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NYC events in December 2019

Plan your month with our NYC events in December 2019 guide including holiday markets and shows like The Nutcracker

By Jennifer Picht and Time Out contributors |
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Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree 2013
Photograph: Filip Wolak

Get ready for the most wonderful time of the year with the best NYC events in December 2019. This season's highlights include, well, you already know what they are. But you’ll only find out how to get Radio City Christmas Spectacular tickets and where to see The Nutcracker Ballet in NYC here! You can really get into the spirit when you visit one of New York's many holiday markets boasting great gifts for your friends and family as well as tasty provisions. Looking for something less festive? Check out terrific art shows and concerts.

RECOMMENDED: Full NYC events calendar for 2019

Check out our Winter Village video

Featured NYC events in December 2019

Things to do, Exhibitions

Holiday Train Show

The garden lights up with its collection of trains that chug along a nearly half-mile track by 150 miniature NYC landmarks like the Empire State Building and Radio City Music Hall, all made of natural materials such as leaves, twigs, bark and berries.  

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Things to do

Dyker Heights Holiday Lights

Dyker Heights residents take the holidays very seriously: The houses in this nabe are decked out with thousands of lights, life-size toy soldiers, inflatable Santas and more. Take in all the best displays on this 3.5-hour bus tour.

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Photograph: Ieva Sireikyte
Things to do, Markets and fairs

BUST Holiday Craftacular

In a city dominated by holiday markets, leave the tastemakers of BUST magazine to curate one of the best craft fairs of the season, with DIY gifts and custom cocktails, plus classes and workshops like "Incense Making 101" and "Meditation Through Movement and Hooping." 

Photograph: Courtesy NYRR
Things to do

NYRR Midnight Run

Central Park, Central Park

Run as if 2018 were chasing you (and truly, can you imagine a scarier horror concept?) at New York Road Runners’ annual four-mile Midnight Run, which provides credit to finishers toward the New York City Marathon. At midnight, start your trek with hundreds of other festive joggers, and take in the gorgeous fireworks display at an endorphin-fueled after party. (Trust us: It’s a hell of a lot healthier than binge drinking and hooking up with a rando.) Be sure to register online before the big date. 

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Things to do, Festivals

Christmas in New York

It’s the most wonderful time of the year—and by “it” we mean Christmas. New York lights up into a winter wonderland each year with Christmas trees, holiday window displays and Christmas lights. Even the most tourist-averse New Yorkers have to admit that it’s a pretty spectacular sight. Get the most out of the holidays with our guide to the best holiday sales and holiday gift ideas, Christmas movies to watch with the family and plenty of festive things to do including Bryant Park ice skating, the Radio City Christmas Spectacular and more.

Things to do

Hanukkah in New York

Gear up for eight days of celebration! Time to nosh on latkes (and other delicious fried food), which you can sample at the annual latke festival. Or you can say l’chaim and warm up with winter cocktails. Check out our events celebrating the Festival of Lights.

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Bryant Park Winter Village
Photograph: Courtesy Angelito Jusay
Things to do, Markets and fairs

Bryant Park Winter Village

Not only is there free ice-skating on Bryant Park’s 17,000-square-foot outdoor rink (bring your own skates!), but also more than 120 holiday shops, including a bunch of new kiosks and eateries. And after you shop and skate, you can warm up at spacious rinkside restaurant Celsius. FYI: The vendors are only there until the first week of January, but If you want to practice your lutzes and axels with ample spinning room, try visiting during off-peak hours (open through the beginning of March).

Radio City Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall
Photograph: MSG Entertainment
Things to do

The Radio City Christmas Spectacular

The Radio City Christmas Spectacular celebrates its 89th year of precision dancing and high kicks this holiday season. Along with George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker from the New York City Ballet, the Spectacular has become one of NYC’s most hallowed holiday traditions, drawing tourists and locals alike. Unlike The Nutcracker, however, there’s nothing highbrow about Radio City Music Hall’s pageant of glitz. It celebrates classic holiday values—peace! Love! Consumer confidence!—by deploying a flying Santa, a massive LED screen, and the sea of legs known as the Rockettes, all kicking in fabulous unison.

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Photograph: Filip Wolak
Things to do

The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree lighting

Lost in New York? Every Christmas, thousands of New Yorkers (and tourists) find their way to the bright and brilliant nexus of town, the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. Whether you’re stopping by the tree for ice-skating, the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, or to see the Lighting Ceremony, you’re certain to feel the magic when you witness the wonder of the Norway Spruce illuminated with more than 45,000 LED lights.

Things to do

Holiday windows in New York City

Half the fun of holiday shopping in New York is ogling the tricked-out window displays along Fifth Avenue that pop up to coincide with the merriest, spendiest time of the year. In between picking out sweaters and great presents from our holiday gift guide, stop outside Macy’s, Barneys and other classic department stores to take in holiday windows that feature famous cartoonists, iconic New York attractions and more.

