Timeout New York Kids

Make the most of your city

Christmas in New York: 25 things to do with kids this Christmas

Mark your calendars for holiday train shows, tree lightings, winter festivals and other Christmas in New York activities.

It's the most wonderful time of the year—jumbo spruces are being lit all over the city, new ice skating rinks are popping up just about everywhere and annual favorites (think the NYBG Holiday Train Show and the Radio City Christmas Spectacular) have returned for families to enjoy. To get ready for the this year's Christmas in New York, we've rounded up 25 of our favorite things to do during the holiday season—we guarantee you'll want to put them all on your family's seasonal must-do list. Scroll through our slide show to see all of our Christmas in New York picks.

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

    Christmas in New York: 25 things to do with kids this Christmas

    1. See A Christmas Story
    After making a splash on Broadway last season, the movie-turned-musical returns for a holiday run at MSG. City native Jake Lucas takes on the role of Ralphie (the BB gun–obsessed nine-year-old), while Noah Baird plays his little brother Randy. Dec 11–29; various times. The Theater at Madison Square Garden, Seventh Ave between 31st and 33rd Sts (866-858-0008, achristmasstorythemusical.com). $49–$199. Ages 5 and up.

  • Photograph: Filip Wolak

    Christmas in New York: 25 things to do with kids this Christmas

    2. Spot city icons at the NYBG’s Holiday Train Show
    More than 140 landmarks featured in NYBG’s popular diorama are made entirely out of plant-based materials such as twigs and acorns. Little locomotives zip along their tracks against a backdrop of diminutive sights that kids should recognize, Radio City Music Hall and Yankee Stadium among them. Throughout the season, kids can also build their own structures from stems, seeds and leaves in the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden. Nov 16–Jan 12; various times. New York Botanical Garden, Bronx River Pkwy at Fordham Rd, Bronx (718-817-8700, nybg.org). $10–25. All ages.

  • Photograph: Jayme Thornton

    Christmas in New York: 25 things to do with kids this Christmas

    3. Listen to tunes at the Laurie Berkner Band Holiday Celebration Concert
    The kindie queen and her three-piece band (Susie Lampert, Brady Rymer and Bobby Golden) make a stop in Manhattan on their small East Coast holiday tour. Tunes from last year’s album, A Laurie Berkner Christmas, make up the bulk of the set, which includes classics like “Jingle Bells,” plus original songs such as “Candle Chase” to celebrate Hanukkah. Dec 7 at 11am, 3pm. The Concert Hall at New York Society for Ethical Culture, 2 W 64th St at Central Park West (laurieberkner.com). $45. Ages 2 to 8.

  • Photograph: Beth Levendis

    Christmas in New York: 25 things to do with kids this Christmas

    4. View the Origami Holiday Tree
    More than 500 handmade origami ornaments adorn the season’s craftiest Christmas tree. This year’s theme is “Wicked, Wild and Wonderful” in honor of the museum’s newest exhibit, “The Power of Poison.” Kids should keep their eyes peeled for baubles representing snakes, tarantulas and poison dart frogs. Nov 25–Jan 12 10am–5:45pm. American Museum of Natural History, Central Park West at 79th St (212-769-5100, amnh.org). Free with museum admission. All ages.

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Christmas in New York: 25 things to do with kids this Christmas

    5. Attend the Holiday Sing-along with Dan Zanes and Friends
    Party with the ubiquitous kindie vet, who’ll present music from his album Christmas in Concord—the tunes, including “Deck the Halls,” represent popular holiday songs from Zanes’s hometown in New Hampshire. Sun Dec 8 at 11am, doors open at 10am. City Winery, 155 Varick St at Vandam St (212-608-0555, citywinery.com). $20. All ages.

  • Christmas in New York: 25 things to do with kids this Christmas

    6. Celebrate the Salzburg Marionette Theatre
    In honor of the 100th anniversary of the Salzburg Marionette Theatre (one of the oldest in the world), the troupe is coming stateside to mount a family-friendly version of Richard Wagner’s The Ring Cycle as well as the Lewis Carroll classic Alice in Wonderland. Expect imaginative set designs and period music in both of these must-see spectacles for mini culture vultures. Dec 13–15; various times. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Ave at 82nd St (212-535-7710, metmuseum.org). $45–$60, children under 17 $30. Ages 4 and up.

