New York shines in the holidays — here’s where to celebrate the season

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By Dan Sears

The city that never sleeps definitely doesn’t hibernate for the holidays.

Get ready to unwrap a treasure trove of family-friendly festivities that will make your winter in New York City more magical than a Broadway show.

From classic holiday traditions to new whimsical worlds, we’ve got the ultimate guide to holiday-themed adventures in NYC that are perfect for kids and families.

So, bundle up, and let’s jingle all the way through the city’s most joyous jamborees and make memories that will last longer than Aunt Edna’s fruitcake.

Skate and the city

Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park is back again this year and cooler than ever. You can zip around for free on a huge ice rink (BYO skates) or whirl in bumper cars on ice — yeah, it’s a thing. Plus, there are over 180 holiday kiosks awaiting a merry shopping spree, thanks to the wizards at Urbanspace.

Don’t miss the Lodge, your cozy après-skate hangout for festive drinks and yummy eats, and revel with your friends and family in your very own private igloo. These cozy domes are the ultimate winter experience, offering food and beverages just a snowball’s throw from the iconic rink.

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Bryant Park, 42nd St. at Sixth Ave.

Ticket to ride

All aboard for a whimsical ride at the New York Botanical Garden’s Holiday Train Show. This isn’t just any train show; it’s a mini New York City on the move. Watch model trains zip and zoom through a lush wonderland, passing over 190 teeny-tiny replicas of NYC’s iconic landmarks.

These mini marvels are crafted from nature’s own — think: birch-bark skyscrapers and cinnamon-stick bridges. It’s like Mother Nature herself turned architect.

This holiday tradition is a must-see, whether you’re a plant lover, a train fanatic, or just in it for the ’gram.

Adults $35; kids $20.

New York Botanical Garden, 2900 Southern Blvd., Bronx.

Holiday Train Show at The New York Botanical Gardens, Bronx.
People can watch model trains zip and zoom through a lush wonderland, passing over 190 teeny-tiny replicas of NYC’s iconic landmarks.

Sweet spot

Rockefeller Center’s holiday season just got sweeter with the Candy Cottage of Christmas Magic. Dive into a confection-coated wonderland complete with a whimsical scavenger hunt. Imagine a magical cottage in a Christmas tree, where you can pluck candy from the walls and embark on a festive journey.
Nestled in Rockefeller Center’s Channel Gardens, this sugary paradise is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m through Jan. 2. Tickets from $25.

Candy Cottage of Christmas Magic, 610 Fifth Ave.

Candy Cottage of Christmas Magic is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m through Jan. 2. Tickets from $25. Courtesy of Nate Bertone
The holiday experience is located in Rockefeller Center’s Channel Gardens. Courtesy of Nate Bertone

Lobbying for fun

This December, the Algonquin Hotel transforms into a festive wonderland for families. Enjoy their Cocoa and Carols Happy Hour every evening with specialty cocoa (and a spiked version for adults), or be thrilled by KT Sullivan’s iconic Christmas Cabaret and Rocco DellaNeve’s Rat Pack Christmas tunes on select dates.

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Don’t miss the high-kicking Serafina’s and Broadway vocalists every Thursday, complete with photo ops and autographs.

Algonquin Hotel, 59 W. 44th St.

Empire state of mind

Gather your family for a magical movie night at the Empire State Building’s cinematic experience on the 80th floor. Enjoy one of four special screenings of the holiday classic “Elf,” featuring Buddy’s adventure in NYC. Your ticket includes not just the movie but also complimentary snacks and drinks to delight all ages.

After the movie, elevate your outing by visiting the 86th and 102nd-floor observatories, both included in your ticket, where you can revel in breathtaking 360-degree views of New York City.

$135 for all ages. Empire State Building, 20 W. 34th St.

Enjoy one of four special screenings of the holiday classic “Elf,” featuring Buddy’s adventure in the Empire State Building’s cinematic experience.

House hunting

On Dec. 9, you can learn how to create a gingerbread house that your neighbors will envy. The annual Gingerbread House Workshop at the St. Regis New York is hosted by the hotel’s esteemed culinary team. While decorating your own masterpiece, snack on a selection of tea sandwiches, sweets and hot cocoa.

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$150 per adult, $75 per child.
St. Regis New York, 2 E. 55th St.

Animal magic

Bring the family to witness the amazing display of glimmering lights at the Bronx Zoo.

This year, visitors can marvel at nearly 400 lanterns representing 100 animal and plant species, animated shows and plenty of shimmering string lights.

The Bronx Zoo features displays mimicking the wildlife from New York’s oceans and wetlands, along with an exhibit of bioluminescent creatures. Julie Larsen Maher © WCS
The zoo has 400 lanterns representing 100 animal and plant species. Julie Larsen Maher © WCS

New for this year: displays mimicking the wildlife from New York’s oceans and wetlands, along with an exhibit celebrating bioluminescent creatures. Tickets from $42.
Bronx Zoo, 2300 Southern Blvd., Bronx.

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