By: Stefanie DiMartino
Tis the season! The holidays are here and it’s truly the most wonderful time of year in NYC! The twinkling lights and the festive decor help to make everything so much more magical. So, if you’re looking for all the best things to do and see, best in dining/drinks, and the best entertainment and art/exhibits, then these are my top NYC picks this December!
For all the best holiday things to do, you can watch my holiday guide below:
The Top 17 Best Things to do in NYC this December
THINGS TO DO/SEE
SPEAKEASY TIMES SQUARE
Friday & Saturday nights | $99+ | Age 16+
Bond 45 NY, 221 West 46th Street, New York, NY 10036
Hidden away at Bond 45 NY is a show like no other. Step into Madam Lulu’s sizzling Storyville Speakeasy, a one-of-a-kind variety show extravaganza. Give over to a world of magic and mixology where the speakeasy sirens rule the night and celebration is not only encouraged but expected. Speakeasy combines burlesque, acrobatics, illusionists, and musical theatre. It’s an entertainment-mixology experience that you don’t want to miss! It’s a feel-good, pure fun, nonstop party! Enjoy an appetizer and 5 carefully curated cocktails while watching some of the best performers in the business! Tickets sell out really fast, so get them right away so you don’t miss out on this amazing experience!
CLASSIC HARBOR LINE: HOLIDAY CRUISES
Cocoa and Carols Holiday Cruise & Holiday Jazz Cruise
Now – December 30 | $96+
Chelsea Piers, Pier 62 (W. 22nd St.) New York, NY 10011
Truly, there is no better way to get into the spirit of the holiday season than with a holiday cruise. I absolutely love Classic Harbor Line Cruises and it’s such a fun and unique way to experience the holidays and NYC! Drink and be merry while taking in the gorgeous city skyline.
LUMINOCITY FESTIVAL HOLIDAY LIGHTS AT WHITNEY POND PARK
Whitney Pond Park, 7 Community Drive East, Manhasset, NY 11030
Now – January 9, 2022 | $27+
“LuminoCity is a unique and visually stunning immersive experience that brings life and light to the dark winter nights!
Using light and imagination, LuminoCity Festival explores concepts of transforming creative thoughts, inspired by the world around us, into illuminating works of light and color. New and unique pieces of art are featured. The festival aims to provide an immersive, magical experience to visitors of all ages and backgrounds. It’s a place to create lasting memories.” – LuminoCity
Use code HOLIDAY15 for 15% off tickets!
Wednesday – Saturday nights | 8pm | Age 18+ | $160+
Manderley Bar at The McKittrick Hotel, 530 West 27th Street, New York, NY 10001
If you’re hoping to enjoy some magic during the holiday season, then you’re in luck. Due to popular demand, Speakeasy Magick has now been extended through January 2022! What’s more magical and exciting than that? You absolutely do not want to miss this experience! Speakeasy Magick is a show so amazing that only describing it with words cannot possibly do it justice! But, some of the best words I can think of to describe it are: dazzling, thrilling, captivating, enchanting, and straight up mind-blowing!
The show is hosted by acclaimed magician, Todd Robbins. And, keep in mind, this is no ordinary magic show. Once you step inside, you feel as if you’ve been transported to a different time. You are immersed right into this fantastical world. You are not simply watching magic being performed – as a guest, you are an active part of the magic. It is one of the most interactive and entertaining experiences ever.
Revel with a rotating cast of talented magicians and mentalists. Each talent has a unique and special “trick” up their sleeves (literally and figuratively)!
Todd Robbins describes it accurately as a “soirée of secrets” and that’s exactly what Speakeasy Magick is. Get tickets while you can!
COMPANY XIV: NUTCRACKER ROUGE
383 Troutman St., Brooklyn, NY 11237
Now – January 30, 2022 | $115+ | Age 21+
Nutcracker Rouge is an imaginative retelling of the classic Nutcracker, combining burlesque, acrobatics, aerial arts, theatre, dancing, and singing all into one incredible show. There are not enough adjectives to describe Nutcracker Rouge. It is captivating, exciting, glamorous, entertaining, risqué, sexy, funny, and overall amazing.
As you walk in, the opulence and the amazing aroma of the venue hits you instantly. It’s pure fantasy and sexiness. The bar offers unique holiday themed cocktails, as well as wines, beers, ciders, and absinthe. I highly recommend the VIP couch with champagne or absinthe. It offers a great stage view and with some bubbly added in, you have the key ingredients for a sexy and cozy date night.
The show itself has some of the most gorgeous and talented people I’ve ever seen perform. The entire production is on par with the best Broadway performances. Perhaps, it’s even better! The extensive choreography, the acrobatics and aerial work, the elaborate costumes, the storytelling, the production value, the singing, the dancing – all of it is executed so perfectly and you are truly mesmerized the entire time. I really cannot say enough good things about this show. It is such a unique experience and a definite must-see this holiday season!
