The Big Apple is teeming with adventure, especially around the holidays. There are so many sights to see and things to do in New York around the holidays, from world-famous holiday celebrations to streetscapes that are transformed into a dazzling wonderland during the festive season.
Indeed, NYC is an irresistible destination for group travel and as the leader of your group, you have a unique opportunity to curate an unforgettable holiday experience. This guide will provide you with a deeper understanding of the recommended activities and their historical and cultural significance.
Embracing Time-Honored New York City Holiday Traditions
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade: A Century-Old Tradition
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, an iconic event, has been enchanting spectators since its inception in 1924. As the group leader, it’s essential to note that this parade features colossal balloons, marching bands, and celebrity performances. Booking reserved group tickets early ensures a prime viewing spot along the parade route. Don’t forget to pack thermoses filled with hot cocoa, ensuring your group enjoys the spectacle comfortably.
Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting: A Symbol of Hope
The annual lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is a symbol of hope and unity, dating back to 1933 during the Great Depression. Attending the lighting ceremony is a cherished experience. Arriving early allows your group to witness the magic as thousands gather to witness the illumination of the towering tree. Extend the festivities by booking a reservation at a nearby restaurant, such as the famous Rainbow Room, where your group can enjoy a delightful post-ceremony dinner amidst stunning Art Deco decor.
Ice Skating at Bryant Park: A Winter Wonderland
Bryant Park’s Winter Village, established in 2002, offers a picturesque ice skating rink surrounded by charming boutiques and a bustling holiday market. Student groups enjoy this experience and group packages are available. The rink is known for its European-inspired design and offers skate rentals to avoid long lines. It’s a classic winter activity that your group will cherish.
Off the Beaten Path NYC Holiday Delights
Brooklyn’s Unique Holiday Markets: A Bohemian Charm
While Manhattan’s holiday markets are celebrated, Brooklyn offers an alternative charm. Neighborhoods like Williamsburg and DUMBO host smaller, artisanal markets. It’s worth noting that these markets often feature local artisans, offering unique and handcrafted gifts. The atmosphere is cozier and less crowded, creating an intimate shopping experience for your group.
Dyker Heights Christmas Lights: A Neighborhood Extravaganza
Dyker Heights in Brooklyn, locally known as “Dyker Lights,” has been dazzling spectators since the 1980s. The tradition of extravagant holiday displays started with a local resident’s dream to outshine the Rockefeller Center tree. As the group leader, consider booking a guided tour to navigate the neighborhood’s dazzling lights and decorations. Inside the motorcoach, your group can comfortably admire the displays, which range from life-sized nutcrackers to towering inflatable Santas.
Historic Churches: A Journey through Faith and Artistry
New York City boasts historic and beautifully adorned churches during the holiday season. St. Patrick’s Cathedral, a neo-Gothic masterpiece completed in 1878, stands as one of the city’s architectural gems. If possible, attend a holiday concert or service. The cathedral’s annual Midnight Mass is a cherished tradition, offering a serene and spiritual experience.
Delectable New York City Foodie Adventures
Holiday Dessert Extravaganza: Savory Seasonal Sweets
New York City’s bakeries are legendary, and the holidays bring out their finest creations. As the group leader, consider organizing a dessert tour that includes sampling seasonal delights such as gingerbread cookies, Yule logs, and hot chocolate. Renowned bakeries like Levain Bakery and Milk Bar offer mouthwatering treats that will delight your group’s taste buds.
Group Holiday Feast: A Culinary Celebration
Secure a reservation for your group at one of the city’s iconic restaurants to enjoy a sumptuous holiday feast. It’s fascinating to note that New York City boasts a diverse culinary scene, and during the holidays, many restaurants offer special holiday menus. Whether you prefer classic steakhouse fare, Italian delicacies, or international fusion cuisine, planning ahead ensures your group relishes a delectable meal together.
New York City Cultural Collection and Artistic Explorations
Holiday Shows and Broadway Magic
New York City’s theaters come alive during the holiday season with special performances and Broadway shows. It’s interesting to learn that “The Nutcracker” ballet, based on E.T.A. Hoffmann’s tale, has been enchanting audiences since its first performance in Russia in 1892. Group tickets for a classic holiday production like “The Rockettes”, “The Nutcracker” or “A Christmas Carol.” These timeless tales offer a cultural experience that your group will treasure.
Museums and Art Exhibits: Exploring the Cultural Heritage
Escape the chilly weather by exploring world-class museums and art exhibits. It’s fascinating to know that The Metropolitan Museum of Art, often referred to as “The Met,” dates back to 1870 and boasts an impressive collection of over two million works of art. As the group leader, arrange a guided tour to make the most of your visit. The museum’s Christmas tree display, adorned with exquisite Neapolitan Baroque crèche figurines, is a particular highlight during the holiday season.