  • Christmas in New York: 25 things to do with kids this Christmas

    7. Go downtown for the Howl! Arts Christmas Carnival
    Howl!’s annual summer festival gets a Christmassy counterpart for the first time ever—at this two-day extravaganza, families can catch performers from Rosie’s Theater Kids, shadow puppeteers and local dance troupes. Also on tap: caroling, carnival games with a holiday twist, a visit with Santa and even a 40-horse carousel. Dec 21–22 4:30–7:30pm. Tompkins Square Park, Ave A between 7th and 10th Sts (212-466-6666, howlfestival.com). Free. All ages.

  • Photograph: MSG Entertainment

    Christmas in New York: 25 things to do with kids this Christmas

    8. See the Rockettes at the Radio City Christmas Spectacular
    Decades after its debut, this holiday stalwart still features Santa, wooden soldiers and the leggy, spunky Rockettes. This year, though, families can enjoy a brand-new number called “Snow,” in which decor, costumes and technology transform the stage into a winter wonderland. Nov 8–Dec 30; various times. Radio City Music Hall, 1260 Sixth Ave at 50th St (866-858-0007, radiocitychristmas.com). $39–$329. All ages.

     

  • Christmas in New York: 25 things to do with kids this Christmas

    9. Visit Santaland at Macy’s Herald Square
    Twinkling lights, faux snow and elf helpers fill Santaland on the eighth floor of the iconic Macy’s in Herald Square. Of course, St. Nick will be there too. The bearded man will chat with kids about gifts and pose for photos. If you can, visit on a weekday to avoid long waits. While at the department store, stop by the Macy’s Puppet Theatre to see a version of the holiday classic Yes, Virginia.Nov 29–Dec 24. 151 W 34th St between Broadway and Seventh Ave (212-695-4400, macys.com). Free; photo-package prices vary. All ages.

  • Photograph: Mimi Ko

    Christmas in New York: 25 things to do with kids this Christmas

    10. Watch the annual Santa rescue
    Kris Kringle gets stranded on the roof of the NYC Fire Museum when his reindeer fly off without him. Happily, our city’s Bravest come to the rescue. Afterward, for a fee, families can pose for photos with Santa. Dec 8 at 11:30am. 278 Spring St between Hudson and Varick Sts (212-691-1303, nycfiremuseum.org). Free. All ages.

  • Christmas in New York: 25 things to do with kids this Christmas

    11. Snag tickets for A Very Awesome Yo Gabba Gabba! LIVE! Holiday Show
    The wildly popular, awesomely bizarre television show Yo Gabba Gabba! stops by the UWS on its first-ever holiday tour. Tykes will see the whole gang, including DJ Lance Rock, Brobee, Foofa, Muno, Plex and Toodee, plus special guest Biz Markie. Kids are encouraged to dance alongside the show’s groovy holiday-themed tunes throughout the concert. Dec 20–22; various times. Beacon Theatre, 2124 Broadway at 74th St (212-465-6500, beacontheatre.com). $25 and up. Ages 2 to 6.

  • Photograph: Bart Barlow/© RCPI Landmark Properties

    Christmas in New York: 25 things to do with kids this Christmas

    12. Visit Rock Center
    The lines to see the Rockefeller Center tree (this year, lit from Dec 4 through Jan 7) and take a spin around the adjacent rink may never die down. Still, a trip to the area that, to many, defines the winter holidays in New York City is a must. For a splurge, make reservations for Breakfast with Santa at either Rock Center Café or the Sea Grill ($90–$105, children ages 3–10 $65–$75; children under 3 free)—enjoy a family-style meal, a visit with Santa, special gifts and more. Various times and dates. All ages.

  • Christmas in New York: 25 things to do with kids this Christmas

    13. Go shopping at a holiday market
    Families have their pick of outdoor marketplaces this season—favorites like the Columbus Circle Holiday Market (Dec 4–24), the Holiday Shops at the Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park (through Jan 5) and the Union Square Holiday Market (Nov 21–Dec 24) all return with crafty gifts, specialty snacks and hand-painted ornaments. Various dates and times. All ages.

