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

Spencer Platt/Getty ImagesVisitors crowd the Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Centre, New York.
  • 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.

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

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.

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

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.

Spencer Platt/Getty ImagesNot even the rain stops people from visiting the attraction.

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.

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

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).

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

Richard Drew/APThe Christmas market at Union Square.

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.

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

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.

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

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 …

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

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.

Amir Levy/Stringer/Getty ImagesIt can get super crowded.

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.

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

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.

Spencer Platt/Getty ImagesDyker Heights at Christmas.

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.

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

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.

Mario Tama/Getty ImagesThe dress code is pretty simple.

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 …

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

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.

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

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.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.