• Lobby Christmas Tree

7 NYC Holiday Traditions You Don’t Want To Miss

New York during the holiday season has a magic entirely of its own. From long-standing spectacles like the New York City Ballet performing The Nutcracker at Lincoln Center, and The Christmas Spectacular starring The Radio City Rockettes; to annual pilgrimages to favorite trees around town — like the Norway spruce at Rockefeller Center and the elaborately decorated Neopolitan tree and Baroque crèche at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; to more personalized experiences like dim sum in Chinatown on Christmas Day, there is no end to the holiday traditions you can make your own.

Here are a few of the festive happenings around town that our guests look forward to every holiday season.


Prospect Park Alliance
Photo courtesy of Prospect Park Alliance

Menorah Lighting

Both Manhattan and Brooklyn have flagship menorah lighting celebrations every night of Hanukkah, with a special kickoff event with live music and dancing on the first night. In Manhattan, weighing in at 4,000 pounds, the world’s largest menorah presides at Fifth Avenue and 59th Street. In Brooklyn, piping hot latkes and gifts for children are distributed each night the menorah illuminates Grand Army Plaza.


Tree Lights in Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Photo courtesy of Brooklyn Botanic Garden

More Holiday Lights

The neighborhoods, parks, and urban developments around NYC are constantly outdoing themselves in their ongoing quest to have the best holiday light show in the city — and New Yorkers and visitors benefit from the friendly competition. Hudson Yards highlights their holiday activities — which include skyscraper ice skating at The Edge, photo ops with Santa, and lots and lots of shopping — with a display of more than two million lights, including those adorning a giant hot air balloon centerpiece, and a lit menorah during the evenings of Hanukkah. The winding pathways of Central Park have a romantic glow every evening beginning at the end of November, and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden has a ticketed “lightscape” stroll.


Bryant Park coffee women

Bryant Park

We have a special place in our hearts for Bryant Park all year long, but during the holidays it evokes a certain fairy tale magic. The Winter Village includes a holiday market, free admission ice skating, a skate school, igloos to rent for small gatherings, the rinkside après-skate Lodge for dining, drinking and people watching, curling lanes, and bumper cars on ice.


Holiday Shopping Window Nutcracker Displays

Photo by Jack Koto, courtesy of Nordstrom

Holiday Shopping Window Displays

The holiday windows in the shops of Fifth Avenue are the stuff that dreams — and letters to Santa — are made of, and many New Yorkers make a seasonal tradition of checking out how they’ve decked the vitrines at stores like Saks Fifth AvenueTiffanyCartier and Bergdorf Goodman. A bit closer to The Knickerbocker, the windows at The Nordstrom NYC Flagship also do a spectacular job of capturing our imaginations. To celebrate, we’ve partnered with them on an exclusive holiday shopping offer. Holiday Shopping at The Knick by Nordstrom includes a $100 Nordstrom gift card for use in the store or online, breakfast for two at Charlie Palmer at The Knick, one-on-one styling services, bespoke Knickerbocker welcome gifts from Nordstrom, and complimentary gift wrapping and delivery to your room at The Knick or shipping to a home address in the U.S.


Rolf’s German Restaurant Christmas Deco

Photo courtesy of Rolf’s German Restaurant

Rolf’s German Restaurant

Rolf’s bills itself as New York’s most festive restaurant and we can’t argue with that. From November to January, the Gramercy Park restaurant specializing in Bavarian food is festooned with more than 200,000 fairy lights, vintage ornaments, faux firs, garland and other holiday regalia. The menu also has seasonal specialties, including a traditional American Thanksgiving dinner with German accents.

NY Botanical Garden: holiday train show

Holiday Train Show at New York Botanical Garden

You don’t have to be a railfan to feel absolute joy and wonder at this beloved holiday trainspotting show that includes trains wending their way through nearly 200 replicas of NYC landmarks. But if your passion for locomotives is ignited by the miniatures, follow up with a Holiday Nostalgia Ride — for the cost of one Metro ride —every Saturday in December from the New York Transit Museum.

The Apollo Theatre - Apollo Kwanzaa



Since 2006, The Apollo Theatre has celebrated Kwanzaa with this annual festival centered on family, community, and culture. This year, the ticketed event takes place on Saturday, December 30th and will include a live performance from Forces of Nature Dance Theatre, as well as other music, dance and spoken word performances.

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