Post overview: New York Christmas decorations: Where to find the best holiday decor in NYC
Move over Disneyland, the mesmerizing Christmas decorations in New York City have taken over — making the Big Apple the new happiest place on earth.
Between the twinkling lights, thousands of feet of garland and Christmas trees lit up around the city, it’s hard not to feel like a kid in a candy store! And let me tell you, I love me some candy.
It’s no secret that NYC doesn’t do anything half-way, so why would Christmas be any different? In fact, during the holiday season, the city pulls out all the bells and whistles and transforms into a magical wonderland. And if you don’t know where to look — you could miss out on some of the best Christmas decorations in NYC.
That’s why I’ve put together a list of the best spots for New York Christmas decorations, so that you can spend your time admiring the decor instead of searching for it.
Now enough small talk, let’s get into it!
New York Christmas Decorations
Epic Rockefeller Christmas Tree
The Rockefeller Christmas Tree is an annual Christmas tradition that dates back to 1933 officially (unofficially, construction workers put up the first tree in 1931). The tree typically gets lit the end of November/early December, you can check exact days here.
A new tree is selected every year with an impressive requirement: the tree must be at least 75 feet tall. Decorated with more than 50,000 lights and topped with a breathtaking (and super bright) Swarovski star, seeing this masterpiece in person is unreal and one of the best spots for New York Christmas decorations.
My advice is to visit as early as possible (like first thing in the morning). The crowds are so intense at this popular New York City Christmas attraction and it takes away from the overall experience.
In any case, consider this a non-negotiable spot to check out Christmas decorations in New York!
Address: 45 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10111
The Chelsea Market is a popular food hall mixed with unique shops, restaurants, and cafes. The market has 35 vendors waiting to impress you with tasty treats and fare. And if you’re lucky enough to visit during the holiday season, you’ll get to see one of the most beautiful displays of Christmas decorations in New York City.
During the holiday season, Chelsea Market sets up large festive displays and over-the-top decorations. My favorite part is the (year-round) curtains of Christmas lights that add a whimsical touch to the otherwise industrial feel.
Regardless if your plan is to shop or wander through the festive adornment, you won’t be disappointed checking out these New York Christmas decorations.
Not to mention it’s a good place to rest your legs, have something warm and use the restroom.
Fun Fact: The Chelsea Market is housed in the old Nabisco factory building – this building is the birthplace of the Oreo cookie!
Address: 75 9th Ave, New York, NY 10011
South Street Seaport
If you’ve never visited South Street Seaport you are in for a real treat, they have some of the best Christmas decorations in New York City.
The neighborhood is full of beautiful restaurants, colorful boutiques and even a museum. The best part? The cobble stone streets and epic views of the East River.
During the holiday season, the surrounding businesses decorate the windows to theme and in the middle of the street you’ll find an impressive 60ft Christmas tree.
The big golden ornaments compliment what feels like thousands of tiny lights, which are sure to grab the attention of those passing by. Bear in mind since you’re so close to the East River the wind will make the air much colder, so you’re going to want to bundle up.
Further Reading: 15 Captivating Christmas Trees in NYC and Where to Find Them!
Address: 175 Front St, New York, NY 10038
Hudson Yards + the Vessel
Hudson Yards is a massive mall adjacent to the monolithic art display known as the Vessel. The mall features tons of high-end shops and restaurants.
Granted it’s fun to explore anytime of year, but during the holiday season it is especially worth a visit. This is thanks to the fact that Hudson Yards uses over two million Christmas lights when decorating for the occasion.
The holiday celebration at Hudson Yards Mall is called Shine On and some of the best Christmas decorations in New York City. It’s a unique light and music installation that spans the holiday season. I think kids would really like this experience, so if you have tots definitely swing by!
Not to mention, the photo taking opportunities are nothing short of epic. These New York Christmas decorations will be the true star of the show (no pun intended) in any selfie you take. 😉
Address: 20 Hudson Yards, New York, NY 10001
One of my personal favorite spots for Christmas decorations in New York City, is at the Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park.
