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The best Christmas events for kids in NYC

Don't miss these Christmas events for kids! You'll find fun plays, fests, workshops and more for every age

Avi Gerver
November 5, 2014: Tech rehearsal for the 2014 Radio City Christmas Spectacular starring the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall.

The best Christmas events for kids are right under your nose! These special picks will have the littles ice skating, checking out gorgeous holiday windows, seeing renditions of the Nutcracker and working together on super fun crafts. You'll want to check out the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, stop by one of many amazing holiday train shows, grab a cup of the best hot chocolate and more. 

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Christmas for kids in New York

For more festive fun, explore our guide to the best free activities for kids!

 

Christmas events for kids

The Charlie Brown Christmas

Pig Brooch Theatre Company pays homage to the holiday favorite by performing verbatim the television special A Charlie Brown Christmas. The show is accompanied by a jazz trio belting out all of the Vince Guaraldi favorites, while the actors have been trained to match the exact voices and physicality of the cartoon characters. This play is a gentle reminder of what the holidays signify as the Peanuts crew shows Charlie Brown what Christmas is all about. All ages.

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ShapeShifter Lab , Gowanus Friday December 9 2016 - Sunday December 11 2016

Columbus Circle Holiday Market

Recommended

Run by the same company that organizes the Holiday Market at Union Square, this alfresco fair offers much of the same merchandise as its predecessor with an emphasis on creating a European piazza atmosphere. Said to have been designed with Copenhagen and Munich in mind, the holiday hot spot is the perfect place to meet a friend, shop for the family or simply enjoy the novelty of browsing at the edge of Central Park. Look for handmade wooden puzzles, gingerbread houses and kits, and lots of sweets from local vendors. All ages.

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Columbus Circle , Midtown West Until Saturday December 24 2016

Radio City Christmas Spectacular

Recommended

Every year, this holiday stalwart gets families in the spirit with Santa appearances, colorful sets and, of course, one-of-a-kind dance numbers from the impressive Rockettes. Enjoy classic routines like "Parade of the Wooden Soldiers" and "New York at Christmas," in which dancers journey through the city on a double-decker bus, and keep an eye out for exciting new additions as well. The show now incorporates advanced technology throughout, taking the audience on a wild ride via 3D glasses and a flying LED screen, and one number even sends a host of helium-filled, GPS-enabled iridescent snowflakes floating high above the audience, transforming Radio City into a sparkling winter wonderland! All ages.

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Radio City Music Hall , Midtown West Until Wednesday December 28 2016

Breakfast with Santa at Rock Center Cafe

Flanked by glittery angel sculptures and New York’s famously giant Christmas tree, Rockefeller Center is the backdrop to this merry holiday breakfast with Santa. Enjoy brioche french toast, applewood smoked bacon, scrambled eggs & breakfast pastries as you watch the skaters whiz by, knowing soon you and the kiddies will be joining them after your yummy meal! But don’t forget to hit the candy bar, where the children can create their own treat filled souvenir bags before convening to the ‘Throne Room’ for pictures with Santa. All ages.

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Rock Center Café , Midtown West Saturday December 10 2016 - Saturday December 24 2016

Unsilent Night

Recommended

This holiday-themed "sound sculpture" involves a roving mass of boom boxes whose joyful cacophony is perceived slightly differently by each person. Your kids can take part in the noise by bringing a boombox that plays cassettes or CDs, downloading the MP3s on the event's website and bringing along an MP3 player, or creating your own sound rig, and marching along with the procession, which begins at the Washington Square Arch and ends in Tompkins Square Park. Arrive by 6:45pm. All ages.

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Washington Square Park , Greenwich Village Sunday December 18 2016

New York Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show

Whatever holidays you celebrate, this beautifully lit exhibition makes a festive excursion for the whole family. With 3,000 added square feet of space this year and more than a dozen large-scale model trains zipping over a quarter mile of track, it’s NYBG’s biggest train installation to date! Elaborate displays composed of moss, twigs and leaves are anchored by 150 NYC landmarks, each reconstructed painstakingly using natural materials: You’ll see the Empire State Building, the Unisphere and other familiar structures crafted from unique elements like lotus pods, hemlock cones, walnut shells, acorn caps, bamboo and cinnamon curls. New to the display is a whimsical collection of architecture and attractions from Coney Island. All ages.

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New York Botanical Garden , The Bronx Until Sunday January 15 2017

Macy's Santaland

Head up to the eighth floor of the Herald Square behemoth for 13,000 square feet of holiday cheer! You'll experience the Domino Sugar Bake Shoppe to see cute gingerbread men, the Aflac Ducks putting on their ice skates for the ice rink, a too-cool choir (Bobby Blizzard and The Below-Zeroes), igloos, ice sculptures, a rainbow bridge and Lionel Trains Industrial City, where you'll see six complete sets of trains surrounding a six-foot-tall Christmas Tree. You'll even get a glimpse of Santa's Sleigh, Santa's reindeer and the toy shop packed with trinkets and gadgets. Finally, you'll be escorted by elves up to the man in red. Though visiting this Christmas wonderland won't cost you much, the trip will be a time commitment. Families can expect to wait 90 minutes or more on a weekend afternoon to visit with old Saint Nick—just enough time for your little one to make his own list and check it twice (or a few more times). All ages.

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Macy's Herald Square , Midtown West Until Saturday December 24 2016

Origami Holiday Tree

Recommended

What if we said you could see an ultracool holiday tree inside your kids’ favorite museum? You’d say, “Heck, yeah!” The ornate 13-footer at the American Museum of Natural History makes a statement with a great theme every year, this season’s being “Origami Dinosaurs Among Us.” Check out 1,000 handmade ornaments inspired by the museum’s upcoming exhibitions “¡Cuba!” and the current exhibit “Dinosaurs Among Us.” Plus, try your hand at the art of paper folding with on-site volunteers. All ages.

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American Museum of Natural History , Upper West Side Until Sunday January 8 2017

Holiday on the Hudson

Recommended

Join Summer on the Hudson and the Riverside Park Conservancy for the annual holiday-tree–lighting party. In addition to the Christmas tree, there is a festive celebration of the season with live music and dancing. Kids can create unique ornaments for their own tree at a decoration-making crafts station. All ages.

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West Harlem Piers Park , Harlem Saturday December 10 2016

Wave Hill Holiday Workshop Weekend

Stop by Wave Hill to create gifts and holiday decorations inspired by its gardens and galleries. Choose from three workshops, including “Felted Soaps” ($18) in which you transform dyed wool into winter ornaments or gift tags; “Natural Wreaths & Swags” ($55), in which guests make holiday decorations using foliage from the gardens; and “Amaryllis Gift Kits,” ($35) in which guests decorate planters and saucers. Ages 8 and up, must be accompanied by an adult.

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Wave Hill , The Bronx Saturday December 10 2016 - Sunday December 11 2016
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