As one of the most fast paced and high energy cities in the world, New York City is the place to be for the holidays! The Big Apple goes all out with lights, shows, shopping, ice skating and more, and we’ve got the best places right here.
If you need to find gifts to bring back for yourself and your loved ones, check out NYC Inspired Holiday Gifts
From the biggest seasonal shows you can’t miss, to New York’s holiday secrets, we’ve got you covered. Whether you’re on vacation, visiting, or recently become a resident, you’ll want to hit up at least one of these exciting holiday events!
We've also saved you time by pairing each event with the perfect gift that embodies the spirit of the holidays!
1. The New York Botanical Garden’s Holiday Show
This exquisite experience is a well-kept secret tradition of the New York locals! Promising to be bigger than ever this year to celebrate their coming anniversary, the New York Botanical Gardens have pulled out all the stops on this years’ show, which feature over 150 handmade replicas of NYC landmarks. “Light Up the Night” live performances, ice sculpture demonstrations, and an incomparable tour through the sparkling, lit up gardens and some fine dining to top the night off.
As the model of NYC is built almost entirely out of wood, it goes with saying that this show calls for an equally unique gift made of... wood! Rated the #1 NYC Travel Gift by Forbes, the New York Cube is made of 7 different kinds of wood (oak, maple, pine, walnut, birch, rosewood, and cherry). Check it out in store!
2. Radio City Christmas Spectacular
Easily the most iconic holiday show in NYC, it will run from November 28th - January 1st. Even if you don’t get tickets to the show, we recommend checking out the marvelous decorations that surround the theater. You won’t be sorry.
The perfect gift to go with this occasion? A spectacular set of Broadway musical inspired jewelry! Crafted by master jewelers here in New York City, the dazzling selections are more than a perfect match. Find them HERE.
This tradition is a global symbol that the Christmas season has officially begun, and that’s especially true in the heart of the city.
This year the tree will be lit on Wednesday, November 29th with live performances beginning at 7 pm. If you can’t make it to the lighting, then come anytime in December to enjoy the fantastic light display and some excellent ice skating!
Treat your own Christmas Tree to NYC inspired handcrafted ornaments! With plenty of options, you can pick them out as a set, or individually. See the entire collection at Souvenirs NYC.
4. Thanksgiving Day Parade
A New York City pre-Christmas tradition since 1926, this year's parade is one you shouldn’t miss, especially if you’re here in the city. The parade starts at 9 am on Thanksgiving Day and features a plethora of dancers, cheerleaders, circus performers, floats, giant balloons, bands, and of course, live music from famous performers.
This year promises to be larger that ever. It'll feature tons of celebrity performances, new floats and balloons, and even a performance from a Broadway musical cast! Get there early to beat the crowd.
This hand blended Holiday Spice Set is perfect for Thanksgiving! Made in Brooklyn by master chefs, it has 24 different spices crafted for poultry, baking, brining, and mulling. So whether you're baking a pie, roasting turkey, or brewing apple cider, this gift set has you covered. Pick one up HERE.
5. World’s Largest Menorah Lighting: Annual Festival of Lights
For eight nights every holiday season, Brooklyn's Grand Army Plaza welcomes thousands of visitors who gather around a 32-foot (the maximum allowed by Jewish law), 4,000-pound menorah, which is the world's largest and a symbol of the Annual Festival of Lights.
The holiday begins this year on December 12th, when community leaders and special guests will gather for a public celebration featuring live music, special gifts for children and hot latkes for all.
6. Grand Central Terminal Holiday Laser Light Show
Even on its own Grand Central is an unmissable stop for anyone visiting New York, but it gets extra tricked out for the holidays. Marvel at the fabulous laser light show displayed on its famous domed ceiling all season long, and stay for the Christmas shopping booths.
Light your way with lamps that feature the MTA subway map, or even some of the finest Brooklyn graffiti. Each one is hand made with film grade inks, and clay bases that are fired in a kiln. Pick one up as a souvenir, or as the best gift ever!
7. St. John the Divine’s Winter Solstice Show
For those wanting a live show experience that’s a little less well known and less touristy, this show is by far the best alternative to the Radio City Christmas Spectacular.
Held live in the stunning St. John the Divine’s Cathedral on 1047 Amsterdam Ave in Manhattan, it’s an exclusive extravaganza of music, dance, and chillingly beautiful winter solstice rituals that can only be seen on the longest night of the year. This performance is only held Dec. 15-17, so catch it while you can!
Stay on time with this gorgeous cut out clock made from an actual vinyl record! Check out selections in store.
8. Brooklyn BAM's "The Nutcracker"
Another alternative to the Christmas Spectacular show, Brooklyn’s version of the Nutcracker promises to be even more awe-inspiring than the well to do Lincoln Center Version.
This year BAM’s Nutcracker features over 100 performers all decked out in costumes designed by the award winning Broadway costume designer of the Lion King musical, Richard Hudson. If there’s any holiday show that’s an absolute must see of 2018, it’s this one!
For more of that classic New York, Brooklyn feel, this wood block home decor featuring the Brooklyn Bridge makes for a beautiful gift and souvenir. The wood grain shows through on each piece, creating a unique item every time.
New Yorkers are infamous for their holiday spirit, and there’s one place that shows it best. To catch the best NYC neighborhood for home decorations, follow the local crowds and buses out to southwestern Brooklyn, where the residents of this largely Italian-American enclave pull out all the stops.
Known to some as "Dyker Lights," the largest concentration of eye-popping displays can be found from 83rd to 86th Streets, between 11th and 13th Avenues.
Roughly 250 homes participate; yards are filled with every decoration and nativity scene imaginable, and miles of lights are draped over every surface in sight. Once your eyes have taken in their fill of phenomenal displays, grab yourself some of the best Italian cuisine in Brooklyn.
Don't get lost in Brooklyn! With this swanky laser cut Steel Map, you can explore the neighborhood like a local. Comes with the black from and looks amazing in any home or office. The store that sells it also carries a New York City Steel Map as well, so check them out HERE!
10. Historic Richmond Town, Staten Island
For an intimate holiday experience providing a fun, educational look back in time, head to Staten Island's Historic Richmond Town. The village is filled with holiday decorations and nostalgia from past centuries, featuring educators and reenactors who help explain the holiday traditions of yesteryear.
Holiday highlights include Christmas in Richmond Town (Dec. 8) and festive candlelight tours (Dec. 13). Plus, riding on the Staten Island Ferry is a great way to pass right by the Statue of Liberty and see it up close without the huge lines. Don’t forget to selfie!
11. Park Avenue's Manhattan Lights
One of the city's most famous avenues never looks better than it does during the holidays, when it transforms into a festively illuminated promenade.
Hundreds of fir trees are lit up along a 2.5-mile stretch between 54th and 97th Streets The tradition began in 1945, when numerous Park Avenue families wanted to honor those who died in World War II.
Today, the trees serve as a symbol of peace and a reminder of those who have lost their lives defending our country.
Now there’s no excuse to miss out on New York’s holiday spirit! Try to get around to at least a few of these great shows before you leave and don’t forget to grab some gifts too! Need some ideas? Check out our NYC Inspired Holiday Gift Guide of 2018.