New York is the only city in the world that I have visited at Christmas and not felt as though everything that has been portrayed in the movies was a big fat lie.
One time, I even saw a flying elf in red boots drinking egg nog.
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NYC For Christmas — Movie Style
We spent 4 days in NYC at Christmas time last year with our kids (who are teenagers) and it was truly magical.
Although we were on a tight budget it was an unforgettable time – just gorgeous.
If you are one of the lucky individuals who is going to be in New York for Christmas then allow me to show you how to experience the city as they do in the movies.
It’s a party trick of mine.
I can’t guarantee that you’ll end up looking like Meg Ryan but as long as you don’t leave NYC resembling a Gremlin then I know that I did my job properly!
Things to do for Christmas in New York City
NYC at Christmas time has to begin in Times Square.
Soaking up the atmosphere from the neon-lit square in the centre of the city is a must at Christmas time.
If you haven’t heard about The Ride which takes place around Times Square and the other top attractions in NYC then you are in for a treat!
The Ride is NYC latest and greatest attraction.
It is a cross between an immersive show and a tour bus – you sit facing the huge windows and are treated to a spectacular show as the bus drives you around NYC (with a live guide) and stops at certain places for you to experience live performers – all from the comfort of your cosy bus!
I don’t know who came up with this fabulous concept but we LOVED it and I think you will do too, especially if you are in NYC for Christmas with kids.
(2003 starring Will Ferrel and James Caan. PG Comedy, Family, Fantasy)
After discovering he is a human, Buddy, who has been raised as an elf at the North Pole decides to travel to New York City to locate his real father.
If you are looking for things to do for Christmas in New York City then, of course, skating has got to be up there on your list.
There are many places that you can take to the ice at holiday time in New York City but my favourite will always be the Lasker Rink in Central Park.
Although this isn’t the most glamorous of ice skating rink it is more than half the price of the other swanky rinks – perfect if you are visiting New York City on a budget.
Even if you are wobbly on a pair of skates, the very tieing of the laces and holding onto to the side rails make for memories of many Christmas movies!
And of course, you get to treat yourself to hot mulled wine afterwards for giving it a go!
– A Christmas in New York
(2016 starring Ross McCall and Jaime Ray Newman. Romance)
Several guests are forced to come to terms with love and its countless complications over the course of one night in an upscale Manhattan hotel.
What’s not to love about Central Park?
We have visited this gorgeous open space twice in the winter when the frost clings heavily onto the branches of the leafless trees, and each time I loved it.
Whether you take to one of the skating rinks, visit the zoo or listen to the free entertainment by the street musicians Central Park never fails to please.
Why not treat your group to a magical horse-drawn tour of the park. Wrap up warm and enjoy all that is happening around the park at Christmas time. Blankets are provided but I’d recommend taking a hot chocolate with you (just because you can!)
Click here for info on Horse-Drawn Central Park tours
(2001 starring John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale. PG Comedy, Romance)
A young man and woman search for each other years after the night they first met, fell in love, and separated, convinced that one day they’d end up together.
If you are heading to New York City at Christmas time, then please don’t miss the chance to experience the fabulous Rocketts at the Radio City Music Hall.
It is extra special in the holiday season and the atmosphere inside the theatre is magical.
Make sure you make a wish under the huge Christmas tree outside. Apparently, they always come true!
– Home Alone 2 Lost in New York
(1992 starring Maucley Culkin and Joe Pesci. PG Comedy, Adventure)
A boy left home alone accidentally finds himself stranded in New York City with a pair of criminals on his tail.
Even if you are just window shopping, make sure you take the time to go inside Maceys and soak up the atmosphere of the world-famous store.
Macy’s window displays are famous at Christmas; take you time and move slowly along with the crowds admiring the scenes – this free holiday tradition is a must!
– Miracle on 34th Street
(1994 starring Richard Attenborough and Elizabeth Perkins. U Family, Fantasy)
A lawyer and a little girl must prove that a man claiming to be Santa Claus is the real thing.
Take a Look at This Gorgeous Video Of NYC at Christmas
You can not possibly come to NYC at Christmas and miss the Rockefeller Centre!
Seeing the famous Christmas tree must be done.
Like it or not.
It’s the law.
Be warned though, it is busy – don’t bother skating here; the prices are extortionate and I doubt you’d get to put one foot in front of the other without bumping into someone else, but do it for the atmosphere. Christmas time here is truly magical.
(1998 starring Bill Murray and Karen Allen. PG Comedy, Drama, Fantasy)
A cynical television executive is haunted by three spirits bearing hard to ignore lessons on Christmas Eve.
