Top 10 things to do in New York in December for beautiful 2023

New York City in December is a magical time, with festive lights, holiday markets, and a bustling energy in the air. It is a popular time for tourists to visit, and for good reason – the city is filled with events, activities, and attractions that are perfect for the holiday season. If you’re planning a trip to New York in December, here are some things you won’t want to miss.

First, let’s take a look at what the weather is like during this month. The average temperature in New York City in December is around 40°F (4.4°C), with highs in the 50s°F and lows in the 30s°F. While it can get cold, it’s also not uncommon to have milder days with temperatures in the 60s°F. However, be prepared for snow as it is also quite common during this time of year. On average, New York City experiences around 4 inches of snowfall in December, making it a picturesque winter wonderland.

One of the highlights of visiting New York City in December is experiencing the holiday events and festivals. The city is known for its elaborate Christmas markets, such as the Union Square Holiday Market and the Columbus Circle Holiday Market, where you can find unique gifts and tasty treats. The city is also known for its stunning holiday lights and decorations, with popular spots including the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights in Brooklyn and the Fifth Avenue holiday window displays. The annual Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting is also a must-see event, with live performances and a massive tree adorned with thousands of lights.

For those looking to ring in the new year in New York, the city has plenty of celebrations to choose from. The most famous is the Times Square New Year’s Eve celebration, where thousands gather to watch the iconic ball drop at midnight. Other popular options include watching the fireworks over the Statue of Liberty or attending a New Year’s Eve party at one of the city’s many bars and clubs.

Aside from the special holiday events, there are also many other attractions to enjoy in New York City in December. Ice skating at iconic locations like Central Park and Rockefeller Center is a classic winter activity, while visiting museums and galleries is a great way to escape the cold. Seeing a Broadway show is also a must-do, with many theaters putting on special holiday-themed performances. And of course, no trip to New York City in December would be complete without some holiday shopping at the various markets and stores.

Some tips for visiting New York City in December include dressing warmly and being prepared for snow, as well as booking accommodations and activities in advance to avoid long lines and crowds. Take advantage of off-season deals and discounts to save money. With these tips and the many things to do in New York City in December, you’re sure to have a memorable and festive trip.

Key Takeaways:

  • Experience the magic of New York in December with festive events and attractions such as Christmas markets, holiday lights, and the iconic Rockefeller Center tree lighting.
  • Bundle up and prepare for winter weather in New York with average temperatures in the 30s and the possibility of snow.
  • Make the most of your trip by visiting famous landmarks like Central Park and Rockefeller Center for ice skating, exploring museums and galleries, and catching a Broadway show.

What is the Weather Like in New York in December?

As the holiday season approaches, many people flock to New York City to experience the bustling energy and festive atmosphere. But before planning your trip, it’s important to know what to expect in terms of weather. In this section, we’ll take a closer look at the weather in New York in December, including the average temperature and the likelihood of precipitation and snowfall. By understanding the climate, you can better prepare for your visit and make the most of your time in the city.

1. Average Temperature

In December, the average temperature in New York ranges from 31°F to 42°F. It is important to prepare for the chilly weather by bundling up in warm clothing and dressing in layers to stay comfortable while exploring the city.

2. Precipitation and Snowfall

  • On average, 3.7 inches of precipitation and 4.3 inches of snowfall are expected in New York during the month of December.
  • It is important to be prepared for potentially wet and snowy conditions during your visit.

What are the Main Events and Festivals in New York in December?

December in New York City is a magical time, with a plethora of festive events and activities to enjoy. In this section, we will take a closer look at the main events and festivals that make the city come alive during the holiday season. From charming Christmas markets to dazzling holiday lights and decorations, from the iconic Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting to the epic New Year’s Eve celebrations, there is something for everyone to enjoy in the bustling streets of New York in December.

