The Official Christmas in NYC Guide for 2018

See all of the Christmas shows in NYC 2018. From the Christmas tree lighting at Rockefeller Center, to the amazing Christmas decorations in Dyker Heights, we'll give you an inside look at the best things to do in NYC on Christmas .

In the interactive map above, you'll find fun Christmas activities in NYC (all five boroughs: The Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island). There's no shortage of things to do in NYC for Christmas .

We'll introduce you to some of our favorite NYC Christmas activities--sourced from locals in each neighborhood!

We'll also show you where to buy a Christmas tree from CTB in Manhattan and Brooklyn. If there's no CTB near you, don't worry! You can always order online and schedule your free (satisfaction guaranteed) delivery anywhere in NYC at the time and date of your choosing. 

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Manhattan Christmas Events

Things to do on Christmas and around Christmas in Manhattan.

Santa Rescue at New York City Fire Museum

Ever wonder if Santa ever gets stuck up on a roof while delivering toys and needs help to get down?

In NYC, the big guy can count on help from the intrepid firefighters of the FDNY! On Sunday, December 3 at 11:30 a.m., Santa will be rescued from a rooftop at the New York City Fire Museum located at 278 Spring Street in Manhattan.

This vintage fire station commemorates the storied history of the New York City Fire Department and on display are gear, artifacts and apparatus from the late 18th century to the present.

Viewing the “rescue” is free but tickets are required for the after party at the Museum. Adults pay $8, kids 3-12 $5 for the party and getting a photo with Santa. Be prepared for long lines and bring your own camera.

This is sure to be a memorable event for kids of all ages! Call 212-691-1303 for more details.

New York Stock Exchange Christmas Tree Lighting

The 94th annual New York Stock Exchange Christmas Tree Lighting will take place on Thursday, November 30 at 11 Wall St. in Lower Manhattan with the festivities lasting from 2:30 p.m. until 6 p.m. Performing this year will be the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes, Karen Rodriguez, Jake Miller, the Leman Manhattan Prep School Choir, Chris Barron, Hollis Brown and more.

Z100 on-air personality DJ Niko will emcee while the Harlem Globetrotters, the Budweiser Clydesdales, Miss America Clara Mund and Macy’s Santa will make appearances. Performances will begin at 2:30, followed by the NYSE closing bell at 4 p.m. and the lighting of the tree at 5 p.m.

Performances will continue until 6 p.m. with all the fun free to the public. If you plan to check out this event, be prepared for huge crowds!

Christmas Eve Caroling

Historic Washington Square goes festive when the neighborhood’s official Christmas tree is lighted and carolers fill the streets.

The tree is set to arrive in Washington Square on Monday, November 27 at 4 a.m. and with the tree lighting taking place under the Arch at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, December 6.

The Rob Susman Brass Quartet will lead adults and children in holiday songs at the tree lighting ceremony and again on Christmas Eve under the Washington Square Arch. The Washington Square Association provides complimentary songbooks with favorite traditional Christmas carols. The lights on the Washington Square tree may be enjoyed every evening of the season from 4 p.m. until 1 a.m. 

The annual holiday tree lighting at Washington Square is NYC’s second longest running tree lighting ceremony and an event not to missed if you’re in Manhattan!

Elf the Musical at
Madison Square Garden

Elf: The Musical is a modern holiday classic based on the 2003 movie and centers around an orphaned boy who accidentally crawls into Santa’s sack of gifts, causing him to be transported to the North Pole.

This musical will be playing The Theater at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan nightly from December 13 through December 29 except for December 25. Tickets start at $39 and are available at Ticketmaster as well as other venues.

While Elf: The Musical played on Broadway in 2010 and 2012, the show made its last appearance at MSG in 2015 and may not return any time soon. Elf: The Musical is a must see if you’re going to be spending the holidays in New York.

This is a fun show that is sure to get the entire family in the mood for Christmas !

Winter's Eve at Lincoln Square

Winter’s Eve at Lincoln Square is a must-do if you’re in Manhattan the week after Thanksgiving because it’s New York’s largest holiday festival.

The festivities will kick off on Monday, November 27 at 5:30 p.m. with the Tree Lighting Ceremony at Dan te Park on Broadway between 63rd and 664th Streets. 

