and partnership organisation, invites visitors to explore treasured traditions and festivities throughout the City’s five boroughs this holiday season.

2014 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree courtesy of Tishman Speyer  Gregory Scaffidi

2014 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree courtesy of Tishman Speyer Gregory Scaffidi

As temperatures start to drop and snow begins to fall, the City comes alive with larger-than-life floats in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and glimmering lights adorning the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, as well as new holiday performances at Harlem’s iconic Apollo Theater and the annual return of a beloved family favourite, The New York Botanical Garden’s Holiday Train Show in the Bronx. Because of the popularity of the holiday season, NYC & Company recommends visitors book their travel now through their tour operator, travel agent or by visiting nycgo.com/hotels and reserving through the organisation’s exclusive hotel booking partner, Booking.com.

“Every winter, New York City welcomes visitors and locals with open arms as the spirit of the holiday season comes to life in all five boroughs,” said Fred Dixon, NYC & Company’s President and CEO. “From holiday classics to festive hidden gems, the City has something to offer everyone, and we encourage travellers to book now for what promises to be a trip of a lifetime.”

Kicking off the holiday season is the classic 89th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on November 26, followed by the ever popular lighting of the iconic Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree on December 2 at 9 p.m. Visitors can spread their holiday cheer through all five boroughs, with Historic Richmond Town’s Candlelight Tours in Staten Island, Wave Hill’s Holiday Workshop Weekend in the Bronx, the New York Hall of Science’s Gingerbread Lane in Queens and the Annual Menorah Lighting outside Brooklyn Borough Hall.

The holiday season in New York City comes to a close with one of the world’s largest outdoor celebrations—New Year’s Eve in Times Square. The annual ball drop attracts a million people each year to the Crossroads of the World, filled with tons of confetti, celebrity performances and an unforgettable countdown to the New Year. For more information, visit timessquarenyc.org.

Highlights of holiday events taking place in the five boroughs include:


With giant helium balloon characters, performance groups, magnificent floats and clowns parading down the street, the89th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is a New York City tradition taking place this year on November 26. Starting at 77th Street and Central Park West, the parade will make its way through Midtown on Sixth Avenue from 59th to 34thStreets before concluding on 34th Street in front of Macy’s Herald Square (macys.com/parade).

Visitors can see the world-famous Rockettes kick their way into the holiday spirit as the Radio City Christmas Spectacularreturns from November 13–January 3. Audiences can enjoy classical musical performances and watch as Radio City Music Hall turns into a winter wonderland with snow falling before their eyes (radiocitychristmas.com).

As the temperatures drop, Manhattan’s outdoor ice skating rinks open to the public for the holiday season. With the world-famous Rockefeller Center Christmas tree as a backdrop, visitors are able to skate on The Rink at Rockefeller Center, which opens mid-October (therinkatrockcenter.com). Additionally, they can enjoy delicious treats, free ice skating and unique shops at the Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park (wintervillage.org) when it opens this November, or skate under the snow-covered trees of the Wollman Rink in Central Park, opening this November (wollmanskatingrink.com).

The City’s beloved holiday markets are a great place to purchase gifts and festive goods. In addition to Bryant Park, visitors and locals can find homemade treats and presents for family and loved ones at Union Square Holiday Market, theColumbus Circle Holiday Market and the Grand Central Holiday Fair.

Those looking to see the sights can hop aboard a multi-million dollar motor coach and spread some holiday cheer aboardTHE RIDE’s Holiday Edition. Already in its 4th year, guests will be dazzled by New York City’s holiday decorations, special choreographed performances and new seasonal content in celebration of Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. This “enchantment on wheels” tour runs from November 12–January 3 (experiencetheride.com).

