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What to Do in December in NYC

With the first snowfall already on the books, it’s officially winter in New York City, one of the most magical times of year to visit. Now that the Thanksgiving feasts — and the weekend of turkey- and cranberry-flavored leftovers — have been polished off, the city is fully embracing the holiday spirit. Final touches bring festive storefront displays to life, trees twinkle with bulb lights and most of the city’s event take on a holiday glow. For fans of December festivities, there’s no greater place to be on Earth than New York City in December — especially at Refinery Hotel!

Shabbat and Schmoozin — Dec. 6

The joy of eight nights packed into one, celebrate Hanukkah at the Hebrew Union College this year during this one-day event. Mingle with others at happy hour, join the Hanukkah services and be prepared to feast. Watch out for other Hanukkah events around the city, too. Tickets are available from $18 and the event is 21 and older.

Santacon — Dec. 14

Want to party with Santa this December? At 10am on Dec. 14, Santa returns to New York for the city’s annual SantaCon event. Though a $13 minimum donation is now required to access all the major Santacon events, it’s largely free to enter this massive, adults-only holiday party. Here’s what you need to know: To find the starting location of this year’s Santacon, watch out for live tweets from Santa. And if you’re visiting the city, be sure to pack your best Santa suit. 

Winter Spectacular Stay — Dec. 15 to Jan. 6

Take the Christmas spirit with you during your New York City travels this year by booking a room at the Refinery Hotel. Throughout the entire month of December, guests can reserve “Refinery’s Winter Spectacular Stay Package” (for stays between Dec. 15 and Jan. 6) which includes a Christmas tree and all the necessary trimmings delivered to your room, plus festive food and beverage room service treats such as hot cocoa, eggnog and holiday cookies with milk (for Santa, of course). Keep the festivities going by ordering a gingerbread house-decorating kit for a cozy night in, or take advantage of Refinery’s special discount to the Radio City Christmas Spectacular for a night out on the town.

Holiday Train Fair — Nov. 23 to Jan. 26

One of New York City’s most beloved annual holiday traditions returns to the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx in mid-November, and continues all through December until the end of January. It’s the Holiday Train Fair, and this year’s model trains will zip around a display dedicated to lower Manhattan, with landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island as well as new and redesigned buildings of Central Park. Though the miniature display may appeal to locomotive enthusiasts and small children, grown-ups can visit on select evenings (Dec. 7, 14, 20, 21, 27 and 28) for boozy Bar Cart Nights. 

The Nutcracker — Nov. 29 to Jan. 5

The classic ballet returns to the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center at the end of November and continues through early January. The hallmark performance with choreography by George Balanchine is a favorite from the New York City Ballet — but it’s not the only one. For families with little ones in tow, consider the abbreviated, hour-long New York Theatre Ballet performance at Florence Gould Hall (Dec. 13, 14 and 15).

New Year’s Eve at Refinery — Dec. 31

From 9pm until well after the clock strikes midnight and a new decade begins, New Yorkers and hotel guests will gather on the Refinery Rooftop for its annual New Year’s Eve Party. Enjoy unobstructed views of the Empire State Building and live music while sampling passed hors d’oeuvres (including crab beignets, goat cheese tartlets and oyster brûlée) by chef Dan Nistorescu. At midnight, raise a bubbly glass to ring in 2020. General admission includes access to the four-hour premium open bar and starts at $150, but splurge on VIP Gold or VIP Platinum tickets ($250 and $350, respectively) for a table and bottle service. 

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