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NYC events in December 2018

Plan your month with our NYC events in December 2018 guide including holiday markets and shows like The Nutcracker

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

Get ready for the most wonderful time of the year with the best NYC events in December 2018. 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 2018

Check out our Winter Village video

Featured NYC events in December 2018

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.

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.

Things to do

NYC New Year’s Eve

The pressure is always immense to have a good time on New Year’s Eve—and have a good time you will. Ring in 2019 with an all-night party, a raucous concert, dinner and a show, an open bar with a champagne toast, or a New Year’s Eve fireworks display. You’ll find these celebrations and more with our essential guide to New Year’s Eve in New York. Keep checking back for ticket announcements—we’ll be updating this page with new events from now through December 31.

Find out what's happening in January

Music events in December 2018

Photograph: courtesy of the artist
Music, Rock and indie

Dec 1, 2: Mitski + Downtown Boys + Sasami

Mitski Miyawaki has a talent for swift transformation. Over the past several years, she's rocketed from self-releasing her first two albums and playing DIY gigs to selling out New York's biggest rock venues months in advance. Her latest collection, Be The Cowboy, continues that hunger for growth, veering from her recent penchant for dreamily yearning indie rock in favor of a multi-faceted synth pop that recalls her early-career experimental tendencies.

Photograph: Courtesy John Russo

Dec 4: Lindsey Buckingham

The tea spills, the cheekbones get sharper, the lightning guitar skills faster still: Fleetwood Mac icon Lindsey Buckingham returns with Solo Anthology, an outstanding "Best Of" album that includes cuts from some of the three-time Grammy winner's best solo records—Law and Order, Seeds We Sow, Out of the Cradle—and includes tracks from his recent collaboration with fellow Fleetwood Mac member Christine McVie. 

J Mascis
Photograph: Timothy Herzog
Music, Rock and indie

Dec 7, 8: J Mascis + Luluc

This indie vet has always seemed inseparable from his trademark electric-guitar supernovas, so it's a pleasant surprise to hear Mascis sounding so comfy on his acoustic solo discs, such as 2011's Several Shades of Why and 2014's LP, Tied to a Star. It turns out that the Dino Jr. frontman's mumbly, achy emoting translates quite well in unplugged mode.

Parquet Courts
Photograph: Ben Rayner
Music, Rock and indie

Dec 8: Parquet Courts + Sun Ra Arkestra

Brothers Max and Andrew Savage, along with their bandmates, are doing the once-a-generation job of stripping rock & roll back to something tight, primal and brilliant. The local outfit quickly sold out its tiny run of album-release shows this summer. This much-larger Manhattan gig offers another crack at hearing the invigorating postpunk bops of its latest, Wide Awake! The enduring, always-captivating space-jazz ensemble Sun Ra Arkestra opens.

Photograph: Courtesy Anna Webber

Dec 8: David Crosby

David Crosby, co-founder of the Byrds as well as Crosby, Stills & Nash, is a national treasure. That's why you shouldn't miss the two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Famer when he graces the stage of The Capitol Theatre backed by The Lighthouse Band (comprising Becca Stevens, Michelle Willis and Michael League) to reinterpret the legend’s best tracks as well as his latest LP Here If You Listen. Oh, and if you're not already following the musician on Twitter, you should be.

Photograph: Courtesy the artist
Music, Rock and indie

Dec 10: Stars

Though this atmospheric Canadian indie-rock combo started out making whispery drum machine ditties on its 2001 debut Nightsongs, the crew has since asserted increasingly grandiose aspirations. More than 15 years later, Stars is turning out celestial, big-room synth-pop, as heard on 2017's There Is No Love in Fluorescent Light. Expect to hear selections from both the album and the band's back catalogue at this south-of-the-border gig.

Manchester Orchestra
Photograph: Courtesy the artist
Music, Rock and indie

Dec 14, 15: Manchester Orchestra

This American band, which is neither from Manchester nor an orchestra, plays swelling rock songs with dramatic shades of Built to Spill. The group hits Brooklyn behind the new A Black Mile to the Surface, which features a nearly total turnover of the group's original members aside from guitarist and singer Andy Hull.

Make Music Winter
Photograph: Courtesy Darial R. Sneed
Music, Music festivals

Dec 21: Make Music Winter

This music-making march invites New Yorkers to join processions of joyful noise through parks and other public places in all five boroughs. Gatherings include Bell by Bell, at which 96 bells will be distributed to ring through the East Village (Astor Place Plaza, 5:30pm); the fiddling and dancing frenzy Flatfoot Flatbush (354 Flatbush Ave, Brooklyn; 4:30pm); and many more. Visit Oculus Plaza between noon and 2pm to participate in Sonic Meditation: The Heart Chant, a deep listening meditation composed by the late Pauline Oliveros.

Wet Tuna
Photograph: Courtesy the artist
Music, Rock and indie

Dec 22: Wet Tuna + Garcia Peoples + Elkhorn

As Wet Tuna, Matt “M.V.” Valentine and Pat Gubler churn out liquidy doses of weird, guitar-noodlin’ Americana. Here the band is joined by jammy indie-rockers Garcia Peoples and improvisatory folk duo Elkhorn.

The Slackers
Photograph: Courtesy Joelle Andres
Music, Rock and indie

Dec 22: The Slackers + War on Women

Local ska outfit the Slackers sprinkles laid-back, syncopated grooves with plenty of humor and soul, successfully avoiding much of the cheesiness of ska’s ’90s revival. At its annual holiday bash, the band peppers in Christmas and Hanukkah classics amid the reggae and boogaloo.

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