Pictures with Santa Claus in NYC in 2022
Santa Claus is coming to town and New York City kids have plenty of spots to take pictures with Santa this season. From the heartwarming experience at Macy's Santaland to Santa's first visit to the top of the Empire State Building to appearances at area malls—Santa is popping up and posing all over town.
Read on for our favorite spots to take pictures with Santa all across the five boroughs, including plenty of venues offering FREE pictures with Santa in NYC. Our rundown of Christmas tree lightings in NYC is chock full of more opportunities to see jolly old St. Nick. We've got even more ways to meet the seasonal celebrity at these brunches, teas, and cruises with Santa, and our Guide to Christmas and the Holidays in NYC offers more holiday fun.
Be sure to click through to each venue's website for prices, location, and any last-minute changes. Remember to sign up for our FREE newsletters to get posts like this delivered to your inbox.
Free Pictures with Santa in NYC
1. Santa in Central Park – Harlem
Thursday, December 1
Meet Santa and pose for pics at the Dana Discovery Center's annual holiday tree lighting. The flotilla of trees on the Harlem Meer makes an awesome seasonal backdrop. Other activities include ice-carving demonstrations, caroling, and more. Bring your own camera.
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2. Mommy Poppins Holly Jolly Holiday Party – Midtown East
Santa stops by Mommy Poppins' FREE Holiday Party at The Hugh, one of our favorite food halls. Chat with jolly old St. Nick and snap free photos with your phone. If you're looking for something more formal, we'll have free professional portraits perfect for holiday cards, too—Santa not included. There will be seasonal crafts and more festive fun on tap, too. Book your tickets online in advance so you don't miss out on the fun.
3. Santa in the Park – Marine Park, Brooklyn
Saturday, December 3
Head to Marine Park for holiday fun and take-your-own photos with the man in red. Meet on the lawn at Filmore Avenue and Madison Place.
RELATED: Macy's Santaland NYC: When and How to See Santa at Herald Square in 2022
St. Nicholas Day means Santa an appearance at the Vander Ende-Onderdonk House. Photo courtesy of the house
4. St. Nicholas Day at the Vander Ende-Onderdonk House – Ridgewood, Queens
Saturday, December 3
Bring your camera to the historic Dutch stone house's annual holiday celebration. Snap a photo, visit Santa, and stick around for period crafts and goody bags. Timed-entry tickets are available online, though kids enter for FREE.
5. Winter Wonder at the Queens Botanical Garden – Flushing, Queens
Saturday, December 3-Sunday, December 4
Live music, a Christmas tree, and menorah lighting are just part of the fun at this family-friendly celebration at the Queens Botanical Garden. Bring your phone to snap a selfie with Santa while you're there. Dress for the weather, too, as all the holiday fun takes place outdoors.
6. Santa Claus at Harry's Table – Midtown West
Select dates from Saturday, December 3-Saturday, December 24
Enjoy holiday eats and treats, plus some spectacular decorations, and snap a FREE picture with Santa who pops up Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays all season long.
7. NYPD's 84th Precinct Visits from Santa – Various Brooklyn Locations
Select dates from Sunday, December 4-Sunday, December 11
Santa arrives in style for these FREE photo-ops courtesy of an NYPD cruiser. The holly, jolly fellow visits local neighborhoods Brooklyn-wide to pose for pictures.
8. NYSoM Holiday Mania – East Harlem
Saturday, December 17
This community event covers all the bases. Trek through Hanukkah Town and visit Kwanzaa Village, before heading upstairs to the Winter Wonderland where Santa Claus awaits. He's surrounded by plenty of other North Pole friends, including Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph, and they're all ready to pose for pictures. FREE, but reserve your spot online in advance.
9. Pictures with Santa: Shwick Holiday Market (Party!) – Williamsburg
Sunday, December 18
Bring the kids to get their photo snapped with the big guy at the historic Williamsburg Savings Bank Building, and take home a digital copy of your photo for FREE. Printed pictures are available for purchase. Book your tickets online in advance.
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Santa invites young visitors to step into his office and share their wishlists at Macy's Santaland in 2022. Photo by Jody Mercier
More Places to Pose for Pictures with Santa in NYC
10. Macy's Santaland – Herald Square
Daily through Saturday, December 24
Fresh off his ride in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Santa takes up residence at Macy's to hear wishlists. Wander the rainbow road to his workshop, where you'll meet jolly old St. Nick sitting behind his busy desk. Share your wishlist before receiving a special gift and posing for a keepsake photo. Advance reservations are required.
11. North Pole Express – Midtown West
Daily through Sunday, January 1, 2023
Climb aboard a TopView Sightseeing Bus for a ride to the North Pole. You'll pass plenty of seasonal photo displays to capture picture-perfect city scenes. Santa climbs aboard, greeting visitors, taking lists, and doling out the first gift of the season—provided you're on the nice list, that is!
12. Santa Claus at The Plaza – Midtown East
Select dates in November and December
Beginning in late November, Santa makes appearances at this iconic NYC hotel. You can enjoy tea time and breakfast with the jolly man, and special story times and meet and greets are available to hotel guests, whether you're staying overnight or just have dining reservations.
13. Santa at Top of the Rock – Midtown West
Select dates from Friday, December 2-Friday, December 23
Santa's sleigh drops him off at this soaring observation deck where he'll be posing for pics and taking wishlists all month long. Tickets are required to access the observation deck and photos are available for an added cost. It's definitely not a budget-friendly option, but the result is an only-in-NYC keepsake that might be worth the splurge!
