New York during the holiday season is a special thing. Your perception of New York is all in the mindset, opinions vary widely, especially at this time of year, depending on who you ask.
There’s the old time New Yorker who absolutely hates tourists yet insists on walking to work two blocks away from Rockefeller Center every day. Or the young professional who simply turns their nose at the prospect of anything remotely touristy (alternatively you have the young professional who loves to be a tourist in their own city, sometimes a bit too aggressively). There’s even the typical businessperson who is simply trying to get through the day, head down and dressed in nothing short of dark grey.
Regardless of who they are, they’ve all done the big New York holiday experiences at least once (more likely at least three or four times). I place myself in the category of ‘grew up here and can’t seem to really leave for any meaningful amount of time without wanting to come back’ and it is this nostalgia that allows me to still appreciate New York’s holiday traditions.
Perhaps my favorite is the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center; it’s cliche and touristy and gross but at the same time I still, after twenty years, find it charming. Catching the tree without too massive a crowd is always an endeavor and the huge swaths of people can sometimes be off putting but I find it well worth it. Rockefeller Center was on my walk to work every day during my first internship in the city; seeing it all dressed up and festive makes me beam with pride.
Another favorite of mine are the statues located just a few blocks away. While simple, they really embody the feeling of the holiday season and can make even a fifty degree day feel like Christmas.
One holiday specialty I have yet to take part in this year is the Winter Village in Bryant Park, though I have enjoyed it immensely in the past. It’s usually (marginally) less crowded than the two mentioned above, and the vast space of Bryant park allows for significantly more personal space. Learn more about it here.
These places aside, winter in New York is something I believe everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime. The city is never as cheerful as it is during the holidays, and never as quiet as it is after a snowfall and, after all, everyone needs a New York story or two, eh?