Your Ultimate Guide to NYC for the Holidays
New York is pretty amazing all year round, but there’s one time in particular that you have to experience at least once: the winter holiday season.
Whatever you celebrate, if you’re into spectacular lights, cinnamon cocktails and DIY decor, you’ll find something to do in this veritable smorgasbord of metropolitan festivity.
There’s a lot going on though, from champagne toasting at Brooklyn boutiques to getting lost in holiday windows and watching acrobats in Santa hats. It’s hard to decide which events to pencil into your soiree schedule. That’s why I’m here!
Scroll for an evolving list of my favorite holiday 2016 to-do’s.
Note: This list will be added to as the season progresses! Got a tip? Comment below or email me!
Dec 2: A nomadic fashion pop-up for travel lovers
Image: Alix of Bohemia
RAC (Random Acts of Creativity), a traveling storefront, is hosting a promising holiday pop-up featuring a range of creative designers and artists from around the world. The pop-up will include men & women’s clothing (including one of my fave brands, Alix of Bohemia), accessories, art work, home décor, musical performances, and interactive designs. See a full list of designers here.
Random Acts of Creativity Winter Pop Up @ 345 Broome Street. Friday, December 2 @ 12:00 pm. Get the full details here.
Dec 4: Bushwick Bark’s Awkward Family Holiday Pet Night
Image: Bushwick Daily
Get your photo taken with your Brooklyn family—which could be your roommates, no judgement!—while your furry family members make really weird faces! Bushwick Bark’s Awkward Family Holiday Pet Photoshoot is back, and the results are destined to be hysterical. Dress code? Ugly Christmas sweater, obvs. Booze will be served.
Bushwick Bark’s Awkward Family Holiday Pet Photoshoot @ Precious Metal, 143 Troutman St. Sunday, December 4 @ 2:00PM. RSVP & more info here.
Dec 7—11: The Brooklyn Nutcracker
Image: Brooklyn Ballet
This NY-tastic version of the Nutcracker fuses many genres of dance and draws inspiration from a range of cultural backgrounds to create something entirely new. Expect ballet, hip-hop and “myriad” of world dance. And don’t fret, girl-girls! Froofy ballerina dresses will also be accounted for.
The Nutcracker @ The Brooklyn Ballet. Showing December 7th—1th. 160 Schermerhorn Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201. Click here for performances.
Dec 9: No Office Christmas Party
Image: No Office Christmas Party
For the work-from-home freelancer crowd, missing out on that awkward holiday party with coworkers can be kind of a bummer. For this reason, Brokelyn and the skint are decking their halls for the annual no office Christmas party. Expect photo booths, ugly Christmas sweaters, and drunk freelancers talking about what they’re claiming on their taxes this year.
No Office Christmas Party @ Littlefield. Friday, December 9th, 2016. 622 Degraw St, Brooklyn, New York 11217. RSVP here.
Dec 1o: New Women Holiday Pop-Up Shop
Image: New Women Space
There’s a rad new spot in town for the women of NYC to gather, make art, take workshops and bond over their common interests. New Women Space is in full swing with a full calendar of events through the end of December and the new year, but the highlight is their Holiday Maker Faire: a one day pop-up celebrating “women who make”.
Holiday Maker Faire @ New Women Space. 188 Woodpoint Rd., Brooklyn, New York 11211. Saturday, December 10th from 12:00PM—6:00PM. Details on vendors & workshops here.
Dec 11: Greenpointers Tropical Holiday Market
I’ve been selling and shopping at the Greenpointers holiday markets since 2011. I can’t believe it’s been that long since I first stayed up all night baking and sewing and gluing Christmas ornaments together to sell at this amazing community event! You’ll find everything from classic holiday decor to cheeky cards and mulled wine. They’ve added a tropical twist this year, which is basically a dream come true.
