Take a safe trip to the city for the Holidays

NYC at Christmas

By V. Garcia November 27, 2020

 Holiday and Christmas Events in and around NYC

Here is our 2020 New York City holiday bucket list, detailing 10 holiday experiences sure to give your family the best gift of all: happy memories. Find more family-friendly ways to celebrate in our Holiday Guide and Event Calendar, and keep checking back to find out what other cool happenings make their way onto this list by the New Year.

Important note: While we are trying to promote safer activities that occur outdoors or with social distancing guidelines in place, please keep your family and others safe by always wearing a mask and maintaining an appropriate distance. Keep in mind, reservations are required for many of these events, so plan your outings in advance, and be sure to visit websites for all the details, including address, time, and pricing.

Holiday Lights at the Bronx Zoo — Bronx Park, the Bronx

Thursday, November 19, 2020, through Sunday, January 10, 2021

Following its successful 2019 revival, the Holiday Lights return to the Bronx Zoo for a 2020 encore. Dazzling light displays are spread across several acres of the zoo. This walk-through experience includes wildlife-themed LED displays, custom Asian lanterns, and animated light shows. Festive tunes, ice-carving demonstrations, costumed characters, wildlife theater performances, and more await. Timed-entry tickets must be purchased online in advance.

 NYBG Glow – Bronx Park, the Bronx

Select evenings from Friday, November 27, 2020, through Saturday, January 9, 2021

The holidays aren't complete for many families without a visit to the annual Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Garden. Capacity limits and safety precautions have forced the Garden to limit train show attendance to members, patrons, and Bronx Community partners only. It is instead inviting the rest of its visitors to enjoy an interactive, outdoor light show. With the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory as its canvas, NYBG Glow illuminates the night sky and building's exterior in brilliant colors and a dazzling, twinkling display. While you're there, be sure to check out more lighting installations in the Reflecting Pool, near the visitor center, and throughout the garden. Roving entertainers greet visitors, and live music fills the air.

Bryant Park's Holiday Shops

Bank of America Winter Village – Bryant Park

The holiday market now open through Monday, January 3, 2021

It's hard not to find the holiday spirit when you wander through Bryant Park, one of our favorite Midtown places to play no matter the season. Between the ice skating rink (the only FREE one in all of NYC) and the smell of hot chocolate wafting through the air, it paints a festive atmosphere. Add to it the holiday shops selling unique wares, cozy igloos for dining, and a dazzling Christmas tree, its a day-trip worthy slice of Christmas heaven that won't cost you any more than a MetroCard swipe.

LuminoCity Festival – Randall's Island

Select evenings from Friday, November 27, 2020, through Sunday, January 20, 2021

If you visited this brand new light show in 2019, fear not: There are enough new attractions that it's worth a return visit. Taking over 10 acres of wide-open spaces on Randall's Island, visitors are guided on a 30-45 minute narrative journey by Lumi, a magical light bulb who brings the spectacular scene to life. Expect to encounter "dreamlike worlds" of brilliantly lit lantern displays in the Mysterious Forest, Mystical Moon Land, and more. An over-the-top Christmas tree offers a picture-perfect backdrop to snap a holiday photo before you head home. Take note: There will be no shuttle bus in 2020, but visitors can walk, drive, or take a taxi to the show.

Jewish Children's Museum Chanukah Family Fest – Crown Heights, Brooklyn

Sunday, December 13 through Thursday, December 17, 2020

Celebrate the festival of lights with the Jewish Children's Museum, which hosts twice-daily sessions of its Chanukah Family Fest. Visitors can explore the museum's exhibitions and enjoy some traditional holiday fun. Decorate a donut, explore the art of olive oil making, and craft a dreidel pillow to take home with you.

 Luminaries – Battery Park City

Friday, November 27, 2020, through Friday, January 8, 2021

Brookfield Place's popular annual lighting show returns for another run in 2020, bringing a canopy of colorful lights to illuminate the Winter Garden. More than a sight to behold, though, Luminaries allows visitors to send touch-free wishes daily between 10am-8pm, and each wish prompts a donation from Brookfield Place to Relief Opportunities for All Restaurants, up to $25,000. Hourly light shows are not-to-be-missed as the lighting patterns are choreographed to popular holiday carols. More seasonal fun at Brookfield Place includes a very cool Reindeer Roundup, an augmented reality experience that sends visitors on a wild goose—or reindeer—chase, looking for magical snowflakes to tip you off to the location of each of Santa's missing helpers; find them all and pick up a gift from the concierge. Of course, there's plenty of shopping, dining, and even an outdoor skating rink to enjoy.

The 2020 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree has been chosen

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree – Midtown West

Wednesday, December 2, 2020, through early January 2021

Nothing is more quintessential NYC holiday than a visit to the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, and while many things have changed in 2020, one thing that hasn't is the presence of the iconic tree. The 88th annual tree arrives on the Plaza on Saturday, November 14, and it's lit for the season on Wednesday, December 2. Contrary to years past, the big tree lighting is closed to the public and only viewable on NBC. Still, you have a month to pull your family together and pose for a seasonal photo at its base. Make sure to mask up for safety and a time capsule-worthy picture of a very strange year. One plus: You'll likely encounter far fewer tourists than in seasons past.