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December Festive Happenings in NYC

The holiday season is fully here and NYC is decked out with decor. From Radio City Music Hall performances to Christmas markets, sipping hot chocolate a Santa Claus here for photos, we have had so much to do since late November and even newly now into the month of December. We are in the holiday spirit and while still doing our favorite things during this festive month. This time of year is so special and it feels like we need a little more magic in this world and to spread holiday cheer. Whether you’re visiting town or live here and are looking for an annual tradition to take part in, here is everything to do this month in the winter wonderland that is the big apple.

radio city

Rockettes at Radio City

Firstly, the Rockettes are a very classic NYC experience. This is a show people come far to see, so you always want to be sure to grab tickets for your preferred times in advance. The show has several performances, so it shouldn’t be too hard to grab a seat, as long as you plan ahead. If you’re looking for some extra razzle dazzle in your life, check out The Radio City Rockettes!

AMNH Origami Tree

The American Museum of Natural History has an annual tradition of decorating a beautiful tree. Each year, they add origami pieces to deck out the tree for the holiday season. With fabulous exhibits to see like The Secret World of Elephants, make an afternoon out of going to check out the tree and everything the museum has to offer.

Bronx Zoo Holiday Lights

The Holiday lights are back at the Bronx Zoo! It runs through January 7th, you can experience the wildlife amongst stunning holiday lights. Not only will there be holiday decor, but expect animal lanterns, arches, colored tunnels, tree lighting and more! This is the perfect event to bring your kids to at the end of November to see some animals and get into the holiday spirit. Tickets are on sale now! Use my code: STROLLERINTHECITYHL for ticket discounts!

Museum of Ice Cream Pinkmas

The Museum of Ice Cream is decked out in pink for the holiday season! Enjoy unlimited holiday treats, crafts, huge snowglobe, pink trees and so much fun! Tickets are on sale from November 17th-January 15th, so you have plenty of opportunities to have fun this season!

Tinseltown: The Christmas Speakeasy

This is one happening we are especially excited for to get into the holiday spirit! Open until December 30th, you can enjoy this Christmas cocktail menu, see Santa, elves and rock out to festive tunes. Located at Pekarna NYC, tickets are available for $22 for this super fun 90 minute experience!

nyc holiday activities

Rockefeller Tree

The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree is one of the most iconic holiday happenings in NYC to ever exist in the holiday season. It is absolutely stunning and if there’s anything you need to do while visiting in this month, or even for those of you who live here, you must see the tree! The lighting is taking place on Wednesday, December 1st and will stay there through New Year’s. It’s lit daily from 6am-midnight, but on Christmas Eve, it stays lit for a full 24 hours! How magical! You don’t need tickets to see it, it’s completely free and such a great sight to bring friends and family to!

The Gingerbread Experience

The Seaport is back with a festive experience this season! Over 50 architects and designers had a helping hand in creating this masterpiece. It has ginger buildings, a skyline, moving trains and more! Sign up for the workshop to learn about architecture and create your own gingerbread masterpiece!

Big Apple Circus

Looking for a family-friendly activity? My kids love going to the Big Apple Circus, so we try to make a whole fun day out of it. Tickets are on sale and I recommend grabbing them while you can!

Astra Lumina

Have you walked through a nightwalk full of festive lights? It’s the most wonderful time of the year and enjoying the celestial lights under the stars is a fun date night or family-friendly activity as holiday traditions. Use my code: ASTRABRIANNE15 for 15% off tickets through December 1oth!

holiday happenings in nyc

Ice Skate

Ice skating is a great family-friendly activity in the winters.  Be sure to read our post on the best ice skating rinks to visit in NYC ! They’re all different and I recommend trying each location out this season. Glide Brooklyn is an ice rink opening under the Brooklyn Bridge! You can get bites and sips at the Cafè there after you skate. Outdoor activities are usually around for a limited time in the winter months, but early November is usually pretty occupied with plenty of happenings and our favorite things outdoors. Ice skating sticks around for the next season, as well!

Taylor Swift: Storyteller

It’s no secret how major of Taylor Swift fans the girls and I are. So when we found out about this exhibition that takes a look at her amazing career, we knew we had to get tickets. You can see more than 20 of her amazing and well known looks, including concert pieces as well as props and jewelry from her music videos. The girls were obsessed! And with Taylor’s 34th birthday coming up on the 13th, they have something extra special going on! At 3 and 4PM, ticket holders can get a guided tour and then at 5PM friendship bracelet making and exchange at the gallery. Get your tickets now!

Chanukah on Ice

December 12th from 6-9PM, you can skate at the Wollman Rink to celebrate Night 6 of celebrations. There will be live entertainment, Chabad programs, Kosher food and fun! Reserve your tickets online.


The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is always one of the best things to do in the city but this time of year is even more special. Lightscape is an illuminated trail that you can walk through! It takes my breath away and this is the perfect time to go see it. They have different colored lights and shapes of lights that they cast over different objects in nature and hang. This is a great place to bring your family and friends, not to mention it’s makes for a great photo opportunity!

