OK, we know it’s our job as hardened urbanites to scoff at all the cheery, twinkly stuff that overtakes the city every December…but the truth is, we kinda love it. Here’s where to get festive from now until New Year’s Eve.
1. The Rockefeller Christmas tree is already illuminated, but you can still get in on some tree-lighting action tonight at Bryant Park, with performances from Olympic and World Champion ice-skaters.
2. Then stick around and check out the Holiday Shops, where you’ll find everything from locally made bath goods by Ebb & Flow to hand-pulled noodles from Mian Kitchen.
3. Head to Brooklyn barbecue spot Pig Beach on December 3 to celebrate the arrival of a 30-foot evergreen with $5 hot toddies, a fire pit and free s’mores.
4. For a different kind of holiday glow, check out Sea of Light in the Seaport District: an interactive art installation powered by 150,000 LEDs. Catch a first glimpse on opening night December 5, along with live music and free mulled wine. (This really is the best season.)
5. Prepare to be awed by some seriously talented kids—one of whom may very well be a future Ella Fitzgerald or Jimi Hendrix—at the Apollo’s Amateur Night Holiday Special on December 9.
6. Pick up a few gifts mid-commute at Turnstyle's new holiday market inside the Columbus Circle subway station.
7. You have our permission to eat Breads Bakery’s sufganiyot (Hanukkah doughnuts) for eight days straight…whether or not you’re Jewish.
8. You could watch holiday movies at home on your couch, but it’s much more fun to catch a seasonal screening at Nitehawk Cinema, whether your taste skews toward the heartwarming (It’s a Wonderful Life) or the weird (Gremlins).
9. Take in an era-appropriate performance of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol at the Merchant’s House Museum.
10. Put on your warmest coat, grab a cup of hot chocolate and go for a stroll in Dyker Heights, where people take their Christmas decorations really, really seriously.
11. Eat all the cookies—or enter your own secret snickerdoodle recipe—at the Brooklyn Cookie Takedown on December 17.
12. Like sparkly things? Then you’re definitely going to want to stop by Swarovski’s holiday pop-up at Chelsea Market (December 4 through 10): You’ll find all manner of bedazzled items (like water bottles and headphones) along with holiday manicures and jewelry-making classes.
13. Dust off your old boom box for Unsilent Night, a magical participatory concert that crosses downtown Manhattan on December 17.
14. Celebrate the season the hygge way, with Julefrokost: a Danish pre-holiday lunch banquet (a tradition we can get behind). Chef Claus Meyer will be serving it up at both Great Northern Food Hall and Agern.
15. Need something to take the edge off all that over-the-top holiday sweetness? Good old-fashioned manipulation in Cruel Intentions: The Musical should do the trick.
16. Marvel at the hand-folded ornaments on the Origami Holiday Tree at the American Museum of Natural History—and try not to think about the paper cuts.
17. Snuggle up in the coziest chalet vibes (without having to leave the city) at Gallow Green’s seasonal pop-up, the Lodge. Did we mention there’s pizza?
18. Festive treats and frozen custard? Thank Shake Shack for rolling out its seasonal shakes: frozen cocoa, Christmas cookie and chocolate peppermint.
20. Feast on crispy, potatoey goodness at the Ninth Annual Latke Festival December 18.
21. Treat yourself to a fancy-pants holiday brunch at Tavern on the Green. And while you’re there, be sure to scope out the built-to-scale gingerbread model of the iconic restaurant.
22. Or a three-course Christmas Eve dinner at Chumley’s. (Be sure to get one of the impeccable martinis.)
23. Whoops, left your gift shopping to the last minute? You’ll find goodies for literally everyone at the shop that changes every season, Story. Its current theme, Home for the Holidays, is helpfully organized by recipient (e.g., coffee fiend, fashionista, revolutionary).
24. If your Christmas Day agenda includes Chinese food, you can’t do much better than the just-opened roast-duck house DaDong, the first stateside outpost from an acclaimed Beijing chef.