The park is transformed into a European-style holiday market, equipped with 100 vendors that line a popular ice skating rink.
The stalls sell fun handmade crafts, unique jewelry, New York Christmas decorations and — my favorite — food, lots of good food. Grab a hot chocolate or mulled wine as you make your way around the lively market.
What’s more, if you’re in town on November 29th, make sure to attend the annual tree lighting ceremony. It’s nothing short of spectacular. Olympic ice-skaters put on an amazing performance which culminates in fireworks (yes fireworks) and the lighting of the treasured NYC Christmas Tree is too epic to miss.
Interested in ice skating? The 17,000-square foot ice rink is free to use but ice skate rentals run around $20-$36 per person. Here is everything you need to know.
New York Stock Exchange
If you’re looking for a fun evening full of holiday festivities look no further than the New York Stock Exchange’s (NYSE) 99th annual tree lighting.
Located at Experience Square, right in front of the New York Stock Exchange you’ll find one of the most stunning Christmas trees in the city and some of the best Christmas decorations in New York City.
This year the ceremony takes place on November 30th from 2:00 to 6:00PM and believe me when I say it’s an event you don’t want to miss.
This is a great Christmas tree lighting ceremonies to bring your kids to. While you enjoy the festive New York Christmas decorations, your kids can warm up with cocoa and take photos with costumed performers. And don’t forget to make time to write a letter to Santa!
Address: 11 Wall St, New York, NY 10005
Quick history lesson: Oscar Wilde was an Irish poet and one of the most popular playwrights in the late 19th century best known for his wit and flamboyance.
Unfortunately, Wilde’s reputation was tarnished after falling in love with a man. As you probably know, in the Victorian era being gay was not only frowned upon, but a crime. So much so that Wilde spent two years in prison because of it.
This Victorian style restaurant is a way to celebrate all that Oscar Wilde stood for. Hosting an impressive art (and object) collection dating back to the 1800’s you can enjoy a French fireplace from the 1840’s, stained glass from an Irish castle and so much more.
Making reservations at Oscar Wilde during the holiday season is non-negotiable. The New York Christmas decorations are unmatched and are some of the best in the city.
Every inch of the place gets decorated (including the ceiling), minimalism has no place here. And don’t even think about leaving without trying the Wilde bacon cheeseburger and truffle fries.
P.S. check out all the clocks in the restaurant. You’ll find that they are set to 1:50. The reason? That’s the time that Oscar Wilde died. No corners are cut when it comes to attention to detail here!
Address: 45 W 27th St, New York, NY 10001
Magic Hour Rooftop Bar & Lounge
What’s a trip to New York City without visiting a rooftop bar? One of my personal favorites for New York Christmas decorations is Magic Hour at the Moxy Hotel in Times Square.
They spared no expenses when it comes to decor. The bar is vibrantly decorated with pink and purple flowers and a spinning carousel is outfitted with couches where you can sip your cocktails with your gal pals.
During the holidays, Magic hour sets up a gondola (pink of course) surrounded by pink Christmas trees and ski lodge signs, creating the cutest backdrop for your instagram. Not to mention the epic views of the Empire State Building.
The only downside is that they don’t allow cameras. This playful rooftop bar makes for some of the best memories in the Big Apple and the festive New York Christmas decorations never hurt to look at!
Address: 485 7th Ave 18th floor, New York, NY 10018
Industry City is one of my favorite spots for New York Christmas decorations. Think of a one-stop shop for all things NYC, then multiply it by ten and you have Industry City.
Comprised of 16 buildings across 35 acres, Industry City sits on the Brooklyn waterfront located in Sunset Park. The large industrial space was established back in the 1890’s and the space was used for manufacturing and distributing.
Today visiting Industry City for epic New York Christmas decorations is one of the most popular things to do during the holidays.
Chock-full of events, eateries and shops, Industry City has it all. You can spend hours getting lost, roaming from place to place and still barely scratch the surface. In between the buildings you’ll find colorful courtyards decorated with festive Christmas decorations and even an ice rink.