Greenpointers Tropical Holiday Market @ The Greenpoint Loft. Sunday, December 11th. 67 West St, Brooklyn, New York 11222. RSVP here. Satisfy your holiday market addiction with this list.
Dec 11 & 17: Santa Suit 5K
Image: Time Out New York
So maybe the idea of dressing up in a Santa costume and drinking until you puke at 11AM on a Saturday isn’t really your thing. I can’t say running a 5K in a Santa suit is my “thing” either, but I’m more than happy to promote this over NYC’s most hated tradition (ehem, SantaCon). Suit up and get your running shoes ready instead!
Santa Suit 5K from Prospect Park West to Washington Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215. Sunday December 11th & Saturday December 17th, 11:00AM. Click here for details.
Dec 14: Mean Girls Themed Winter Talent Show
Image: Snap Stills/Rex
This one’s for the mean girls… or anyone obsessed with one of the most iconic teen movies of all time! A winter talent show is going down at the Brooklyn Bazaar, complete with sexy Santa costumes and tinsel curtains. Traumatized from your high school run-ins with actual mean girls? No worries. The organizers, BBQFilms, are saying “all cliques and cool moms welcome”.
Mean Girls Themed Talent Show @ Brooklyn Bizarre, Wednesday, December 14th. 150 Greenpoint Ave. Brooklyn, NY 11222. Sign up for ticket alerts here.
Dec 16—22: The House of Yes Christmas Spectacular
Brooklyn’s House of Yes has always been a next-level party venue, from its days as a warehouse with DIY decor to its circusy-sleek new form on Wyckoff Ave in Bushwick. This holiday showcase promises to be acrobatic, eccentric, and alll kinds of magical. Described as a “holiday-flavored entertainment extravaganza of festive intergalactic fantasies”, this is a performance you don’t want to miss. Luckily it runs for several weeks in December!
Christmas Spectatcular @ House of Yes. Runs December 16th—December 22nd. 2 Wyckoff Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11237. Get details and tickets here.
Dec 17: Unsilent Night: Boombox Christmas Carols
Image: Unsilent Night
Tired of traditional caroling? Don’t lie—you haven’t gone caroling since you were in the single digits, right!? Anyway, there’s a grown up NY-tastic version of caroling to be enjoyed, thanks to local composer Phil Kline. Described as “a luminous soundscape played by the audience on boomboxes carried through city streets,” it’s apparently been going on since ’92. Feel free to make it a tradition of your own!
Unsilent Night @ Washington Square Park (meeting point). Starts 6:45PM, Saturday, December 17th. Greenwich Village, New York, NY 10012. Get more details here.
Baita: A Christmas Themed Rooftop Restaurant
Image: Spoiled NYC
Attention snow bunnies! Eataly brought back their much-anticipated holiday rooftop restaurant, brimming with festivity and Christmas cheer, in the theme of an Italian Alps ski lodge. It’s absolutely gorgeous and the menu is mouth-watering. Don’t worry about piling on the sweaters, either—this bright and beautiful space is fully heated through the winter.
Baita @ Eataly. Open now! Hours: Sunday—Thursday, 11:30AM—11PM; Friday—Saturday, 11:30AM—12AM. 200 5th Ave, New York, NY 10010. See the menu & make reservations here.
Get buzzed in an icy blue igloo rooftop bar
Image: 230 Fifth
Is it just me, or is this city KILLING it this year with bizarre and wonderful ways to get holiday-drunk on spiked cider? 230 Fifth turned their rooftop bar into one of the coolest holiday drinking experiences I’ve ever seen. It consists of clear (presumably heated) PVC igloos strung up with colorful lights. They’re not taking reservations, so show up and grab one!
Igloo rooftop bar & penthouse lounge @ 230 Fifth. Located at 230 Fifth Ave at the corner of 27th. Open 7 days a week, 4:00PM—late. Doors close at 2AM. See the menu here.
