Tips to make the most of Christmas in New York

By Kirsten McCroskrie

Tips for preparing for your Christmas trip to New York

  • It'll be around 40 degrees or lower, so make sure you pack warm clothes and a jacket.
  • If you plan to make the most of the Christmas markets or take a walking tour, wear a pair of shoes that will be kind to your feet – stilettos need not apply.
  • If you're planning on loading up on artisanal gifts, make sure you take a bag to ensure you're an eco-conscious traveler.
  • There are a number of camera-catching moments during the holiday season in New York, so don't forget to bring your camera!
  • If you choose to be dazzled by the high kicks and the glamor of New York's Christmas shows, polish your dress shoes and iron your shirt.
  • Ice-skating at the Rockefeller Center is perhaps the city's most famous seasonal spot. The lines can drag on for hours, so reserve your ice time at Bryant Parks winter village.
  • Bring your Christmas wish list – you never know when you might bump into Santa. If you're scared of not bumping into Santa, visit Macy's Santaland to see the big guy himself.
  • If you only have a few days in New York it can be overwhelming when thinking about what to see and do. Plan your trip and experience the top attractions – The New York Pass can help you decide which attractions to explore.

Our favorite Christmas attractions in New York

Holiday shopping in Bryant Park

The holiday shops at Bryant Park are on pretty much everyone's list of must-do holiday experiences in the city. Inspired by open-air European Crafts fairs, the market features vendors from literally all around the world. The little kiosks offer the same kind of choice as full-sized shops and feature goods ranging from African baskets to one-of-a-kind jewelry handcrafted in Brooklyn.

Columbus Circle Holiday Market

With its festive, candy-striped booths, the Columbus Circle Market is visually one of the most appealing holiday markets. Located right across from the Time Warner Center and nestled into the entrance to Central Park, it's also in an ideal location, easily accessed by public transportation. Browse jewelry, home goods, crafts, and food to find something for just about everyone on your list.

Take a tour

There's no better way to get into the holiday spirit than by taking a guided tour of New York's best traditional markets. Learn about the city's Christmas traditions. Take in the holiday lights. Wander around movie locations of your favorite festive movies. You'll also have the opportunity to browse artisanal goods, local art and winter attire stalls while enjoying traditional foods and indulgent desserts. With your New York Pass, you'll be able to enjoy this tour without paying more than the pass price. Journey down Fifth Avenue to see the department stores lit up before hitting up markets from Bryant Park's Winter Village where you can also use your pass to get in a spot of ice skating.

For more things to do in New York, check out what attractions you can get with The New York Pass: you'll pay nothing but the pass price.

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What to do in New York in February

February is my favorite time of year said no one ever. OK, it's got Valentine's Day, but it can be a long, grey slog until spring. We can help you get through the month with panache. Check out our list for events that will warm your spirits (if not your feet). Here's what to do in New York in February. Lunar New Year Festival—Metropolitan Museum of Art First off, celebrate the Year of the Rat with a day of events at the Met on February 1, from 11 AM-5 PM. Start the celebration off with a parade by the Chinese Center in Long Island Lion Troupe in the Museum’s Great Hall. Throughout the day, visitors can choose from such performances as the Sesame Street Puppeteers taking on Lunar New Year; it’s followed by a photo op with them. Participants will also find a calligraphy workshop on zodiac signs, as well as a workshop on making moveable dragon toys. Demonstrations by a tea master, complete with bubble tea tasting, as well as a hand-pulled noodle demonstration, will make sure visitors’ hunger is sated. Black History Month February 13-16 Next, the month of February offers numerous ways to celebrate Black History Month. Check out the Harlem Fine Arts Show at the Riverside Church. Inspired by the Harlem Renaissance, it brings together artists and collectors to celebrate the African diaspora. Or try out a Harlem walking tour—Taste Harlem’s Historical Food Tour offers plenty of soul food as well as Caribbean and African cuisines, plus stories about Harlem’s architecture and rich history. These are great options for what to do in New York in February. Winter Jam in Central Park February 1 Snow Day! This free (yes, free!) winter festival in Central Park on includes a mountain of homemade snow, and it’s worth it just to see it. Plus, of course, there's plenty you can do on and in that snow. Presented by NYC Parks, the Olympic Regional Development Authority, I Love NY, and I Ski NY, the festival offers snowshoeing and sledding, dodgeball and flag football (?!), curling and ice bowling. Someone please try ice bowling. Plus, visitors will find photo ops with bobsleds and snowcats (large enclosed vehicles deigned to move on snow). There’s also puppet making (not sure where the snow fits in) as well as a heated New York Public Library Room, for those who like to observe their snow from a distance, from somewhere it’s warm and cozy. Chinese New Year Parade and Festival February 9 This year, the Chinese New Year Parade and Festival will be heading down Mott and Canal Streets at 1 PM, and lasting until 4 PM. It culminates on Grand Street near Sara D. Roosevelt Park. Dragon dancing, martial art performers and of course, gorgeous costumes, are the draw here, along with a festive atmosphere and chance to ring in the Year of the Rat. Bronx Zoo - Name a Roach Nothing says Valentine’s Day quite like naming a roach for your beloved. This year, the Bronx Zoo gives you the option of attending “Roach Romance,” an after-hours program for adults on Valentine’s Day that includes wine, chocolate, and the chance to meet some of the animals up close. Bear in mind, part of the program takes place outside, but all paths are wheelchair accessible. If you decide just to go for the name-a-roach-option, you can certainly do that as well, along with purchasing roach-themed goodies like candles and socks. Do think carefully, however, about what this will say about your relationship... [caption id="attachment_3788" align="alignnone" width="1920"] Image courtesy of Bronx Zoo[/caption] Empire State Building Who says visiting the Empire State Building is just for the warmer months? The weather may be slightly nippier during the winter, but you’ll have the same great views, and generally fewer crowds to contend with. Make sure to visit one of the observation decks to get the famed 360 views—you’ll be able to see Central Park, the Brooklyn Bridge, Times Square, and more. While you’re there, don’t forget the second-floor exhibits that guide visitors through the building’s construction and its more recent role in pop-culture history. Check out how you can use your New York Pass here. Brooklyn WineFest February 8 After Dry January, it's no wonder that Wine-Fest February is close behind. Brooklyn Wine Fest offers the chance to explore wine samples of hundreds of new wines from around the world, along with food, live music, and interactive games. (Better go easy on the wine, then.) Participants receive a souvenir five-ounce tasting glass, and can sample any wine on offer. You'll need a nibble or two with those drinks. Food offerings from vendors including Chavas Empanadas, Taste of Poland, Bang Cookies, and many more will also be available. Looking for more ways to celebrate February in New York? Why not discover The New York Pass?
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Best New York City Cruises

