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What’s going on in December in NYC

While travelers in New York City during the month of December can still choose from a number of popular, year-round activities, there’s no denying that the holiday spirit has officially descended on the Big Apple. With the streets decked out in wreaths and twinkling lights, Christmas markets filling every park and plaza, and the aroma of latkes filling the air, most of the city’s special events and festivals are focused on spreading holiday cheer. But you don’t need to don an ugly Christmas sweater to enjoy winter in New York City. From culinary experiences to world class theater—and plenty of contemporary takes on holiday traditions—these are six of the best New York City experiences in December.

12 Days of Refinery

All month long, Refinery is partnering with twelve of our favorite brands for our first-ever 12 Days of Refinery, an Instagram contest where fans can win some seriously festive prizes (from luggage to baked goods to a two-night stay at Refinery!). Learn all about it here, and be sure to follow #12DaysOfRefinery on our Instagram.

Menorah Lighting – 12/2

If you missed the Rockefeller Christmas Tree Lighting last month, New York City hosts a number of alternatives. In addition to tree lightings at Central Park, the New York Stock Exchange, and Washington Square Park, there is the world’s largest menorah in Central Park. On the first night of Hanukkah, the 4,000-pound, 32-foot-tall gold candelabra will be lit by cranes. Meanwhile, in Brooklyn, another giant menorah will be illuminated in Prospect Park.  Photo by @centralparknyc on Instagram.

Holiday Train Fair — Nov. 17 to Jan. 21

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 and Ellis Island joined by first-time models of the Battery Maritime Building and the Freedom Tower. Though the miniature display may appeal to locomotive enthusiasts and small children, grown-ups can visit on select evenings (Dec. 1, 7, 8, 15, 21, 28 and 29) for boozy Bar Cart Nights.

Winter Village at Bryant Park – Through 1/02

NEW YORK-DECEMBER 14: Holiday shoppers enjoy the scene of the Winter Village at Bryant Park on December 14, 2016 in Manhattan.

Inspired by the traditional Christmas markets of Europe, Bryant Park’s Winter Village hosts well more than 150 vendors from late October until the first days of the New Year. Peruse the charming kiosks while snacking on brats and sipping hot chocolate, or shop for everyone on your gift list (think: hand-crafted jewelry, souvenir ornaments, and local puzzles and trinkets). Visitors will also encounter holiday markets in Union Square and Columbus Circle.

The Nutcracker – Through December 30

the nutcracker nyc

The classic ballet returns to the David H. Koch Theater in Lincoln Center at the end of November and continues throughout the month of December. 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. 14, 15 and 16) or, if it’s still playing, see the live-action Disney version in theaters across the city. Photo by @jonathan_chmelenskyon Instagram.

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