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Our 2023 Picks for Holiday Fun Across NYC

The holiday season in New York City is undeniably iconic, drawing crowds for the Rockettes’ Christmas Spectacular and enchanting Nutcracker ballet performances.

But beyond these typical beloved traditions lie some off-the-beaten-path ideas to get into the festive holiday spirit. Bookmark these during your Nice Stay to make the most of your time in the Big Apple:

1. Get Creative with a Holiday Crafternoon: Participate in unconventional workshops like wreath-making at the Flower School, cooking decorating class at NY Cake Academy or a chocolate-making class at Raaka Chocolate in Brooklyn. These hands-on experiences offer a chance to learn a new skill while getting into the holiday spirit, and can even be perfect for creating awesome gifts. We recommend checking out Classa Bento to explore some more unique options for educational experiences.

2 Spread the Joy and Volunteer: Embrace the true essence of the holidays by participating in one of the many local community service events or volunteer opportunities. Serve meals at local soup kitchens or engage in charity events organized throughout the holiday season. Volunteer New York offers a comprehensive guide to various ways of giving back not just during the holidays but all year round. Similarly, New York Cares provides a great portal to connect directly with charitable organizations looking for assistance all-year round and particularly during the busy holidays.

The world-famous Macy’s, famously portryaed in Miracle on 34th Street, is one of many sites you’re likely to see on a walking tour of famous holiday movie locations.

3. Explore and Learn with a Seasonal Walking Tour: Get immersed in the festive spirit by embarking on themed walking tours like the Holiday Lights & Movie Sites Tour, where you’ll see famous locales from iconic movie scenes and TV shows.  Alternatively, opt for a historian-guided tour of Rockefeller Center, a focal point for holiday tourists, to gain deeper insights into its significance during the festive season.

4. Enjoy a Multicultural Holiday Performances: Our melting pot of a city is a great chance to explore global and local traditions at one of the city’s many cultural institutions. Find a unique show or experience from one of the city’s many groups like Teatro Sea, a bilingual theater company, or The National Asian American Theatre Company. Visit the immersive Winter Lantern Festival which features over 1,000 Chinese lanterns. Or check out Harlem’s famed Apollo Theater for an entire season of holiday programming. The options are endless in NYC, where artists of all types flock to.

A historic photo of the 1941 Coney Island Polar Plunge, courtesy of the Brooklyn Public Library.

5. Take the Polar Plunge (or Maybe Just Observe): You might be surprised to hear Brooklyn’s famed Coney Island isn’t just for summertime fun. One of the area’s most iconic events is the annual New Year’s Day plunge, organized by the Coney Island Polar Bear Club, the oldest “winter bathing club” in America. Even if you’re not daring enough to brave the frigid temperatures, you can still watch the fun and donate to the organization’s cause which raises funds for local non-profits including environmental and educational programming, the arts, and more.

Did we miss anything on our list? We’d love to hear from you about your favorites during the season.