As we New York City Boomers already know, December if the most magical month in our city. There are so many things going on every day it’s impossible to keep track of everything. This is also a time when family and friends come to visit and look to experience a spectacular NYC holiday season. Unfortunately, many of the marquee attractions, such as the Nutcracker in Lincoln Center ($75-$205) and the Radio City Christmas Spectacular ($46-$109), are budget-busters when you are entertaining groups.
However, the real beauty of NYC is that there is something available at every price point, so you and your guests can get into the holiday spirit without breaking the bank. We have already told you how to get discounted theater tickets or visit historic houses decked out for the season. Here are a few more things that are either free or more affordable, for you to explore with your visitors of all ages.
You or your guests may not be skating under that famous giant Christmas tree but when you look up there is the Empire State Building, lit at night with holiday colors. Skating is free, rental of skates is $15. And if you just want to watch the skaters, you can get a cup of hot chocolate, sit at rink side and listen to the skating music of great American holiday classics.
The Origami Tree is up , decorated with more than 500 hand-folded paper models created by origami artists. Volunteers have been folding the decorations since July. After you admire the tree, you have the whole museum available to visit. Seniors/Students $17, Children $12.50. Click here for additional information.
If you have to entertain little visitors The Three Bears Holiday Bash, a variety show that celebrates the holiday season in song, dance, and puppetry, is just the ticket. The show covers all the bases with stories of Hanukkah, the Night Before Christmas, and Kwanzaa. It is performed at the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theater inside Central Park. You enter the Park on West 79th Street. Ticket, $7 children/ $10 adults, are available here.
This version of the holiday classic by Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre is aimed at audiences aged 5 to 105. The performances take place in The Club at La MaMa, 74A East Fourth Street from December 5 to 14. Adults $18, Students/Seniors $13. Click here for ticket information.
The New-York Historical Society will showcase it’s treasures from the renowned Jerni Collection of model trains, scenic elements and toys. This display showcases the beauty and allure of toys from a bygone era. Tickets are $19 Adults, $15 Seniors, $12 Students, $6 Kids 5-13, Kids under 4 FREE.
For really loud holiday music get over to The Rink at Rockefeller Center on Sunday, December 14, at 3:30 p.m. There hundreds of tuba players will congregate to play carols and other crowd favorites and you are encouraged to sing along. This outdoor event is FREE. Wear warm clothing!
Handel’s Messiah will be performed thoughout the city in churches and concert halls. You can find both paid (Trinity Church, Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall) and FREE performances. (We’ll post additional information as it becomes available about the FREE ones in comments below and on Facebook .)
Thoughtgallery.org, a great NYC culture site, has done a roundup of the various Nutcracker performances you could catch this month. Click on the links to check out ticket availability; many sell out fast.
Finally, upcoming Tree Lightings:
Dec. 3 – Rockefeller Center
Dec. 3 – Zuccotti Park
Dec. 4 – Central Park
Dec. 7 – Park Avenue
Dec. 7 – Queens Botanical Garden
Dec. 9 – Madison Square Park
Dec. 10 – Washington Square Park
Dec. 13 – West Harlem Piers Park