Holiday Window Tour
Image: Racked NY
Some of the most talented artists and designers in the world collaborate on NYC’s department store windows each holiday season. I love-love-love strolling from store to store, latte in hand. Immerse yourself in countless other worlds just by walking from one window to the next. This is a must-do every year, slow-walking tourists be damned.
Holiday Window Tour, all holiday season @ various locations in Manhattan. Time Out New York broke down the biggest unveilings here and NYC Go has a map here.
Off-Hours Skating At Bryant Park Rink
Image: NYC Parks.gov
Bryant Park completely comes alive during the holidays with an adorable village of lit glass houses, filled with merchants of all kinds. My favorite part, though, is the ice skating rink. I practically lived on ice skates when I was young, and getting on the ice and feeling that cold, fresh air in my face makes me ridiculously happy. Go during non-peak hours (avoid evenings, right after school lets out and weekends) so you have space to practice your double axle. *wink*
Ice Skating @ Bryant Park. Open now! Hours: 8:00AM—10:00PM, Monday—Sunday. Between 5th & 6th Aves and between 40th & 42nd streets. Get more details here.
Eat at Rolf’s
Image: Never Fully Sober
If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like lounge below 15,000 ornaments and 100,000 lights, you can find out at Rolf’s German Restaurant in Gramercy park. This place is celebrated for its savory menu and hyper-festive decor. Order sauerbraten, which takes like 3 days to make… but they’ll be happy to serve it to you.
Rolf’s German Restaurant. Hours; 281 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10010. See the menu here.
Devour fondue in a private yurt with your BFFs
Image: Guest of a Guest
If this isn’t first world, I don’t know what is. You can rent your own yurt in the East Village for a private fondue party, which will put you pretty high on your BFF’s list forever if you manage to score one for their winter birthday. You know, that friend who complains that their party plans always get overshadowed by Christmas? Well, this should shut them up.
Yurts by Narcissa @ the East Village Winter Garden. Located at The Standard, East Village, 25 Cooper Sq. Make a reservation here. See the menu here.
Go see the Rockettes already!
Image: Hey Mishka
I can’t even lie, this is my favorite Christmas tradition (aside from watching cheesy movies and drinking Baileys with mom). The Radio City Christmas Spectacular is incredible, whether you’re a tourist or you grew up in Brooklyn. Good seats aren’t too expensive if you buy in advance, but it’s worth dropping some money on this experience if you can! Go ahead and buy that yearly $15 glass of champagne, and enjoy the show.
The Rockettes @ Radio City Music Hall. Running through the holiday season with multiple shows everyday. 1260 6th Ave, New York, NY 10020. Click here for showtimes & regular priced tickets.
Take a joyride on a vintage subway car
Image: Spoiled NY
Just a few times per year, vintage subway cars that ran between the 1930s and the 1970s are put back on the tracks and decorated with garland and lights. They run from Manhattan to Queens four times, each weekend in December, chocked with holiday shoppers, tourists and curious locals. There’s something about vintage relics of NYC that add some warm fuzzy nostalgia to the holidays… I’m definitely going to catch a ride on one of these this year!
Vintage subway cars running the weekends of 11/27, 12/4, 12/11 & 12/18, via the 6th Avenue line between 2nd Avenue in the Lower East Side and Queens Plaza. To ride, just swipe your normal metro card!
Give back <3
The best thing about the holidays is that warm fuzzy feeling we get from the festivity, the happy gatherings, and the beautiful décor…right? But what about people who don’t get these things? Giving back all year-round is important but it’s even more crucial during the holiday season. Give your old coats to a coat drive, buy a hot cup of coffee for someone you see having a hard time. Donate to your favorite charity. Or just spend some time with people who need an ear to listen to them. A little effort goes a long way.
NYC’s largest winter coat drive with multiple drop-off locations. List of soup kitchens in NYC. List of charity events in NYC during this holiday season. Even more ways to give back.
Got a tip for holiday fun in NYC? Comment below!