Cultural Experience | New York City

Christmas In New York!

how to experience this magical season in the concrete jungle

By Diana Odero, Chapman University

My favorite season is finally here! Yes, I am one of those ridiculously excited about the holidays type of person, don’t hold it against me. But I am especially excited about the holidays this year as I finally get to go home for Christmas for the first time in close to 5 years. Christmas season in Kenya is quite different from Christmas season here, but that’s a story for another day. For now, as I look back at the past Christmas seasons I have spent here, the most memorable one was during my winter break in New York last year. And that was the same trip that inspired my move to the big apple this past summer, NYC clearly won my heart. I hope to go back there one day soon.

So these are just some highlights of New York city during the holiday season. If any of you are planning on visiting NY this holiday you should definitely make a note of these and hope they are a nice addition to your trip!

  • Visit Central Park

As cold as it may be Central Park is practically mandatory during Christmas season especially on Christmas eve. The snow (if it snows during your stay) blankets the park all through the night and by day break the park looks like a natural winter wonderland. Add the horse carriages and Christmas lights and a simple walk through Central Park with your friends, your significant other or your kids becomes a memory you’ll remember for years to come. 

central park christmas image

Central Park

  • The Rockefeller Tree

Now I’m not saying be there when the lighting takes place… As cool as it is to watch it happen live, the crazy crowd and the even crazier weather that accompanies this event really isn’t worth all the time you’ll spend standing super far away trying to catch a glimpse of the tree. Go see it AFTER the tree lighting ceremony, it won’t be surrounded by thousands of people and you’ll get a good bunch of pictures. This is one of those cliche type things you really can’t avoid while in NY at Christmas, plus you can go ice skating while your at the Rockefeller Center as well. I can’t ice skate to save my life but I watched my little cousins do it… that counts right?? The tree at Rockefeller is awesome, that’s all I’m saying.
rockefeller christmas treee new york city image

  • Macy’s by Night 

Just do it, trust me you’ll love it. And by night I mean walk by Macy’s and see the brilliant lighting presentation they do over the entire building. Not necessarily shop unless you want to push against thousands of other people doing last minute Christmas shopping on all 7 floors of the Macy’s building. For your own sanity, don’t shop last minute, especially in New York.

macys Christmas lights image

Macy’s Christmas lights

  • Get a Pre New Year’s Eve Tradition!

This isn’t really mandatory but you can if you want to, makes looking forward to ringing in the new year more fun. Pre New Year’s Eve means the day of New Year’s Eve, before all the festivities of the night begin. My friends decided to always try a new restaurant wherever we are for an early New Year’s Eve dinner, so last year we stumbled upon this amazing Japanese BBQ place in East Village, called Gyu-Kaku. They had such amazing happy hour specials from 6pm onwards and who can resist Japanese BBQ?? Wonder where I’ll end up this year…

new years eve dinner Japanese bbq image

new years eve dinner Japanese bbq image

Skip the ball drop

Now before you ask me WHY… Just hear me out. The ball drop is all fun and fabulous and a bucket list type of thing to do, but also it’s quite a headache to first of all book your place in times square almost 10hrs in advance, then sit and wait for said 10hrs in the freezing cold just so you don’t miss your spot. The clock strikes 12 and all the hullaballoo of the ball drop happens and its all fun and exciting but I think a more fun experience would be having an indoor or better yet a rooftop NYE party with your friends/family, somewhere convenient, warm and where you can watch the ball drop either on tv or watch the fireworks from your rooftop. You are still in the New York city vicinity, you still saw the ball drop on tv or the fireworks live and didn’t have to go through all that stress beforehand to do so! Think about it, I did it even though all I wanted was to be in the middle of it all in Times Square, I had a lot more fun without all the hassle.
New years eve party imageWhatever you end up doing for the holidays this year, make it memorable, as that’s what the holidays are for right?

Happy Planning!

Diana Odero

Chapman University | 19 stories

Diana is a recent graduate of Chapman University having studied Graphic Design & Sociology. She is an international student from Kenya and is currently working in Atlanta. She is an adventurous person who views the world with an artistic eye. She loves to travel, to read & write, design, cook and meet new people. In addition to writing for The College Tourist she is also working on building her brand as a freelance designer and lifestyle writer. Check out Diana's blog .

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