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Harry and the Potters at the Harry Potter Yule Ball
Photograph: Courtesy Harry and the Potters

New York Christmas events

Get into the spirit with our list of New York Christmas events


The yuletide season is upon us! Take in New York's array of sparkling lights, watch the Rockettes' Christmas Spectacular at Radio City or gaze upon the iconic Rockefeller Center Tree. If you want some New York Christmas events on the cheap, grab some roasted chestnuts and stroll to one of the glittering department-store holiday window displays around the city.

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Go guerilla caroling at the Xmas Pop Sing Along

Things to do

If you’ve perfected your rendition of “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” now’s your time to shine. Belt that tune, along with ones from Run-D.M.C., Justin Bieber and Bob Dylan (yep, he did a Christmas album), at this yuletide karaoke jam. When the official party ends, stragglers can join in the after-party, which may or may not include a group rendition of “Dick in a Box.” Ugly reindeer sweaters aren’t just optional, they’re encouraged. 

Join the majestic red herd as SantaCon stumbles across the city

Things to do Walks and tours

Divisive charity-focused bar crawl SantaCon is going ahead this year despite rumors of cancellation and entreaties from the NYPD that publicans refuse to serve participants. As a result, some of us will be avoiding the mayhem in our quiet, vomit-free homes, while others will dust off the old Kris Kingle suit and prepare to get messy. If you fall into the latter camp, follow @santacon on Twitter or check the website for the starting location, as well as updates throughout the day on the route and new Santa Spectacular party. And remember the four fs of SantaCon: Don’t fuck with kids, don’t fuck with cops, don’t fuck with bar staff, and (please) don’t fuck with NYC. Locations and time TBA; visit for more information.


Visit the Rockettes at Radio City

Things to do

You'll get a kick out of this holiday stalwart, which—after more than eight decades—still features Santa, wooden soldiers and the leggy, spunky Rockettes. In recent years, new music, more eye-catching costumes, and advanced technology were introduced to bring audience members closer to the performance.

Photograph: Bill Mastro

See the holiday lights in Dyker Heights

More than 100,000 visitors make the pilgrimage to this south Brooklyn nabe every December to see larger-than-life Christmas displays, which in past years have included massive nutcrackers, silicone Santas, and hundreds of thousands of sparkling lights. For the optimum twinkly experience, sign up for Tony Muia’s Christmas Lights and Cannoli tour. The three-and-half-hour bus jaunt takes you through the ’hood’s best spectacles and ends with cannoli and hot cocoa for everyone.

Fog up the windows at Henri Bendel

Things to do

Henri Bendel has partnered with the estate of Al Hirschfeld to create window displays inspired by the celebrated cartoonist's work. In one window, you'll see 3-D depictions of celebs like Sarah Jessica Parker, Liza Minnelli and Woody Allen; in the store itself, Bendel's giant tree becomes a playhouse for a model of Charlie Chaplin.


Welcome new corporate overlords Bank of America to Bryant Park

Shopping Gifts and stationery

In its 12th season, this outdoor market boasts more than 125 artisans selling everything from clothing and accessories to food and hot drinks. Gift ideas include Diana Warner New York rose-gold necklaces, SOVL NYC recycled messenger bags and Brazilian Home Collection hand-painted lamps.

Count the ornaments on the Origami Holiday Tree

Things to do Exhibitions

Festooned with more than 500 meticulously hand-folded paper ornaments, this year’s tree is inspired by the museum’s new “The Power of Poison” exhibit, meaning you’ll spot toxic mushrooms, poison ivy, spiders, snails and jellyfish. In addition to the venomous flora and fauna, the stationery has been fashioned into popular literary characters well versed in lethal substances, including Macbeth’s witches and Sherlock Holmes. Do some sleuthing of your own in the exhibit proper, where you can use forensic clues (and museum iPads) to solve mysterious poisoning cases.


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