Christmas in New York - The Best Ways to Explore as a Local

Christmas in New York

Christmas Celebrations in New York

When you spend Christmas in New York, whether you’re a local or a visitor, you just can’t help but have fun.  If you’re staying in the city for the long term you’ll realise that one celebration rolls into another there.  As the last Halloween decorations are removed and the last rotten pumpkin is binned, New York suddenly turns into a sparkling winter wonderland!

Lights are everywhere, including all over the Christmas trees which have seemingly sprung up out of nowhere in every conceivable space.  The shops and streets are drowning in illuminations, the major examples of the former reveal their latest window displays.

If you’re staying in luxury accommodation in New York provided by, you’ll feel like you’re a local already.  But where do the locals go at Christmas?  What are the festive things that even the most anti tourist New Yorkers still have to do during the holiday season?

Also Read: New York Shopping Arcades at Christmas 2021

A Guide on How to Celebrate Christmas in New York Like a Local

Believe it or not, The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is a spectacle that even the most hardened New Yorker will want to see every year.  Ice skating is optional but to say you’ve seen the impressive and infamous Norwegian Spruce covered with 45,000 LED lights will fill anyone with envy.

The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, New York City

If you can be there for the lighting ceremony at the end of November, even better.

We’ve already mentioned the shop window displays and people who don’t know New York may not appreciate just how special these are.  Nowhere in the world do shops make this much effort in their Christmas displays and each one is a must see for locals every year.

The shops to visit are Saks on Fifth Avenue, Macy’s, Barneys, Bloomingdale’s, Lord & Taylor and Tiffany.  Believe it or not this could contribute to a whole day and night of entertainment, maybe longer!

Also Read: Expat Guide: How to Live in New York Like a Local

Any local will know that, outside of viewing their window displays, the major department stores are best avoided in the run up to Christmas.  

Buying gifts at a Christmas Market is a far more leisurely and festive way to shop.  These are also the places where the best food trucks are parked at this time of year and at many you can enjoy a spot of ice skating to build up that appetite.

Winter Village at Bryant Park, New York

Winter Village at Bryant Park During Christmas in New York

Two of the biggest are The Winter Village at Bryant Park and The Union Square Holiday Market.  Both have over 150 shops, stalls and eateries and the former has a huge 17,000 square feet ice skating rink. The latter is the place to go if you’re looking for that completely unique gift, it’s packed with handcrafted gifts including jewellery, leather goods and artwork.

If you’re staying in NYC for the medium to long term, follow this guide to celebrate Christmas in New York like a local!


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