The Best in Holiday Events and Eateries NYC

Check out 2018’s most Christmas-worthy events and restaurants around the city with this handy guide of trendy and traditional things to do.

From the Rockefeller Center tree lighting and ice-skating at the center’s rink to the incredible holiday window displays on Fifth Avenue to the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall and so much more, the Big Apple has a plethora of seasonal events going on in and around the city. From eye-popping attractions to festive restaurants, we have hand-picked the spots that will give you the most memorable holiday season for 2018 in NYC, ever. 

Origami Tree at AMNH

American Museum of Natural History hosts an annual museum tradition, with the delightfully decorated Origami Holiday Tree and two lit 19-foot holiday Barosauruses, which welcome visitors to the museum throughout the holiday season until January 13, 2019. The theme of this year’s 13-foot tree is oceans of origami, with models inspired by the museum’s special exhibition “Unseen Oceans.” Attendees can expect to see angelfish, lionfish, anglers, various sharks, whales, dolphins, tangs, eels,  among other treasured models. The two holiday Barosauruses are made of openwork stainless steel and festooned with pine boughs and lights. Illuminated at night, the whimsical dinosaurs flank the museum’s Central Park West staircase and echo the Barosaurus mount in the Theodore Roosevelt Rotunda.

The Rockefeller Christmas Tree/Ice Rink is the world’s most famous ice skating rink and Christmas tree and is a can't-miss NYC experience, conveniently located steps from Times Square and the Theatre District. To avoid waiting in line during the busy holiday season, you can make advance reservations for the VIP Igloo and skate past the crowds. It doesn’t get much more picture-postcard NYC Christmas than the sight of the stately Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, towering above the ice rink below, all decked out in its finest holiday bling. The crowning moment comes when the switch is flipped and the Swarovski star-topped tree’s tens of thousands of lights come alive. If you can’t make it to the big event on November 28, worry not—you can see the tree through January 7, 2019.

Sunday In Brooklyn: Williamsburg’s favorite brunch destination offers an extended brunch service from 8:30 am to 6 pm on Christmas Eve, along with food and drink specials. Enjoy pastries like Stollen, a traditional German fruitcake that’s usually eaten during the Christmas season (a cake-like bread made with dried fruit). Sunday In Brooklyn’s version features candied orange and lemon peels, cranberries, almonds and spices. The entire loaf ($6) is dipped in butter then rolled in powdered sugar. It’s available now through the holiday season (closed on Christmas Day).

The holidays are a perfect time to see a show. Broadway performs every day of the week at multiple curtain times to accommodate every schedule, including holidays. During Christmas, some shows are changing their performance schedules and adding special weekday matinees. Fourteen shows will be playing on Christmas! During Christmas week, alternate curtain times will also include Friday matinees and evening performances. Click here to see the holiday performance schedules and easily find out where and when shows are playing.

Café Boulud

Café Boulud joins together the finesse of traditional French cuisine and the warm hospitality of a neighborhood café to create an upscale but approachable dining experience. This Christmas Eve, it presents a luxurious, four-course prix-fixe menu with the option of adding a fifth truffle and caviar course. The curated menu includes smoked ora king salmon, wild mushroom risotto with black truffles, beef wellington and bacon-wrapped trout, with desserts that include a bûche du noël and quince babka, all for $175 per person. 

Rice & Gold (at Hotel 50 Bowery) is offering a special Dim Sum menu for Christmas Eve from 1-8 pm. Menu highlights include shrimp toast latkes (crispy potato/Thai chili/cilantro); rabbi’s ramen (chicken soup, matzo balls, pulled chicken, soy-marinated egg, garlic schmaltz); shmaltz roasted ribeye (black pepper au jus and creamy wasabi); pastrami pot stickers (rye sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, Chinese mustard); and smoked salmon fried rice with dill, soy, Meyer lemon and cashew.

Legasea from the TAO Restaurant Group is open Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Taking a modern approach to seafood, its á la carte menu serves up local, sustainable dishes in a vivacious atmosphere. Helmed by chefs Ralph Scamardella (TAO, LAVO) and Jason Hall (formerly of Craft, Gotham Bar & Grill), Legasea’s casual menu includes fun, shareable bites including spicy crab beignets with chipotle crème fraiche and butter powder and the lobster thermidor roll with Old Bay fries and a gem salad to name a few.  

Christmas Spectacular Featuring the Rockettes

Radio City Music Hall is famous for the Christmas Spectacular starring the legendary Rockettes. The 6,000-seat theater houses the iconic Christmas song-and-dance extravaganza and is one of the holiday season’s must-see attractions. This year’s show combines such classic scenes as “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers” and “New York at Christmas” with new numbers and cutting-edge digital projection and digital mapping technology, which transforms Radio City Music Hall’s interior into a giant canvas.

