LuminoCity Festival
Courtesy: LuminoCity Festival

Christmas events near me: What to do in NYC

Have a holly, jolly and safe holiday season. The best Christmas events for kids in NYC help you do just that!

By Danielle Valente and Time Out editors

The most wonderful time of year might look a little different in 2020, but we can still help those who are searching for "Christmas events near me." 

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Christmas for kids in New York

From fun holiday light show installations to the (virtual) Macy's Santaland, there is plenty of winter goodness to go around. Plus, new rules are in place at each venue to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

Before the man in the big red suit pulls into town, tackle all of these great seasonal happenings! Then, curl up with some hot chocolate and one of our favorite Christmas movies for kids!

Christmas events near me: NYC

lotte palace
Photograph: Courtesy Shutterstock

1. Christmas trees in NYC


The holidays might be a little lopsided this year, but we can all agree that we deserve some good cheer. Fortunately, NYC Christmas trees deliver those holly jolly vibes in spades. From the traditional attractions (we're lookin' at you, Rockefeller Center) to the more unique setups (wait until you see what's happening at Queens County Farm), these beauties will definitely give you a sentimental feeling. 

Dyker Heights Christmas Lights
Photograph: Time Out/Ali Garber

2. Dyker Heights Christmas Lights

Things to do

Dyker Heights Christmas Lights 2020 display has definitely earned its stripes as one of the best New York attractions. What’s not to love about all that razzle-dazzle to get you in the Christmas spirit? The Brooklyn neighborhood is home to the most over-the-top Christmas light decorations with life-sized Santas, sleighs, snowmen and some houses even bump Christmas carols from loudspeakers. Crowds of all ages flock to the Kings County neighborhood to wander down the multiple blocks and avenues and experience one of the top things to do in NYC in the winter.

Bloomingdales holiday windows
Photograph: Courtesy Tom Sibley for Bloomingdale’s

3. Christmas window displays in NYC

Things to do
Holiday shopping at department stores can be a nightmare, but the Christmas window displays NYC offers make it worth it. Those ornate holiday windows decked out with hundreds of Christmas lights and more winter wonderland decor are so impressive, they might be reason enough to stroll through midtown.
Photograph: Courtesy Elizabeth Shrier

4. Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park

Things to do Bryant Park, Midtown West

Winter Village is on its way to Bryant Park! Every year, the midtown green space transforms into a holiday wonderland, complete with shops, sweets, ice skating, a Christmas tree and more. Things will look a little different in 2020: The event will be spaced out appropriately, everything will take place outdoors and timed skating sessions will be required. (Tickets open at the end of October.) Visit the Bryant Park website for more details. All ages. 

NYBG Holiday Train Show
Courtesy: NYBG + Robert Benson Photography

5. New York Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show

Things to do New York Botanical Garden | Bronx, NY, The Bronx

Fans of locomotives will delight in the New York Botanical Garden’s annual tradition. Take in the model trains as they loop through teensy versions of famous New York landmarks like the Brooklyn Bridge, Rockefeller Center and the Statue of Liberty. Note for 2020, the event will be available for NYBG Members and Community Partners only. Learn about the new safety rules online. All ages.

new york historical society train show
Courtesy: Glenn Castellano; New-York Historical Society

6. Holiday Express: Toys and Trains from the Jerni Collection

Things to do New-York Historical Society | Manhattan, NY, Upper West Side

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. Lighting and accompanying music immerse viewers in the exhibit on the museum's first floor as they browse model trains from decades past. Be sure to explore holiday and train-themed family programs that will take place via Zoom throughout the exhibition’s runAll ages.

macy's santaland
Photograph: Courtesy Macy's

7. Macy's Santaland 2020

News City Life

One of New Yorkers' beloved holiday traditions is making some changes for the 2020 season. 

Since 1861, families have flocked to Macy's in Herald Square to venture through the whimsical, festive Santaland, and of course, snag some one-on-one time with the man in the red suit. This year, things will look a little different: From Nov 27 through Dec 24, Macy’s Santaland will be transformed into an interactive, virtual experience, ultimately bringing a little piece of NYC Christmas magic to homes everywhere. 