Hosting the event will be Lea Salonga from Broadway’s “Once on This Island” with Micky Dolenz of The Monkees headlining. Amy Paidze of WABC-TV will lead the countdown to the lighting of the 27-foot Concolor Fir from Domes Tree Farm in Bliss, New York. Once the lights go on this magnificent tree will be lighting up the Upper West Side throughout the holidays.

The party will continue all evening from Time Warner Center to 68th Street with live music, a dance party and outdoor food tastings. 

Coca-Cola Winter Wonderland

Harlem’s historic Apollo Theater is the place to be for a joyous afternoon of music and holiday fun when the Coca-Cola Winter Wonderland takes over the venue on Saturday, December 9.

From 2 to 6 pm, Billy “Mr. Apollo” Mitchell will host an afternoon of musical performances and holiday-themed activities. A highlight of the day will be picture-taking with Santa Claus.

In addition to enjoying the holiday cheer, attendees can help make Christmas brighter for children by bringing unwrapped new or used books, CDs, clothing and toys for the toy and book drive serviced by Greenhope Services for Women.

Grownups can stick around for the Apollo Amateur Night Holiday Special starting at 7:30 pm. Tickets are $20.

Paul Winter’s Winter Solstice Celebration

Enjoy the true magnificence of the largest cathedral in New York City at Paul Winter’s 38th Annual Winter Solstice Celebration.

This non-religious celebration of the season takes place on three nights in December at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, located at 1047 

Amsterdam Avenue in Manhattan. Since 1980, saxophonist Paul Winter has brought musicians, vocalists and dancers from all over the world to celebrate the winter solstice, the longest night of the year. This year’s performers will include the Paul Winter Consort, brazilian vocalist Fabiana Cozza, tenor Renato Braz, gospel star Theresa Thomasson, renowned oboist Paul McCandless and Procol Harum founder Gary Brooker.

Performances take place December 14, 15 and 16. Tickets start at $40 for general admission and go up to $150 for premium seating.

W. Harlem Piers Park Christmas Tree Lighting

What could be more festive than a night of live music, dancing and hot chocolate with a view of the Hudson River?

Toss in decoration making and a tree lighting ceremony for this holiday party in Harlem! On Saturday, December 9, Summer on the Hudson and the Riverside Park Conservancy will present the annual Christmas Tree Lighting at West Harlem Piers Park.

The fun starts at 4:30 pm and goes until 6:30, or as long as the hot chocolate lasts! Drop by the decoration-making crafts station with the kids and learn how to make your own unique ornaments, then dance the night away.

The location is 125th Street at Marginal Street in West Harlem Piers, Manhattan.

Origami Christmas Tree at the American Museum of Natural History

One of the most delightful sights of the season in NYC is the Origami Holiday Tree at the Museum of Natural History.

Open from November 20 through January 8, the tree is decorated with unique handmade origami ornaments that were inspired by items in the museum’s exhibitions and collections.

In order to complete the hundreds of decorations needed, museum volunteers began folding the ornaments in March and some of those talented elves will be on hand to teach the art of paper folding to visitors of all ages. 

The Origami Holiday Tree has been an annual tradition at the Museum of Natural History for more than 30 years and can be viewed free with museum admission.

The Museum is located at Central Park West at 79th Street in Manhattan and is open from 10 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas .

Winter Family Fair

One of the most beloved works about the season is Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, a tale that touches hearts wherever it is performed.

This year the Morgan Library & Museum in Manhattan will celebrate the holidays with the exhibition Charles Dickens and the Spirit of Christmas on Sunday, December 3 from 2 to 4:30 p.m. 

This presentation by the Grand Faloons Company assembles all five manuscripts of Dickens’s and allows guests to meet characters like Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, the Ghosts of Christmas Past and Present as well as Dickens himself. Strolling musicians and entertainers add to the ambiance. 

Activities include a class in Victorian hat-making by educator Andrea Gray, a photo shoot with hand-made period costumes by Pam Koehler, a gallery tour of Charles Dickens and the Spirit of Christmas and closing carols by the Grand Falloons Company.

The Winter Family Fair takes place at The Morgan Library and Museum ar 225 Madison Avenue at 36th Street from 2 to 4:30 p.m. Tickets are free with museum admission.