Click here to buy Scrooged on DVD
I love visiting China town in any city but New York China town is the best.
Although there isn’t a Christmassy spirit in the air, China Town is one of my favourite places to go and buy little gifts for Christmas stockings.
Grab yourself some duck pancake rolls and a cup of hot cup of green tea while walking along the streets!
(1984 Starring Zach Galligan and Phoebe Cates. 15 Comedy, Fantasy, Horror)
A father visits China Town in NYC at Christmas time and buys his son a pet which unleashes a horde of malevolently mischievous monsters on a small town.
Empire State Building
The views of the city from the top of the Empire State are truly breathtaking,
if you are visiting NYC for Christmas then take my advice…
If you haven’t purchased one of the NYC Discount Passes (which up until 31 December allows early bird access into the Empire State Building – click here for details)
Book a Skip the line ticket
We made the mistake of NOT doing this and we were trapped in an endless line (three hours – I kid you not) full of aggravated people (three of them belonged to my group).
It isn’t much more to pay for the skip the line ticket and will save your sanity (and time) on your winter experience of New York
Click here to check out tickets to the Empire State
TIP: If you would prefer to avoid the people and money then why not hop on the ferry to Staten Island and check out the view of the skyline for free!
– When Harry Met Sally
(1989 Starring Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal. Comedy, Drama, Romance)
A couple who have known each other for years, and are very good friends, but they fear sex would ruin the friendship. Not officially classed as a Christmas film but lots of Christmas references and the couple meet ontop of the Empire State!
Click here to buy When Harry Met Sally on DVD
Watch A Radio Play In Greenwich Village
Everything about Greenwich village is cool. The restaurants, the people, the food.
Especially the food.
Why not book one of the famous food walking tours that explores Greenwich and feeds you with the most fabulous meals! Click here for details of the Greenwich Food tour.
In the evening, why not book a piece of fringe theatre while in Greenwich village? We did just that and it was wonderful.
The church that the play was performed in was warm and lit with candles.
We were offered hot chocolate and cookies. The night was perfect and if you are looking for things to do for Christmas in New York City with your family then this will not disappoint!
– Preachers Wife
(1996 Starring Denzel Washington and Whitney Houston. U Comedy, Drama, Fantasy)
An angel comes to Earth to help a preacher save his church and his family.
St Bartholemew’s Church
Take the time to visit this beautiful church located on the east side of Park Avenue between 50th and 51st Street in Midtown Manhattan, in New York City.
At Christmas time there are candlelit carol services that you can attend in the church.
Even if you don’t get to see one of the services, sit in the quiet for an hour; take a break from the hustle and bustle of the holiday rush in the city and breathe in the woody scent of pine and sandalwood that you can only ever truly experience in a church such as this.
– Black Nativity
(2013 Starring Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett. PG Drama, Family, Music)
A street-wise teen from Baltimore who has been raised by a single mother travels to New York City to spend the Christmas holiday with his estranged relatives, where he embarks on a surprising and inspirational journey.
Making The Most Of Your Time In New York City at Christmas
There are hundreds of wonderful things to do in NYC at Christmas and that’s the problem — too much choice!
Depending on the length of your stay we recommend investing in a NYC Discount Pass – having one of these cards in your possession means that you will save up to 55% on over 85 attractions in and around the city.
Click here for details on the NYC Discount Pass
Do’s And Don’t For NYC at Christmas
Don’t be in a rush to get anywhere. Unless you have bought the fast pass tickets then there will be a wait.
Do enjoy the festive atmosphere in the line!
Don’t Expect it to be snowing. The weather in NYC is cold, but the chance of it snowing is 12 – 15 %
Do dress warmly! It might not snow but it is brrr, cold! Now is your chance to wear those beautiful hats and long stylish coats and boots.
Don’t come to NYC at Christmas time and be on a diet.
Grrr. There are far too many goodies to be had including chocolate puddings and hazelnut swirls, hot mulled wine and cheese topped gratin. Save the diet for another time.
Do try and eat everything you hear about!
Go to Harlem and find the deli that serves the BEST homemade cookies my family have ever tasted in their life, or find the takeaway noodle shop where the taste of the delicious noodles almost made me cry with happiness!
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If you enjoyed this movie-style post and you know of someone else who is going to be visiting NYC for Christmas, please share it with them!
And please let me know if there is something you would like me to add about holiday time in this gorgeous city. Comment below and let me know what you did that was special in NYC – I’d love to hear from you!