Christmas in New York City

A sea of lights, festive XXL decorations, and fantastic show highlights: no other city embodies the magic of Christmas like New York. Come with us to visit the top attractions and take the most beautiful tours in the wintry Big Apple.

Top attractions for Christmas

Every year, New York's unique attractions transform the city into a glittering wonderland that captivates millions of visitors from around the world. The following highlights are not to be missed on Christmas in New York City:

Rockefeller Center

What would the magic of lights in Manhattan be without the most famous Christmas tree in the world? The trees at Rockefeller Center are iconic: they have been selected each year since 1933 from dozens of applications from across the country. The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is delivered as early as mid-November and, after a two-week decoration period, is ceremoniously illuminated for the first time in front of an audience and to thunderous applause during the Tree Lighting Ceremony - Rockefeller Center Plaza becomes a Christmas wonderland!

The Rockefeller Christmas Tree 2023

This year marks the 91st anniversary of the tradition of the festively decorated Rockefeller Christmas Tree!

The Rockefeller Christmas Tree 2023 comes from the town of Vestal in New York State. The Norway spruce, which is over 24 m high and is 80 years old, will be brought to Manhattan on November 11th, where a decoration team with over 50,000 multi-colored LED lights and Swarovski crystals is already waiting for America's most famous Christmas tree.

The festive Tree Lighting Ceremony 2023 will take place on November 29th and will be broadcast live on NBC.

Another Christmas highlight awaits you at the foot of the tree: Rockefeller Rink. The skating rink is not just open during Christmas, but all winter long, yet under the twinkling lights of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, it's just twice as nice on the ice!

Dyker Heights

The Dyker Heights neighborhood in Brooklyn is a pilgrimage site for Christmas lovers from all over the world. The holiday frenzy began around 30 years ago when some residents began opulently decorating their homes and front yards. Today, the makeover of New York's famous Christmas district starts as early as shortly after Thanksgiving.

During Advent, the streets get quite busy as numerous tours take tourists to the most festively decorated homes. By the way, the Christmas decorating fever results in electricity bills of up to $3,000 for the residents of Dyker Heights.

Wollman Rink

Skating fans in New York have another excellent alternative to Rockefeller Center: Wollman Rink in Central Park. In front of the impressive skyline of the Uptown New York skyscrapers, you can do your pirouettes on the ice here from October to April. Particularly ambitious skaters can sign up for courses in figure skating and ice hockey.

Central Park horse carriage ride

A horse-drawn carriage ride through Central Park is an absolute New York highlight at any time of year. But when the 3.4 km2 wide green lung of Manhattan turns into a snow-covered winter wonderland, you'll especially love a horse-drawn carriage tour. Wrap yourself up in warm clothes, grab a hot drink, and enjoy the ride through the magical winter forest!

New York christmas markets 2023

To get into the spirit of festivity, a visit to the Christmas market is a must. Whether traditional or extravagant, you'll find everything your heart desires in New York City:

Winter Village in Bryant Park

Nowhere can you enjoy your Christmas eggnog against such a spectacular backdrop as in the Winter Village in Bryant Park. New York's largest Christmas market is located between Fifth and Sixth Avenue amid Manhattan's skyscrapers. In addition to the approximately 130 stores, a free ice-skating rink, the restaurant "The Lodge," and cozy igloos for you and your friends guarantee an unforgettable experience.

Bryant Park in winter

Holiday Market at Union Square

If you're craving a few European vibes on your trip to New York, head to the Holiday Market at Union Square between November 16th and December 24th, 2023. Since this traditional market has been around for more than a quarter of a century and is modeled after Christmas markets in Europe, you'll have no problem getting a cup of mulled wine here. You'll also find a variety of specialty food and craft stores, a children's art studio, and live music.

Columbus Circle Holiday Market

The Columbus Circle Holiday Market is located in the Southwest corner of Central Park. From November 28th to December 31st, 2023, you can enjoy all the splendor of winter in New York City and do your Christmas shopping while strolling among the 100 or so stands – from crafts and jewelry to housewares and local delicacies, it's all here!

Christmas market impressions

Grand Central Holiday Fair

Do you want to experience the Christmas market feeling without freezing outside in sub-zero temperatures? Anything is possible in New York – at the indoor Grand Central Holiday Fair in Vanderbilt Hall, more than 40 stores are waiting for you from November 13th to December 24th, 2023! If you're looking for unique gifts, the Grand Central Holiday Fair is the place to go, as you'll find many quality products handcrafted in the USA from regional materials.

