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9 Festive Things To Do in NYC in December 2019

Category Broadway

|by Mark Robinson |


Including Broadway shows, pop-ups, holiday tours, cruises and more

New York City is a thrilling place in the month of December, especially in the weeks leading up to the holidays. With so much for families and friends to enjoy there, it might seem overwhelming to figure out where to start. This is where we offer some suggestions of where and how to get the most out of your December visit to the Big Apple.

Visit Rockefeller Center and other New York landmarks this holiday season (Photo: iStock)

Visit Rockefeller Center and other New York landmarks this holiday season (Photo: iStock)

See the Tree at Rockefeller Center
The towering Christmas Tree at New York City’s Rockefeller Center is a must-see, a festive display of lights and ornaments breathtakingly hypnotizing passersby. This annual tradition is a favorite of Big Apple visitors during the holiday season. To add to the fun, consider booking the Rockefeller Center Tour, an hour-and-fifteen minute guided walk through the historic plaza, offering insights into how it came to be and the stories behind the buildings that helped frame this iconic destination. After your tour, maybe go skating in the on-site ice skating rink, or stop by City Winery Pop-Up At Rockefeller Center, elegantly decorated transparent, heated domes, for a class of wine or mulled cider.

Lighting Ceremonies of the World’s Largest Hanukkah Menorahs
The “Festival of Lights” is celebrated in Manhattan and Brooklyn in grand style with the lighting ceremonies of the world’s largest menorahs. These 400-pound, 32-foot tall symbols of the Jewish faith are remarkable in their glory. They can be found both at the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan and at the Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn. The event begins at 5:30 p.m., on Fridays at 3 p.m. and Saturdays at 8 p.m. for the Manhattan location. In Brooklyn, the lights will be on at 6 p.m., on Friday at 3 p.m. and on Saturday at 7 p.m. Along with the ceremony, there is food and music. Hanukkah is celebrated from Dec. 22-30 in 2019.

Visit the Holiday Markets
Around the holidays, some wonderful markets pop-up around the metropolis, little villages, in fact, that make for fun ways to do your holiday shopping. Each market has its own special array of handmade crafts, clothing, novelties and food. Among the locales for this shopping experience are The Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park, The Columbus Circle Holiday Market, and The European Union Square Holiday Market. A great way to experience some of these shopping destinations and also enjoy the yuletide décor the city has to offer is to get tickets for the New York Holiday Lights and Christmas Markets Tour. It will prove a memorable outing full of seasonal charms and delights.

Holiday Offerings on Broadway
There is nothing quite like seeing a Broadway show, and this Christmas holiday the Great White Way is overflowing with shows that will make your holiday merry and bright. From a new production of Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol and the annual Radio City Christmas Spectacular (with the Rockettes), to the novel offerings of such shows as Slava’s Snowshow, The Illusionists – The Magic of Christmas and Harry Connick, Jr. – A Celebration of Cole Porter, all will have you in awe of the talent and spectacle to be found on the Broadway stage. There are even family-friendly classics courtesy of Disney such as Aladdin, The Lion King and Frozen to put smiles on everyone’s faces.

The Ride – Mobile Entertainment
For a unique interactive, multimedia experiential tour of New York City, why not take “The Ride” by Mobile Entertainment. Two guides take you on a site-seeing tour of the Big Apple, as you ride in comfort aboard a multi-million dollar motor coach and moving theatre with floor to ceiling glass windows and stadium seating. You’ll get to see Times Square, The Chrysler Building, Grand Central Station, The Empire State Building, 42nd Street, Shubert Alley, Broadway, Carnegie Hall, Columbus Circle, Central Park, Fifth Ave., and much more. Also available is The Ride: Holiday Edition, which makes a special treat out seeing NYC as it is transformed for the season.

NYC Nightclub Experience
For those who enjoy an evening on the town, the NYC Nightclub Experience might just be the excursion for you. Guests are given the VIP treatment at three of New York’s premiere nightclubs, dancing the night away and mixing with those who take partying to a whole new level. Participants in the experience must be at least 21-years-old and the party doesn’t get underway until 10:45 p.m.

Santa Land at Macy’s
For the kids, the annual trip to sit on Santa Claus’s lap to whisper in his ear what they want for Christmas can be one of the most-memorable parts of the holidays. Macy’s Department Store in Herald Square makes this tradition about as magical as it can be with “Santa Land.” Visiting the eighth floor of the famous department store of Miracle on 34th Street fame, visitors wend their way through a Christmas wonderland as they queue up to visit Saint Nick. At the NYC Macy’s location only, guests can book their visit with Kris Kringle in advance, skipping the wait.

Disney’s Frozen 2 Enchanted Forest Experience
Saks 5th Avenue is all decked-out for the season in celebration of Disney Pictures’ release of Frozen 2. Before you enter the building, check out the enchanting window displays depicting scenes of your favorite characters like Elsa, Anna, Olaf and friends. Inside the flagship store, guests can purchase tickets for the “Frozen 2 Enchanted Forest Experience,” an immersive journey into the magical world of Arendelle. Saks will donate $5 from the sale of each ticket to New York-Presbyterian Phyllis and David Komansky Children’s Hospital. For Frozen fanatics and the especially the kiddos, this is a unique and spellbinding experience.

Hornblower Christmas Cruises
Take a Christmas excursion on the waterways surrounding New York City with Hornblower Cruises. Choose from the Christmas Eve Dinner Cruise with Santa, a family-friendly jaunt that is a three-hour adventure around New York Harbor, with jolly, old Saint Nick along for the ride. Enjoy a buffet of holiday favorites like maple-glazed turkey breast, stuffing, and a carving station featuring herb-encrusted sirloin. There is also The Christmas Eve Jazzy Champagne Brunch, which might be more your speed. Guests enjoy unlimited mimosas as they set sail, taking in the sites of the New York City skyline, Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty, accompanied by the music of a jazz trio. A holiday-themed buffet, including tempting desserts and a chocolate fountain make this cruise an out-of-the-box way to spend Christmas Eve.

Mark Robinson is the author of the two-volume encyclopedia The World of Musicals, The Disney Song Encyclopedia and The Encyclopedia of Television Theme Songs. His latest book, Sitcommentary: The Television Comedies That Changed America, released on Oct. 15. He maintains a theater and entertainment blog at markrobinsonwrites.com.

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