Visitors can spot iconic landmarks featured in their favourite movies and hidden gems throughout Manhattan aboard a special Holiday Lights & Movie Sites tour with On Location Tours. This annual holiday offering runs through December daily at 3 p.m. with an additional tour on Saturdays at 5:30 p.m. (onlocationtours.com)

Buddy the Elf makes his return to the Big Apple this winter in Elf The Musical at Madison Square Garden Theater from November 13–January 3, inviting visitors to follow along on his fascinating journey through the City in this loveable family-friendly show (theateratmsg.com)

New York City Ballet will present one of the holiday season’s most cherished performances, George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, complete with marching toy soldiers, a one-ton Christmas tree that grows before the audience’s eyes and crystalline snowflakes. The show will run November 27–January 3 (nycballet.com).

The Metropolitan Opera will be offering a special “Half-Priced Holiday” promotion, where visitors who buy a full-priced ticket may purchase a second one at half price for guest under 18 years of age. A family-oriented performance of The Barber of Seville from December 16–January 2 and an adult-centric performance of Die Fledermaus from December 4–January 7 will both be headlining the Met’s holiday offerings (metopera.org).

Harlem’s Apollo Theater comes alive this holiday season with The Classical Theatre of Harlem’s The First Noel: A World Premiere Musical from December 11–30. Additional events at the iconic venue include the Coca-Cola Winter Wonderlandon December 19, which will bring free holiday-themed activities and performances to Harlem, and the 9th annual Kwanzaa Celebration on December 27 (apollotheater.com).

Returning to New York City Center for a joyous holiday tradition, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s breathtaking dancers will perform world premieres, new productions and the must-see Revelations from December 2-January 3. Dance lovers can also enjoy a free class with their ticket stub at The Ailey Extension. (alvinailey.org).

The New York Pops will perform It’s Christmas Time in the City at Carnegie Hall from December 18–20, featuring Tony Award nominees Stephanie J. Block and Brian d’Arcy James. Visitors and locals can watch as the largest independent pops orchestra in the country plays classical holiday favourites in one of the City’s legendary performance venues (carnegiehall.org).

The New York Philharmonic presents Holidays with the Philharmonic from December 18-19, featuring artist-in-residence Eric Owens and the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus performing heart-warming holiday favourites. A timeless holiday tradition, visitors can also enjoy a performance of Handel’s Messiah from December 15-19. The Philharmonic also invites everyone to ring in the New Year with its New Year’s Eve: La Vie Parisienne event, an evening filled with musical performances and festive drinks and food on December 31 (nyphil.org)

The American Museum of Natural History’s famous Origami Holiday Tree marks the start of the holiday season at the museum and will be on display November 23–January 10. On December 26, the museum will have a Kwanzaa International Marketplace and fun activities for the whole family as part of its 37th Annual Kwanzaa Celebration, commemorating the seven guiding principles of Kwanzaa (amnh.org).

Le Parker Meridien will host its annual Gingerbread Extravaganza this holiday season. Throughout the month of December and into January, local bakeries and restaurants will create gingerbread masterpieces, and visitors can vote for their favourite by purchasing tickets at the hotel’s concierge. Proceeds will benefit City Harvest (parkermeridien.com).

Visitors can see the stunning holiday-inspired window decorations of the City’s famed stores and hotels throughWindowsWear, which operates daily tours. This walking tour begins at Macy’s in Herald Square and journeys up Fifth Avenue, passing the Empire State Building, Bryant Park, Rockefeller Center, Central Park and more. In previous years, holiday tours have taken place between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve (windowswear.com).

A hidden Manhattan treasure, the Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden invites visitors on their special Candlelight Tours December 4 and 5, where they can celebrate the holidays like 19th century New Yorkers. In addition, the museum invites visitors to bring along their teddy bears to the annual Teddy Bear Tea on January 3 for some post-holiday fun (mvhm.org) 


The New York Botanical Garden’s Holiday Train Show is a must-see New York tradition for families, featuring model trains that hum past more than 150 iconic buildings in a miniature city landscape. The show runs from November 21–January 18 (nybg.org).

Families can enjoy making special holiday-themed crafts during the Holiday Workshop Weekend at Wave Hill from December 12–13. Visitors can create and take home their very own natural wreaths, treasure boxes and other great keepsakes (wavehill.org).

The Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum Annual Holiday Family Day in Pelham Bay Park is set for December 5. Families will love the festively decorated 19th-century mansion and can participate in various kids’ activities, including photos with Santa Claus (bpmm.org).


In its ninth year, A Slice of Brooklyn’s Christmas Lights Tour offers visitors the opportunity to see the famed Dyker Heights Christmas lights. Every year the neighbourhood is ablaze with illuminating exhibitions featuring 30-foot toy soldiers and nativity scenes. The bus tour also offers festive holiday music and old-time Christmas television variety specials. Tours run December 1–31 (asliceofbrooklyn.com).

The Coney Island Holiday Market returns to Brooklyn this holiday season on weekends 12-6 p.m. from Thanksgiving through Christmas. Visitors can take their picture with Santa Claus and shop for festive crafts and collectibles to take home (coneyisland.com).

The beautifully restored Kings Theatre will feature two holiday classics this winter. Celebrate a beloved Christmas traditionon December 5 with Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker, featuring 40 world-class Russian artists, larger-than-life puppets and super-sized Matrushka dolls. From December 15-27, visitors can enjoy unforgettable songs in a new incarnation of ANNIE, featuring original lyricist and director Martin Charnin (kingstheatre.com)

Celebrate the festival of lights this year with special menorah lighting celebrations in Brooklyn from December 6-13. Enjoy live music and hot latkes every night at the “world’s largest menorah” outside Grand Army Plaza. Brooklyn’s Borough Hallwill also be joining the celebration with their own menorah lighting this holiday season.


The Queens Historical Society will present its Annual Historic Holiday House Tour on December 6. The guided trolley tour includes stops at seven festively decorated museums and historical sites in Queens: the Kingsland Homestead, theFlushing Quaker Meeting House, Flushing Town Hall, the Voelker Orth Museum, Lewis H. Latimer House, Louis Armstrong House Museum and the Bowne House. Tickets will cost $20 for adult admission, and $10 for children ages 12 and under (queenshistoricalsociety.org).

The Louis Armstrong House Museum will also host its annual holiday tours throughout the month of December, featuring Louis Armstrong’s voice recording of “Twas the Night Before Christmas (A Visit from St. Nicholas)” and other seasonal favourites. The 40-minute guided tours of the house, a National Historic and New York City Landmark, offer a look into the life of a jazz legend (louisarmstronghouse.org).

In its 22nd season, The New York Hall of Science presents Gingerbread Lane, which features a 1.5 ton, 450-square-foot village made entirely of edible gingerbread, royal icing and candy. The museum will also have gingerbread workshops and holiday giveaways throughout the season (nysci.org).

Visitors can take a tour of the festively decorated Queens County Farm Museum during the Holiday Open House at the Adriance Farmhouse in Floral Park, December 26–28. There, they can warm up with a cup of freshly mulled cider while kids enjoy craft activities (queensfarm.org).


Visitors are invited to warm up this winter at the Alice Austen House as the historic Clear Comfort home is beautifully decorated for the holiday season.  In addition, the annual Arts and Crafts Fair on November 28 and 29 will feature unique handmade holiday gifts from local artists and craftsmen such as finely crafted jewellery, knitted holiday sweaters, ceramics and more (alicesuten.org)

Historic Richmond Town will come alive with holiday cheer at several holiday-themed events that are perfect for the whole family, such as the Traditional Tree Lighting on December 6. An annual holiday tradition, they can also join Historic Richmond Town’s Candlelight Tours, where candles, oil lamps and flickering fireplaces will light up the town, and visitors can expect a “wassail bowl” reception in the courthouse. On January 2, MakeFest invites visitors to enjoy hands-on activities that will give them a glimpse of the simpler times in the Colonial era, including make-your-own LED paper lanterns, 1715- and 1815-style ornaments and toys, and a complete tour of the grounds. Prepaid reservations are required (historicrichmondtown.org).

For more information on planning your New York City holiday vacation, visit nycgo.com.

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