1. Christmas Markets

  • Explore the enchanting 1. Christmas markets, including the Union Square Holiday Market and Columbus Circle Holiday Market.
  • Indulge in festive treats while browsing through unique gifts and crafts at the 1. Christmas markets.
  • Immerse yourself in the joyful ambiance and live performances at the 1. Christmas markets.
  • Experience the vibrant cultural tapestry and holiday cheer at the 1. Christmas markets.

2. Holiday Lights and Decorations

  • Experience the magic of the holiday season by exploring the stunning lights and decorations throughout New York City, including the iconic displays at Rockefeller Center and the festive window decorations of department stores.
  • Venture to Dyker Heights in Brooklyn to marvel at the beautifully adorned houses and dazzling light displays.
  • Take a leisurely stroll through charming neighborhoods such as Dyker Heights, Bay Ridge, and Park Slope to witness the vibrant and festive holiday decorations.

3. Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting

  • Arrive Early: To secure a great viewing spot, arrive at Rockefeller Center in the afternoon or early evening.
  • Enjoy the Festivities: Take in the live performances and entertainment leading up to the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting.
  • Witness the Spectacle: Experience the magical moment as the stunning tree is illuminated, marking the start of the holiday season.
  • Explore Nearby Attractions: After the lighting, explore the charming holiday displays and attractions around Rockefeller Center.

The tradition of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting began in 1933, during the Great Depression, as a symbol of hope and joy. Today, it continues to captivate locals and visitors, serving as an iconic symbol of the holiday season in New York City.

4. New Year’s Eve Celebrations

  • Experience the iconic New Year’s Eve Ball Drop at Times Square for a thrilling countdown celebration.
  • Secure tickets for exclusive New Year’s Eve parties at popular rooftop bars or clubs.
  • Indulge in a special New Year’s Eve dinner at renowned restaurants offering delectable menus and a festive ambiance.
  • Witness the spectacular fireworks display at strategic vantage points across the city to ring in the New Year in style.

Immerse yourself in the electrifying New Year’s Eve celebrations in New York, enjoying the vibrant atmosphere and creating unforgettable memories.

What are the Best Places to Visit in New York in December?

New York City is a magical place to visit during the month of December. From ice skating in iconic locations to indulging in the holiday spirit through shopping and entertainment, there are endless things to do in this bustling metropolis. In this section, we will discuss the best places to visit in New York during December, including ice skating at Central Park or Rockefeller Center, exploring museums and galleries, catching a Broadway show, and shopping at holiday markets and stores. Each of these activities offers a unique and unforgettable experience that captures the festive atmosphere of the city.

1. Ice Skating at Central Park or Rockefeller Center

When ice skating at Central Park or Rockefeller Center, follow these steps:

  1. Dress warmly with layers to stay comfortable.
  2. Choose the right time to avoid crowds, like early morning or weekdays.
  3. Arrive early to secure tickets and avoid long lines.
  4. Bring your own skates to save money and ensure a good fit.
  5. Enjoy the festive atmosphere and take memorable photos.

Last winter, my friends and I went ice skating at Rockefeller Center. We bundled up, arrived early, and had a fantastic time gliding on the ice while surrounded by the iconic New York City skyscrapers.

2. Visiting Museums and Galleries

  • Plan visits to iconic museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art to explore diverse art collections.
  • Discover unique galleries in the Chelsea and SoHo neighborhoods, showcasing contemporary and avant-garde artworks.
  • Check for special exhibitions or events at each museum or gallery to enhance your cultural experience.
  • Consider guided tours or audio guides for insightful perspectives on the exhibits.

3. Seeing a Broadway Show

  • Research: Discover the newest Broadway shows and read reviews to select the top performance.
  • Booking: Reserve tickets ahead of time to secure preferred seating and avoid any last-minute availability issues.
  • Dress Code: Check the dress code for the particular show and venue to ensure appropriate attire.

Pro-tip: Arrive early to fully experience the lively atmosphere and grab some snacks before the show.