Market at Westfield World Trade Center

The pop-up Christmas market called The Market at Westfield World Trade Center in the futuristic Oculus is a must-see! From November 25th, 2023, to January 2nd, 2024, the already spectacular World Trade Center train station is enriched by festive decorations and a wintry village with about 20 stores for gifts, souvenirs, and food.

The American Dream recommends:

On a city break in New York, the vacation budget can be used up pretty quickly. However, with a New York Pass, you can save big on admission to New York's most popular attractions, museums, and tours!

The choice of New York Passes is huge. We have compared all the popular offers in our extensive New York Pass comparison and reveal which New York Pass best suits your travel plans.

Click here for our extensive New York Pass comparison!

Christmas Shopping

What would the Christmas season in New York be without a stroll through the festively decorated department stores? Your search for Christmas gifts for USA lovers will surely bring you to the most famous shopping icons in New York City.

Fifth Avenue

Don't miss New York's famous Fifth Avenue on your Christmas shopping trip. Stroll among the opulently decorated shop windows and lose yourself among 1,001 shopping opportunities. Disney, Prada, Armani, Nike, Elisabeth Arden, and many more: there's hardly a brand you won't find on Manhattan's finest boulevard. Enjoy your shopping!

Channel Gardens

In winter, the fountains in the Channel Gardens in Rockefeller Center are turned off and decorated with oversized Christmas angels. In a festive atmosphere, you can browse for gifts in the exclusive boutiques and stores around the granite pools. If you let your gaze wander a few meters further in the direction of Saks Fifth Avenue, you will marvel at the spectacular light show at the facade of the luxury department store, which tells a different Christmas story every year.

Santaland im Macy’s

The famous US department store chain Macy's has been celebrating its Christmas tradition since the early 1860s. When you enter the Santaland Christmas Village at the Macy's flagship store in Herald Square, you embark on a magical journey to the North Pole, where you can visit Santa's workshop, walk among snow-covered trees, and chat with Santa's elves – and, of course, you can shop for Christmas gifts at the 10-story Macy's New York.

Macy's in New York

FAO Schwarz

FAO Schwarz is not only the oldest toy store in New York, but it's also the most famous one: between stuffed animals, Barbie dolls, and Lego bricks, movies like "Toy Story 3," "Home Alone 2: Lost in New York," and "Big" with Tom Hanks have been filmed here. Even if you don't want to get children's gifts – you shouldn't miss the decorations in this New York Christmas hotspot!

Dylan’s Candy Bar

Not only toys but also sweet treats will put a smile on the faces of all children (and adults). That's why you should definitely stop by Dylan's Candy Bar on Third Avenue during your New York shopping tour. In this candy paradise, you'll find three whole floors full of sweet temptations.

Restaurant tips

After a long shopping trip, you'll probably want to strengthen yourself a bit. Of course, you don't have to miss out on the obligatory portion of Christmas spirit when you visit a restaurant in New York.

Rolf's Bar & Restaurant

An institution in December is Rolf's German Restaurant on Third Avenue. During Advent, its dining room is transformed into a magical Christmas setting of twinkling lights and decorated garlands. Indulge in traditional German dishes like a roasted suckling pig, sauerbraten, potato pancakes, and a real German Pilsner or Hefeweizen while enjoying the cozy Black Forest atmosphere.


The Clement restaurant at the posh Peninsula Hotel offers a three-course Christmas menu for families. In addition to a variety of main courses such as fillet of beef, turkey, or turbot fillet, you can also look forward to a large appetizer and dessert buffet. A visit from Santa Claus makes the dinner a highlight for young guests.

Christmas table set

La Goulue

True gourmets can add a good dose of French charm to their Christmas celebration. The restaurant La Goulue on the Upper East Side impresses not only with its Christmas ambiance but also with authentic French delicacies. On the menu, you'll find delicacies like tuna tartare, butternut squash soup, pumpkin pie, and pecan mascarpone napoleon.


A mix of Christmas coziness and Spanish fire awaits you at Manhattan's Boqueria restaurants. At Christmas, Mediterranean specialties like Suquet de Rape y Marisco (monkfish and seafood stew) are on the menu. But be sure to leave plenty of room for a slice of Christmas almond-hazelnut cake with Spanish nougat!

Serra Alpina at Eataly

Serra Alpina rooftop restaurant always changes its decoration with the seasons. In winter, a magical landscape with trees, artificial snow, and a cozy atmosphere awaits you. Since the rooftop terrace is glazed, especially on snowy days, you'll get into the Christmas spirit in no time. Treat yourself to a hearty risotto and a cool coffee cocktail in this magical ambiance!