Brooklyn Christmas Events

Things to do on Christmas and around Christmas in Brooklyn.

Aviator Sports and Events Center

What could be more fun than an old airline hangar packed with facilities for just about every winter sport you can imagine? 

In 2003, the original hangars of Fort Bennett Field in Brooklyn were combined to form one of the largest sports complexes in the country. With 175,000 square feet of indoor space, this is where New Yorkers go year around to play soccer, go rock climbing or ice skate on two NHL-sized rinks.

For the holiday season, this is the place to have brunch with Santa!

On Sunday, December 17, the Aviator Sports and Events Center will host its annual Brunch with Santa Claus that includes a yummy brunch buffet, cupcake decorating, crafts and a photo with Santa for the kids.

For the grownups, there will be complimentary bloody marys or mimosas! Tickets are $24 for adults, $22 for kids 3-12, babies 2 and under free. This is also a great place to host your own holiday event with ideal spaces, delicious catering and entertaining activities.

Abe Stark Sports Center

Abe Stark Sports Center is a winter wonderland of sports in the heart of Brooklyn. Since 1970 the Abe Stark rink has been the place to go for ice skating on weekends from October through March.

Don’t know how to skate? The Steeplechase Ice Skating Center offers both public and private lessons. It seems hard to believe now looking at this sheet of ice, but the rink was once a saltwater swimming pool called the Ravenhall Baths. After being destroyed by a fire in 1963, the Coney Island summer staple was converted into a cold weather funland.

Get into the holiday spirit here as the rink will be open on Thanksgiving weekend November 24 through 26 from noon to 4 pm. Closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, the rink will reopen December 26 and be in operation from noon until 4 pm through January 1, 2018.

If you’re in Brooklyn and haven’t discovered ice skating yet, what are you waiting for?

Dyker Heights Christmas Lights

If you think that the Rockefeller Square Christmas Tree is the most dazzling display of holiday flash, you haven’t seen the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights!

Every year more than 100,000 people flock to this Brooklyn neighborhood to ooh and ahh over blocks of homes bedecked in tens of thousands of lights. The best times to admire these displays is mid-December through New Year’s Eve, after dark and before 9 p.m., when most homeowners switch off the lights. The place to see these lavish displays is from 11th to 13th Avenues from 83rd to 86th Streets in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn.

The best way to make sure you get the most out of this holiday attraction is to take the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights tour hosted by A Slice of Brooklyn every night in December except Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve.

The tour lasts about 3.5 hours and tickets are $50 for adults and $40 for children under 12. Buy your tickets early because this tour always sells out!

Greenpointers Holiday Market

Why brave the crowded malls when you can find unique gifts in the heart of Brooklyn at the Greenpoint Holiday Market?

Last year’s market attracted fifty vendors selling everything from candy to henna tattoos and this time more than 3,000 shoppers are expected. The 2018 Winter Candyland Holiday Market will take place on Sunday, December 10, from 1 to 7 p.m. and is sure to have something for everybody!

Located of the fifth floor of the beautifully restored Greenpoint Loft at 67 West Street in Brooklyn, this event will showcase the wares of local crafters of food, art, pottery, jewelry and more. Need a photo for your holiday cards? Drop by the photo booth! Shopping for the holidays doesn’t have to be a chore when you can enjoy live music and artisan doughnuts at the Greenpoint Holiday Market!

Santa Suit 5K

Do you love marathons but think of them as a warm weather type of event? This cool yule run could change your mind!

This year’s Santa Suit 5K & Pub Crawl starts Sunday, December 10 at 11 a.m. at Farrell’s Pub on Prospect Park West in Brooklyn. Just pick up your Santa suit at Farrell’s between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. and hit the streets of Brooklyn for 3.1 miles of jogging, running, walking or whatever you want to do since there are no rules and no prizes!

Your reward will be getting your first pint free when you make it back to Farrell’s.

Tickets are $40 for the 5K and pub crawl or $30 for the pub crawl only. What better way to get into the holiday spirit than by quaffing a few pints with a bunch of other crazy people in Santa suits?

Get more details at

WantedDesign Brooklyn
Holiday Market

Whether you’re looking for a unique gift, fresh holiday decor or one-of-a-kind accessories, you’re sure to find something to suit your tastes at the Made in Brooklyn Holiday Market from WantedDesign.

