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Happy holidays! 10 reasons to visit New York this Christmas

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No city in the world does Christmas as well as The Big Apple. Here’s a few of our top picks for festive fun.

1. The 80ft Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center

Rockerfeller tree

Step into a winter wonderland with giant gold angels and a wow-factor Christmas tree aglow with 45,000 fairy lights. 

In the heart of midtown, Rockefeller Plaza is Christmas central, with restaurants, an ice-rink, and brass bands playing carols.

2. The Radio City Christmas Spectacular

Radio City

Live music. Dancing Santas. Comedy. The Rockettes high-kicking across the stage dressed as toy soldiers from The Nutcracker.

What’s not to like about the Radio City Christmas show, brilliant family entertainment and a New York fixture since 1933?

3. The holiday window displays

Christmas in New York

Fifth Avenue is where you’ll find lavish, whimsical windows at Saks, Bergdorf Goodman, Barneys, Lord & Taylor and legendary jewellers Tiffany’s.

Expect elaborate grottos, glamour, glitz and scenes from fairy tales, ballets and children’s books.

And don’t forget Santaland at Macy’s, the setting for weep-fest Christmas movie Miracle on 34th Street.

4. Ice-skating in Central Park

Central park

Take to the ice with the iconic Manhattan skyline as your backdrop. 

There are two open-air rinks in the Park: the Wollman at 63rd Street, and the Lasker at the northern end near 110th Street. 

Both get busy so prepare to queue. They’re open seven days a week: go in the evening for a truly magical experience.

5. Hot chocolate in Serendipity 3

Serendipity cafe

A New York institution, this cosy little restaurant on the Upper East Side is famous for its delicious desserts and charming Christmas decorations.

Frozen hot chocolate is the signature dish and big enough for two. But there’s plenty to tempt, including pies, cakes and more types of ice-cream sundae than you can shake a wafer at.

6. The Empire State Building

Empire state building

Breathtaking views across the city are guaranteed, but if you visit at night you can see Christmas lights all over Manhattan. 

In December, the Empire State puts on a spectacular light show set to music, bathing the building in red, green and glittering lights and traditional candy canes. 

7. The Christmas outdoor markets

Bryant park New York

The Winter Village in leafy Bryant Park is a delightful change of pace from the city’s upscale stores. 

You can pick up Christmas gifts, decorations, jewellery, delicious food and artisan crafts here, in 125 cute kiosks. 

Stroll around the village or stop for a bite to eat: it’s open late and – you guessed it – there’s an ice-rink too.

8. Horse-and-carriage rides after dark

New York horse

A horse-drawn carriage ride through Central Park is a quintessential New York thing to do. And it’s even better at Christmas when the carriages are decorated and lit with tiny lights.

Find them on Central Park South between 5th and 6th Avenues, and you’ll pay around £22 plus tip for a 20-minute ride (simply walk up and hop on).

9. Christmas afternoon tea in the Palm Court at the Plaza Hotel 

Plaza hotel NYC

A soaring Christmas tree and sumptuous decorations turn the Art Deco grandeur of the Palm Court into something really special.

Book the holiday season afternoon tea for premium Champagne and the most delicate sandwiches, cakes and pastries.

And – bonus! – you may rub shoulders with an A-list celeb or two at this historic hotel.

10. The Holiday Train Show in the New York Botanical Garden

Toy train

Children will marvel as model trains race through an enchanted winter landscape inside the garden’s conservatory.

Spot the miniature NYC landmarks – the Brooklyn Bridge! The Statue of Liberty! – all handcrafted from bark, berries and plants.

There’s also live music, ice-sculpting and complimentary cocktails, beer and wine for adults. Merry Christmas!

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