In December, the entertainment metropolis of New York shines with shows that will get you in the mood for Christmas. These highlights make for a perfect evening out in New York:

Radio City Christmas Spectaculars

New York's most popular Christmas show, the Radio City Christmas Spectaculars, can be found at Radio City Music Hall, the Christmas hotspot Rockefeller Center. The unique performance of the "Rockettes," a mixture of dance, song, and humor, has a long tradition. They have been providing the best entertainment since 1931 and are sure to enchant you, too!

New York City Ballet

A perfect combination of classical elegance and a Christmas atmosphere can be experienced when attending a performance of the New York City Ballet. During Advent every year, the curtain rises for the largest American ballet company to perform Christmas pieces such as The Nutcracker.

Ballet performance

Broadway Under the Stars

Do you want to get a taste of Broadway for free? Every Monday from November 13th through December 11th, 2023, The Shops at Columbus Circle will give you a very special Christmas gift with their free concert series, Broadway Under The Stars. Under the 12 giant stars of the Time Warner Center, you can expect performances from these popular musicals:

  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
  • Miss Saigon
  • Wicked
  • Chicago
  • Once on This Island

Harlem Gospel Concert

Even if you're not usually a churchgoer, the incomparable atmosphere and positive energy of a live gospel concert in New York will leave a lasting impression on you! New York City's best gospel singers await you at a traditional Harlem Gospel Christmas concert.

NYBG Holiday Train Show

For more than 30 years, a visit to the Miniature Wonderland at the warm Enid A. Haupt Conservatory has been a popular holiday tradition for New Yorkers and New York vacationers. From November 16th, 2023, to February 25th, 2024, you can see numerous model trains as well as famous Manhattan landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge, and Rockefeller Center.

New Year's in New York

Are you planning to stay a little longer in New York? Good decision; you will also be very well entertained on New Year's Eve in the USA.

For more than 100 years, the world's most famous New Year's Eve party has been held in New York's Times Square. Mingle with the celebrating crowds and get excited about the traditional ball drop, with which the "city that never sleeps" greets the new year at midnight.

You can enjoy the opulent fireworks display throughout all of Manhattan. Get a good view of the spectacle from Central Park, Battery Park, or Prospekt Park, for example. If you don't feel like crowds, you can also welcome the new year during a boat trip on the Hudson River.


Do you have more questions about organizing your New York trip? Here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions and a few tips to help you save money:

How much does a flight to New York cost?

There are direct flights from Europe (e.g., London, Paris, Frankfurt am Main) to New York starting at around €350. Since Christmas in New York is one of the most popular travel times, you should start planning early and book your flight well in advance of your trip to still get a ticket bargain.

What is the cheapest transfer from New York JFK Airport?

The cheapest transfer option to New York is by public transport. You can take the AirTrain from New York JFK Airport to Jamaica Station or Howard Beach Station. There, you can change to the subway. Depending on which part of the city you want to get to, you can take the lines E, J, and Z, or the A-line. Calculate a ticket price of $10.50 for the combination of AirTrain and subway.

How do I get from Newark Airport to New York?

Many international flights arrive at Newark Airport in New Jersey. The airport is located just a few kilometers from New York and is very well connected to Manhattan. You can either take a shuttle bus for around $17 or use a mix of AirTrain and NJ Transit for a ticket price of about $15.

Do I need a visa for my New York trip?

Yes, you generally need a visa to enter the USA. However, for the 41 countries in the Visa Waiver Program, there is an inexpensive and uncomplicated alternative: the ESTA travel authorization allows a visa-free stay in the United States for up to 90 days.

ESTA – visa-free to the USA

With an ESTA, you can stay 90 days visa-free in the USA. Apply online now!

Are there sightseeing discounts for New York?

Besides the Christmas highlights, do you still want to visit some attractions like the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, or the 9/11 Museum? Then, you can save a little on your Christmas shopping budget by booking a New York Pass in advance, which allows you to save big on admission to popular attractions. Find out which of the various offers is particularly worthwhile for your planned sightseeing tour in our big New York Pass comparison.

Let's go to New York!

Did we awaken your desire to travel? Then we suggest you book your flight right away! And to make sure you have enough money left over for Christmas shopping in New York, we will tell you how to get the best ticket bargain in our guide to cheap flights to the USA!