Only in NYC: Must-see Traditions
No matter where you are, the holiday season is usually a festive affair: twinkly lights, cheery music, pumpkin everything, decked-out shops and fresh-air outings.
But in New York City? It's off-the-charts magical — truly, the stuff of legends.
If you're headed to the city for the holidays, consider adding these unforgettable options to your calendar.
Light display Saks Fifth Avenue
Tree lighting + ice skating Rockefeller Center
With more than 50,000 multicolored LED lights, the annual lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting is a sight to behold. This tradition began more than eight decades ago. While the initial lighting event is in late November, the tree and entire square are festively decorated and on display through the end of the year. Afterward, the tree is donated to Habitat for Humanity and used to build homes.
Take a spin around the ice skating rink at Rockefeller Center. This NYC tradition is a quintessential wintertime activity that's set beneath the glow of the well-lit Christmas tree.
In the city that never sleeps — the one so nice, they named it twice — these New York City holiday storefronts are as festive as they get:
The Bank of America Winter Village Bryant Park
Holiday Spirits + Eats
Keeping your energy up for all this holiday revelry is easy in New York City. These bars and eateries are bedecked and bedazzled in high holiday fashion:
- Rolf’s German Restaurant — Over the top Christmas décor in every nook and cranny, in Gramercy Park at 22nd Street and 3rd Avenue.
- Oscar Wilde NYC — A Victorian-styled restaurant and bar (the longest in Manhattan) where “extravagance is always in season,” in NoMad on 27th Street.
- Spyglass Rooftop Bar — Inspired by Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rear Window,” the bar atop Archer Hotel with festive cocktails (including a signature Giving Drink, exclusively available during the holiday season), shareable bites and an up-close view of the holiday-lit Empire State Building.
- Papillon Bistro & Bar — Seasonal exhibitions with sophisticated debauchery and live opera on Saturday nights, plus two bars and a French-American-Italian menu, in midtown on 54th Street.
- Pete’s Tavern — The city’s oldest original bar and restaurant, the ceiling blanketed in red holiday twinkle lights, in Gramercy Park on East 18th Street.
- Molly’s Shebeen — “The most authentic Irish pub in New York City,” with sawdust floors, shepherd’s pie and plentiful Christmas decorations, in Gramercy Park on 3rd Avenue.