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What to Do in New York City in December 2021

By Emmie MurphyNov 29 2021

What’s that line about city sidewalks dressed in holiday style?

Strung lights, buzzy excitement, and Salvation Army Santas ringing their bells on every corner. Ornate window displays along Fifth Avenue and neighborhood celebrations. All this and more make the holiday season in New York the most wonderful time of the year. From classics like the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall to unexpected encounters with carol singers, there is no better time or place to embrace the festive spirit than New York City in December.

Don’t miss out on a chance to revive old traditions and create new ones. Read on for our top five picks of events happening around New York City in December.

Wondering what’s going on at Rockefeller Center in December? Scroll through our upcoming events, and sign up for The Center Newsletter to get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

New York City Ballet

1. The Nutcracker, in its many incarnations

Throughout the month of December

The Land of the Sweets comes in many flavors throughout the five boroughs. Treat yourself to a holiday classic with George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker at New York City Ballet (November 26-January 2) or experience the timeless story with a twist at The Brooklyn Nutcracker, a show that blends dance forms from ballet to hip-hop in a celebration of cultural diversity (December 11). Another option? Keith Michael’s family-friendly The Nutcracker, on from December 10 through the 12th.

Errisson Lawrence

December 9- December 27

‘Twas the Night Before…, Cirque du Soleil’s answer to The Nutcracker, is an acrobatic spectacle that will quickly become a new family favorite. A reinterpretation of Clement Clarke Moore’s famous poem, “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” the show follows Isabella, a young girl who finds herself in a magical world of carnivalesque feats energized by the holiday spirit. Tickets start at $65 and are on sale here.

Julie Larsen Maher © WCS

November 19 - January 9

Take an evening trip to the wilds of Africa or down to the depths of the ocean at the Bronx Zoo. The seasonal celebration returns with over 260 colorful lanterns representing nearly 70 species of flora and fauna from around the globe. Visitors can enjoy a family-friendly festival that celebrates the natural world through lantern displays, lighted sculptures, colorful walkways, and plenty of holiday cheer. Tickets and parking passes can be purchased here.

Metropolitan Opera

December 10-January 5

Set to Mozart’s famous score, The Metropolitan Opera’s production of The Magic Flute is an abridged fairy tale about a prince on a quest to rescue an imprisoned princess — and it will captivate audiences of all ages. Come for the beautifully staged production, stay for the quality cast. Favorites like Matthew Polenzani and Kathryn Lewek will revive past roles with pioneering conductor Jane Glover leading the orchestra.

Dyker Heights Christmas Lights

Ongoing through January
New York City is renowned for its twinkling lights at Christmastime, and nobody does it bigger or better than the Dyker Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn. Every year, this quiet community transforms into a colorful carnival, with houses going all-out on their holiday decor. Glowing Santas, flashing wreaths, and dustings of fake snow adorn every facade while carols blast from speakers. It's a 24/7 winter wonderland that has become one of the city’s most popular holiday attractions. Walk around at your leisure, or sign up for a guided bus tour anytime through the New Year.

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