I know Christmas is the time to be with friends and family, but everything comes at a price ... including flights home. Yikes.
I'm an international student at LIMwho'll be in the city, trying to make plans in the "Big Apple" during winter break. If you're like me, there are great holiday-themed spots you can hit up and places you can visit. A few of these attractions are free and just require you to hop a bus or subway. Some have a cost, which I think is worth it to share in the holiday spirit with those around me, whether they're friends, family, or strangers.
Bank of America’s Winter Village at Bryant Park is a winter wonderland. There are holiday shops, The Lodge—a pop-up food hall with breakfast, lunch, dinner, desserts, and drinks—and The Rink, which is the centerpiece of the Village and New York City’s only free admission ice skating rink. (You still have to rent skates.) Herd your friends for a skating adventure! The Rink and The Lodge are open 8 a.m. - 10 p.m. daily through March 3, 2019. The holiday shops are open through January 2, 2019.
Winterfest at the Brooklyn Museum in Prospect Heights is open through December 31. Want to walk through a giant snow globe? Commune with the world's largest snowman? Slide down a giant inflatable slide dubbed "Snowzilla"? The Brooklyn Museum's new Winterfest has all that and more, including a winter market, daily live performances, an enchanted tree maze, face-time with Mr. and Mrs. Claus, and a giant menorah. Attractions are free. This is the first year for this holiday treat, but it feels like a tradition in the making.
The Winter Lantern Festival in Snug Harbor, Staten Island is open until January 6. Seven acres of Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden are lit up by 40 LED installations that reach up to 30 feet tall. The lanterns are accompanied by live performances of traditional Chinese dances and art, and a variety of holiday vendors, to create a magical and unique holiday season experience. Something you shouldn’t miss out on if you're in the city! General admission is $23.
The Hip Hop Nutcracker: I've got a great Christmas Show alternative for you. On December 23, Tchaikovsky’s iconic Nutcracker ballet is given an urban makeover in a high-energy show at the beautiful Kings Theater. This Nutcracker features a dozen hip-hop dancers, digital scenery, a deejay, and rap legend Kurtis Blow as special MC doing an opening set of old-school classics. Remaining tickets are a little pricey—more than $100—but what Hamilton did for musicals, the Hip Hop Nutcracker is doing for ballet.
Celebrate Kwanzaa 2018 on the Upper West Side, December 29. This is a vibrant annual festival at the American Museum of Natural History. Family-friendly activities and live music abound, and an international marketplace is stocked with traditional gifts and holiday treats. Free with suggested museum admission.
Dyker Heights’ Christmas lights display is one of the best and brightest holiday streets in New York, with so much luminous razzle-dazzle, you may want to wear shades. Seriously, the Kings County neighborhood is home to the most over-the-top house and yard decorations you’ll ever see: inflatable Santas, snowmen, houses blasting carols from loudspeakers. You’ll wander down multiple blocks and avenues for hours, so bundle up! The best time to see the lights is mid-December through New Year’s Eve. You’ll see breathtaking light displays from 11th to 13th Ave between 83rd and 86th St. in Dyker Heights. You can take in the sights on your own—or, for $55, A Slice of Brooklyn hosts a great Dyker Heights Christmas Lights tour every December night, excluding Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s.