Holiday Festivities in New York City for Students on a Budget

The city comes alive each December with fun and affordable ways to enjoy the holidays.

New York City knows how to celebrate the holiday season. Each year, shop windows all across Manhattan are strung with multicolored lights, effervescent revelers are visiting the iconic tree in Rockefeller Center from all across the country, and the faint aroma of holiday treats can be detected up and down the city's streets.

Fortunately for students on a budget, there are many ways to enjoy the holidays in NYC. So shrug on your favorite ugly Christmas sweater and hop on the No. 1 train for a short trip downtown. Take in the sights of our fair city, which feels extra magical this time of year.

  • Rockefeller Christmas Tree

    image of person taking photo of christmas tree
    The Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center is a tradition that’s 80 years running, and has become a seasonal staple for New Yorkers and visitors alike. Bundle up and head to West 48nd and 51st Streets for a viewing of this urban treasure anytime before January 7. On Christmas Day, tree lights shine for a full 24 hours. Read more about the tree.
  • Bryant Park Winter Village

    image of bryant park at night

    Pop-up shops in the Bryant Park Winter Village offer something for everyone on your holiday list, plus treats for you. The holiday market includes 170 shopping kiosks and food vendors, a 17,000-square-foot ice-skating rink and, this year, the Lodge by Urbanspace, an enclosed food hall with several eateries. The winter village is easily accessible from the subway and is walking distance from Grand Central Terminal, and is best enjoyed while sipping a hot chocolate from Max Brenner. Browse the entire map of holiday shops.

  • Holiday Train Show

    image of holiday train show lit up

    One World Trade Center and the historic Battery Maritime Building join the already expansive collection of model trains in the Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Garden, an annual tradition that features features 175 New York landmarks miniaturized, and nestled among bark, leaves, and other natural materials found in the Garden. Event tickets can be found online and are highly recommended, as this event sells out quickly.

  • Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes

    image of radio city on manhattan street

    What would the NYC holiday season be without the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City? This classic production’s eye-catching costumes, new music and advanced technology have added extra flair through the years. Tickets to see the famed Radio City Rockettes can range in price based on demand and time of year, so leave purchasing duties to your parents or family visiting. They’ll have a great time and you’ll have extra cash to enjoy Bronx coffee.

  • Holiday Window Displays

    image of holiday window display
    Adorned with Christmas bulbs and alive with winter wonderland scenery, the New York City holiday window displays are always a treat. This year, Saks Fifth Avenue inspires passersby to “treat yo’self” with scenes that represent the brand’s most luxurious offerings and pay tribute to the majesty of the Broadway stage, as Macy’s at Herald Square showcases its legendary “Believe In The Wonder of Giving,” display. Read the full list of holiday window displays in New York City. 
By MC Staff