After living in New York City for 2 holiday seasons, I’ve discovered how to make December as ridiculously Christmassy as possible. Here are the best activities for a magical Christmas in NYC!

Christmas in NYC

Drink at a Christmas themed bar

A Christmas pop up bar called Miracle on 9th Street appears in the East Village between Avenues B and C in December. Each year, the bar (Mace) decks the halls with an insane amount of Christmas decor. There’s even a Hanukkah corner if you fit into that category. And the best thing? The entire cocktail list consists of Christmas themed drinks, including a Bad Santa, Christmopolitan, and Jingle Balls Nog.

Another option is the Sippin Santa’s surf shack pop up at Boilermaker in East Village. More Christmas cocktails, anyone?

Where to stay: The Standard East Village

Christmas markets in NYC

Hit up some holiday markets

While the NYC holiday markets don’t quite live up to the European ones, I still have to admit, they were pretty good. I seriously enjoyed munching on a choc-covered churro while peeking in to stalls filled with Christmas decorations and trinkets.

The best known markets are the Winter Village at Bryant Park, and the Holiday Markets at Union Square and Columbus Circle. You can find a full list with some more info on the holiday markets here.

Santacon Christmas in NYC

Take part in (or laugh at) Santacon

Santacon looks rather stupid and ridiculous, but it’s still somewhat amusing to watch the large number of hideously dressed people wandering the streets of New York City on this eventful Saturday. Santacon is usually held sometime mid-December, and the starting point and route of the parade does not get revealed until the day before. Follow Santacon on Twitter to find out where it will start.

Where to stay: Hotel Mela Times Square

Christmas displays in NYC

Check out the displays in Midtown

The department stores in midtown go all out with their Christmas window displays. These elaborately decorated facades are a must see for anyone visiting NYC during the holidays. If you start on Avenue of The Americas opposite Radio City, you’ll find the oversized ornaments pictured above. Make your way up to 5th Ave and head north from there.

Be prepared, this route can get crazy busy with a lot of pushy tourists, so prepare for the streets to be a little hectic.

Ice Skating Christmas in NYC

Skate your heart out

I don’t think it would be a proper Christmas in NYC without ice skating! There are a number of rinks in Manhattan, including Central Park (North and South), Rockerfeller Plaza (pictured above), Chelsea Piers, Battery Park, and Bryant Park.

Here’s a list of the most popular rinks with prices and opening hours.

Christmas in NYC

Catch a Vintage subway train

Ever wondered what it would be like to catch the NYC subway in the 1930’s? No? Even if that thought hasn’t crossed your mind, you can now experience it for realsies. The MTA and Transit Museum have an annual tradition of replacing select Sunday train services with some old school vintage train cars. I have seriously never seen so many smiles on the faces of New York City residents as when they saw this vintage train approaching the platform. Find more details and schedules here.

Where to stay: Holiday Inn Financial District

Central Park Christmas in NYC

Walk through Central Park covered in snow

The timing of the first snow in New York City can be unpredictable. Over recent years, it has started as freakishly early as Halloween, or it has held off until mid-January. If you’re lucky enough to be in NYC when the first snow hits – go for a walk in Central Park for some picture perfect snowy scenes of New York City. Take your camera and get snap happy!

New York CityPASS

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