Non-Touristy Christmas Activites in NYC

It’s widely known that the most wonderful time of the year is even more wonderful in New York City. This city is truly magical around the holiday season with trees lining the sidewalks and lights criss crossing the streets. Last year I made this holiday bucket list for NYC and actually checked off most of the items. If you’ve never been to New York around the holidays the big tourist activities are seriously a must-do. There’s nothing like seeing the Rockefeller tree or the windows down 5th Avenue for the first time.

However when you live in NYC, sometimes it is just so damn frustrating when every holiday activity is a push your way through hoards of people kind of event (aka anything in Bryant Park, Rockefeller, etc). So this year I’ve spent hours searching to find some of the best unknown (or at least less known) holiday activities around the city. Seriously, start making time in your calendar right now because these events are perfect for those of us who have been to the Union SQ Christmas Market so many times we can navigate it with our eyes closed.

Ok I freaked out when I found out there’s a holiday show at the botanical gardens. This will be the 25th year of their Holiday Train Show in which a model train runs through over 150 recreated landmarks. The event opens on November 19th and runs through mid January, and they suggest making reservations ahead of time. Also, for those of us of age there are Bar Cart nights with ice carving demonstrations, live music, and plenty of holiday drinks 🙂

When sidewalk Christmas trees just aren’t doing it for you anymore head out to Queens for a real Christmas Tree Farm experience. Starting December 1st you’ll be able to wander through their tree selection with hot chocolate. Plus, the farm is 47 acres so you’ll get some much needed fresh air and can even hang out with their animals. Sign me up!

Just do a quick Google Image search for the Dyker Heights Lights and you’ll see why I’m already planning my trip out to Brooklyn. An entire neighborhood sets up crazy Christmas lights to get you in the holiday spirit. All the info I found suggested going in mid-December between dusk and 9pm to get the best experience of the lights. There are guided bus tours though they seem to be crazy expensive, so I’d follow this guide to seeing the lights on foot.

When you finally gotten bored of all the famous holiday markets in Manhattan, head out to Williamsburg for the Bulletin Holiday Market. It’s a new market, but from what I’ve read it’s sure to impress and it’s only open for 2 weekends ( December 3-4th & 10-11th) so start planning your trip now. The real selling factor for this market – there’s a DJ and dance room with a full bar and serious holiday decorations, meaning you’re guaranteed to have an amazing time. Also, the spiked hot cocoa is calling me.

On December 17th hundreds of people will gather in Washington Square Park at 7 PM to play Phil Kline’s Unsilent Night composition together as they walk through the East Village. The event has been happening for decades and honestly looks like such an interesting holiday experience. The event started in Washington Square in 1992 and now happens in cities all around the world throughout the month of December, pretty cool right? If you’re interested you can read more here.

Honestly, holiday markets are the best part of the winter… so I needed to include a few 🙂 This holiday market is only open for the weekend of December 3-4th, but is rumored to have the best gifts you’ll find throughout the season.

If you end up going to any of these events let me know 🙂 I’d love to hear about your experience and with any luck I’ll find a time to go to each of them!

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