“At Macy’s, the safety of our customers and colleagues is paramount,” Susan Tercero, Macy’s vice president of Branded Entertainment, said in a statement. “To replicate the magical experience of visiting Macy’s Santaland for children and their families, we will shift to a virtual engagement this year. "Macy’s is delighted to have found a way to ensure even more families can enjoy this treasured experience safely during this festive time of the year.”

Grab a cup of cocoa, put on some Christmas songs for kids and venture to the North Pole from the comfort of home via Macy’s Santaland at Home. (It's free!)

Macy's Santaland
Courtesy: Mike Coppolaattends Macy's Herald Square Santaland on November 17, 2017 in New York City.

Here's how to make a visit: 

  • Go to and allow moms, dads or adult guardians to enable all permissions. 
  • Join the elves, who are your guide on the journey. Up to three children can enjoy the customized experience at the same time. 
  • Play interactive games and take a gander at Santa's village and workshop while you're on your North Pole-bound train.
  • Stay until the end of the event, where a digital interactive video with Santa will allow kids to read off their wish lists and pose for a selfie.

Not only will other cities get a taste of how NYC celebrates the holidays, but we Gothamites can experience traditions from different locales: The Santaland website will highlight Macy’s Center City in Philadelphia, which hosts Dickens’ Village and the Christmas Light Show. Plus, Kris Kringle himself will appear on Macy's social media handles throughout the season for some fun surprises. 

Sure, things are a little different, but the show will go on. See you in the North Pole!

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Photograph: Shutterstock

8. Peace, Love & Lights

The Woodstock site is getting a yuletide makeover. From Nov 23–Jan 3, Bethel Woods Center for the Arts will host the drive-thru Peace, Love & Lights Festival, a one mile-long display of holiday lights with homage to the grounds' iconic past. Naturally, there are eye-catching Christmas displays—a 120-foot Twinkle Tunnel, an Enchanted Forest—but where else will you find Groovy Way, a lights attraction takin' you all the way back to 1969? It's a must for music lovers and the whole family! 

holiday light show
Courtesy: BOLD Media

9. South Jersey Holiday Light Show

Dozens of illuminated attractions are waiting for you in Jersey! This mile-long Christmas celebration has a little bit of everything—a jumbo dragon in a Santa hat, a snowflake tunnel and so much more. From Nov 19–Dec 30, guests are invited to hit the road and pull up to the experience. Tune in to the radio for a synched performance. 

holiday lights show
Courtesy: BOLD Media

10. Riverhead Holiday Light Show

Suffolk County's largest holiday light show is back this year with even more offerings to dazzle those driving through. Tune in to the radio for holiday music as you make your way through enormous illuminated attractions. The event will run from Nov 19–Dec 30.

christmas lights
Courtesy: Orange Motorsports and Entertainment

11. Holiday Light Spectacular

The site of this year's popular drive-thru fair food festival is extending the fun to the winter with its Holiday Light Spectacular. Venture to the Orange County Fairgrounds for a multimedia lights show, displays and, naturally, delicious sweets that you can order directly from your car. (Yes, funnel cakes are on the list.) The event will run from Nov 27–Jan 3. 

holiday lights
Courtesy: Skyland Stadiums

12. Christmas Light Show & Village

Skyland Stadiums doesn't miss a trick: One mile of festive lights are at the ready, all while the expanded outdoor village will keep families busy with a hot cocoa bar, s'mores pit, ice skating, a ferris wheel and even walk-through light displays. Tickets ($29) are only available online. 

american express Platinum Winter Lights
Photograph: Courtesy American Express

13. American Express Platinum Winter Lights

News City Life

American Express Platinum Winter Lights will debut for the first time at Moorland Farms in New Jersey. Cardholders will have the opportunity to drive through two miles of twinkling lights, a recreation of American Ballet Theatre’s The Nutcracker and a drive-through snow globe, all while their journey is accompanied by holiday tunes from Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDs. Even better? This Christmas event is not just for fun—it's for a cause. Proceeds will benefit the American Ballet Theatre and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDs. To support Shop SmallⓇ, AmEx will also work with local businesses like Willow & Olivia and David Bradley Chocolatier to curate a selection of winter treats. Tickets are $15 per car and time slots are from 5:30–10pm are available from Dec 11–13 and Dec 18–20.

Christmas activities for kids in NYC


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