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18 December 2018   |   Blog   |   

Christmas Traditions in New York City

For some people Christmas has become just another one of those pointless holidays we’re forced to suffer every single year – Bah, humbug!

But for New Yorkers, every Christmas is a golden opportunity to break out the decorations, wrap every single present to perfection and dive deeper into the Christmas spirit than ever before!

The city’s obsession with the holiday is on show for all to see. Street corners, parks, plazas and tube stations are decked to the brim with decorations. It’s almost as if Christmas has become part of New York culture. Given that we are very familiar sending our loyal customers to the New York City Marathon, and given that we’re nearing December 25th, here are a few of the most famous NYC Christmas traditions:

1) Rockefeller Tree

You haven’t experienced Christmas in New York until you’ve seen the Rockefeller Christmas Tree first hand. Every year the gigantic tree is placed on display outside Rockefeller Centre in Manhattan and is lit up in a public ceremony that often reaches an audience of millions.

But if you miss the live lighting ceremony, don’t worry – you’ll be able to join the 100+ million visitors the attraction pulls in annually.

It all began during the construction of Rockefeller Centre in 1931 when exhausted construction workers decorated their very own tree with bits and bobs they had lying around to boost morale. It’s a debated story, but a cute one nonetheless


2) Skating at Bryant Park

If you fancy yourself a bit of a Dancing on Ice super fan, why not put your real skating legs to the test at the beloved Bryant Park Ice Rink? Once a year the park is transformed into a one of a kind Christmas village with more gifts, souvenires and food than you can shake a stick at!

But at the centre of it all is the iconic ice rink where you and your friends and family can strap on a pair of skating boots and glide to your heart’s content!

Best of all? It’s FREE!


3) Christmas Markets

We’ve covered all the great Christmas stuff you can pick up at Bryant Park already. But this is ‘The Big Apple’ we’re talking about. Did you really think this would be the only place to get Christmassy? Unlike other cities, New York has the size and the incentive to host multiple Christmas markets all across the city. From Grand Central Terminal to Columbus Circle, you’ll find major and smaller Christmas markets popping up all over the city.

Checking them all out – now there’s a challenge!


4) Window Shopping

Who doesn’t love a bit of retail therapy?

Well you’ll be spoilt for choice in NYC. In eye-popping displays that would give the online shopping giants a good run for their money, every Christmas New York stores set up their front windows to look as dazzlingly Christmassy as possible. Why? Retail stores know that people are MUCH more likely to spend excessively around Christmas, so the extra effort makes all the sense in the world.

Tinsel-twisted mannequins are just the start!


5) Radio City Christmas Spectacular

Much like the Rockefeller Christmas Tree, the Radio City Christmas Spectacular has been a staple of the New York celebrations since the 1930’s and stands strong to this day. Presented at the coveted Radio City Music Hall, the show features a plethora of visual and vocal performers to delight the eyes and ears of all ages. But, every year the stars of the show are The Rockettes – a women’s dance group known worldwide for their startling precision and breath-taking routines.

If you’d like to visit this wonderful city and enjoy it as part of a running holiday, check out our travel packages to the New York City Half Marathon in March and the TCS New York City Marathon in November.

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