Christmas In New York City

by happynutritionist

Christmas is one of the most beautiful times to visit New York City, NY as the City that never sleeps really puts on a beautiful and colorful show of lights and events.

There is a special beauty and magic in New York City, fondly called "The Big Apple", during the Christmas season, which officially begins when Santa makes his appearance at the end of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

My favorite time to go to the City is shortly after Christmas when shopping crowds are finished, and you can still enjoy the beautiful lights at night and the Christmas show at Radio City Music Hall. In our younger years when we were dating, my husband and I would make it an annual tradition to go into the City to hear a performance of Handel's Messiah.

You have to love city life, and like the press of people and crowds to shop in or visit New York City during the Christmas season.

Let me show you a few sights, and provide you with important dates, times and links to help you plan your trip into New York City during the Christmas Holiday season.

We have updated this page for the 2016 Christmas Season, and wish all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Content by Claudia Meydrech a/k/a happynutritionist
New on Wizzley - September 2014 - Updated 10/19/16

Intro Image Credit: Via Amazon - also see below

The Empire State Building in Red and Green for Christmas

The Empire State Building is lit up in red and green during the Christmas season. In fact, the lights are changed during various holidays, for example, all green for St. Patrick's Day.

The Empire State Building was the tallest building in the City when I was born.

I remember when the World Trade Center was built and became the tallest buildings, and none of us can forget what happened to make the Empire State Building, once again, the tallest building in New York City for a period of time until the completion of New World Trade Center. You may want to schedule a visit to the World Trade Center Memorial when you visit the city.

This is one of the sites you will see if you visit New York City during the Christmas season, definitely on Christmas Eve and Christmas.

Empire State Building Ornament
New York City Christmas Ornament - Empire State Building
Only $12.36

Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular

Rockettes and Annual Christmas Show

Many make it an annual tradition to go to the Christmas Show at Radio City Music Hall, home to the famous Rockettes. Though you can go throughout the holiday season, a friend goes every year within a day or two after Christmas as it is less crowded. On a couple of occasions she took my children along with her to enjoy the experience.

I also had a now-passed relative who worked for Radio City Music Hall for years coordinating show dates, and performing other administrative responsibilities.

Seeing the annual Christmas Show at Radio City Music Hall is a must at least once in your lifetime.  You can copy and paste it into your browser for more information about times, dates, and tickets. In 2015, the Radio City Christmas Spectacular runs from November 11, 2016 through January 2, 2017.

Radio City Music Hall Print
Radio City Music Hall. A Fine-art Photographic Print by Carol M. Hi..., Inc.

Handel's Messiah Performances in New York (NYC) NY in 2016 * St. Thomas Church * Avery Fisher Hall * Carnegie Hall

Plus a New Jersey location not far from New York

Handel's Messiah is performed annually in New York City during the Christmas holiday season. Dates for the Handel's Messiah 2015 performances in NYC and one in NJ have been added below, and links provided will lead to further details:

1. St. Thomas Church

Tuesday and Thursday, December 6 and 8, 2016 at 7:30 - 10:00 pm

Doors usually open on 5th avenue at 6:30 pm both nights. Visit the St. Thomas Church link above for information about all concerts taking place during the year.

2. The New York Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall

December 13-18, 2016 at 7:30 pm except for Friday the 16th, when it is at 2 pm:

Visit the links above for calendar to verify dates and for ticket information

3. Oratorio Society of New York at Carnegie Hall

December 21, 2016 at 8:00 pm - visit link above for more details

If you would like to attend Handel's Messiah in New Jersey, it is performed annually at 7:00 pm on the 1st Saturday in December at Hawthorne Gospel Church in Hawthorne, New Jersey by the Cathedral Choir. So for 2016, the Messiah will be performed on December 3rd at 7 - 10 pm in New Jersey.

