The best Christmas caroling events in NYC

It doesn’t matter if you can't carry a tune—all are welcome to join these cheerful Christmas caroling events
Merry Tuba Christmas
Photograph: Courtesy Rachael Wright
By Jennifer Picht and Time Out New York contributors |
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A wise elf once said, “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loudly for all to hear,” and you should certainly follow his advice during these fun Christmas caroling events in NYC. Some of the best NYC parks and New York attractions are welcoming carolers to partake in festive (and free!) merriment. If your American Idol audition was a total fail, don’t fret—not all of these caroling events require you to sing. But you should still feel comfortable belting classics such as “Silent Night” and “Jingle Bell Rock” in the company of your New York peers. Make sure to take a moment to enjoy all the pretty Christmas lights during caroling processions such as Unsilent Night.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Christmas in NYC

Best Christmas caroling events

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Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Charley Lhasa
Things to do

Christmas Eve Caroling at Washington Square Park

icon-location-pin Washington Square Park, Greenwich Village
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Croon “Silent Night” under the arch at Washington Square Park on the night before Christmas. In previous years, the Rob Susman Brass Quartet has provided the melodies while revelers from all over the city sing in perfect (er, sort of) harmony. Don’t fret if you can’t remember all the words to “Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men”—songbooks are provided by the Washington Square Association.

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Phil Kline's Unsilent Night
Music, Classical and opera

Unsilent Night

icon-location-pin Washington Square Park, Greenwich Village
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This trippy musical performance piece, dreamed up by composer Phil Kline, is downtown’s decidedly arty, secular answer to Christmas caroling. Boombox-toting participants gather under the Washington Square arch, where they are given a cassette or CD of one of four different atmospheric tracks; you can also download the Unsilent Night app and sync up via smartphone. Everyone presses play at the same time and marches through the streets of New York together, blending their music and filling the air with a beautiful, echoing 45-minute piece. 

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Merry Tuba Christmas
Photograph: Courtesy Rachael Wright
Things to do, Performances

TUBACHRISTMAS

icon-location-pin Rockefeller Plaza, Midtown West
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Now in its 45th year, this massive musical gathering invites hundreds of tuba players to perform classic Christmas carols and crowd-pleasing songs on the ice. If you’re not a pro at circular breathing, join in on the fun by singing along to the deep horns. Though the event has spread to more than 200 cities worldwide, there’s nothing like seeing it at its home: 30 Rockefeller Plaza. 

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What the Dickens? Third Annual A Chrstmas Carol Marathon
Photograph: Amanda Bullock
Things to do, Literary events

What the Dickens? Ninth Annual A Christmas Carol Marathon

icon-location-pin Housing Works Thrift Store, Soho
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Housing Works welcomes musicians, writers and performers to invoke Ebenezer Scrooge and his ghosts. The event begins at noon with caroling from the New York City Master Chorale, followed by a three-and-a-half-hour reading (approximately) with writers giving their take on the infamous miser. Seasonal treats like hot chocolate and mulled wine are available at the cafe, plus store items are 10 percent off, so bring your holiday list. Bah, humbug! 

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Camera
Things to do

Jackson Heights Winter Holiday Sing-Along

icon-location-pin Various locations,
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This annual outdoor caroling procession, now in its tenth year, meets at the corner of 31st Avenue and 75th St in Queens before embarking on a magical night of street singing and peeping at holiday lights. Carolers are encouraged to bring flashlights and well-protected candles as well as any small acoustic instruments. If it snows, the show still goes on, so bundle up.

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Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Jeffrey Zeldman
Things to do

Christmas Eve Caroling in Gramercy Park

icon-location-pin Gramercy Park, Gramercy
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According to the New York Times, all are welcome to wander inside this exclusive, hidden park during Christmas Eve. Why? Because the operators of the park open up the gates so you can join the Parish of Calvary St. George's for some festive caroling. It’s a Christmas miracle! 

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