Address: 220 36th St, Brooklyn, NY 11232
If New York Christmas decorations are what you are after, look no further than Dyker Heights. Few neighborhoods in NYC go all out for the holidays like these New York residents.
The Brooklyn neighborhood has been a go-to spot for New York Christmas decorations for generations.
Although most folks can’t help but think New York City’s neighborhoods consist of nothing but brownstones, Dyker Heights is largely made of upscale single family homes.
The locals spare no expense when decorating, and you can sense the friendly competition when each house is decked out a little more than the next.
Just when you think you’ve seen the brightest, most colorful house, boom! There’s a more-impressive one down the block.
It’s gotten to the point where not only local New Yorkers visit this neighborhood, but tourists go out of their way to see the lights themselves. It’s not hard to see why though, since it’s a neighborhood chock-full of the best New York Christmas decorations.
DHCL Tourism is a tourism company run by the residents of Dyker Heights. The company offers a bus-tour of the neighborhood that conveniently picks up and drops off folks in Manhattan.
Covering an entire city block and spanning 1.1 million square feet, the largest Macy’s in the world is as impressive as it sounds. Visiting for the best New York Christmas decorations is a must (and a little retail-therapy never hurt anybody).
Macy’s Christmas window displays are legendary and the Santaland event is what dreams are made of. For Santaland, Macy’s transforms the 8th floor of their massive department store into a Christmas palooza. So you can imagine the scale of these New York Christmas decorations.
Visitors will meander through charming villages, Santa’s workshop and tons of other fun displays before getting to meet Santa face-to-face. The best part? The entire experience is completely free to enjoy, but advanced reservations are required.
And for those who can’t make it to Santaland, Macy’s also strings up some of the most beautiful Christmas lights in New York City outside the store as well.
Further reading: Interested in Santaland and want to know more? Check out our Complete Guide to Macy’s Santaland NYC.
Address: 151 W 34th St., New York, NY 10001
Fifth Avenue Window Displays
If you’re visiting New York City during Christmas with the hopes of getting as many magical experiences as possible then you need to know about the famous window displays on Fifth Avenue.
Fifth Avenue is the most popular shopping area in NYC and one of the most popular shopping areas in the world. It’s always chock-full of people, but especially so during Christmas in New York.
This massive shopping district is marked by luxury brands competing for attention by way of stunning window displays. Lucky us! The competition lets us enjoy some of the best New York Christmas decorations.
I do not use the term luxury lightly — indeed, Fifth Avenue is often referred to as one of the most expensive shopping districts in the world.
Knowing that window shopping is one of the best things to do in NYC, stores go all out to impress visitors.
But some do it better than others. If you’re short on time, the best window displays can be found at Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, the Empire State Building and Bloomingdales.
Saks Fifth Avenue Light Show
Of all the impressive New York Christmas decorations you’re bound to see, few will compare to the spectral display of the Saks 5th Avenue holiday light show.
The lights play in tandem with classic Christmas music, dazzling children and adults alike. The experience takes the New York City holiday spirit to a whole new level!
The magical New York Christmas lights show off at regular 10-minute intervals from 5pm to 11pm, nightly.
Stick around and enjoy a few rounds of these epic New York Christmas decorations. But prepare for crazy crowds because this is one of the most popular things to see this time of year.
Address: 611 5th Ave, New York, NY 10022
If you’re looking for an aggressive amount of New York Christmas decorations then I have the spot for you. Pavilion Bistro is a sister restaurant to both Lillie’s Victorian Establishment and Oscar Wilde (not surprising all three made our list).
I’m talking head to toe, covered in holiday decorations. From the outside being adorned by illuminated angels and a life-size Santa to the inside looking like a Hallmark movie threw up, they’ve got it all.
As soon as you step foot into this restaurant you are greeted with thousands of twinkling lights, colorful baubles and decked out Christmas trees, everywhere.
If that wasn’t enough, there is a giant festive teddy bear that hangs above the entrance. And adds charm to the already extreme atmosphere. But hey, if you’re searching for the best New York Christmas decorations, extreme is a good thing!
