New York City (December 11, 2023) — New York City Tourism + Conventions, the City’s official destination marketing organization and convention and visitors bureau, is spotlighting a selection of free and affordable things to do in the five boroughs this holiday season.
“New York City feels extra special during the holiday season, and there are so many ways to celebrate across the five boroughs,” said Fred Dixon, President and CEO of New York City Tourism + Conventions. “We expect to welcome roughly 7 million visitors between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, and the City offers something for the whole family to enjoy—no matter your interests or budget.”
Suggested activities include:
Free Annual Celebrations:
The iconic Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is on view through January 13. The 80-foot Norway spruce is covered in 50,000 multicolored LED lights.
The lighting of the world’s largest menorahs takes place at sundown on each night of Hanukkah at Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn and Grand Army Plaza in Midtown. The celebrations also feature live music, latkes and children’s gifts.
Join thousands of revelers from around the world to ring in 2024 at the New Year’s Eve Ball Drop in Times Square. Arrive early to save your spot at this once-in-a-lifetime event.
Each year, residents of Brooklyn’s Dyker Heights neighborhood light up their homes with over-the-top Christmas decor. Bring a thermos of hot chocolate and take in the decorations with festive music in the background.
The Dumbo Improvement District is presenting a series of holiday events and activities, including animations projected on the Manhattan Bridge and Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE). The projections are on view through December 31, from 4–10pm daily.
The Rink at Winter Village at Bryant Park offers free ice-skating in the heart of Midtown Manhattan (skates are available to rent). Sitting among the open-air holiday market and dining offerings, the rink is open through March 3, 2024.
NYC’s Open Streets program returns this year, creating a pedestrian-only zone around Rockefeller Center and on Fifth Avenue from 48th Street to 59th Street.
Join hundreds of brave swimmers on January 1 for an icy dip in the Atlantic Ocean during the Coney Island Polar Bear Club New Year’s Day Plunge. Participation is free; individuals are encouraged to donate to community organizations.
NYC is the backdrop of many beloved holiday films. Whether you want to stop by the Empire State Building to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Elf, play on the large-scale FAO Schwarz piano as in Bigor visit The Plaza Hotel in honor of Home Alone 2 – Fun in New York, there’s something for the whole family to enjoy.
Meet Santa Claus at Macy’s Herald Square. Reservations are free and can be made up to five days before your visit, with photos available for purchase. Santaland will host sensory-friendly early mornings on select days throughout the holiday season—email Macy’s for more information.
The Children’s Museum of Manhattan is offering a series of public holiday programs throughout December, including a singer-songwriter series, cultural celebrations, New Year’s Eve programming and more.
The National Park Service will hold free Kwanzaa events at the African Burial Ground National Monument from December 26–30. Family-friendly activities include doll making, quilting, face painting and more.
Visit Battery Park City Public Library on December 18 for a free Holiday and Christmas Carols Sing Along for all ages.
Every year, holiday markets pop up across the City, offering artisanal products, crafts, food and more, ideal for sourcing uniquely NYC gifts. The famous Union Square Holiday Market is open every day through December 24, with more than 150 festive vendors and food stalls.
Thrifting fans can visit Brooklyn Flea in Dumbo for housewares, vintage clothing, antiques, jewelry, crafts and more.
Traversing through Grand Central Terminal this holiday season? Be sure to check out the Holiday Fair in Vanderbilt Hall—and note that a visit to the New York Transit Museum’s Holiday Train Show in Grand Central is free this year!
The Long Island City Partnership is presenting a Pop-Up Holiday Art Market on Thursdays–Sundays through December 17, offering handcrafted art pieces, complimentary panettone and hot drinks.
Empire Outlets is NYC’s only outlet shopping destination. Accessible via the free Staten Island Ferry, shops include the Levi’s Outlet, Nike Factory Store, Nordstrom Rack and more. The Outlets also offer festive decorations including a beautiful Christmas tree—perfect for family photos.
Give the Gift of NYC:
Reservations are now available for NYC Hotel Week, offering 24 percent off stays at 160 hotels from January 3–February 4. Also enjoy prix-fixe restaurant menus; 2-for-1 Broadway tickets; and 2-for-1 tickets to attractions, museums, tours and performing arts as part of NYC Winter Outing.
Between the Thanksgiving and New Year’s holidays, New York City expects to attract approximately 7 million visitors. The City welcomed 56.7 million travelers in 2022 and remains on track to welcome roughly 60 million visitors this year.
About New York City Tourism + Conventions:
New York City Tourism + Conventions is the official destination marketing organization and convention and visitors bureau for the City of New York, dedicated to maximizing travel and tourism opportunities throughout the five boroughs, building economic prosperity and spreading the positive image of New York City worldwide. For all there is to do and see in New York City, visit nyctourism.com.
By downloading these Media Assets, you are agreeing to the following terms:
New York City Tourism + Conventions grants permission for press use only. Any use of the provided Media Assets, in whole or in part, other than for PRESS purposes, is prohibited (including but not limited to copying, distribution or sale of these Media Assets). Please note that the Media Assets must not be used for commercial purposes or rebranded in any way without explicit permission from New York City Tourism + Conventions. New York City Tourism + Conventions is providing this to you without any representations as to rights and clearances with regard to third-party rights. Credit is required.