This summer has brought us some pretty insufferable heat. And while it's supposed to get milder, there's still plenty of time to enjoy a refreshing breeze and a cold cocktail on one of NYC's finest cruises. Circle Line Sightseeing [caption id="attachment_776" align="aligncenter" width="801"] Circle Line Sightseeing under the Brooklyn Bridge[/caption] [spacer height="20px"] New York's quintessential cruise company, Circle Line Sightseeing, operating out of 42nd Street's pier 83 offers a variety of exciting sightseeing cruises. From the thrilling speedy Beast Speedboat ride to the 3-hour Best of NYC cruise that takes you around the entire island, there's plenty to choose from for everybody. Try the popular Harbor Lights Cruise for amazing evening-time views or the new Hello Brooklyn Tour for a closer look at the up-and-coming borough. Clipper City Tall Ship [caption id="attachment_777" align="aligncenter" width="801"] Clipper City Tall Ship[/caption] [spacer height="20px"] This lovely, vintage sail boat takes you on a serene, 90 minute ride around the Statue of Liberty, offering spectacular views of the Downtown Manhattan skyline and up-close views of the statue. The boat is equipped with a bar and the staff recruits some lucky passengers to help pull the ropes and steer the rudder. The tour is not narrated, which gives you opportunity to have a quiet afternoon at sea, contemplating. Clipper City departs at 2:15pm and 4:30pm for daytime sails and at 9:30pm for night time sail. Shearwater Classic Schooner [caption id="attachment_778" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Shearwater Classic Schooner at Sunset[/caption] [spacer height="20px"] A second sail cruise offered by Manhattan by Sail (operator of Clipper City) is a true winner. The Gatsby-era schooner offers a serene, breezy sail will make you feel like a million bucks while you enjoy the waves, the wind and a refreshing beverage on the 82 foot double-masted yacht. The Daytime Statue Sail departs at 12:30pm and 2:45pm Monday-Friday. New York Water Taxi [caption id="attachment_779" align="aligncenter" width="800"] New York Water Taxi[/caption] [spacer height="20px"] New York City taxi cab, in water. Enough said. In case you need more, New York Water Taxi makes three stops along the coast of Manhattan and two in Brooklyn. There's simply no better way to cross the river, or get Downtown from Hell's Kitchen than on a boat. With the New York Pass, you get a free All Day Access Pass to enjoy seamless commuting in style. Spirit Cruises [caption id="attachment_780" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Spirit Dinner Cruise[/caption] [spacer height="20px"] Whether you want to impress your significant other with a romantic dinner, or some clients with a spectacular power lunch, Spirit Cruises has you covered. The luxury yacht departs from Chelsea Piers and will take you around Downtown Manhattan, which will dazzle you with majestic skyscrapers making up the amazing skyline view. The New York Pass offers $10 off dinner cruises and $5 off lunch cruises. [spacer height="20px"] For other cruises, tours and attractions, please visit the New York Pass Website.
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