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December events calendar for kids in NYC

Our December events calendar is full of fun family activities to help you make the most of the holiday season in NYC

Photograph: Gene Schiavone
Radio City Christmas Spectacular

Get festive! Our December events calendar offers the most merry events of the season, including fun stuff like Macy's Santaland, Radio City Christmas SpectacularGrand Central's Holiday Train Show, exciting adventures at Bryant Park Winter Village and special Polar Express rides too.

RECOMMENDED: Full NYC events calendar for kids 

There are other elements to having the perfect holiday too, like searching for the perfect gifts! Thankfully, New York has some of the most spectacular toy stores to help you along the way. Last, when you're ready to retire from all the hustle and bustle, kick back with all the best kids' movies to show your kids some love.

 

Featured events

Grand Central Holiday Train Show

There’s no better place for this joyful event than one of the most history-rich train stations in New York. Train enthusiasts will love this 34-foot display of vintage Lionel model trains that zip past subway stations, around skyscrapers, through the suburbs and to the North Pole. The exhibit includes a selection of vintage “O gauge” and “N gauge” trains and half-inch–scale trolley models. All ages.

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26 Feb 2017

Macy's Santaland 2016

Welcome, Macy's Santaland 2016! While NYC plays host to plenty of opportunities for finding Saint Nick, none are more iconic than a trip to Macy's Santaland with the kids. As a bonus, you'll get to meet his super peppy elves, too! The event is without a doubt one of our absolute favorite Christmas events for kids because of its epic displays and beautiful scenery, plus you're guaranteed a seat with Santa (if you're willing to wait). Dont' forget to check out the amazing local christmas window displays on Fifth Ave and head over to Bryant Park Winter Village for shopping and more festivities. 

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By: Allie Early

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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15 Jan 2017
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Chanukah Festival

Known for their long history of providing family-friendly events and programming, the 92nd Street Y continues their tradition of throwing a fun-filled Chanukah festival this year. The day’s schedule of events is full of crafts, music, and games. The day will start off with holiday songs sung in English and Hebrew, followed by a “Miracle of Light” holiday show. Stick around for Jewish Drum Tales at 1pm to hear “The Delightful Story of Chanukah.” Throughout the day, little artists will learn to make their own snowflakes, dreidels, menorahs, holiday cards and much more. All ages.

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Until Sun Dec 18

More events

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.

Read more
15 Jan 2017

Grand Central Holiday Train Show

There’s no better place for this joyful event than one of the most history-rich train stations in New York. Train enthusiasts will love this 34-foot display of vintage Lionel model trains that zip past subway stations, around skyscrapers, through the suburbs and to the North Pole. The exhibit includes a selection of vintage “O gauge” and “N gauge” trains and half-inch–scale trolley models. All ages.

Read more
26 Feb 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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24 Dec 2016
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Holiday Express: Toys and Trains from the Jerni Collection

Recommended

Minitrain aficionados are certain to be transfixed by the scenic components of this show, featuring trains from the Jerni Collection of handmade toys dating all the way back to 1850. Four large multimedia screens in the rotunda serve as a backdrop to take this trainscape the extra mile. Theatrical lighting and accompanying music immerse viewers in the exhibit on the museum's first floor as they browse model trains from decades past. The exhibit shows off more than 300 trains and toys, including eight overhead trains and a cool crawl-through space leading to a pop-up bubble, putting kids smack in the center of the display. Families can continue exploring the world of classic toys and trains through a slew of programs, including kid-friendly activities, storytelling, and crafts projects. All ages.

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Until Sun Feb 26

Chanukah Festival

Known for their long history of providing family-friendly events and programming, the 92nd Street Y continues their tradition of throwing a fun-filled Chanukah festival this year. The day’s schedule of events is full of crafts, music, and games. The day will start off with holiday songs sung in English and Hebrew, followed by a “Miracle of Light” holiday show. Stick around for Jewish Drum Tales at 1pm to hear “The Delightful Story of Chanukah.” Throughout the day, little artists will learn to make their own snowflakes, dreidels, menorahs, holiday cards and much more. All ages.

Read more
Until Sun Dec 18

Fancy Nancy: Splendiferous Christmas

The charistmatic youngster from Jane O'Connor's best-selling children's book series comes to life in this family musical from Vital Theatre Company. Fancy Nancy can't get enough of the wrapping paper, decorations and sweets that Christmas brings—after all, the holidays are the fanciest time of year! When things go awry while her family is busy decking the halls, Nancy learns that, with a little teamwork, Christmas can still be splendiferous. Ages 2 to 7.

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Until Sat Dec 31
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Breakfast with Santa Cruise

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.

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17 Dec 2016

Peter & the Wolf

Recommended

Presented by Works & Process, Isaac Mizrahi narrates Prokofiev's musical tale, in which a boy catches a big, bad wolf with the help of some animal friends. Brad Lubman conducts the Ensemble Signal while a cast brings Peter, Grandpa, the bird, the cat, the duck and the Wolf to life with John Heginbotham’s choreography. Ages 5 and up.

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Until Sun Dec 11

Keith Michael’s The Nutcracker

The New York Theatre Ballet's adaptation of Tchaikovsky's classic is highly polished, with an Art Nouveau–style twist. It's abridged to an hour in length—just the right amount of time for little ones to watch the polka dot–clad mice and sugary backdrops in wonder before they get too squirmy. The show takes place circa 1907, with choreography by Keith Michael, set design by Gillian Bradshaw-Smith, and costumes by Sylvia Nolan. Ages 3 and up.

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Until Sun Dec 11
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The Yorkville Nutcracker

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.

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Until Sun Dec 11
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