NYC during the holiday season is truly one of the most magical places. The entire city is dressed up, and there are so many fun things to do. But I know it's even better if it's free! Here is my list of 7 free things to do in NYC during the 2023 holiday season.
1. Visit the Rockefeller Christmas Tree
This is THE most iconic thing to do during the holiday season in NYC, and the classic never grows old. There is something super magical about immersing yourself in the holiday spirits here; it truly feels like being part of a movie. The Rockefeller Christmas Tree is also located in the center of many Christmas attractions, shops, and restaurants. It's hard to miss this spot when you are walking around Midtown. Snap a photo here with your family and friends, and keep the holiday memories.
Dates: Nov 29th, 2023 - Jan 13th, 2024
2. See the Saks Fifth Avenue Light Show
This is another Christmas tradition of NYC, and this year, it's like nothing we've seen before. Saks Fifth Avenue partnered with Dior for the 2023 Christmas season to create an iconic Carousel of Dream. There are so many unique details, and it looks gorgeous. This year's Light Show is going to be one of a kind. Also, make sure you check out the dazzling window display at Saks Fifth Avenue. It's truly a masterpiece every year.
Dates: Nov 21st, 2023 - early January 2024
3. Visit Hudson Yards Christmas Lights
Talking about Christmas things that are completely free but also absolutely stunning, the Christmas lights at Hudson Yards is definitely one of the top-tier options. More than two million lights illuminate the shops, and it is super picturesque. I highly recommend going there in the evening since the lights look a lot brighter at night, and the lighting in the mall is perfect for photos.
Dates: Starting Nov 13th, 2023
4. Trip to Dyker Heights Christmas Lights
This is the most famous Christmas neighborhood in NYC. Every year, the houses in Dyker Heights go all out to decorate for the holiday season. You have to see to believe the scale of their decorations. I have been there both during the day and at night, and they are both unbelievably beautiful. During the day, you can see the details of the decorations better, and also, there are A LOT fewer people. In the evening, when the lights are on, you truly feel like being in a Christmas wonderland. The lights add a magical touch to the neighborhood. At the same time, there are many more people, and sometimes tour groups, visiting in the evening. Visiting Dyker Heights needs at least half a day or an entire evening since it is far from Manhattan.
Dates: The decorations are usually up around or after Thanksgiving
5. Take Photos at Sixth Avenue Holiday Displays
Many people visit Fifth Avenue in NYC for the holiday season. Don't miss Sixth Avenue, where there are many other lovely holiday decorations and Christmas trees. I love the larger-than-life scale decorations they have here each year; it's both super playful and festive. They are all located within five blocks, so it is very easy to check them out all at once. Even though these decorations are in a busy area in Midtown, because they are huge, you'll be able to find different angles for pictures.
Dates: The decorations are usually up around Mid November 2023
Radio City Music Hall decoration: First week of November 2023
6. Visit New York Stock Exchange Christmas Tree
If you are taking a trip downtown to check out some of the historical parts of Manhattan, enjoy the skyline view, or take a walk on the Brooklyn Bridge, don't forget to make a stop at Wall Street and check out the Christmas Tree there. 2023 makes the 100th Annual Tree Lighting, and there are a lot of fun activities at the Tree Lighting Ceremony. Performances and activities are open to the public; refreshments will also be served.
Date of the 100th Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony: Nov 30th, 2023
7. Take a Walk Around the Neighborhoods
Brooklyn has Dyker Heights, and Manhattan has quite a few neighborhoods that love to dress up for the holiday season. The Upper East Side, The Upper West Side, and the West Village are my favorites. I love taking a relaxing walk on a sunny winter day, looking for lovely decorated stoops and townhouses. It is so interesting to see how different houses showcase the theme of Christmas in their unique ways. Also, if you've been spending a lot of time in Midtown, among the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it is nice to enjoy a peaceful moment and walk among these quint neighborhoods.
Dates: The decorations are usually up around Thanksgiving to the beginning of December
Here is my guide to 7 Free Things to Do in NYC during the 2023 Holiday Season. Let me know if you've done any of these activities and which one you look forward to trying! I hope you all have an incredible time and fully enjoy the magic of NYC Christmas!