     

  • Sun Productions

    Christmas in New York: 25 things to do with kids this Christmas

    14. Dance in the aisles at Angelina Ballerina: The Very Merry Holiday Musical
    Katherine Holabird’s lovable, rosy-hued mouse (a favorite with little girls!) returns to the Upper West Side for the holidays. When faced with a canceled holiday dance pageant, Angelina, her little sister Polly and her friends must get creative to save the show. Nov 16–Jan 5; various times. McGinn/Cazale Theatre, 2162 Broadway at 76th St (212-579-0528, vitaltheatre.org). $29.50–$49.50. Ages 2 to 10.

  • Photograph: Filip Wolak

    Christmas in New York: 25 to do with kids this Christmas

    15. Watch a tree lighting at Winter’s Eve
    Look for performances by Broadway vets Brian Stokes Mitchell and Bebe Neuwirth, plus a set by kindie band the Pop Ups at this annual neighborhood block party. Post tree lighting, amble along the route and munch on yummy grub from area restaurants like Boulud Sud, the Smith and Magnolia Bakery. You’ll also find sidewalks full of street musicians, jugglers, stilt walkers, ice sculptures and tons more cold-weather fun. Dec 2 5:30–9pm. Broadway between 63rd and 68th Sts (212-581-3774, winterseve.org). Free. All ages.

  • Photograph: Beth Levendis

    Christmas in New York: 25 things to do with kids this Christmas

    16. Stop by Grand Central to see the Transit Museum’s vintage trains
    The transportation hub turned 100 in 2013—and to commemorate the end of their centennial celebration, the annual train show will have its longest run ever. Kids will feel like giants while wandering around the the display, which is festooned with mini versions of city landmarks like the Brooklyn Bridge, the Empire State Building and a new, limited-edition Lionel model of Grand Central. Nov 16–Feb 23; various times. New York Transit Museum Gallery Annex, Grand Central Terminal, E 42nd St between Vanderbilt and Lexington Aves (212-878-0106, mta.info/museum). Free. All ages.

  • Photograph: Anna Simonak

    Christmas in New York: 25 things to do with kids this Christmas

    17. Visit Whoville at “The Grinch’s Holiday Workshop”
    At CMOM’s seasonal exhibit, kids immerse themselves in the world of Dr. Seuss’s The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, meeting facsimiles of Cindy-Lou Who and all the Whos down in Whoville, plus the adorable dog Max and his (initially) repugnant owner, the Grinch himself. This year, the museum introduces a new (faux) skating rink, on which kids can slide around in their socks. In addition to a scavenger hunt and sleigh-driving, children can take part in various themed workshops, including a cooking demo in honor of Thanksgiving. The book’s core message that goodwill toward all is what the holidays are all about is reinforced at every turn. Through Dec 31. Children’s Museum of Manhattan, 212 W 83rd St between Amsterdam Ave and Broadway (212-721-1223, cmom.org). Free with museum admission. All ages.

  • Christmas in New York: 25 things to do with kids this Christmas

    18. Rock out at a holiday-themed Hip Tot Music Fest
    Especially cool Brooklyn kids and their parents can get in on wintry crafts, giveaways, storytime, face painting and a rockin’ holiday set by the Suzi Shelton Band. (Here’s hoping they croon the popular “Tomboy in a Princess Dress.”) Kids can also meet with Santa Claus and clue him in on what they want for Christmas. Dec 8 11am–2pm. ShapeShifter Lab, 18 Whitwell Pl between Carroll and 1st Sts, Gowanus, Brooklyn (718-809-8850, hiptotmusicfest.com). $15, in advance $10. Ages 2 to 5.

  • Photograph: Paul Kolnik

    Christmas in New York: 25 things to do with kids this Christmas

    19. Embrace The Nutcracker
    Find the best version of Tchaikovsky's legendary ballet for your family, whether it's the American Ballet Theatre's inventive production at BAM or the Revolutionary War–set Colonial Nutcracker. For younger viewers, there's Keith Michael's one-hour performance, and for those wishing to spot Manhattan landmarks like Central Park and Gracie Mansion, try The Yorkville Nutcracker. But only at the New York City Ballet's rendition at Lincoln Center will kids be able to watch a one-ton Christmas tree grow onstage. Various dates, prices and times.

