The Ultimate Winter Guide to Free Holiday Fun in NYC

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Can you hear the Christmas bells? Whether you just want to warm up next to a loved one by a tree lighting or rock out to Christmas tunes with a cup of hot cocoa, ring in the winter season with some free events and magical holiday deals going on in NYC!

November-January is more than enough time to stop by the Grand Central Holiday Fair to pick up some gifts for the holidays. Shop around for toys, clothing, bath and body products, accessories and more. You can also simply stroll through and admire the artwork of 40 carefully curated artisans.

November-January, go to the Winter Village at Bryant Park for distinctive apparel, jewelry, decorative goods, comfort foods, and hot drinks. Best of all, you can grab your skates and ice skate for free at the rink.

November-January is the perfect opportunity to see the NYC holiday windows. Stroll down Fifth Avenue and take a look at the elaborate storefront designs. Lord and Taylor’s “Enchanted Forest” stars a cast of little bunnies, mice and other whimsical furry friends. Sak Fifth Avenue’s “Land of 1000 Lights” will also be a sight to see on Nov. 21. Candy-themed dresses created by notable designers will be part of the display.

Nov. 20, head to the Union Square Holiday Kick-Off at James Fountain in Union Square Park from 10:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m filled with coffee, treats, free holiday photos, carolers, and surprise princess appearances. Then enjoy the Union Square Holiday Market which is a Christmas town filled with twinkling lights, tinsel, and gourmet pantry items, from small-batch jams to all natural olive oils.

Nov. 28, will be the 17th Annual Winter’s Eve at Lincoln Square from 5:30 p.m.–9 p.m. It will be a fun night of performances and Christmas cheer. 

Dec. 4, Queens and Brooklyn residents can avoid a commute to the city. The Christmas in the Garden and Tree Lighting event from 1 p.m.–5:30 p.m. at Queens Botanical Garden is sure to be a majestic sight. On the same day, Brooklynites can meet up for the third annual Fort Greene Park Tree Lighting from 4:30 p.m.–6 p.m. Bring a toy for the Whitman Resident Association’s annual holiday toy drive in exchange for free hot cocoa and cookies. 

Dec. 6-Jan. 5 is the time for art buffs to visit the Arsenal Gallery Exhibition, Wreath Interpretations, in Central Park from 6 p.m.–8 p.m.

Dec. 10 will be Holiday on the Hudson at 125th Street and Marginal Street in West Harlem Piers. It isn’t your regular office Christmas party. Bring your own reusable mug, sip hot chocolate and dance to live music from 4:30 p.m.–6:30 p.m.

Dec. 10 is also Santacon: a chance to dress up as Ol’ Santa Claus and parade the best bars in NYC. Santacon is also a great opportunity to spread Christmas cheer and donate to charity. The proceeds will be split between five charities.

Dec. 21 is the debut of “The Gaits: A High Line Soundwalk”; an interactive art piece that features a portable speaker and a free smartphone app that turns footsteps into twinkling musical sounds. The composers will host a free discussion on the inspiration behind the piece at 3 p.m. in the Apple Store (401 W 14th Street). Don’t be late because the piece starts at 5 p.m. at the southern end of the High Line, at the base of the Gansevoort stairs where the speakers will be handed out to the first 100 people.

Dec. 31 is the New Year Midnight Run filled with music, live entertainment, and fireworks during a fun run. The runners even get to toast to champagne halfway through the run. The run starts at midnight but you can compete in the costume contest at 11 p.m.; the winner scores an award for the most creative costume.

January 28 is the start Lunar New Year! Dragon dance through Chinatown, admire the colorful floats and snag a traditional Chinese snack from a vendor to celebrate the year of the Rooster.

Published 6 hours ago

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