Whether you're spending Christmas or New Year's Eve in New York with friends, family, or your sweetheart, there are a variety of ways to get into the holiday spirit in this festive city. Here are our top ideas for seasonal things to do in NYC.
See the City Illuminated
In the city that never sleeps, holiday lights are a major event, so book a night tour to check out famous sights such as the Radio City Music Hall and Rockefeller Center Christmas tree and ice skating rink all lit up for the season. Choose a tour that combines stops to see the holiday lights with visits to famous movie locations, particularly in Central Park, for an entertaining twist that shows you recognizable locations from "Elf," "Home Alone 2," "Miracle on 34th Street," and more.
Go Christmas Shopping
Picking out Christmas gifts at Manhattan's department stores is a favorite tradition, as is admiring the holiday window displays in Midtown. Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy's, Bloomingdale's, Tiffany & Co., Bergdorf Goodman, and other shops go all out year after year to create the most impressive street-view scenes. Be sure to also check out the Union Square Holiday Market to browse gifts in an outdoor setting.
Enjoy an Evening Cruise
One of the best vantage points for watching the New Year's Eve fireworks in the Big Apple is from the water. On a nighttime cruise, you'll glide along the Hudson River or East River and into New York Harbor to admire the illuminated city skyline and take in views of the Statue of Liberty and Brooklyn Bridge. Some cruises include dinner before the fireworks, while others feature a DJ for dancing and most offer drinks. Cruises typically last three to four hours.
Watch the Ball Drop
Manhattan's iconic New Year's Eve celebration—the Times Square ball drop—is watched by millions each year, and you can be part of the excitement yourself by booking a ticket to a party near Times Square (where Broadway meets Seventh Avenue). These gatherings typically include an open bar, hors d'oeuvres, dinner, and dancing at a location where you can stay warm while those on the street deal with the cold. Depending on the party you choose, you can either watch the ball drop on TV or head outside to watch in person.