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Find out what's happening in January

Music events in December 2019

Bela Fleck and the Flecktones
Photograph: Courtesy BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival
Music

Béla Fleck and the Flecktones

The virtuosic banjo player is a staple on the jam-band circuit, but even those who don't live for perfectly executed impromptu fusion wizardry might know Fleck's work—he and his Flecktones composed incidental music for the Weather Channel.

Mumford & Sons get twangy in Grant Park at Lollapalooza Music Fe
Photograph: Bill Whitmire
Music, Rock and indie

Not So Silent Night

ALT 92.3 takes its alt-rock from the airwaves to the arena this winter with an absolutely stacked lineup: Catch performances by Mumford & Sons, Vampire Weekend, Cage the Elephant, Jimmy Eat World and Of Monsters and Men at this holiday bonanza.

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Le Poisson Rouge, The Freedom Party
Photograph: Courtesy Joonbug.com
Music, Rock and indie

Thurston Moore Group

Sure, we're still bummed about the demise of Sonic Youth—and let's face it, Kim Gordon and Moore's sad, sordid split—but both artists have been doing great work on their own, releasing new albums this year within a month of one another: Gordon with her upcoming No Home Record, and Moore with his new Spirit Counsel. Like much of the lanky frontman's recent solo output, the album plays like a suppler yet no less spellbinding Sonic Youth.

Bad Bunny
Photograph: Chelsea Lauren/Shutterstock
Music, Rap, hip-hop and R&B

Bad Bunny

Along with injecting an unexpected dose of retro Latin flavor to rap radio, Cardi B’s “I Like It”, also introduced American audiences to this Puerto Rican reggaeton phenom last year. But Bad Bunny's oeuvre of mega-hits extends far beyond that. Check out the Drake-featuring "MIA" or this year's fresh new banger "Callaita" for another taste of the star's talents before you catch him at this Brooklyn arena gig.

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Lucy Dacus
Photograph: Courtesy Dustin Condren
Music, Rock and indie

Lucy Dacus + Haley Heyndrickx

Within months of releasing her 2016 debut, No Burden, Lucy Dacus had signed to Matador Records, adding her name to an artist roster including Yo La Tengo, Cat Power and Perfume Genius. The fast-rising Virginia songsmith trades in country-inflected indie rock, which provides a warm backdrop for a voice that shines on its own as well as it spins divine harmonies with others (see her 2018 collaborative project Boygenius with Phoebe Bridgers and Julien Baker).

Webster Hall, 2011. Webster Hall New Years Eve Ball
Photograph: Noah Devereaux
Music

Pixies

Catch these pioneering alt-rockers on the heels of Beneath the Eyrie, the newly releaseed third record in the band's recent wave of comeback albums. Neither Kim (Deal or Shattuck) is with the band anymore, so the lineup looks like this: Black Francis, David Lovering, Joey Santiago and Paz Lenchantin. Tonight you'll surely ye olde classics alongside the new tunes.

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Music, Rock and indie

Battles

Battles' greatest achievement has been taking the listener-friendly experimentalism of ’90s post-rock (Tortoise, etc.) and grafting on a dance-floor-commanding pulse. The band plays behind its fourth full-length, Juice B Crypts, which like the band's previous albums, continues to push the limits of innovative rock futurism even after the departure of longtime member Tyondai Braxton. Hopefully Williamsburg's spacious Music Hall will accommodate drummer John Stanier's borderline-overwhelming energy better than the band's DIY gigs of yore.

Mount Eerie
Photograph: Courtesy Phil Elverum
Music, Rock and indie

Mount Eerie + Julie Doiron

St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church, Brooklyn Heights

Phil Elverum's most recent albums may be his most deeply personal. For such a poignant songwriter, that's saying a lot, but it makes sense in context: the records document the aftermath of his wife's death from cancer in 2016. However, his new collaborative album with Canadian singer Julie Doiron, Lost Wisdom Pt. 2 (a follow-up to their 2008 release of the same name), seeks the opposite: Elverum tries here to write songs that don't rely whatsoever on his personal life. Grab your tickets soon because the twosome say this might be the only time they play these songs live.

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Rough Trade NYC, record store day
Photograph: Jennifer Arnow
Music, Dance and electronic

JoJo Mayer's Nerve

Rough Trade NYC, Williamsburg

This drummer is known for virtuosically translating the automated breakbeat samples of drum 'n' bass into blazing chops on the acoustic set. But along with being an expert instrumentalist, Mayer is also a pioneering bandleader—here, he reintroduces Nerve, his once-ubiquitous improvisatory electronica group.

Insane Clown Posse
Photograph: Courtesy of Psychopathic Records
Music, Rap, hip-hop and R&B

Insane Clown Posse

Pier 36, Two Bridges

While incels have attempted to co-opt the figure of the clown a la Todd Phillips' Joker for their violent misogynistic machinations, ICP perhaps offers a redemptive rewrite. Known for burning Confederate flags onstage and penning lyrics about attacking Klansmen, could ICP represent the anti-oppressive clown revolutionary Gotham City deserves? The band's veritable army of Faygo-guzzling, clown-makeup-wearing fans would probably say, "yes." What better way to decide for yourself than experiencing the band first-hand on a cruise ship?

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