Since Papillon Bistro is both a bar and restaurant, the menu is curated to satisfy anyone hungry or thirsty. I never miss the chance to order the French onion soup and an espresso martini.
Address: 22 E 54th St, New York, NY 10022
Lillie’s Victorian Establishment
I’m probably not the first to tell you that New Yorkers never do anything halfway and the remarkable New York Christmas decorations during the holidays are no exception.
Case in point: Lillie’s Victorian Establishment. This easy-going and ornate Victorian-era restaurant is completely decked out in true New York holiday spirit. Think shiny garlands, life-sized nutcrackers and a plethora of decorated Christmas trees.
As for food, expect to find everything from classic pub favorites like cheeseburgers and chicken wings to more refined dishes like ceviche and tartar.
Even if you’re not hungry, swinging by to check out the impressive New York Christmas decorations is a must-do experience if you’re in town for the holidays.
Address: 249 W 49th St, New York, NY 10019 & 13 E 17th St, New York, NY 10003
New York Botanical Garden
Home to more than one million living plants, the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) is a sight to be behold. The garden is located within the Bronx Park on 250 acres of land, giving ample space for the garden to spread its roots (pun-intended).
What’s more, the NYBG also hosts an annual event called GLOW, where they illuminate the garden with some of the best New York Christmas decorations. It unlike anything I’ve ever seen and you can bet I run out of the apartment every year when this event is up!
The iconic buildings of the New York Botanical Garden get lit with colorful beams of lights that dance to a music number. The experience is truly an immersive one since you get to walk right through the thick of it.
Bundle up and check out the incredible foliage that’s illuminated by beautiful Christmas lights in NYC.
Address: 2900 Southern Blvd, The Bronx, NY 10458
Oculus Mall Holiday Market
Located right next to the One World Trade Center, Oculus Mall looks like the spine of a fish long forgotten. It’s quite the architectural feat and one of the most popular attractions in NYC.
What many folks may not know is that the main concourse of the mall annually transforms into one of the cutest Christmas Markets and has some of the best New York Christmas decorations.
This market doesn’t necessarily have a ton of vendors since at the end of the day, it’s in a mall. But It’s still worth a visit for the architecture alone. The stands mostly consist of pastry shops and artists.
What sets this Christmas market apart from the others is the beautiful decorations on display. The photo opportunities are endless, giant ornaments, festive lights, and Christmas trees make the perfect setting for a picture.
You’ll find folks of all age groups, whipping out their cameras to snap a picture of some of the best New York Christmas decorations in town.
Dates & Times: November 26th, 2022 to January 2nd, 2023
Local’s tip: Not only is it an actual mall, it’s also a functioning subway hub. This makes it a good spot to start or end your day at, and then hop on the subway home.
Address: 185 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10007
Now although I (personally) don’t consider having a holiday meal at Rolf’s a must-do during a trip to the Big Apple, I have to include them on this list because it’s hard to argue there’s a restaurant with better New York Christmas decorations.
I visited for the first time last year and felt ripped off more than anything. Don’t get me wrong, this restaurant has some of the best Christmas decorations in New York, but the food is way too expensive and way too average. Plus the wait to get in is long because they don’t take reservations.
With that in mind, at the end of the day if it’s the best Christmas decorations in NYC that you’re after, Rolf’s might be worth a visit. My biggest tip would be to try and avoid weekends at Rolf’s!
Address: 281 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10010
Loreley’s Beer Garden
Not only does Loreley Beer Garden have some of the best New York Christmas decorations, it also has the largest heated outdoor patio in the Lower East Side.
Starting November 23rd, Loreley Beer Garden transforms into a heated wonderland and it becomes every Christmas enthusiast’s dream come true.
I highly suggest making reservations in advance so you don’t miss out on these epic New York Christmas decorations. Regardless if you choose to sit inside or outside, you’ll be surrounded by over-the-top Christmas decorations and twinkling lights.
Out in the heated patio area you’ll find a wall covered entirely by colorful ornaments that makes for a great backdrop for Instagram photos.
