New York’s Holiday Season 2023: What’s Happening

A previous year’s Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting. This year’s lighting will take place on November 29th. Image Credit: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office.

The start of the 2023 holiday season brings many opportunities to gather and celebrate for New Yorkers and visitors from around the world. CityLand is delighted to present our annual guide on some of New York’s seasonal highlights.

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade will be held live on Thursday, November 23 from 9 AM to noon. The event will also be televised on NBC and streaming on Peacock. For more information about the parade route, click here.

The public inflation of the parade balloons will be held Wednesday, November 22 in front of the Museum of Natural History from 12 to 6 PM. Spectators can enter at West 72nd Street and Columbus Avenue and may exit west along anywhere from West 82nd to West 86th Street. For more information about the inflation, click here.

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting

The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony will be held on Wednesday, November 29th. Viewers at home can watch the ceremony on NBC starting at 8 PM. After the 30th, the tree will be lit every day from 5 AM to 12 AM. On Christmas Day, the tree is lit for 24 hours and on New Year’s Eve the tree is lit until 9 PM. The tree will be lit until January 13th. 

Ice skating is also available at the Rink at Rockefeller Center. For more information about tickets and pricing, click here.

Radio City Christmas Spectacular and Other Theater Performances

The Radio City Rockettes will return starting today, November 17 and will perform through January 1st. Tickets are available here and for more information, click here

The holiday season is a popular time to see a show on Broadway. For more information about what shows are available for the 2023 holiday season, click here. For information about off-Broadway shows, click here

Holiday Markets

Holiday markets are a wonderful chance for New Yorkers to try local food and engage with local businesses and artists. 

The Holiday Shops at Bryant Park are currently open through January 2 from 11 AM to 8 PM on weekdays and 10 AM to 8 PM on weekends. The Rink at the Bank of America Winter Village is the only free admission ice skating rink in New York City. The rink requires timed entry with reserved tickets in advance, but there is no cost for admission. Skate rentals and paid bag checks are available. The rink will be open through March 3. Le Carrousel is also available to ride from 11 AM to 8 PM. For more information about other activities at Bryant Park, click here.

The Union Square Holiday Market will be open from November 16th to December 24th from 11 AM to 8 PM on weekdays, Saturdays 10 AM to 8 PM and Sundays 11 AM to 7 PM. The market will be closed on Thanksgiving at closing at 4 PM on Christmas Eve. 

The Columbus Circle Holiday Market will be open from November 28th through December 31st. The hours are Monday to Saturday from 11 AM to 8 PM and Sundays from 11 AM to 7 PM. The market will close at 4:00 PM on Christmas Eve and be closed on Christmas Day. 

The Holiday Market at the Oculus will be open from November 25th to January 2nd. The hours are Monday to Saturday from 10 AM to 8 PM and Sundays from 11 AM to 7 PM. The Holiday Market will include photo opportunities and performances including carolers. 

Botanical Gardens and Zoos

The New York Botanical Garden’s annual Holiday Train Show runs from November 17th to January 15th from 10 AM to 6 PM. In addition, the Botanical Garden’s outdoor holiday light experience NYBG GLOW returns for its fourth year. The NYBG GLOW experience will be available November 17, 24, 25, December 2, 8, 9, 15, 16, 22, 23, 26-30 and January 6 and 13. For more information and to get tickets, click here

The Bronx Zoo Holiday Lights experience will be available November 17 – 19, 24 -26, and 30; December 1-3, 7-9, 10, 14-17, 21-23, 26 – 31; and January 5-7. For more info, click here.

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden Lightscape returns this year.  The experience runs from November 17 to January 1 with the exception of certain days. For more information, click here.

Holiday Season Open Streets

Following last year’s successful pilot program, the Fifth Avenue corridor will be open to pedestrians during the holiday season. On December 3, 10 and 17 from 12 to 6 PM, Fifth Avenue will be pedestrians only from 48th Street to 59th Street. Throughout the holiday season, moveable barriers will be on the west and east sides of Fifth Avenue to help with crowd control and provide additional pedestrian space when needed. During the open street hours, performances and other entertainment will be available, and public seating will be provided. 

From the tree lighting on November 29 through January, the area around Rockefeller Center and Radio City Music Hall will also be pedestrianized with moveable barriers. From 11 AM to 12 AM, West 49th and West 50th Streets from Fifth to Sixth Avenues will be open to pedestrian traffic only.

Menorah Lightings

Hanukkah begins the evening of Thursday, December 7 and runs through Friday, December 15. 

The World’s Largest Menorah will return to the south east corner of Central Park in Manhattan’s Grand Army Plaza. The menorah will be lit at 5:30 PM each night. 

Brooklyn’s Largest Menorah will be lit in Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza, with a kickoff concert on December 7 starting at 5 PM. For a further schedule, click here.

Kwanzaa Celebrations and Kinara Lightings 

Kwanzaa begins Tuesday, December 26 and runs through Monday, January 1. 

The Apollo Theater’s annual Kwanzaa celebration, “Kwanzaa: A Regeneration Celebration” will be held December 30 for two shows at 2 PM and 7:30 PM. For more information and tickets click here.

More information will be added about future kinara lightings as that information becomes available.

Museum Highlights

The Museum of the City of New York’s Gingerbread NYC: The Great Borough Bake-Off, in which select bakers from around the city created gingerbread displays to represent their neighborhoods, returns for another year. The exhibit runs through January 15th. For more information and tickets, click here

Brooklyn Children’s Museum Kwanzaa Celebration: Kwanzaa starts on Tuesday, December 26 and ends on Monday, January 1. The Brooklyn Children’s Museum will have its sixteenth annual Kwanzaa celebration from December 26-30 featuring music, art-making, food, dance demonstrations and spoken-word presentations. For more information and to buy tickets, click here.

The Museum of the Moving Image will host a 45th anniversary screening of Christmas Eve on Sesame Street as part of their ongoing Jim Henson exhibit and programming. The screenings will be on Saturday, December 23 at 1 PM and Sunday, December 24 at 12:30 PM. For more info, click here

The New York Historical Society will have a new exhibit, “Holiday Express 2023-2024: Toys and Trains from the Jerni Collection.” The exhibit will run from November 24 to February 4. For more information, click here.

Times Square New Years Eve 

The Times Square New Years Eve 2023 celebration can be viewed in person at Times Square or at home on multiple TV stations and viewed online. Please check your local TV schedule for details. 

The NYE Wishing Wall returns this year, where anyone can submit a wish, goal or dream for the upcoming year in person or online. Submitted wishes will be added to the confetti that drops in Times Square at midnight on New Year’s Eve. Wishes can be submitted online here and in person at TSq Plaza 46-47 on Broadway between 46th and 47th Streets. Wishes can also be shared over Twitter and Instagram using #ConfettiWish. 

We at CityLand hope you have a safe and wonderful holiday season.

By: Veronica Rose (Veronica is the Editor of CityLand and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2018.)




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