December often feels like it has arrived too soon, but instead of grumbling about the impending arrival of winter and the hectic holiday season, why not embrace it? Throw yourself head first into the holiday spirit, by checking out some of our favorite ways to get into the season in New York City:
- Catch a classic: Experience the magic of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™, performed by the The New York City Ballet. Every year since 1954, this has been a NYC holiday tradition. This year includes more than 200 performers (dancers, musicians, and two casts of 50 young students each from the School of American Ballet). Runs November 29-January 4. Tickets start at $29.
- Be a kid again: Few things say “Christmas” like a model train going around Christmas tree, through a miniature NYC, and all the way to the North Pole. At Grand Central Station, the New York Transit Museum’s Holiday Train Show delights kids and train enthusiasts alike. November 18 to December 24, Monday to Friday 8am-8pm, Saturday 10am-8pm (after Dec. 24 until Feb. 23, Monday-Friday 8am-8pm, Saturday and Sunday 10am-6pm). Cost: Free!
- Have a Holiday “date night”: Try the “Bar Car Nights” at the New York Botanical Garden’s Holiday Train Show (sticking with the train theme here). The more extensive Holiday Train Show includes both a miniaturized Metro North and Thomas the Tank Engine as they wind their way through well-known NYC landmarks. Bar Car Nights allow visitors to enjoy the exhibition while sipping a complementary cocktail, there’s also ice carving and a professional photographer to capture the moment – gently lit by the Christmas lights. Friday and Saturday, December 6, 7, 14, 20 and 21, 7-10pm. $30 (advanced tickets recommended).
- Go Ice Skating by the River: With the Hudson River as a backdrop, enjoy ice skating in Lower Manhattan just outside the Brookfield Place (formerly known as the World Financial Center) and the Winter Garden at The Rink at Brookfield Place. The Winter Garden is also lit up with thousands of holiday lights. Open daily 10am-10pm, public skate $15, skate rental $5.
- Celebrate Tradition: The Christmas tree in front of the Rockefeller Center is one of the most famous and identifiable holiday traditions in NYC. It made its first appearance during the Great Depression, before the center was completed. Lights are on daily from December 4-January 7, 5:30am-11:30pm. The equally famous ice rink is open until early April, daily from 8:30am till midnight. Adults $15, children (under 11) $15, skate rental $12.
Find this author on twitter @MirabelVega.