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Be Merry, Not Broke: 11 Free and Cheap Christmas Events in NYC

'Tis the season to spend all your money. If you've found yourself empty-pocketed after all that holiday shopping (or one too many Christmas-y happy hours), keep your spirits high with these free and cheap Christmas events in NYC, where every event will cost you $15 or less.

By / October 31, 2018
   @lira_n4 via Twenty20
   @lira_n4 via Twenty20

Grand Central Holiday Train Show

New York Transit Museum Gallery & Store Annex

Watch a miniature MTA train traverse a 34-foot, two-level model train city between Grand Central Terminal and the North Pole in this immersive (and free!) holiday train show.


Winter’s Eve Festival

Lincoln Square

NYC's largest holiday festival offers free live music and performances, local food tastings from $1 to $4 a piece, games, and shopping, all kicked off by a tree lighting ceremony at Dante Park.


Luminaries at The Winter Garden

Brookfield Place

Make a wish at this interactive exhibit and watch the canopy of hanging lanterns dance in bold colors, creating a spectacular show of light and movement beneath a glass atrium.

restaurants near the rockettes

Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting Ceremony

30 Rockefeller Plaza

Join the merry crowds at the 86th annual lighting ceremony of the massive Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, following live performances by the Rockettes and more. Arrive by 3pm to ensure admittance.


Dyker Heights Christmas Lights

From the weekend after Thanksgiving through Christmas

Dyker Heights, Brooklyn

Mid-December is the best time to visit Dyker Heights' historically spectacular Christmas light displays, a neighborhood holiday tradition since the 1980s. Bring a hot drink and enjoy the glow.


Christmas Shoebox Appeal

New York Irish Center

'Tis the season for helping your neighbors. Join the New York Irish Center at their annual day of service, where you'll help fill boxes with items for families in need during this holiday season.


St. Nicholas Cookie Walk

Dec 8, 11 PM - 4 PM; Dec 9, 12 PM - 3 PM

St. Nicholas of Myra Orthodox Church

Walk along the cookie-filled tables at this 10th annual event, filling your $15 box with any of the 75 varieties of holiday cookies on offer. It's the perfect way to get into the Christmas spirit.

$15 - $35 / RSVP

Outdoor Christmas Tuba Concert

The Rink at Rockefeller Center

Sing along to your favorite holiday tunes when dozens of tuba players from across the country gather on the Rockefeller Center ice rink to play Christmas carols for the 45th year in a row.


The Holiday Drag-tacular

Melrose Ballroom

Join some very merry drag queens (including RuPaul's Drag Race alums) for a performance of what proclaims to be "the most diverse and inclusive Holiday show ever performed and recorded."

$15 / RSVP

The Rink at Winter Village

Oct 27 - Jan 2; weekdays 11 AM - 8 PM, weekends 10 AM - 8 PM

Bryant Park

If you have your own skates and a lock for your locker, you can get onto the ice without spending a penny at NYC's only free ice rink.


Christmas Eve Caroling

Wasshington Square Park

Get one of the freely distributed songbooks and sing all your Christmas favorites alongside a brass quartet as the sun sets in Washington Square Park on Christmas Eve.



Quinne Myers is a writer, illustrator, apparel designer, and lingerie industry pundit living in Brooklyn. Loves sweaty concert dancing, eating dessert, feeling feelings, and petting every dog.

More articles by Quinne Myers



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