14. Cookies with Santa – Greenpoint, Brooklyn
Saturday, December 3
$20 kids tickets online; $30 at door; $5 special tickets for grown-ups
This festive event includes hot chocolate, homemade cookies to decorate, music, and, of course, photo-ops with Santa. Take your own photos for FREE or purchase digital photos taken by a professional photographer. Advance reservations are required.
15. Big Apple Portraits Mini Sessions – Upper West Side
Sunday, December 4
These photos are definitely a splurge, but if you want a keepsake, one-of-a-kind picture with St. Nick, it could be your best bet. Outdoor-only Santa sessions last 10-15 minutes and yield high-quality prints and a copyright release. Book now for your special holiday session.
16. Annual Santa Rescue – Soho
Sunday, December 4
Free to watch Santa Rescue; party is $15/person
Watch FDNY firefighters rescue Santa from the New York City Fire Museum roof at 12 noon sharp. Viewing the rescue from the sidewalk on Spring Street is free but there's an entrance fee if you want to head inside, where Santa will be taking gift requests and posing for photos until 2pm. Tickets must be purchased in advance for museum entry.
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The best backdrop in NYC for a photo with Santa has got to be the Empire State Building. Photo courtesy of the Empire State Building
17. Santa at the Empire State Building
Sunday, December 4
Adults $44; Children $38
For the first time in its 91-year history, the Empire State Building welcomes Santa Claus at its reimagined observatory for festive photo opportunities. Purchase tickets online in advance.
18. Skate With Santa – Charleston, Staten Island
Saturday, December 10
Entrance fee is $14 per person; $7 skate rental
Snap a photo with Santa as he joins guests on the ice rink. Enjoy tasty food, hot cocoa, and fun holiday music. Register online in advance.
19. Christmas in Historic Richmond Town – Richmond, Staten Island
Weekends from Saturday, December 10-Sunday, December 18
Jolly old St. Nick joins the fun at this old-time, Dickens-style Christmas village. Historical interpreters put on a show, and visitors can shop for handmade gifts and crafts, and enjoy carriage rides and caroling in addition to snapping pictures with Santa.
20. Santa at the NY Irish Center – Long Island City, Queens
Sunday, December 11
$6.94 per person
Snap your own photos when the New York Irish Center opens its doors to kids for a special meet and greet with Santa. Tea, coffee, and snacks will be served and each child will receive a free gift. Register online in advance.
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It's Holiday Time in PaleyLand welcomes kids to visit with Santa Claus. Photo courtesy of Paley Land
21. Holiday Time in PaleyLand with Santa – Midtown West
Select dates from Wednesday, December 16-Sunday, January 8, 2023
$21.50; students and seniors $17.50; free for children under 12
The Paley Museum welcomes guests to this holiday extravaganza. Beyond posing for pictures with Santa or a 7-foot-high menorah, visitors can enjoy holiday meet-and-greets with characters like Frosty, Snoopy, and more. Plus, watch holiday classics, see a model train show, and enjoy caroling and more.
Pictures with Santa at the Mall in NYC
22. Holidays at Hudson Yards: Photos with Santa – Midtown West
Daily from Monday, December 5-Friday, December 16
Santa is flying his sleigh to The Shops & Restaurants to meet with children, friends, and families from across the world. Take your own complimentary photos with Santa in a winter wonderland. First come, first serve. No RSVP is required.
23. Selfies with Santa at Brookfield Place – Battery Park City
Wednesdays through Saturdays from Wednesday, December 14-Saturday, December 24
Santa's ready to show his best selfie smile at this FREE setup at Brookfield Place. While you're there enjoy plenty of holiday magic throughout the mall and consider lacing up some skates for a session on the waterfront ice skating rink.
24. Queens Center Mall – Elmhurst, Queens
Daily through Saturday, December 24, times vary
Santa meets his young fans near Champs on the third level at an immersive North Pole experience. Reservations to visit Santa are strongly encouraged, though walk-up visits are available as space allows throughout the day. All guests who pre-book their visit can add on a personalized call from Santa courtesy of Portable North Pole. Visits are FREE, and photo packages can be purchased.
25. Kings Plaza – Mill Basin, Brooklyn
Upper level near Best Buy
Daily through Saturday, December 24. Visit the website for the complete schedule.
This Brooklyn Santa sticks around all season. Walk-up visits will be available as space allows throughout the day. All guests who pre-book their visit can add on a personalized call from Santa courtesy of Portable North Pole.
26. Staten Island Mall – Heartland Village, Staten Island
Visit the website for the complete schedule.
This Staten Island Santa welcomes kids daily through Christmas Eve in the Lower Level JC Penney Wing. Snap a picture with Santa and your furry friends during Pet Nights on Monday, November 28, and Monday, December 5. Reservations are strongly recommended. All guests who pre-book their visit can add on a personalized call from Santa courtesy of Portable North Pole.
27. The Mall at Bay Plaza – the Bronx
Daily through Friday, December 23 except for Thanksgiving; times vary. Visit the website for the complete schedule.
Santa sets up shop at the center court of this Bronx mall. Receive a free phone call from Santa when you book in advance online. All guests who pre-book their visit can add on a personalized call from Santa courtesy of Portable North Pole.
Originally published in November 2009; Rosalind Muggeridge provided additional reporting.