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
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
There is no more wonderful a place in all five boroughs to incite the holiday spirit than in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, where you’ll find some of the most over-the-top Christmas light displays in the country. Having been featured in specials on both PBS and TLC, this neighborhood—which has truly earned the nickname Dyker Lights—attracts over 100,000 people every year, for their spectacle of decorations that you really must see to believe. One way to enjoy the spectacle is a three-and-a-half-hour (heated!) bus tour, held annually by A Slice of Brooklyn, which departs and returns in a convenient Union Square location. Alternatively, you can skip the bus altogether, bundle up and make a walking trip of it–word is the best displays are from 11th Avenue to 13th Avenue and from 83rd to 86th Street. Leaves from Union Square. All ages.Read more
Experience one of the special ways Swedish children prepare for Christmas at this customary Christmas craft day, or julpysseldag. Held by the Scandinavia House, the leading center for Nordic culture in the United States, this event will have kids engaged in making traditional holiday crafts, including woven hearts, yarn tomtar, and paper angels. Afterwards, there will be a short candlelit Saint Lucia procession. Save your appetite for Smörgås Chef, the museum’s restaurant, which serves up a variety of Scandinavian sandwiches, salads, appetizers, entrées, and pastries daily. If you want to make a whole day of it, visit the Heimbold Family Children’s Playing and Learning Center, where young children and their caregivers can enjoy themselves while learning about Scandinavian culture through books, toys, crafts, and interactive programs ($15/child, must be old enough to walk). Ages 5-10.Read more
It's worth braving the cold to peruse items from more than 100 vendors at Union Square's annual mazelike fair. You'll find NYC-made goods, USA-made goods, Fairtrade/Organic Certified goods and pretty much everything else on your list, including jewelry, children's gifts, winter accessories, gourmet treats and home goods. There's also plenty of delicious food available for purchase. All ages.Read more
Get your flea on, even once the temperatures drop! This year's winter editional of the Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg takes up residence at Industry City in Sunset Park, where families can browse over 100 vendors, selling furniture, housewares, vintage clothing, antiques, jewelry, art and other crafts. Tasty bites from Smorgasburg vendors will keep you fueled up for some frenzied holiday shopping! All ages.Read more
Choreographed by Francis Patrelle, the troupe's annual production is a ballet infused with a cursory lesson in New York history. Set in 1895, the action takes place in Manhattan, with stops at Gracie Mansion and Central Park, and at the New York Botanical Garden's version of the Crystal Palace, in the Bronx. This year's show features New York City Ballet Principal Dancers Abi Stafford (as the Sugar Plum) and Adrian Danchig-Waring (as the Cavalier). Ages 8 and up.Read more
This enchanting production is the one people have in mind when they ask, "Have you been to The Nutcracker?" The New York City Ballet's full roster of ballerinas, danseurs and musicians—plus children from the School of American Ballet—perform Balanchine's classic choreography. Princess-smitten tots will fall for the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Snow Queen, but all kids will get a kick out of the one-ton Christmas tree that "grows" to 40 feet onstage, and Mother Ginger, who hides little dancers under her nine-foot-wide skirt. Ages 5 and up.Read more
All aboard for holiday cheer! This luxury yacht will depart at 9am and take a spin around the river while kids enjoy festive games, music, dancing, holiday movies and, of course, a visit with Santa and the elves. The breakfast buffet has something for everyone, with a menu consisting of all the eggs, bacon, fruit, French toast, bagels, muffins and more that any kid could wish for. Food, fun and festivity coupled with amazing views of the Manhattan skyline and heated cabins make this an experience parents will love too. Afterwards, hang around South Street Seaport, where the boat docks, to see the park’s large, beautifully decorated Christmas tree. All ages.Read more