While at Loreley Beer Garden, make sure to try any of their holiday cocktails. I’m partial to the famous Boozy Black & White Hot Chocolate made with bourbon and my wife loves the Spiked Eggnog!
Address: 7 Rivington St, New York, NY 10002
The Pulitzer fountain is located on Fifth Avenue on the southeast corner of Central Park. Right next to the Plaza Hotel and among a string of high-end designer stores, the fountain itself is elegant too.
What many folks don’t know is that the fountain gets decorated with some of the best Christmas decorations in New York City to the theme of a winter wonderland.
Arctic animals, icebergs and over 5,000 feet of lights illimunate the fountain and make for a beautiful backdrop. I can think of few more playful displays of New York Christmas decorations better than the Pulitzer Fountain, especially if you have kids.
Address: 764 Central Park S, New York, NY 10019
If you’re looking for more whimsical Christmas decorations in New York City, I suggest swinging by Zuccotti Park.
Nestled between buildings and made up of 54 Honey Locusts wrapped in twinkling lights, Zuccotti Park is on of the best spots for New York Christmas decorations.
With ample seating to rest your legs and the abundance of sparkling trees, The park offers an escape from the concrete and skyscrapers that make up the (very gray) Financial District.
During the lunch hour, you’ll find the park filled with folks in business suits, enjoying their meals under some of the best New York Christmas decorations.
Classic Harbor Line Holiday Cruise
What better way to soak in the holiday spirit than aboard a 1920s-style yacht that takes you past all the major sites in Manhattan?
You’ll be cozily tucked inside a glassed-in heated observatory completely decked out in festive New York Christmas decorations with holiday music playing in the background.
Beer, wine, Champagne and hot beverages are available for sale on board and you won’t want to partake in this joyful NYC Christmas experience without a hot chocolate in hand.
Lotte New York Palace
Lotte New York Palace is a luxury hotel in Midtown Manhattan made popular thanks to the TV show Gossip Girl. It’s not uncommon to see fans gathered out front, hoping to catch a glimpse of Chuck Bass. 😉
The real star of the show however is one of the most elegant Christmas trees in NYC adorning the front courtyard.
The New York Christmas decorations always feel regal and it’s hard not to feel like one of Manhattan’s socialites while taking photos in front of this grandiose Christmas tree.
If you’re a die hard Gossip Girl fan and are looking for the full holiday experience consider booking a night at Lotte New York Palace but fair warning, it’ll cost you a pretty penny.
Address: 455 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10022
Radio City Music Hall
There are few displays of New York Christmas decorations as instantly recognizable as those at Radio City Music Hall. Not only is it thanks to the fact that its name is illuminated, but thanks to the Christmas tree that towers above the marquee.
So many movies have used the locale for scenes in holiday films. From Home Alone 2 to the Godfather, the lights serve as perfect reference to time and place. This is also why it’s not uncommon to see visitors taking photos in front of the world-famous venue.
The whole of Radio City Music Hall isn’t decked out in NYC Christmas lights, but the corner of 6th Avenue and 50th Street is bright enough to warrant a visit.
Address: 1260 6th Ave, New York, NY 10020
New York City Christmas decorations (Post Summary)
In sum, here’s a quick rundown of New York Christmas Decorations:
- Rockefeller Christmas Tree
- Chelsea Market
- South Street Seaport
- Hudson Yards
- Bryant Park
- New York Stock Exchange
- Oscar Wilde
- Magic Hour
- Industry City
- Dyker Heights
- Macy’s Santaland
- Fifth Avenue Window Displays
- Saks Fifth Avenue Light Show
- Papillion Bistro
- Lillie’s Victorian Establishment
- New York Botanical Garden
- Oculus Mall Holiday Market
- Loreley’s Beer Garden
- Pulitzer Fountain
- Zuccotti Park
- Classic Harbor Line Holiday Cruise
- Lotte New York Palace
- Radio City Music Hall
Map of Christmas decorations in New York
There you have it, our list of the best spots for New York Christmas decorations. Hope you enjoyed this list as much as we enjoyed making it.