When winter rolls around, the Big Apple transforms into the Big Snowglobe. With a flurry of twinkling lights, towering Norway Spruces, and holiday music, New York City becomes a bonafide winter wonderland.
Like scenes from a Christmas movie, you’ll watch (hot chocolate in hand) as kids sled Central Park’s snowy slopes, couples twirl on ice skates, and people buy pine trees lined up along the sidewalks, then haul them back home on the subway.
Luckily, our newest hotel, Kimpton Hotel Theta, is right in the center of it all. During your next visit to New York City, our Times Square respite is the perfect base for sightseeing, seasonal shows, and wrapping up all your holiday shopping.
So, this festive season, add the below activities to your travel wish list.
Bright Lights, Big City
New York City’s wattage gets cranked to eleven during the holiday season. From Christmas tree decorations to window displays, the city’s holiday lights are one of the most magical parts of the seasonal celebrations.
Walk a few minutes from Kimpton Hotel Theta, and you’ll hit Fifth Avenue. Every year, the luxury department store window displays are straight out of a fairytale. Synchronized light and music shows are displayed on the facade of Saks Fifth Avenue, and ornate-themed windows appear at Bergdorf Goodman. Stroll up and down the sidewalk and marvel at these holiday works of art.
The first week of December, the world-famous Rockefeller Christmas tree switches on its technicolor lights. If you can’t be in the city to witness the lighting, walking past this sky-high tree covered in roughly 50,000 bulbs is still well worth it. And if ice skating is on your list, book in advance for The Rink at Rockefeller Center or the larger, more accessible Wollman Rink in Central Park.
Outside of Manhattan, the Bronx’s New York Botanical Garden glows bright with thousands of LED lights. And in Brooklyn, the homes in Dyker Heights wow with their colorful and elaborate holiday lights that would put the Griswolds to shame.
Sugar Plum Performances and Standing Ovations
If looking for the perfect holiday present for the music-lover in your life, we recommend booking tickets for these festive performances well in advance. Just a few blocks away from Kimpton Hotel Theta, the Radio City Rockettes put on their iconic Radio City Christmas Spectacular. Running since 1933, it includes more than 100 dancers, signature high kicks, and holiday fun.
At Madison Square Garden, concerts like iHeart Radio’s Jingle Ball and acts like Cirque du Soleil’s Twas’ The Night Before draw huge crowds. Uptown at Lincoln Center, the New York City Ballet puts on its beloved George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker.
Holiday Spirit and Shopping
New Yorkers know the best place to get gifts is at the city’s various holiday markets. Popping up in all the major hubs, food vendors, live music, and hundreds of creative kiosks deliver the best yuletide goods.
After some ice skating at Bryant Park, walk to the Winter Village, where close to 200 shops have stalls set up, including the Small Business Spotlight, which highlights minority-owned businesses.
In Union Square, a similar number of vendors flock downtown to the city’s most popular market to hawk their locally made crafts, including hand-painted ornaments, organic soaps, knitted hats, and creative wreaths. While you shop, stop for goodies like mulled cider, warm donuts, and hot chocolate.
Next to Central Park, Columbus Circle’s smaller holiday market transports you to Europe with its food selection, including oven-fresh German gingerbread and Dutch stroopwafels. Although you may spot some repeat stalls from the other markets, Columbus Circle has a more intimate, less-crowded feel with standout jewelry stalls and easy access to post-shopping sledding in Central Park.
Where to stay: Kimpton Hotel Theta