NEW YORK BOTANICAL GARDEN GLOW + HOLIDAY TRAIN SHOW
Now – January 23, 2022 | Tuesday-Sunday, 10am-6pm | $32+
2900 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, NY 10458
The New York Botanical Garden is always worth a visit, especially when there are special exhibits on display. One of the best things to do in NYC in December is pay a visit to the Botanical Garden! Special this month, and next, is the NYBG train show. It’s the perfect way to get into the holiday spirit! “NYBG’s Holiday Train Show—a favorite holiday tradition—is back for its 30th year! See model trains zip through an enchanting display of more than 175 New York landmarks, each delightfully re-created from natural materials such as birch bark, lotus pods, and cinnamon sticks.” – NYBG
Another special exhibit this month is NYBG GLOW. Explore the illuminated grounds while listening to soft holiday music. There are plenty of wonderful photo opportunities – perfect for everyone! NYBG GLOW has music, dancing, food, and more, making it the perfect holiday activity!
CITROVIA AT MANHATTAN WEST
Daily | Free!
Winter Citrovia is now here! New York City’s favorite lemon-themed immersive installation just got an icy makeover! Be transported to an expansive and extraordinary lemon citrus garden. Featuring thousands of oversized, hand-made lemons, billowing fabric clouds mimicking a sunrise and sunset, along with leaves and 19-foot-tall lemon trees, you definitely do not feel like you’re in the middle of a busy city! Don’t miss out on this bright, colorful, and wintery “lemon-land.”
NYC WINTER LANTERN FESTIVAL: ILLUMINATE THE FARM
Now – January 9, 2022 | Thursday – Sunday, 4:30-9:30pm | $24.99+
Queens County Farm Museum, 73-50 Little Neck Parkway, Queens, NY 11004
The NYC Winter Lantern Festival lights up the holiday season with over 1000 lights at the Queens Farm.
“This stunning array of hand-crafted lanterns has created an extraordinary immersive extravaganza across 6 acres of historic farmland. Custom designed by Chinese artisans, part of a 2,000 year-old tradition, these lanterns create a magical field of farm animals, fruits, vegetables, flowers, holiday delights and other surprises to Illuminate the Farm.” – Queens Farm
BRYANT PARK/BANK OF AMERICA WINTER VILLAGE
Holiday Shops: Now-January 2, 2022 | Daily, 11am-8pm
The Lodge: Now-March 6, 2022 | Daily, 10am-10pm
Bryant Park, 40th – 42nd Street, 5th – 6th Avenue, New York, NY 10018
The Winter Village at Bryant Park is the perfect place to visit to get into the holiday spirit. Truly, the Winter Village is a winter wonderland in the heart of the city. It offers something for everyone! You can enjoy the Holiday Shops, ice-skating, and rink side eats and drinks! There are plenty of great photo ops and you can leisurely stroll around, people-watch, and admire the beautiful Christmas tree!
The Bryant Park ice rink is the only rink in NYC that’s free. But, if you don’t have your own skates, you will have to pay for skate rentals which range in price from $15-$45.
You can also reserve a cozy igloo! “Revel with friends inside your very own igloo—the ultimate winter experience! Enjoy these cozy domes, surrounded by skyscrapers, and just steps from the iconic ice skating rink at Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park.” -Bryant Park
DYKER HEIGHTS CHRISTMAS LIGHTS
Now-January 2022 | 4-9pm | Free!
Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, NY
Dyker Heights is easily one of the best NYC holiday activities. The tradition started in the 1980s and this Brooklyn neighborhood transforms into a sparkling winter wonderland with over-the-top Christmas lights and decorations. The spectacular light displays are best from 11th to 13th Avenues (Dyker Heights Blvd) and from 83rd to 86th Streets.
Note: Dress warmly and make sure to wear comfortable shoes as there is a bit of walking!
Now – January 9, 2022 | $49+
Museum of Ice Cream, 558 Broadway, New York, NY, 10012
Celebrate “Pinkmas” at Museum of Ice Cream this holiday season! Pinkmas is a “special winter-scape where guests can gather, connect, and feel the magic of the season. Explore a wonderland of holiday-themed spaces and installations. Enjoy special treats, festive surprises, and visit our whimsical shop for exclusive holiday merchandise. You’ll dance, discover, play, and make special memories with friends and family.” – Museum of Ice Cream
SARAHFUNKY NYC TOURS
Saturdays, Sundays, Custom day/time | $49-$599
Certainly, there’s no time like the present to book a SarahFunky NYC tour. Rated 5-stars on TripAdvisor, you certainly do not want to miss out on any of these one-of-a-kind experiences!