Visit the storied Plaza hotel for its iconic Christmas Day feast. The á la carte menu items include lobster bisque, duck confit, petite filet mignon and stuffed sole with accompaniments and desserts to share. Also, The Plaza’s “Divine Decadence” champagne and caviar menu with Louis Roederer’s Cristaland Petrossian is available through the holiday season. As this time of year is all about indulgence, take this special opportunity to relish in premium champagne and divine caviar pairings. 

Arlo-Arctica will transport you to 20th-century Antarctica filled with spirit and adventure. The immersive pop-up at Arlo NoMad and Arlo SoHo celebrates the story of the famous explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton who, as the legend goes, took cases of Mackinlay’s old rare whisky on his 1907 expedition to the British Antarctic. He later had to abandon the ship to save himself and his crew. That same whiskey was found trapped under the ice 100 years later and was recreated to eventually become Shackleton Whisky. Arlo-Arctica mirrors the rugged atmosphere of this legendary expedition—complete with an exclusive menu featuring Shackleton Whisky cocktails such as 88 Degrees South (made with lemon, lime and Angostura bitters) and Royd’s Toddy (made with Earl Grey tea, lemon and cloves), as well as a South Pole Pizza with Béchamel sauce, onions, Fontina and pancetta.The installation will be up all season long through March 2019. 

Macy’s The Believe in the Wonder of Giving display

Holiday shopping in New York City is an opportunity to wander an urban wonderland of stores to find one-of-a-kind goods. But above all, make sure to see the iconic department-store window displays on Fifth Avenue. Macy’s is credited with starting the tradition back in 1874, showcasing some wind-up toys and an array of porcelain dolls; since then these holiday setups have grown in both size and wow factor, as NYC’s major retailers attempt to outdo each other year after year.  This year, Macy’s The Believe in the Wonder of Giving display, features an interactive video game where spectators can steer animated characters through space. Lord and Taylor will be closing its Fifth Avenue location next year, so this is your last chance to see its Holiday display. Its final theme is not exactly Christmas-themed, but more of a thank you to NYC for its over 100 years on Fifth Avenue. 

Northern Italian staple Davio’s celebrates The Feast of the Seven Fishes, known as La Festa dei Sette Pesci, a deeply rooted Italian Christmas Eve tradition, originating in Southern Italy and honoring the vigil prior to a religious holiday when no meat was served. Join Davio’s Manhattan on Christmas Eve to celebrate the Feast of Seven Fishes with good food and great company. The three-course, prix-fixe menu features delectable seafood courses in addition to the à la carte menu. This feastive menu is available from 5-10 pm. Reservations are recommended by calling 212.661.4810. Closed Christmas Day. 

Benoit Dining Room

Indulgence awaits at Benoit, a French contemporary bistro from star chef, Alain Ducasse. Enjoy a Christmas Eve and Christmas Day prix-fixe menu that includes sunchoke velouté, roasted cod, softly-spiced duck breast, beef filet mignon and an assortment of sides. Desserts include chocolate and bergamot tea yule log, grapefruit and citrus Norwegian omelette and more. Holiday hours on Christmas Eve are 5:30 pm to 11 pm and Christmas Day from 11:45 am to 10 pm.

Now in its seventh year, The Ride holiday tour will dazzle audiences until Sunday, January 6. Celebrating the celestial lights of Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanza, The Ride Holiday Edition is a brainstorm of design that has resulted in a fleet of multi-million dollar motor coaches full of state-of-the-art electronic wizardry. Guided by two Gold Star hosts, and adding its own award-winning actors, singers and dancers to the crowded mix on the street, the huge motor coaches deliver an imaginative performance with original seasonal music and videos while hilarious hosts support the holiday show through Midtown.

The Carlyle Hotel: Built in 1930, The Carlyle is a luxury hotel that exudes charm and elegance. For generations, it has been the “home away from home” for world leaders, celebrities and sophisticated travelers. This Christmas Eve, enjoy a decadent four-course prix fixe dinner with seatings at 5:30 pm and 8:30 pm for $195 per adult, $98 per child under the age of 12. Also open Christmas Day, usher in holiday cheer with Santa Claus and a delectable four-course prix fixe menu in The Carlyle Restaurant for $230 per adult, $125 per child under the age of 12 with seatings at 12:30 pm, 3:30 pm and 7 pm.

 

Farah Lopez
About the author

Farah Lopez is the Marketing Editor and a French-Canadian transplant living in SoBro (South Bronx). Follow her food-o...