  • Photograph: Tessa Hartley

    Christmas in New York: 25 things to do with kids this Christmas

    20. Drool over "Gingerbread Lane"
    Looking for inspiration to build your own gingerbread house? Don't miss "Gingerbread Lane," a 300-square-foot village made entirely of edible gingerbread (no, you're not invited to try it!) at the New York Hall of Science. Its 152 gingerbread houses, 65 trees, five train cars and four cable cars are offset by sugar signage, candy trees and an underground candy subway station. New this year is an exhibit showing how the 1.5 ton creation gets built—it took an entire year to develop and complete, and is a contender this year for the Guiness Book Record for largest gingerbread exhibition. Through Jan 12. New York Hall of Science, 47-01 111th St, Flushing Meadows–Corona Park, Queens (718-699-0005, nysci.org). $11, children $8. All ages.

  • Photograph: Lauren Spinelli

    Christmas in New York: 25 things to do with kids this Christmas

    21. Brave a new ice rink
    Sharpen those skates! This season, we're thrilled to welcome a handful of new ice rinks to the city, including McCarren Rink, the Rink at Brookfield Place, Lakeside at Prospect Park, and See/Change Unseasonably Cool at South Street Seaport. Various times, dates and prices.

  • Photograph: Filip Wolak

    Christmas in New York: 25 things to do with kids this Christmas

    22. Head to Winter Family Day at the Morgan Library and Museum
    This year, the festivities are dedicated to the exhibition "Edgar Allan Poe," and will feature the writer’s penchant for ghosts and mysteries, from puppet shows and art workshops to strolling characters and costume photo shoots. Additionally, the Morgan is not skipping its traditional display of Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, for those in need of some serious holiday spirit. Dec 8 at 2pm. Morgan Library & Museum, 225 Madison Ave at 36th St (212-685-0008, themorgan.org). Free with admission. Ages 3 to 12.

  • Photograph: Courtesy of Circus Der Sinne

    Christmas in New York: 25 things to do with kids this Christmas

    23. See Mother Africa at the New Vic
    This African circus show features Tanzanian stilt walkers, Ethiopian jugglers, and Kenyan contortionists performing to the beats of traditional instruments like the djembe and mbira. Particularly awe-inspiring is the "Icarian Games" act, in which Circus Der Sinne ("Circus of Joy") cast members throw acrobats into the air. Dec 6–Jan 5. Schedule varies; see website for specific showtimes. New Victory Theater, 209 W 42nd St between Seventh and Eighth Aves (646-223-3010, newvictory.org). $17–$55. Ages 5 and up.

  • Photograph: Justina Wong

    Christmas in New York: 25 things to do with kids this Christmas

    24. Catch The Three Bears Holiday Bash
    This seasonal offering of song, dance and, of course, puppetry comes from the talented folks at the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre. Tots will see a mix of Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Christmas themes incorporated into the company's take on "Goldilocks and the Three Bears." The plot snowballs after Baby Bear invites St. Nick to star in Mama and Papa Bear's festive spectacular. Be sure to check the website for an updated schedule; showtimes are subject to change. Through Dec 30. See website for specific showtimes. Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre, Central Park (212-988-9093, cityparksfoundation.org). $10, under 12 $7. Ages 3 to 12.

  • Photograph: Valerie Remise

    Christmas in New York: 25 things to do with kids this Christmas

    25. Be wowed by Cirkopolis
    Montreal-based troupe Cirque Eloize will rendezvous in the Big Apple for a special holiday run of their acclaimed show Cirkopolis, which features original music, 3D projections, circus arts, theater and dance set in an exaggerated urban landscape that city kids will appreciate. Dec 18–Jan 5, various times. Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, 566 LaGuardia Place at Washington Square South (212-352-3101, nyuskirball.org). $40–$80. Ages 5 and up.

Photograph: Jessica Lin

Christmas in New York: 25 things to do with kids this Christmas

1. See A Christmas Story
After making a splash on Broadway last season, the movie-turned-musical returns for a holiday run at MSG. City native Jake Lucas takes on the role of Ralphie (the BB gun–obsessed nine-year-old), while Noah Baird plays his little brother Randy. Dec 11–29; various times. The Theater at Madison Square Garden, Seventh Ave between 31st and 33rd Sts (866-858-0008, achristmasstorythemusical.com). $49–$199. Ages 5 and up.


Share your thoughts
  1. * mandatory fields

Events for kids by date

  1. "The ABC of It: Why...

    The main branch of the NYPL is playing host to an ...

  2. Anne and Bernard...

    The former Human Biology and Evolution Hall has ev...

  3. Arthur Ross Hall of...

    This exhibit explores our 4.5-billion-year-old sol...

27 more events »