Spending the Holidays in New York City

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The holidays are one of New York City’s busiest seasons of the year — with an estimated 5.2 million visitors expected to stay in the city during the 2015 holiday season. According to NewYork.com, now is the best time to book your trip to the Big Apple to ensure you get the best rates and availability on hotels, attractions and Broadway shows.

Also, many of NYC’s tour companies offer seasonal versions of their tours, like the popular Gray Line City Sightseeing Holiday Lights Tour and the Hornblower Thanksgiving Day Dinner Cruise, that generally go on sale 2–3 months before the holidays.

NewYork.com has compiled lists of the best hotels, attractions and Broadway shows of the holiday season that are most likely to sell out over the holiday and/or are offering early access pricing:

Top Hotels

  • The New York Palace goes all out for holidays, stringing up more than 68,000 lights and hanging 32,000 ornaments on the looming Christmas tree that presides over the elegant courtyard, and is one of the most sought-after hotels over the holiday season.
  • Centrally located near Central Park and the city’s most iconic stores, from Tiffany’s to Bergdorf Goodman, and holiday window displays, AKA Central Park gets snapped up quickly.
  • This playful midtown hotel, Le Parker Meridien, is one of the city’s most coveted holiday hotels with its annual Gingerbread Extravaganza fundraiser, where local bakeries craft gingerbread houses in the shapes of New York landmarks.


Top Attractions

  • Top Of The Rock Observation Desk often reaches visitor capacity during the holiday season, so book now to guarantee entry on the day of your choice. For those who want to skate at Rockefeller Center ice rink after, it’s important to book tickets at the rink in advance as there are limited tickets available.
  • Empire State Building is one of the hottest tickets in town, especially during the holidays. Book now and time your visit for just before sunset, so you can watch the skyline glow under changing colors as day turns to night.
  • Gray Line City Sightseeing Holiday Lights Tour showcases the best of the holiday sights and sounds in Midtown Manhattan and beyond. See all of the best of the holidays in one convenient loop with this tour — but be sure to bring a hat, scarf and gloves if the top deck is calling you.
  • Thanksgiving Day Dinner Cruise Tickets lets you take your Thanksgiving dinner offshore this year. Hornblower’s Thanksgiving Day Dinner Cruise is perfect for those want a side of skyline views with their turkey and stuffing (and for someone else to do all the cooking and cleaning up).


Broadway Shows

  • Radio City Christmas Spectacular has been one of the most popular and iconic holiday shows in NYC for decades. There are up to six performances on some days beginning November 13 through January 3, 2016 and early access pricing is in effect.  Book now to not only save money, but also get the date that’s best for you.
  • An American in Paris is one of the few Broadway shows performing on Christmas Eve so tickets are sure to go quickly.
  • On Your Feet! The Story of Emilio & Gloria Estefan opens for the very first time on October 5th, but the pre-NYC production in Chicago is generating a lot of buzz. Booking tickets now means more availability and lower prices than when the buzz hits after the Broadway premiere.
  • Allegiance, starring George Takei and Tony winner Lea Salonga, is also one of the most buzzed about new shows opening this fall. Get tickets now before the positive reviews roll in when the show opens in early November and prices skyrocket.
  • The Off-Broadway run of Hamilton, the new musical by Lin Manuel-Miranda, was a sold-out sensation, and tickets are already going fast for the Broadway run. If you are coming for the holidays, tickets are available now for December – but probably not for long.
  • The Lion King and Matilda are one of the top shows for families during the holidays and prices can get higher and higher as the date nears. If you are planning on bringing the whole family, it will also be also more difficult to get multiple seats together if you don’t book well in advance.

This is a guest post from NewYork.com. NewYork.com is a leading and trusted expert on New York City and the only existing website to plan and book a complete New York City itinerary, ranging from hotels, Broadway shows, dining, attractions and tours.


  1. I’d love to do so many of these things in New York! Sounds like a magical place during the holiday season!

  2. Always love seeing the lights at Rockefeller center and the window displays during the Christmas season.

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