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Happy Holidays from the Big Apple! In this Go With Nugget for Kids podcast episode, we’re headed to New York City for the holidays. With the help of a bunch of New York City kids, we’ll find out what are their top 10 things to do during the holidays and over the holidays, and why Christmas in New York is such magical place this time of the year. We’ll explore Rockefeller Center, take in some of the city’s best shows, visit the holiday train exhibits and find out where the best spots are to go sledding and ice skating. So pack your coat and hat, and let’s head to NYC for some holiday magic!

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NEW YORK CITY FOR KIDS: WHERE IN THE WORLD IS NEW YORK CITY?

New York City is in the state of New York, on the east coast of the United States. It is the most densely populated city in the United States, with over 8.5 million people living in its five boroughs. That’s 27,000 people per square mile (2.9 square km), not a whole lot of room to stretch out! The five boroughs are Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, The Bronx and Staten Island. New York City is one of the world’s most famous places to visit, with over 60 million visitors every year — and many of these visitors love to come for Christmas in New York City and during the holidays to check out the famous sights and sounds of this magical place.

NEW YORK CITY FOR KIDS: TOP HOLIDAY ACTIVITIES FOR KIDS

We chatted with a bunch of New York City kids about what they love about their city during the holidays. They shared their family traditions during this time of year and the fun things to do in New York City at this time of the year. Here are their top 10 holiday activities for kids!

NYC for Kids_Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center

The famous tree at Rockefeller Center is beautifully lit for the holidays.
Photo: Veronique Langlois Kinsey
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Let’s start off with the most famous sight of all, the tree at Rockefeller Center. This Christmas tree is one of the most famous sights to see during Christmas in New York. Every year a Norway spruce is donated to the Rockefeller Center. It is a tradition that dates back to 1931. These Christmas trees are huge! They’re at least 75 feet (22.9 m) tall and 45 feet (13.7 m) wide and are about 60 years old! Here’s a time lapse video of the tree delivered and raised at the Rockefeller Center.

The tree has over 30,000 lights, and the star is donated by Swarovski. The star is made with over 3 million crystals, making it extra shiny and sparkly. Each year in early December, everyone is invited to the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony. After the holidays, when it’s time for the tree to come down, the tree is turned into lumber and then into a home to be built by Habitat for Humanity

NYC for Kids: Rockefeller Tree Lighting Ceremony

Thousands gather for the tree lighting ceremony at Rockefeller Center.
Photo: Ranjana Armstrong.

Here is a video of the tree lighting ceremony.

NEW YORK CITY FOR KIDS: SEEING THE HOLIDAY WINDOWS OF FIFTH AVENUE

One of New York’s biggest holiday traditions is to walk down Fifth Avenue to see the beautiful, creative and colorful Christmas windows. This tradition began 150 years ago at Macy’s Herald Square. One of the most exciting windows are those seen at Saks Fifth Avenue they set up a dazzling light show along the side of their building, just around the corner from the Rockefeller tree.

NYC for Kids: Frozen 2-themed Holiday lights at Sacks Fifth Avenue

Disney and Saks collaborated to create this Frozen 2-themed light display.
Photo: Saks Fifth Avenue

Here is a video of the unveiling of the Saks Fifth Avenue Frozen 2 holiday window display.

Enjoying the beautifully decorated holiday windows is a fun thing to do as a family during the holidays, just get there early before the crowds.

NYC for Kids: Snow White-Themed Window Displays of 5th Avenue

Enjoying a Snow White holiday-themed window display.
Photo: Ranjana Armstrong

NEW YORK CITY FOR KIDS: GOING TO SEE THE RADIO CITY MUSIC HALL ROCKETTES

NYC for Kids: Radio City Music Hall

Going to see the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular show is a tradition that many NYC kids love to do during Christmas in New York. It truly is a spectacular show, filled with dancing and music. There are 36 dancers on stage at a time, performing their famous high kicks in unison over 160 times per show! That’s a lot of kicks! Their shoes even have microphones so that you can hear their amazing tap dancing as they’re performing.

NYC for Kids: Rockettes Soldiers March

The Radio City Rockettes perform the March of the Wooden Soldier at the Christmas Spectacular in Radio City Music Hall.
Photo: Bob Jagendorf   CC BY 3.0.

Check out this video to get a glimpse of the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular performance.

NEW YORK CITY FOR KIDS: TAKING IN A PERFORMANCE OF 'THE NUTCRACKER'

The classic Tchaikovsky ballet The Nutcracker is a story about a girl who befriends a nutcracker that comes to life on Christmas Eve. It’s a beautiful show and a holiday tradition that many families enjoy. There are over 20 different versions performing throughout the city to suit everyone’s tastes and attention spans there’s even a hip hop version! Kids love seeing the dancing toys, mischievous mice and sugar plum fairies.

