How to Celebrate the Holiday Season in NYC
December 3, 2018
Like almost everything else in this city, New York goes all out for the holiday season. Storefronts turn into elaborate festive displays, pop-up markets appear seemingly out of nowhere and pine needles scent the air from the Christmas tree street vendors. The influx of tourists is also an indication of the season’s arrival, causing the sidewalks of Midtown to shift from speedy pedestrians to a slow shuffle. So, how does one make the most out of December in the city? You celebrate like a local, of course.
Where to Shop
New York City already has some of the best shopping in the world but when the holiday season comes around, it gets ten times better – the main attribute to this is the emergence of the seasonal holiday markets. You won’t find the generic items here, most of the markets are carefully curated to showcase diverse offerings from small businesses. From handmade ornaments to a brew your own beer kit, the markets have it all. For a full round-up of all the holiday markets, NY Magazine created an incredible list. To get the complete low-down on the vendors, check out the Urbanspace website.
Where/What to Eat
- Lotsa Latkes
Latke fever is in full-throttle and what better way to chow down on New York’s potato pancakes than to sample all of the best in one sitting. On Monday, December 3rd at the Brooklyn Museum, the 10th Annual Latke Festival is organizing a showdown with a special people’s choice award for you to take part in. Be in the company of celebrity judges, eat and drink your way through the night.
- Rolf’s German Restaurant
It may be crowded but if you haven’t strolled into Rolf’s during the holiday season then you have not Chrismas’d. The over-the-top decor is sure to get any Scrooge into a festive mood – plus, there’s beer along with German wintertime specials like wiener schnitzel with spaetzle and sauerbraten.
- Underwest Donuts
New Yorkers know that Hanukkah = Sufganiyot. The round, magic-filled donuts are meant to commemorate the Hanukkah miracle of a small amount of oil lasting for eight nights to keep a menorah lit so it’s only proper to celebrate by eating lots of it. Underwest creates a fun twist to these classics by producing a brioche donut filled with salted caramel, chocolate cream, raspberry pomegranate jam, lavender vanilla or classic dark chocolate.
What to See
We’ve got the classics such as the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center, a Rockettes show and the Midtown window displays, but travel further this year to get in some off-the-beaten-path activities:
- New York Botanical Garden
For all you model train enthusiasts out there, seeing the set-up at the NYBG is a must. The elaborate display highlights over 100 NYC landmarks and for an even better experience, attend Bar Car Nights to enjoy it the adult way – with a cocktail in hand. There will be carolers, ice sculptors and a holiday market to complete the festive scene.
- Historic Homes in Queens
The Queens Historical Society is hosting their annual Holiday Historic Homes Tour, #HollyTour2018 this December 9 from 1 to 5 pm. Learn how different cultures celebrated Christmas on a family-friendly tour packed with cheerful activities, refreshments, and snacks. Some of the notable sites include Louis Armstrong’s home, the Victorian Garden Bird Sanctuary and more.
- Dyker Heights Lights
For the best light displays in the boroughs, you’re gonna want to head to Dyker Heights Boulevard between 83rd to 86th Streets. Most of the neighborhood participates to festoon their homes in the most elaborate and impressive ways. Bring some friends (or a date) and a thermos with your favorite hot beverage for the optimal experience.
For a one-stop for all, embark on our New York City Urban Adventures’ Holiday Sights & Market Tour for a fun-filled day to check all the boxes. After seeing all the iconic holiday sights and learning about their histories, we’ll take you downtown to shop for holiday gifts and treats in some of the most quintessential New York shops and Holiday Markets in the city. Get the inside scoop on how to avoid the crowds, where to find the best vendors and more.