It’s not every year that you get to visit the most magical place in the world at Christmas with your family. In a year as tough as this one, with assignments and exams piling up, it was definitely a well-needed trip to escape the world of final year (even if only for a few days).

One thing I learned from my trip is that you can never be fully prepared for New York. Having been there before during Summer, I thought I was prepared for the ‘city that never sleeps’ but one thing that is for sure, New York in Summer and New York at Christmas are like two different places. I would highly recommend researching and having your days planned out, this way you don’t waste time. Here are a few other tips I learned…

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First of all, it is COLD! I opted out of the nice outfits and instead wrapped myself up like a fish supper, with barely an inch of skin exposed to the crisp December air. As well as this, forget about packing those fancy boots, and throw in the Skechers laying at the back of the wardrobe. In New York, no one cares about your footwear and after walking approximately 77,824 steps (well, according to the health app on my iPhone) I’m definitely glad I had my trainers.

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Before embarking on a trip to the Big Apple, one thing I did was thoroughly research the streets and avenues, attempting to understand my way around Google Maps before I hit the real thing. This might sound strange, perhaps it was, but lets just say I’m very glad I did this as on the first night, my brother (who has NO sense of direction and would get lost if you spun him in a 360 degree turn) ended up wandering off on his own, only to end up on 20th street…our hotel was on 40th. Quite convenient that his name is also Kevin!

Another thing that I did before the trip was researched many different types of restaurants, making sure we stayed well clear from the Caviar, lobster and $300 bottles of wine type places. New York at Christmas is crazy, with people flocking from all over the world, so having your reservations made and tables booked makes life a lot easier. I would highly recommend downloading the app ‘Open Table’, it helps you search a specific area and restaurant and tells you which reservations they have free, allowing you to book your spot there and then, super handy!

As well as this, occasionally it is worth it to avoid the tourist activities (I’m quite the hypocrite as my video below has TOURIST written all over it) however visiting smaller villages, classic boutiques and drinking at dead-end bars with the locals, sometimes turns out to be one of your favourite days.

Lastly, remember that you really would need a few weeks in New York to do EVERYTHING, a few days simply doesn’t cut it, but try and squeeze in as much as you can! And, don’t just do things for the ‘Instagram pics’. I learned this the hard way after standing in a line to have cocktails in the Plaza Hotel for over 45 minutes to find out that Taylor Swift was inside, probably with her 13th boyfriend this year, and they weren’t letting anybody in. Thanks Taylor!

MUST DO:
Central Park – This really is a must, especially if it is snowing. It is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.

Saks on 5th Avenue Christmas Lights – I think the light display happens every 10 minutes, so if your passing and it hasn’t started yet, it is definitely worth the wait.
Katz Deli – A real traditional American diner with SERIOUS sandwiches, it would knock O’Brien’s and The Sandwich Co. way out of the park.
Rockefeller Tree and Top of the Rock – The Rockefeller Tree is the most magical thing to see while in New York at Christmas.

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Broadway show – Shows such as the Lion King and School of Rock play all year round, but it definitely is worth it to splash out and see the Rockettes or Elf!

IF YOU HAVE TIME:
Walk over the Brooklyn Bridge to Soho
Have a drink in the Plaza (as long as T.Swift isn’t there!)
Visit a Rooftop Bar, this one is amazing.

Have a look at my video below for some other top activities to do in New York at Christmas!

 

 

Loren Ward is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @lorenward and LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/loren-ward-b93049a8