Holiday Happenings – Have Some Fun in the City! 

You’ll want to get out and about this holiday season and there’s no better place to enjoy festivities than New York City. You can stroll the markets, enjoy spots that offer specialty food and drink, or delight in some of the most beautiful decorations imaginable. Here are suggestions that will please everyone that includes families, friends groups, couples or those of us who are making solo excursions. Some are familiar, and some are new, but all will put you in the spirit of the holidays!

Urbanspace Union Square Holiday MarketIt is New York City’s longest running holiday market and has been a festive fixture in Union Square for decades. The market runs through December 24 and features over 175 vendors, ranging from global cuisines to original art to handcrafted accessories and so much more. There’s a gift at the Market for everyone on your list!

New York Botanical GardensThe beauty of NYBG never ends and there is a special exhibit that everyone loves this season, the Holiday Train Show.  It returns with an all-new, outdoor train display. Capture photos at the outdoor mountainscapes and then watch trains zip past nearly 200 iconic New York landmarks under the warmth of the Conservatory. After dark, join us for NYBG GLOW and discover the beauty of our landscape and historic buildings, illuminated across the grounds. The fan-favorite Bar Car Nights for visitors 21-and-over are in the evenings featuring the Holiday Train Show and curated cocktails. These special evenings feature music, experiences, food, and more—making for the ultimate night out this season.

Bronx Zoo – It’s a family holiday fest. During the evenings, the park has seasonal cheer with immersive light displays, custom-designed animal lanterns and animated light shows and new lantern displays that showcase the wildlife of New York’s ocean waters and wetlands plus a new interactive experience that celebrates bioluminescent creatures. 

Saks Fifth Avenue  – This is a first! “The Dior Carousel of Dreams” is lighting up the charming edifice of the iconic department store, Saks Fifth Avenue.  While you’re enjoying the beauty of Rockefeller Center, take in the stunning display and be sure to  enjoy the store’s fabulous holiday window displays.  

Loreley Beer Garden is having its popular annual Holiday Winter Wonderland on the Lower East Side returns this week, spreading cheer for the season until January 7. Decked out with over the top holiday lights and décor both indoors and outdoors in the heated beer garden and street side patio, the space will feature light-up reindeer, a giant six-foot snowman, candy canes, a sleigh, gingerbread houses, snow globe display, along with 6 Christmas trees and thousands of ornaments, garlands, bows, crystal icicles and snowflakes hanging from the ceiling.

Circle Line Holiday Lights Tour  – The home of NYC’s most iconic sightseeing boat tours,is inviting all to embrace the holiday season with the launch of its annual award-winning Holiday Harbor Lights Cruise. Circle Line will undergo a festive makeover, magically transforming their fan-favorite Harbor Lights Cruise into a seasonal holiday extravaganza beginning Monday, December 4 and continuing through January 1. This year, Circle Line is thrilled to collaborate with the Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes and the New York Chapter of Toys for Tots to further extending the joy and spirit of giving that the holiday season brings.

Time Out Market New YorkJust steps from the Brooklyn Bridge in Dumbo, Time Out New York has opportunities to enjoy this holiday season like never before. From enchanting holiday decorations to live performances by Christmas carolers, and even surprise visits from beloved holiday characters, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. From now through December 22nd, families can take advantage of the Market’s curated holiday programming, indulge in delicious seasonal treats, and create lasting memories this festive season. 

Metropolitan Museum of Art – The sight of their beautiful Christmas Tree and Neapolitan Baroque Crèche is now on view in the majestic Medieval Sculpture Hall through January 7, 2024.  The 20-foot blue spruce is decorated with cherubs, angels, and an over 70 figures that evoke Nativity scenes in Naples from the 18th century. 

Whiskies of the World® BrooklynAmerica’s highly anticipated tasting event is coming to the Big Apple with over 100 expressions and their makers from across the globe together. It will take place on Saturday, December 9 at The Weylin in Williamsburg. From rare and exotic expressions to household favorites, this one-of-a-kind tasting event is the perfect chance for guests to broaden their palates and discover the wonderful world of whiskey like never before. Attendees will have the opportunity to partake in a series of master classes led by world-renowned whiskey experts to learn the history of their favorite brands and how to properly taste and pair different whiskeys. Attendees must be 21+ to attend.  

Cookie Fest – Yumm! The first ever Cookiefest that is being hosted by The Good Batch is taking place on December 2nd from 2 pm to 5 pm at Market 57. The Good Batch is the famed cookie destination and neighborhood bakery from chef and founder, Anna Gordon.  To kick off the festive holiday season, The Good Batch will be hosting an afternoon full of dessert-themed holiday activities. Tickets are available for $15 via Eventbrite, with proceeds to be donated to Food Bank For New York City.  

Macy’s Santa Land NYC– As in recent years, seeing Santa Claus has timed reservations so you don’t have to wait in endless lines get a photo or have the little ones see Santa.  You can make a reservation 5 days in advance and be sure to check the hours of operation.  Located on the 8th floor of Macy’s Herald Square, this is certain to be a memorable part of your holiday happenings. 

Creamline is the farm-sourced American classics restaurant in partnership with Ronnybrook Farm. To celebrate the holiday season, Creamline will be hosting Boozy Gingerbread House Building Events at their Gotham West Market location on December 12th and their Chelsea Market location on December 13th, from 6-8pm. Guests will have a chance to build gingerbread houses while enjoying holiday-themed music and dishes from the menu. Tickets can be purchased on Eventbrite (Gotham West, Chelsea) for $55, which includes not only the gingerbread house, but also the choice of a burger or sandwich (including the Rosekrans Farm Cheeseburger, Buffalo Chicken Sandwich, Honey Butter Chicken Sandwich, and Grilled Cheese), side, and a boozy milkshake. 

These are just some of the holiday joys that are available to New Yorkers and guest of the city. Explore, experience and enjoy!

Top photo: Shutterstock

About Marina P. Kennedy (157 Articles)
Marina Kennedy began her writing career when her four children were grown and she returned to college to study in the humanities. She is delighted to be a contributor for Woman Around Town. The majority of her articles focus on the culinary scene, theatre, and travel. Marina and her husband Chuck enjoy the rich cultural experiences of the New York metro area and beyond. She hopes that readers like reading her articles as much as she enjoys writing them.