New York City, NY

3 Traditional Christmas Things to Do in NYC

Genius Turner

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Radio City Christmas Spectacular is among NYC's iconic holiday traditions.(Bones64/Flickr)

New York City — "There's no place like home," Dorothy famously said, to which I'll like to add: and there's also no place like Christmastime in New York City. Perhaps this explains why more Christmas movies are set in NYC than in any other place.

From the famous Christmas tree in the heart of Rockefeller Center to the glamorous store windows lining Fifth Avenue, as Nora Ephron once put it: 

 I look out the window and I see the lights and the skyline and the people on the street rushing around looking for action, love, and the world's greatest chocolate chip cookie, and my heart does a little dance.

In short, given NYC's storied Christmas past, here are 3 traditional things to do during the most wonderful time of the year.

1. Visit New York Botanical Garden Glow

Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful. —Norman Vincent Peale

NYC's traditional Botanical Garden is back for its 30th year!

The garden has transformed into a mini-train depot — with trains chugging along roughly a half-mile-long track. Not to mention, Nature shows herself to also be in the Christmas spirit as she peppers the garden with cinnamon sticks, twigs, leaves and berries.

2. Skate & Visit with Santa

"Christmas has arrived in the city."

After skating in Bryant Park (or holding on to the railing as I do), meet Santa Claus. In fact, while you're at it — take a free photo with Saint Nick. But even if skating isn't your thing, the offer still stands to take a picture with Santa.

3. Services at The Cathedral of St. John the Divine

Amid all the hoopla of gift swapping and feasting, let us pause for a second and remember: this special day was intended to celebrate Christ's birthday.

From St. Nick to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, a Christmas Eve service and carols start at 4 pm. At 10:30 pm, the Cathedral’s Christmas Eve Festal Eucharist begins. 

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