Disappointing photos show what iconic New York City attractions really look like during the holidays

Visitors crowd the Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Centre, New York. Spencer Platt/Getty Images
  • New York City is one of the most festive places to visit during the holidays, but some experiences are overrated.
  • A combination of crowds, barricades, and tight security make the annual Tree Lighting Ceremony a tight squeeze.
  • Skaters have to try not to bump into one another at ice skating rinks in Rockefeller Centre and Central Park.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

For many, the holidays are the most magical time of the year, and, arguably, there’s no location more magical than New York City during that time. The Big Apple is considered one of the most festive places to visit, and with good reason. From the Rockefeller Centre’s Christmas tree to the glimmering lights of Dyker Heights, visitors can’t help but get into the holiday spirit.

But no locale is perfect, even during the most jolly season of the year. From endless crowds to below-freezing temps, the iconic landmarks of the city can become overrated during the holidays.

Here are a few reasons why New York City maybe shouldn’t be at the top of your holiday bucket list.

When it comes to spending the holidays in New York, the first stop on most people’s list is Rockefeller Centre.

A view of the Tree Lighting ceremony at Rockefeller Centre, New York, in 2014. Brad Barket/Stringer/Getty Images

The tree has attracted first-time visitors and locals alike since the tradition began in 1931.

But sometimes you might not get as close as you’d like. The annual Tree Lighting ceremony enchants thousands of fans.

Tourists try to take a photo of the famous tree. Jemal Countess/Stringer/Getty Images

A combination of crowds, barricades, and tight security can get in the way of getting that perfect snap.

And it’s not much better during the day.

Not even the rain stops people from visiting the attraction. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

It can be difficult to get a decent look at the tree.

Just around the corner, you’ll find another New York City staple — Radio City Music Hall.

Radio City Music Hall decked out for the holidays. Andy Kropa/Stringer/Getty Images

Home to the iconic Rockettes since 1934, the venue attracts plenty of fans for its annual “Christmas Spectacular” extravaganza.

But grabbing a ticket comes at a price (and requires tons of patience).

A line at Radio City is not an uncommon sight. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Ticket prices range from $US46 to a staggering $US599 depending on date, time, and seat locations. And with a little over 6,000 seats to fill, shows can sell out a lot quicker than expected.

Taking a stroll down 5th Avenue to catch a glimpse of the city’s legendary holiday windows is also on many visitors’ agendas.

Macy’s Herald Square unveils its Christmas windows in November 2018. Diane Bondareff/AP

From Saks Fifth Avenue to Bergdorf Goodman, festive window displays have become more ornate and popular over the years.

Although you may not get a full view of every display.

Visitors wait to see the window designs as Bergdorf Goodman on 5th Ave unveils its holiday windows. Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

Barricades are set up every year to help with crowd control.

Holiday displays have also made their way into some of the city’s malls.

The Time Warner Centre at Columbus Circle. Cindy Ord/Stringer/Getty Images

Malls like the Time Warner Centre get decked out with over-the-top decorations to bring some holiday cheer to shoppers.

But they’re still congested with shoppers.

Last-minute shoppers swarm Macy’s flagship store at Herald Square. Stephen Chernin/Stringer/Getty Images

Black Friday may have come and gone, but you may still need some tips for getting through yet another sale this holiday season.

The Christmas markets at Bryant Park and Union Square also aren’t immune to the crowds.

The Christmas market at Union Square. Richard Drew/AP

Not even a frigid dip in temperature deterred people from shopping for goods at Union Square’s pop-up holiday market in 2017.

A horse-drawn carriage through Central Park seems like a romantic way to explore the concrete jungle with your better half.

Horse-drawn carriages after a snow fall in Central Park, Manhattan, New York, USA. Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images

No matter when you travel to New York City, there are tons of hotspots to add to your itinerary.

But the weather can put a damper on your sight-seeing plans.

Pedestrians and a horse brave a storm in Central Park. Mario Tama/Getty Images

Blistering winds and below-freezing temps may keep you cooped up indoors instead, but there are some science-backed ways to combat those winter blues.

From Rockefeller Centre to Central Park, the city offers a number of rinks for skaters to check out …

Miss USA Chelsea Cooley, Miss Universe Natalie Glebova, and Miss Teen USA Allie LaForce take to the rink in Central Park. Brad Barket/Stringer/Getty Images

Along with ice skating, here’s a slew of other outdoor activities to make this winter the best one yet.

… but keep in mind you won’t have the rink to yourself.

It can get super crowded. Amir Levy/Stringer/Getty Images

Packs of skaters try not to bump into one another at Central Park’s rink on Christmas Day in 2017.

Looking to get out of Manhattan for a bit? The stunning decorations that light up Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, are only a subway ride away.

A giant Santa Claus sits in front of a decorated house in Dyker Heights. Michael Heiman/Getty Images

From festive small towns to theme parks, there are jaw-dropping Christmas light displays to check out across the country.

Word has spread, however, about the dazzling displays of the neighbourhood.

Dyker Heights at Christmas. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

People crowd the streets to get photos of the elaborate homes.

Back in Manhattan, the Empire State Building gleams with traditional red and green Christmas colours.

The Empire State Building gets into the holiday spirit. Mario Tama/Getty Images

The skyscraper is one of the many world-famous landmarks that go all out for the holidays.

But it can also serve as the backdrop for some debaucherous festivities.

The dress code is pretty simple. Mario Tama/Getty Images

An estimated 30,000 Santas take to the streets of New York City for the annual SantaCon pub crawl.

You may bump into Santa Claus amid the hustle and bustle of Times Square …

A photo with St. Nick could be a memorable souvenir. Kena Betancur/Stringer/Getty Images

Most Americans think of Santa Claus as a jolly man in a red suit – here’s what he looks like in some countries around the world.

… but let’s not forget that you’re in one of the most crowded places on Earth.

There are always throngs of shoppers, tourists, and commuters in Midtown. Yana Paskova/Stringer/Getty Images

According to Times Square’s official website, more than 355,000 people set foot in Times Square every day. So do as the locals do… and just avoid it altogether.