Handel's Messiah CD's

by the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir - our favorite performance
Handel's Messiah

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Annual Lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

Wednesday, November 30, 2016 with performances from 7–9 PM

The lighting of the Christmas Tree in Rockefeller Center is an annual tradition and time of celebration with many entertainers present. The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree lighting is a sight to see when you are in New York City during the holidays. The date of the tree lighting is Wednesday, November 30, 2016, 7-9 pm. The tree will remain lit until January 7, 2017, You can check the Rockefeller Center Events page for further details.

Watch TV listings each year, there is usually a television special on the night of the tree lighting.

The New York tree lighting tradition began in the 1930's when construction workers erected a Christmas Tree, about the size of a large tree one might find in a living room, and decorated it on the cleared site in New York City.

Ice Skating at Rockefeller Center During Christmas and all year round

Ice skating at the Rockefeller Center Ice Skating Rink is another tradition that has been enjoyed for generations, both during the holidays and throughout the cold winter months.

The rink usually opens in mid-October. This is a maintained outdoor ice skating rink, beautifully lit at night, a must see or do when in New York.

Silver Bells sung by Dean Martin

Interactive Map of Central Park

I found a nice interactive map online, as well as a selection of printable New York maps, that I think you will enjoy. The interactive map is of Central Park, and you are surely going to be near the park at some point when in the City, so it would be good to know your way around.

Here is a link to an interactive map of Central Park in New York City.

Christmas Eve Midnight Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral

Also televised locally

Many who are visiting or live in New York City attend midnight mass on Christmas Eve at St. Patrick's Cathedral.

Here is a complete schedule of masses at St. Patrick's Cathedral, including the Christmas Midnight Mass when it is the holiday season.

Visit the Cloisters in New York City during Christmas

The Cloisters in New York, NY is part of the Metropolitan Museum. It is a beautiful place to visit with it's Medieval history, architecture and art. We have visited during the summer months, and can imagine how wonderful it must be to visit during the Christmas season when it is decorated for the season.

There are Christmas art exhibits and events each year, you can find out what events are taking place by visiting this Events at the Cloisters page. Page down a bit when you visit the site for the current calendar of events.

I loved visiting the Cloisters

Medieval Art, Architecture and Music
The Cloisters: Medieval Art and Architecture, Revised and...

Christmas in New York Interactive Pop-up Book

I gave this as a gift to my brother, now in Heaven, for Christmas one year
Christmas in New York: A Pop-Up Book
$35.00  $15.90
About the Pop-up Above

The interactive pop-up book above makes the perfect gift for anyone who loves New York holiday traditions, from the lighting of the Christmas Tree to watching the ball drop on New Year's Eve in Times Square a week after Christmas.

The book features many world-famous holiday events, as well as scenes of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Angel Tree, George Balanchine's Nutcracker at Lincoln Center, and holiday store windows through the 20th century in the 3D art of a pop-up book.

I can't say enough about how enjoyable this books is. There are short stories, pull-outs and removable booklets, all part of this delightful book that I gave to one of my brothers as a gift one year.

We finish with a Saks Fifth Ave. Christmas Lights Show

This is a delightful thing to see live or on this video
Updated: 10/19/2016, happynutritionist
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?

When was the last time you were in a City during the holidays? Was it New York City?

happynutritionist on 02/03/2015

@Roberta Baxter It really is a magical place at that time of the year, isn't it? Thank you for your visit and comment. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas season.

Roberta Baxter on 02/02/2015

I lived in the city for 2 and 1/2 years and loved going to the stores and seeing it around Christmas especially.

happynutritionist on 09/04/2014

I am sorry you haven't been to New York during the Christmas season @Sylvestermouse but yes, you can enjoy it through pictures and videos:-) Thanks for your visit.

Sylvestermouse on 09/04/2014

New York City really is beautiful all decked out for the Christmas! I haven't been to NYC during the holidays myself, but I truly do enjoy seeing the pictures and reading about it.

happynutritionist on 09/04/2014

Thank you @Mira - I am Claudia but Cheryl is a nice name, I'll take's hard to believe the season for planning for such trips is here!

Mira on 09/04/2014

Nice article, Cheryl! I really enjoyed it!

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