There are quite a few tour options to choose from to fit your interests and your budget!
For a truly unique experience, book a custom designed private tour with either Sarah, Luis, Marcus, Gary, or Nicola! For the best of both worlds, with food and sightseeing, consider joining the Best of New York Food Tour with Luis- offered onSunday mornings. The tour includes four epic spots and behind the scenes experiences! Another option is to join A Secrets of New York Tour on Saturday mornings and visit hidden locations in lower Manhattan and learn secrets most New Yorkers don’t even know! Each guide is an NYC expert and enjoys showing others around the city they love, so be sure to book today!
And now, you can also get expert help with planning your dream NYC vacation with FunkyTours Concierge! You can make your NYC trip and experience more special with custom-designed plans that fit your budget and your unique interests.
PAPILLON BISTRO & BAR
Monday-Friday, 11:30am-12am | Closed Saturday & Sunday
22 East 54th Street, New York, NY 10022
Papillon is located in the heart of Midtown. “Just steps from Central Park, Museum of Modern Art & the famous 5th Avenue shops, Papillon offers a fun environment where guests feel like family. The large space offers dining experiences to match any and every mood. You can enjoy a craft cocktail or glass of wine on the sidewalk café, mingle with colleagues in one of the private dining rooms, or enjoy the festivities of the season with their unforgettable decorations and seasonal interior design exhibitions.” – Papillon
Tuesday – Sunday evenings
The McKittrick Hotel, 542 W 27th Street, New York, NY 10001
If you’re looking for an elevated dining and drinking experience, then look no further than Gallow Green. It is easily one of the best rooftops in NYC, and also one of the greenest! Board an “old-timey” elevator and ride up to the magical Gallow Green space. The space will be transformed into a winter rooftop hideaway. And, because it’s a rooftop, you can catch stunning sunsets, along with views of the Empire State Building!
A new winter menu is featured with seasonal highlights and a seasonal selection of hot drinks. Menu highlights include “French Onion Soup, Shaved Brussels Sprouts Caesar salad, Steak au Poivre, and the signature McKittrick Burger – made with DeBragga steak, homemade pickles, bacon marmalade, and fries. Raw Bar selections, lightly fried Calamari and Baked Mussels provide plenty of sharable options. Desserts feature a rich Sticky Toffee Pudding and piping hot Nutella Calzone. There is also classic pub fare, like Scotch Eggs, Duck Shepherd’s Pie, and Fish & Chips, inspired by the limited engagement of The Woman in Black – a ghost story in a pub playing downstairs. Fresh Pizzas are also prepared in the rooftop’s wood burning oven on Friday and Saturday nights.” – Gallow Green
Whether you’re visiting NYC or you’re a local looking for a special place to dine and drink this winter season, I highly recommend visiting Gallow Green. Certainly, it’s a one-of-a-kind spot offering tasty food and drinks, along with Instagram-worthy photos!
SURREALISM BEYOND BORDERS
Now – January 30, 2022 | $25+ | NY, NJ, CT – pay what you wish
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10028
Surrealism Beyond Borders is now on display at The Met. Surrealism uses fantastic images and incongruous juxtapositions in order to represent unconscious thoughts and dreams. Some of the most famous and influential Surrealist artists are André Breton, Salvador Dalí, René Magritte, and Frida Kahlo. Each artist has a piece on exhibit. If you are a surrealist fan, be sure to check this exhibit out!
RADIO CITY CHRISTMAS SPECTACULAR
Now – January 2, 2022 | $89.99+
Radio City Music Hall, 1260 6th Avenue, New York, NY 10020
One of the quintessential NYC activities during the holiday season is to see the Rockettes at Radio City! You really can’t get more classic NYC than that! Enjoy Santa Claus, Toy Soldiers, Nativity scene, famous NY department store windows, Rockefeller Christmas Tree, and more. It’s fun for the whole family and definitely an experience you don’t want to miss out on!
’TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE…BY CIRQUE DU SOLEIL
Now – December 27, 2021 | $69.99+
Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden, 4 Penn Plaza, New York, NY 10001
‘Twas the Night Before… by Cirque du Soleil is the exhilarating spin on the beloved Christmas classic as only Cirque du Soleil can imagine. This vibrant acrobatic spectacle about the joy of sharing and friendship promises to spark lasting memories in the hearts of children and adults alike.
“Cirque du Soleil’s first-ever Christmas show, ‘Twas the Night Before…’ is a flurry of Christmas cheer, rip-roaring fun and hugely lovable characters, while introducing audiences to the magic of Cirque du Soleil and helping families create new holiday traditions.” – Cirque du Soleil
For my NYC holiday gift guide, read here, or watch below:
In conclusion, these are the top 17 best things to do in NYC this December. Happy Holidays! Have fun and most importantly, stay safe!