Billy Joel Exhibit

You’ve gotta love Billy Joel! He has his own exhibit that is officially open called My Life, a Piano Man’s Journey, located at the Long Island Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame. With over 5 decades of memorabilia, the exhibit is full of his life’s work. From his albums and tours to his real life experiences, you’ll be able to step into his world. It is open Wednesdays-Sundays and these tickets make for a great holiday gift!

Enjoy Rooftop Igloos

Somewhere Nowhere is known for their nightclubs and rooftop pool, but did you know they have rooftop igloos this season? Enjoy some of the best cocktails in town with bites and incredible views. This is a prepaid experience but the views are worth it!

Santa’s Winter Wonderland

The Watermark always has such cool pop  ups happening over there! Located on Pier 15, they are opening a winter wonderland running through December 30th. There will be glasshouse dining and a full North Pole setup for photos. Tickets are available now and this is the perfect activity with friends to welcome the holiday season!

holiday restaurants

Visit These Holiday Restaurants

Have you read our blog post full of the most decked out and festive restaurants to visit in NYC this month? We have all the prime spots to go to, just make sure you make a reservation because they are hot spots!

Christmas Cottage

I love finding extra festive happenings and pop ups in December here! They have all the holiday decor you need and they are taking it mobile. The truck is on 6th and W 49th streets Friday-Sundays!

Holiday Markets

The holiday markets are one of my favorite things to do in December! There’s tons of food and adorable gift spots to shop from for the holidays. These are the best way to get artisanal gifts from and try out foods from vendors you’ve never been to before. It’s the perfect time to shop for Christmas trees and they usually have them at these! You can try all of the markets featuring the Union Square Holiday Market, there’s one at Columbus Circle, Bryant Park and now at Grand Central Terminal!

broadway six

Dyker Heights Lights

The Dyker Heights Christmas Lights are back and better than ever! This Brooklyn display is a must-see for us each year. The neighborhood goes all out and it’s so merry and bright! This is something we like to do on a weekend night with the kids! One thing to note is a lot of houses turn their lights off around 9PM so make sure to get there before then.

Fifth Ave Lights

My family and I look out for the Saks Fifth Avenue light show each year, which is beyond gorgeous. This is when they decorate the outside of the store with beautiful lights and light them up to perform a show. Different colors and times, it’s all a magical experience! While you’re there, see all the holiday decor at the stunning stores on Fifth Avenue.

Get a Colorful Christmas Tree

Yes, you read that right! Wyckoff’s Christmas Tree Farm in New Jersey has colorful Christmas trees! Choose from blue, purple, pink, red, white and green for a fun twist on a classic tree. Should I get the pink one this year?!


NYBG Holiday Train Show

If you haven’t heard about the Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show, let me just tell you, it’s something you need to experience! It runs through January 15th. They have model trains that are displayed in over 175 landmarks, like The Statue of Liberty! This is an excellent option if you have kids, they will absolutely love this activity to check out! Tickets are on sale now and range from $18-$32. Check it out!

Pink Wonderland

Moxy is back with one of the most stunning and festive additions to the season! It’s an enclosed outdoor terrace to sip on pink cocktails through the end of the year. The place is all decked out in pink, so you know I’ll be there!

Oculus Roller Rink

We are familiar with all the ice rinks, but wait for this roller rink to change your life! All throughout the winter season, Oculus has Winter Whirl. This looks like an ice rink, but it’s for roller skating. Tickets are $30 and you can skate for 45 minutes.

Magical Vintage Trains

The F and D train lines will depart vintage trains from the 30s every Saturday this month! They do this annually and it’s definitely something I recommend seeing at least once.

Celebrate NYE

There are truly so many things to do for NYE here! You can go watch the ball drop live, go on a cruise around the city, dine at restaurants or bars you’ve always wanted to go to (be sure to get reservations everywhere) or watch fireworks from your roof. This site has a bunch of ticketed parties to check out if you have groups of people and want to be close to the action but I always recommend staying in your neighborhood for an easier trip home!

broadway shows

The Nutcracker

My girls and I see the Lincoln Center Nutcracker every single year. With performances running through the end of the year, this beautiful tale has opportunities for you to enjoy it. Get tickets for the best seats here!

We’re really excited to hear that the Brooklyn Ballet is performing this year! On December 16th with performances at both 2PM and 7PM, you won’t want to miss out on this!

LuminoCity Festival

LuminoCity is an unforgettable, immersive experience! Using light and imagination, a story is told. It’s timed and festive and seriously the perfect holiday experience to bring your family to this month! It’s located in Manhasset, NY and tickets start at $27. What’s better than an immersive light show with creations of art?! It runs through January 7th, so there’s plenty of time left to check it out!

Broadway Under the Stars

They had me at Broadway! You know how much of a major fan I am! The Shops at Columbus Circle have live performances with performers from different shows Thursdays throughout the month. Check their schedule here to see which date and time you’d like to attend!

NYE Wishing Wall

Located in Times Square, this is an annual tradition that is so kind. You can submit your wish for the year either digitally or in person and they actually release these on NYE as confetti in high hopes for the new year. If you submit digitally, they ask that you do so before the 26th, so they can print them!

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