If the nonstop barrage of Christmas songs at Duane Reade hasn’t tipped you off yet, it’s holiday season in NYC. And while that brings, yes, tourists and gift-shopping crowds galore, it also brings a ton of actually fun festive happenings that only come around once a year. Here’s where to get a healthy dose of holiday cheer.

 RELATED: 5 Ideas for Keeping Your Family Entertained While They’re in Town

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1. Scope out the delightfully over-the-top lights in Dyker Heights.

2. Put on your warmest coat and join the unique participatory performance Unsilent Night on December 18.

3. Or join the walking winter solstice concert at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

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4. There are Christmas trees everywhere, but none are quite like the American Museum of Natural History’s Origami Holiday Tree.

5. Throw on a festive sweater and stroll through a seasonal market.

6. Scope out the holiday window displays on Fifth Avenue and then treat yourself to a fancy-pants tea at Bergdorf's.

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7. Geek out over the intricately detailed cityscapes at the New York Botanical Garden’s Holiday Train Show.

8. And for even more trains, head to the New-York Historical Society’s Holiday Express exhibit to see dozens of antique toys and model trains dating as far back as 1850.

9. Catch a one-of-a-kind production of Peter & the Wolf at the Guggenheim.

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10. Drown yourself in all the crispy, carby goodness you can handle at the 8th Annual Latke Festival on December 19.

11. Or at 92Y?s Beer & Latkes on December 22.

12. Gawk at the sugary architecture of Gingerbread Lane.

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13. Catch a classic holiday flick on the big screen, like It’s a Wonderful Life at IFC Center, Christmas Vacation at Nitehawk or The Muppet Christmas Carol at Syndicated.

14. We love the rink at Rockefeller Center, but if you want to avoid the tourist crowds, take a spin on the ice at The Standard instead. (And treat yourself to some mulled wine afterward.)

15. A good old-fashioned tree lighting always makes us feel like a kid again, so why not celebrate with an actual kid—angel-voiced tween Grace VanderWaal—at South Street Seaport’s ceremony tonight at 6:30 p.m.?

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Seaport District/Facebook

16. Or, if you’d rather celebrate by enjoying the perks of adulthood, head to the Arlo Hudson Square Hotel’s rooftop Winter Wonderland pop-up for ski-lodge vibes and holiday-themed libations and snacks.

17. Make a kid's day by answering a letter to Santa through the U.S. Postal Service.

18. Speaking of Santa, if you get roped into taking your nephews to meet the big guy, you might as well go to the most beautiful display in the city at ABC Carpet & Home. (Alexa Chung is a fan.)


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19. Relieve some of that holiday stress at a holiday puppy party—yes, you read that right—with Gilt and the North Shore Animal League America. You can make a donation toward toys and care for the pups, or even adopt a new furry BFF right on the spot.

20. Take your pick of Nutcracker performances, from George Balanchine's classic version to Mark Morris's hilarious reimagining, The Hard Nut.

21. Indulge in a seafood smorgasbord at Grand Central Oyster Bar's Feast of the Seven Fishes on December 24.

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22. Kick back with a hot toddy amid some of the city's loveliest Christmas decorations at the Pierre Hotel—and congratulate yourself on making it through the season alive.

RELATED: Our Favorite Holiday Markets in NYC

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