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Bryant Park Winter Village 2017
Photograph: Elizabeth Shrier

The best things to do on Christmas Eve in NYC

We've found the best things to do on Christmas Eve in NYC—aside from binging cookies and cheesy holiday movies

By Melissa Kravitz Hoeffner and Time Out New York contributors
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’Twas the night before Christmas and all through Gotham, New Yorkers were actually stirring. That’s right, there are still plenty of things to do on Christmas Eve in NYC. Don’t just laze around your apartment watching Christmas movies (as fun as that sounds). Instead, check out one of the many restaurants delivering Christmas dinner or do some last-minute shopping at holiday markets in NYC that remain open on Christmas Eve. Pro tip: Haggle like you mean it; most are closing up shop for the season and it is the season of giving, isn’t it?

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Christmas in New York

Best things to do on Christmas Eve

Winter Village at Bryant Park
Photograph: Courtesy Angelito Jusay Photography

1. Visit the Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park guide

Things to do Markets and fairs
The Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park is back with holiday festivities, shopping and food. Its 17,000-square-foot ice-skating rink that's free to use (if you bring your own skates) is the highlight, while about 60 shopping and food kiosks are there to peruse—all at one of the best NYC parks. This year will be slightly different given new health and safety protocols, but this guide contains all the information you need to know, including when the market officially opens (and closes) to the public. Get ready to enjoy the most wonderful time of the year!
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/petercruise

2. Skate The Rink at Rockefeller Center

Things to do

One of the most touristy things to do around the holidays is actually one of the best. The Rink is open every day from 8:30am until Midnight through Easter Sunday. Frankly, October through mid-November is the best and cheapest time to have your moment with the bronze gilded statue of the Greek legend Prometheus. A ticket costs you only $25 to skate versus $33, which is peak holiday price during Christmas Eve. But gliding aside that glorious Norway Spruce the day before Christmas is too tempting to pass up. 

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Dyker Heights Christmas Lights
Photograph: Time Out/Ali Garber

3. Marvel at the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights

Things to do
Dyker Heights Christmas Lights 2020 display has definitely earned its stripes as one of the best New York attractions. What’s not to love about all that razzle-dazzle to get you in the Christmas spirit? The Brooklyn neighborhood is home to the most over-the-top Christmas light decorations with life-sized Santas, sleighs, snowmen and some houses even bump Christmas carols from loudspeakers. Crowds of all ages flock to the Kings County neighborhood to wander down the multiple blocks and avenues and experience one of the top things to do in NYC in the winter.
San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus
Photograph: Gooch

4. Tune into the NYC Gay Men's Chorus Holiday Concert

New York City Gay Men’s Chorus is back with its holiday concert (virtual for the first time ever) with original animation by artist Tempe Hale, Obie Award-winner L Morgan Lee and director Roberto Araujo, the Youth Pride Chorus, queer a capella group Tonewall. NYCGMC will tell tales old and new, revel in camaraderie and community, and, of course, sing out loud, proud, and fabulous. Sweet is the Sound: A Holiday at Home with (Chosen) Family can be streamed beginning Friday, December 18 at 8 pm EST through midnight on December 27 at noonchorus.com. Tickets start at $19 and are available at nycgmc.org/holiday-concert.

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A New Look at Old Masters at The Met Museum
Photograph: Courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art

5. Check out the Met Museum's beautiful re-opened galleries

News Art

On December 12, the Met opened about two dozen galleries dedicated to old master paintings (like Caravaggio, Goya, Peter Paul Rubens, Jean Antoine Houdon, Jan van Eyck) with new skylights—marking the half-way point of a four-year construction project to reintroduce all 45 galleries for European Paintings, 1250–1800. This is the first time visitors to the museum can see the 21 renovated galleries and more than 500 works that are now enhanced by the natural light from the new skylights, according to the Met. 

washington square park tree
Photograph: Shutterstock

6. See the twinkling holiday lights at NYC parks this year

News City Life

More than 80 parks in New York City will be lit up with menorahs and Christmas trees this holiday season, giving New Yorkers no excuse to miss out. On Friday, the New York City Parks Department announced dozens of parks and green spaces with lights across the boroughs, highlighting five of them:

  • Mosholu Parkway Tree Lighting Display, The Bronx
  • Central Park Seasonal Holiday Display, Manhattan
  • Historic Richmond Town Tree Lighting, Staten Island
  • MacDonald Park Menorah Lighting Display, Queens
  • Litchfield Villa – Prospect Park, Brooklyn

You can find your nearest lighting on the NYC Parks website.

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empire state building skyline
Photograph: Shutterstock

7. Watch the Empire State Building's musical light show

News City Life

The Empire State Building is planning to celebrate the holiday season with technicolor lights and the seasonal sounds. While the world famous tower lights atop the Empire State Building routinely display combinations of colors to mark various occasions and holidays throughout the year, this December, the Empire State Realty Trust and iHeartMedia have teamed up to give it a little extra yuletide pizzaz. Every night leading up to Christmas day—Saturday, Dec 19 to Friday, Dec 25—New Yorkers can tune in for a special song and light display to get into the festive spirit. This light show, designed by lighting artist Marc Brickman, will be synced with Carrie Underwood’s new song “Hallelujah” with John Legend, from her first-ever Christmas album My Gift. The tunes will be broadcasted on iHeartRadio’s Z100 and LiteFM at 8pm.

Looking for more festive activities?

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