Every day in December, the Holiday Market will be taking place from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the WantedDesign Store at 6 Fulton Street in the Seaport District. More than 20 vendors including Brooklyn Candle Studio, Elodie Blanchard, Assouline, Flaneur, Malle London and Skagen will be showing off their creative wares for your shopping pleasure. Helping to set the festive mood will be activities like card-making classes and entertainment for kids.

Even if you’re just shopping for few gifts, there’s certain to be that special item that will tickle your fancy. If you’re planning a total home makeover, the Holiday Market is a must for textiles, small furniture and well-curated design objects.

Contact [email protected] for more details.

LeFrak Center at Lakeside Prospect Park Brooklyn

Why pay outrageous prices at indoor arenas when you can enjoy skating in the great outdoors with a fabulous winter view for just a few bucks an hour? That’s what you’ll find at the Samuel J. and Ethel LeFrak Center at Lakeside in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park.

During summer, the park’s large arena is used for roller skating, but come winter it’s transformed into a wonderland of ice set in one of NYC’s most delightful parks. Guests can enjoy ice skating seven days a week at low, low rates of $7 per hour on weekdays and $10 per hour on weekends with skate rentals just $7.

Kids of all ages can skate with Santa on Saturday, December 2 and Saturday, December 9, when the park will be open from noon to 9 p.m. You can find the LeFrak Center near the Lincoln Road and Parkside/Ocean Avenue entrances to Prospect Park.

This 585-acre oasis in the midst of NYC provides a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of the city!

Morbid Anatomy Holiday Flea Market

A Morbid Anatomy Flea Market sounds like an event more suited to Halloween than Christmas but this seasonal gathering offers an intriguing batch of wares for shoppers with, shall we say, unusual tastes.

This market will take place on Sunday, December 13, at the Bell House in Brooklyn, just one block from the Museum of Morbid History. Christmas shoppers and antique hunters will find an eclectic collection of items ranging from taxidermy and natural history to one of kind art pieces.

A list of artisans showing off their wares at recent Flea Markets has included Ryan Matthew Cohn of the Science Channel’s “Oddities” with his displays of osteology and antiquities as well as the unusual housewares of Elizabeth New. 

Sure to draw crowds are Daisy Tainton’s mourning rings and insect shadowboxes, or for the truly morbid, the taxidermical curiosities of Amber Joliffe Maykut.

All this will be happening at The Bell House, located at 149 7th Street in Brooklyn. Admission is just $1 but for $11 more you may also attend the Taxidermy exhibition at the nearby Museum.

A Charlie Brown Christmas Live

For generations of kids, it just wouldn’t be Christmas without Charlie Brown! This year the stage production of Charles Schulz’s holiday classic will be presented by the Pig Brooch Theatre Company at the Littlefield in Brooklyn.

This will be the tenth year that this troupe has performed this show in New York City, and a jazz trio will be providing accompaniment on all the beloved Vince Guaraldi tunes that make this special so memorable.

The talented members of the Pig Brooch Theater Company have previously graced the stages of venues like the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, the Metropolitan Opera House and Broadway, so you know you will be seeing an enjoyable rendering of this seasonal favorite. The Littlefield is located at 635 Sackett Street in Brooklyn and tickets are $15 each.

Shows are scheduled for December 16 and 17 at 1 and 3 p.m.

Queens Christmas Events

Things to do on Christmas and around Christmas in Queens.

Astoria Park Christmas Lights

The Great Lawn in Astoria Park, Queens, will be ablaze in dazzling lights on Saturday, December 2 from 2 to 5 p.m. That’s when the Central Astoria LDC will be hosting their 5th Annual Holiday Festival and Tree Lighting Celebration and everyone is invited. Entertainment will be provided by the New York Holiday Choristers, Dave Cremins Out of This World Magic and Holiday Beat. 

During the afternoon there will be free popcorn (as long as it lasts) and Holiday Train Rides (be in line by 4 p.m.). At 5 pm the tree will be lit, getting the borough of Queens in the mood for the holidays!

The Great Lawn in Astoria Park is located on Shore Boulevard between the Hell Gate Bridge and the pool.

