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Winter in New York City: Activities to Kindle the Spirit of the Holidays

Updated on May 25, 2018
Catherine Stolfi profile image

Catherine Stolfi has a Master of Science degree and enjoys sharing experiences related to expanding awareness on particular topics.

Rockettes Toy Soldiers
Rockettes Toy Soldiers | Source

Recapture the holiday spirit in the place that does it best, New York City. The bright lights of the winter holidays are all around you in the streets of New York and there are plenty fun activities to give even scrooge himself some holiday cheer.

Radio City Christmas Spectacular

An annual tradition for the holidays for over 75 years is seeing the Radio City Christmas Spectacular featuring the Rockettes. This is a classic show that feels like you’ve stepped into the 30’s of New York City glam and glitz and high kicking show girls. The show features pyrotechnics, Old Saint Nick and of course, NYC’s famous Rockettes. A favorite performance of mine is the soldier dance, a homage to the toy soldiers of the famous Christmas ballet, The Nutcracker. It starts with two Rockettes and quickly grows into fifty, dressed as toy soldiers with perfectly synchronized moves. The show starts after Thanksgiving and runs until the week of New Years Eve, with multiple performances each day. Keep an eye out for tickets in early September to snag the best deal and seats for the Holiday.

Bronx Zoo’s Holiday Lights

For a unique winter experience you can visit the Bronx Zoo for their nighttime “Holiday Lights.” The zoo is in full swing for this nighttime Holiday celebration with sea lion feedings, reindeer, camels and family-friendly activities.

It may seem unusual to visit a zoo in the winter but actually many of these animals are in their natural environments at the zoo such as otters, penguins and snow monkeys. The zoo is open year round. A large amount of your entrance fee go towards children’s program and research associated with the zoo and the wildlife society.

The Rink - Rockefeller Center
The Rink - Rockefeller Center | Source

Rockefeller Center

For a view of a giant Christmas tree with some ice-skating thrown in the mix, go to Rockefeller Center at Rockefeller Plaza at W. 49th Street. The Christmas tree is strung every year with approximately 30,000 lights and five miles of wiring. The lights light up the Wednesday after Thanksgiving and stay lit through the first week of January.

A mall is also located underground Rockefeller center, Rockefeller plaza, with plenty of great places to eat, shop and play. The mall can be accessed from any subway entrance between 48th and 51st streets and 5th and 6th avenues. There are also two great restaurants located right on the plaza, overlooking the ice rink. One is the Rock Center Cafe, serving American cuisine, and the other is the Sea Grill serving, you guessed it, seafood mostly. Both should be booked much in advance of your trip. There are online reservations for the Rock Center Cafe that were close to full when I checked in early October for the weekend nights in December.

Uptown Hanukkah Menorah

Did you know the world’s largest Hanukkah Menorah is in New York City? The 32- foot, gold-colored steel menorah is located on 59th Street and Fifth Avenue. There is a lighting ceremony each night through the holiday season.

Kwanzaa Celebration at the AMNH

For a Kwanzaa celebration you can go to New York City’s own American Museum of Natural History. The seven principles of Kwanzaa are celebrated on December 29 featuring African dance, musical performances, venders, visual artists and traditional crafts. The museum is located at W. 79th Street and Central Park.

Origami Holiday at the AMNH

The Museum of Natural history also has their annual Origami holiday tree on display featuring approximately 500 creations. Origami folding is taught during the holiday season as well. The museum also has on display through January 1, 19-foot holiday Dinos. The two Holiday Barosaurs greet visitors to the Museum on the front steps of the John Russell Pope Central Park West staircase throughout the holiday season. Illuminated at night, they are made of openwork stainless steel and ornamented with pine boughs and lights.

Whatever you do this holiday season, there is no better place to do it in than New York City. The holiday season in NY has a plethora of winter entertainment and sights to choose from to fill your heart with some holiday cheer.

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