See this video of The Nutcracker ballet performed by the NYC Ballet Company.

And for a new take on the classic, here’s The Hip Hop Nutcracker.

NEW YORK CITY FOR KIDS: ICE SKATING

As the weather gets colder, New York City gets ready for some winter fun with ice skating rinks popping up all over the city. Kids of all ages love to glide along the ice at Wollman Rink or Lasker Rink in Central Park. And enjoy a twirl (and maybe a tumble or two) at Bryant Park, where they even have ice bumper cars! Also, the best thing about skating in New York City is the delicious hot chocolate you get to have afterward!

NYC for Kids: Skating at Wollman Rink in Central Park

Skating at Wollman Rink in Central Park early in the holidays.
Photo: Colin from Pixabay 

NEW YORK CITY FOR KIDS: SLEDDING

At the first snowfall, and every one after that, from the Bronx to Brooklyn, kids grab their sleds and rush off to the many fun sledding hills. Some of the best ones are in Central Park, Riverside Park, Prospect Park and Wave Hill. Hours and hours of cold, snowy fun is had on these days, especially when schools are closed for a snow day!

NYC for Kids: Sledding in Central Park

When it snows in NYC, kids and parents join in some sledding fun at Central Park.
Photo:
Ranjana Armstrong

NEW YORK CITY FOR KIDS: SEEING THE HOLIDAY TRAIN SHOW AT THE NY TRANSIT MUSEUM

Kids in New York are obsessed with trains, and during the holidays there are two very special holiday train shows. The first one is at Grand Central Station, and it’s a favorite of many NYC kids. The NY Transit Museum Holiday Train Show features a miniature version of New York City, and you can watch a train travel from Grand Central to the North Pole! All of New York City’s famous buildings and landmarks are there, from the Empire State Building to the Statue of Liberty.

NYC with Kids: NY Transit Museum Holiday Train Show Grand Central Station
NYC for Kids: NY Transit Museum Holiday Train Show Grand Central Station

NYC trains and subways are on their way to the North Pole.
Photo: Ranjana Armstrong

NEW YORK CITY FOR KIDS: EXPLORING THE HOLIDAY TRAIN SHOW AT THE NEW YORK BOTANICAL GARDEN

The New York Botanical Garden also puts on an amazing train show at this time of the year. You’ll be able to see more than 25 model trains and trolleys toot along almost a half-mile (800 m) long track. The trains go over Brooklyn Bridge, through Central Park and around 175 iconic New York City buildings, all made out of natural materials — like bark, leaves and acorns.

NYC for Kids: Miniatures Trains at NY Botanical Garden
NYC for Kids: New York Botanical Garden
NYC for Kids: NY Botanical Garden
NYC for Kids: NY Botanical Garden

All aboard the train at the Botanical Garden!
Photo: Ranjana Armstrong

Check out this video of the Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Garden.

NEW YORK CITY FOR KIDS: VISITING THE DYKER HEIGHTS HOLIDAY LIGHTS

Next on our list is the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights. Kids from Brooklyn and all over New York travel to see hundreds of houses decorated with thousands of lights, each house trying to outdo the other! There are dazzling displays of lights, reindeer, Santas and snowmen. Some houses even play Christmas music through their outdoor speakers to get the crowds into the holiday spirit. It’s one of the top things NYC love to see during Christmas in New York.

NYC Kids: Dyker Heights Holiday Lights
NYC for Kids: Holiday Lights of Dyker Heights
NYC for Kids: Holiday Lights in Dyker Heights
NYC for Kids: Dyker Heights holiday lights

The bright lights of Dyker Heights over the holidays.
Photo: Ranjana Armstrong

NYC FOR KIDS: CHRISTMAS IN NEW YORK - MEETING SANTA

Last on our list of top things kids love about Christmas in New York City: a visit with Santa Claus. Kids from all over the city have made their Christmas wish lists and are ready to share it with Santa in the hope that they’re on the nice list! There are many spots in NYC that Santa visits during the holidays, so you’re sure to have a chance to meet him in person!

NYC for Kids: Christmas in New York with Santa at the Plaza

Reading Christmas wish lists with Santa — and being very nice!
Photo: Veronique Langlois Kinsey

SPECIAL THANKS

Thanks to all the NYC parents who shared with us their children’s favorite traditions for the holidays in New York City. We loved hearing everyone’s special holiday moments — they’ve inspired us to try different things with our families! Christmas is New York is indeed magical and we hope you get a chance to visit one day. 

The theme song for Go With Nugget for Kids was written and composed by Andrew & Polly from the musical kids podcast Ear Snacks.

Go With Nugget for Kids is a proud member of Kids Listen, an international organization of advocates for high quality audio content for children. If you love kids podcast, go check them out!

Go With Nugget for Kids is part of Nugget, a global community for parents to share and discover unique travel itineraries for memorable family vacations.

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