4. Shopping at Holiday Markets and Stores

  • Experience the holiday markets at Union Square and Columbus Circle for one-of-a-kind gifts and delicious festive treats.
  • Check out department stores such as Macy’s and Saks Fifth Avenue for extravagant window displays and holiday shopping.
  • Be sure to visit the Winter Village at Bryant Park, featuring a European-style open-air market with artisanal goods and seasonal food.

Pro-tip: Keep an eye out for special promotions and discounts during the holiday season to maximize your shopping experience.

What are Some Tips for Visiting New York in December?

December is a magical time to visit New York City, with holiday lights and festivities filling the streets. However, this bustling metropolis can also be quite challenging for visitors during this time of year. In this section, we will share some helpful tips for making the most out of your trip to New York in December. From staying warm and dealing with snow to planning ahead and taking advantage of off-season deals, we’ve got you covered for a stress-free and enjoyable experience in the Big Apple.

1. Dress Warmly and Prepare for Snow

  • Layer Clothing: Be sure to dress warmly and prepare for snowy weather by wearing thermal undergarments, a sweater, and a waterproof, insulated jacket.
  • Protect Extremities: Keep your hands, head, and neck shielded from the cold by wearing gloves, a hat, and a scarf.
  • Footwear: It’s important to wear waterproof and insulated boots with good traction to prevent slipping on snowy or icy surfaces.
  • Snow Accessories: Don’t forget to bring along an umbrella, snow boots, and sunglasses to protect yourself from the snow and glare.

2. Book Accommodations and Activities in Advance

  • Research accommodations and activities early to secure preferred options.
  • Consider booking through reputable travel websites or directly with hotels and attractions.
  • Check for special holiday packages and early booking discounts.
  • Confirm cancellation policies and any advance reservation requirements.

In 1907, the Plaza Hotel in New York City became the first in the world to have a telephone and a private bathroom in every guest room, setting a new standard for luxury accommodations.

3. Take Advantage of Off-Season Deals and Discounts

  • Research Off-Season Deals: Utilize online resources to find discounted hotel rates and special package deals for attractions.
  • Subscribe to Newsletters: Sign up for travel newsletters to receive exclusive offers and notifications about off-season discounts.
  • Flexible Travel Dates: Plan your trip during weekdays or mid-December to take advantage of lower rates and fewer crowds.

Did you know? December is an ideal time to experience the festive atmosphere in New York City while enjoying savings on accommodations and attractions.


Frequently Asked Questions

What are some must-do festive activities in New York City during December?

There are countless magical and festive things to do in New York City during December. Some popular activities include ice skating at the iconic rinks in Central Park and Rockefeller Center, admiring the radiant lighting display at the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, and window shopping at the elaborately designed windows on Fifth Avenue.

When does the Tree Lighting Ceremony at Rockefeller Center take place?

The Tree Lighting Ceremony at Rockefeller Center takes place on Wednesday, December 1st. This tradition has been around for 88 years and features performances by the Radio City Rockettes and top singers and bands.

What are some other popular ice skating spots in New York City during December?

In addition to the iconic ice skating rink at Rockefeller Center, visitors can also enjoy ice skating at Wollman Rink in Central Park. This romantic spot offers stunning views of the city skyline and is known for its whimsical wintry scenes.

What are the must-visit holiday markets in New York City?

Some popular holiday markets in New York City include the Union Square Holiday Market, Bryant Park’s Winter Village, and the Grand Central Holiday Fair. These markets offer a fun-filled array of colors, arts and crafts, and delicious gourmet food.

Are there any special experiences for coffee enthusiasts in New York City during December?

Yes, there are several coffee experiences for coffee enthusiasts in New York City during December. These include the Florence by Mills Coffee Experience, where visitors can enjoy a hot drink at the Enchanted Coffee Tunnel, and the Summit One Vanderbilt, offering cosmic wonder and celestial tunes.

How can I see iconic New York City attractions from above?

Visitors can see iconic sights like the Statue of Liberty from above by visiting popular attractions such as the Empire State Building and Top of the Rock. These offer stunning NYC views at no additional cost.