What's Open on Christmas Day in NYC: 14 Things To Do With Kids

Catch a showing of the highly anticipated Sing 2. Photo courtesy of Universal
Catch a showing of the highly anticipated Sing 2. Photo courtesy of Universal

The presents have been ripped open, the plastic packaging dismantled, and the batteries installed. Dinner won't be ready for hours and the kids are stir crazy. What is open on Christmas Day in New York City?

Those who don't celebrate the holiday have asked that question for years, and the answer is traditionally Chinese food and a movie. But there are options, whether you celebrate Christmas or not. Here are 14 fun things to do on Saturday, December 25, 2021, in NYC. You can find even more seasonal activities in our Holiday Fun Guide or Family Activity Calendar.

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1. Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park

This outdoor winter wonderland is open on Christmas Day. Go ice skating, sip on hot chocolate, and take in the magical decorations.

2. Catch a Show

A handful of Broadway shows play on Christmas Day, including family-friendly options such as Wicked, Mrs. Doubtfire, and The Music Man, which opens previews this week.

RELATED: 35 NYC Holiday Activities Every Kid Should Try Once

SUMMIT One Vanderbilt is open on Christmas Day
Experience the immersive observation deck at SUMMIT One Vanderbilt. Photo by Jody Mercier

4. Play Tourist

Times Square's Madame Tussauds is open on Christmas Day. If you'd rather play games, arcade-restaurant Dave & Buster's is open, too. You can also take in the stunning views from the Empire State Building, Top of the Rock, One World Observatory, Edge, and the brand new SUMMIT One Vanderbilt.

3. Go to the Circus

Big Apple Circus has returned to Lincoln Center and there's a 3pm show on Christmas Day. This year, the beloved troupe features Guinness world record-holder Nik Wallenda and his fearless family of high-wire walkers, along with an international cast of award-winning, world-class circus artists.

RELATED: Restaurants Open on Christmas in NYC

If you don't want to go out on Christmas Day, stay home and watch a flick.
Make it a family movie day at home with around-the-clock showings of A Christmas Story on TBS. Photo courtesy of MSM

5. See a Movie

Many movie theaters are open on Christmas Day, so you can catch highly anticipated releases like Sing 2. Prefer to stay home? There are a bunch of family-friendly movies that will stream on Netflix just in time for Christmas including David and the Elves, Shaun the Sheep: The Flight Before Christmas, and A Boy Called Christmas. TBS is showing A Christmas Story all day.

6. Hang with the Animals

Although the Bronx Zoo is closed for the holiday, the Prospect Park, Queens, and Central Park zoos are open, along with the New York Aquarium at Coney Island.

RELATED: 35 Things to Do Over Holiday Break in NYC​​

The Rink at Rockefeller Center is open on Christmas Day in NYC
Gaze at the gorgeous Christmas decorations and iconic Christmas tree as you skate at the rink at Rockefeller Center. Photo courtesy of Rockefeller Center

7. Hit the Ice

The rinks at Bryant Park, Rockefeller Center, Prospect Park, Brookfield Place, Manhattan West, plus Central Park's Wollman Rink and Governors Island's Winter Village are all open for skating on Christmas Day, weather permitting. The indoor rink at World Ice Arena in Queens also has public skating on December 25.

8. See Spectacular Holiday Houses

Take a drive through some of the outer boroughs to see magnificent light displays.

9. Take a Stroll

Enjoy a quiet Christmas stroll through one of the city's green spaces. Central ParkProspect ParkFlushing Meadows Corona ParkVan Cortlandt ParkBrooklyn Bridge Park, and all other NYC parks are open. The Sea Glass Carousel in Battery Park is also open from 11am-8pm, and bonus: You can check out the brand new Battery Playscape, a destination-worthy playground next door!

RELATED: See Midtown Manhattan's Iconic 2021 Christmas Displays

MoMath is one the NYC museums open on Christmas

Need to get the kids out of the house and active? Head to MoMath for lots of interactive and engaging exhibits. Photo by Jody Mercier

9. Explore the Museum of Mathematics

Almost all NYC museums are closed on Christmas Day. However, the interactive MoMath in the Flatiron District is an exception.

11. Go Bowling

Several of the city's bowling lanes are open on Christmas, including Bowlero Chelsea Piers and Bowlero Times Square. Abbreviated hours apply, so call ahead.

12. Attend a Religious Service

If you weren't able to go on Christmas Eve, churches are, of course, open on Christmas Day.

RELATED: Best High Tea Spots in NYC to Enjoy a Cup with Kids

The Rockefeller Tree is open on Christmas and lit for 24-straight hours.
Take a Christmas photo in front of the Rockefeller Christmas Tree. Photo by Jody Mercier

13. Snap a Picture in Front of the Tree

It might be crowded, but why not begin a unique family tradition with a photo in front of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree? The atmosphere is guaranteed to be festive.

14. Gawk at the Holiday Windows

We make our annual trek to see the holiday windows right after Thanksgiving. But time is swiftly running out on these awe-inspiring displays before they come down for the season.

This post, originally published in December 2009, is updated annually.

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