Astoria Market Holiday Markets

The Astoria Market is a semi-regular event that gives local crafters, artisans, bakers and other purveyors of handmade merchandise the opportunity to sell their wares at the classic Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden in Queens.

On three Sundays before Christmas , the liveliest of these events takes over the hall as Astoria Market Holiday Markets bring together an eclectic group of vendors offering delicious holiday treats and one-of-a-kind gifts.

The heady scents of eggnog, hot cider, gluten-free baked goods and roasted chestnuts will fill the air as shoppers view the jewelry of Lady M Designs as well as vintage pieces from local sellers. A good time will be had by all on December 3, 10 and 17.

The Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden is located at 29-19 24th Ave. in Queens, between 29th and 31st streets.

World Ice Arena

Want to learn to skate (or just hone your skills) at a rink with reasonable hourly rates and a friendly, relaxed ambiance?

Head over to Queens, where the World Ice Arena welcomes all skaters, from toddlers taking their first turn on the ice to aspiring Olympians. World Ice offers a variety of classes from the Learn-to-Skate program to Advanced Figure Skating, plus public skating.

Prices are $7 weekdays, $10 on weekends and holidays, plus $6 for skate rentals. Unlike many other ice rinks in NYC. World Ice will be open Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, making it a great place to take the whole family for a holiday outing.

World Ice can be booked for birthday parties on weekends and offers special rates for groups, complete with a private lesson from a trained skating coach. World Ice Arena is located in the Flushing Meadows Corona Park Aquatic Center at 13135 Avery Ave. in Flushing, Queens.

City Ice Pavilion

For a fun place to hit the ice on Long Island, you can’t beat the City Ice Pavilion.

This rooftop skating palace in Queens offers private or public lessons, birthday parties and rentals of the private Studio Rink. City Ice will be presenting its annual Winter Icetravaganza Show on Sunday, December 10, from 2:20 to 3:50 p.m. and it’s free.

This is a great chance to check out the City Ice Pavilion while watching performances by some of their star skaters.

Prices are very reasonable at $7 weekdays, $10 holidays and weekends with $6 skate rentals. Love hockey? This is your kind of place, with youth and adult group lessons and its own adult hockey league.

City Ice Pavilion is open 6:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. seven days a week and is located at 47-32 32nd Place in Long Island City.

Staten Island Christmas Events

Things to do on Christmas and around Christmas in Staten Island.

Staten Island Skating Pavilion

This indoor ice palace is the only place on Staten Island that you can skate year-round with public skating every weekend.

If you’re looking for the right spot to throw a birthday party or other event, Staten Island Skating Pavilion has you covered, with packages for 15 kids starting at $405. For competitive figure skaters, the Pavilion has an Elite Training and Bridge Program starting at $264 an hour. 

This year’s Winter Showcase is scheduled for Saturday, December 2 at 5:40 p.m. During the winter, public sessions are happening every weekend and skating lessons are available for kids four and up. If you’re on Staten Island, the Skating Pavilion is a great place to have some cold, clean fun!

The Bronx Christmas Events

Things to do on Christmas and around Christmas in The Bronx.

Holiday Train Show

While toy trains are no longer the most-wanted item on lists for Santa, kids of all ages will be enchanted by this annual event that lights up the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory at the New York Botanical Garden for the holiday season.

From Wednesday, November 22 through Monday, January 16, a collection of intricately constructed model trains make their way through a half-mile of miniature NYC landmarks crafted from all-natural materials like leaves, bark, twigs and berries. In addition to perennial NYC trademarks like Radio City Music Hall and the Empire State Building, this year’s show will feature modern wonders of Midtown Manhattan including the Chrysler Building, the General Electric Building and St. Bartholomew’s Church.

Tickets to are $35 for non-members and $25 for members 21 and over. The New York Botanical Garden is located at 2900 Southern Boulevard in the Bronx.

Exclusively for those over 21 are Bar Car Nights which include an after-dark viewing of the Holiday Train Show with drinks from the venue’s seasonal bars that can be enjoyed around the new Visitor Center Fire Pit.

Bar Car Nights happen from 7 to 10:30 p.m. on November 24 & 25, December 1, 2, 8, 9, 22, 23, 29, & 30 and January 6 & 13. Who says kids get to have all the fun?