Get ready for the most wonderful time of the year with the best NYC events in December. 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! Looking for something less festive? Check out terrific art shows and Christmas concerts in NYC.
RECOMMENDED: Full NYC events calendar for 2016
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Featured NYC events in December 2016
Not only is there free ice-skating on Bryant Park’s 17,000-square-foot outdoor rink (bring your own skates!), but also 128 holiday shops, including a bunch of new kiosks and eateries such as Marty V’s Burger and Super Mac + Cheez. And after you shop and skate, warm up at spacious rinkside restaurant Celsius. FYI: The vendors are only there until Jan 3, but If you want to practice your lutzes and axels with ample spinning room, try visiting during off-peak hours (open through March 6).
The Radio City Christmas Spectacular celebrates its 88th 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.
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 78-foot, 10-ton Norway Spruce illuminated in over 45,000 LED lights.
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.
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.
The pressure is always immense to have a good time on New Year’s Eve—and have a good time you will. Ring in 2016 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.
Music events in December 2016
Fifity songs written on 50 instruments celebrating 50 years of life—what more would you expect from the guy whose musical project centers on taking mundane concepts to the extreme? In what feels like the spiritual successor to the monumental 69 Love Songs, Stephin Merritt's upcoming 50 Song Memoir is another vast conceptual collection of charming yet cuttingly sardonic diddies, which the singer-songwriter will play in its entirety over the course of these two nights.
Justin Vernon's ascendancy—from recording the debut Bon Iver album alone in a Wisconsin cabin to meeting up with Kanye West in Hawaii to collaborate on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy—might just be the quintessential indie-rock success story. His new album 22, A Million caught us all unawares, though, with its bizarre witchhouse-esque song titles and unexpected left-turns from folk-pop uplift into stuttering experimental electronics. Songs like "10 d E A T h b R e a s T" see the ex-folkster driving for full-throttle sonic maximalism while retaining his unmistakeable ear for intimate, heartfelt lyricism—or in other words, Yeezus seems to have left quite a mark on Vernon, and we are oh so thankful.
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. Tonight the prolific, fruitfully quirky local indie-rock faves play a special year-end multimedia event with X_____X (Craig Bell of Rocket From The Tombs), and Flasher. Also on the menu is a sound installation by Eaters, a gallery of Andrew Savage‘s artwork, films by Joey Pizza Slice, a Dull Toolsrecord shop and other TBA pop-ups.
Endlessly inventive MC Young Thug is nothing short of high-powered. The Atlanta native exploded in 2014 with the potent, unhinged “Danny Glover” and the sticky, triumphant “Lifestyle” that made more seasoned rappers look old-fashioned. Never one to pronounce a syllable the same way twince, listening to Thugger is like watching someone invent a new language in real time. His newest release, JEFFREY, demonstrates both his endless talent for conjuring earwormy hooks as well as a piercing eye for transgressive fashion. Recent XXL Freshman pick 21 Savage opens.
Hyped young MC Miller's artistry progressed leaps and bounds in the period between his critically-maligned debut and much-improved sophomore effort. The upward mobility seems to have resulted in some lofty artistic ambitions with this year's utterly surprising concept album, The Divine Feminine, a record which forgoes his original subject matters of Nikes, senior skip days and pizza to explicate the nuances of intimacy, distance and the "divine feminine energy of the planet." Okay.
Connoisseurs of primo psychedelic fuzz rawk, everything from Hendrix's Band of Gypsys to contemporary heavyweights such as Clutch, will find sweet release in the molten jams of Earthless. Here the San Diego trio sets out to solidify their reputation for delivering adrenaline-inducing sets that will leave you reverberating all the way home.
Boston indie label Run For Cover Records is taking over Webster Hall for its inaugural festival, and they're bringing some of their favorite bands with them. The line-up includes British rockers Basement, dream pop group Turnover and lo-fi band Elvis Depressedly.
The artist formerly known as Mos Def—and before that, Dante Terrell Smith—Bey visits the Apollo for a show that's billed as one of his last US performances. The rapper has been out of the spotlight in recent years, living in South Africa and making news after attempting to leave the country with a world passport. On the music front, he announced forthcoming releases with collaborators including Ferrari Sheppard and Mannie Fresh. While this gig was set to celebrate one of his previous albums, Bey has since stated he'll be debuting new music here.
Kurt Vile is a tuneful Philadelphia psych-pop artist whose work tilts at times toward the disconcertingly raw. Expect tunes from b’lieve i'm goin down, the excellent follow-up to his much-hyped 2013 release Wakin on a Pretty Daze. Filling out the bill is Brooklyn mainstays Woods: Their latest, City Sun Eater in the River of Light, incorporates Ethiopian jazz and jammy reggae grooves into the band's fuzz-fried sound.