New York City in December

December is a popular time to visit New York City, with plenty of holiday activities and lights to see. From the Rockefeller Center tree to ice skating in Central Park, there are endless things to see and do in December in NYC.

We’ve lived in New York for over 10 years, and December is one of the best months to enjoy the city. I enjoy seeing the holiday lights and shopping and eating at the holiday markets in NYC during this time of year.

Last Minute Deals

🎟️ Best NYC Activities | Ticket Deals

🏠 Best Hotel Deals in NYC | BOOKING.COM

New York Travel Guidebooks

🛣️ NYC  Travel Guides (Amazon)

All of these links open in a new tab. They are incredibly useful for your New York trip in December.

This article includes:

  • December weather overview
  • Weather tips  for each week
  • Outfit and packing tips
  • Things to do (Christmas, New Year’s Eve)

💡  The weekly weather insights below are quite detailed. If you are only interested in the outfit tips and the Christmas tips, you have to scroll/swipe down a bit. 

This guide will help you know what weather to expect each week in December during your trip to New York so you can enjoy your trip and stay comfortable.

Weather Overview

The average high temps in December.

The weather in New York City in December is chilly to cold, with the coolest temperatures at night and the warmest times in the afternoons. The temperatures get colder as the month goes on, with the coldest temperatures at the end of December.

Although the weather can get cold in December, overall, it is the most mild month of the winter in the city, and you will be able to enjoy outdoor activities during the days and nights throughout the month.

Sometimes I’ve found December to be milder and almost warm at the beginning of the month. The city can be windy, however, and temperatures can change quickly, so it’s best to wear layers when going out in NYC. You will want a hat to keep your head warm at night and in the early mornings when the temperatures are usually the coldest.

💡 Overall, December has been warmer in the last few years than it used to be, and I’ve found that snow is rare. There is rarely a white Christmas in NYC anymore.

The humidity is often high in December in NYC, and it’s not uncommon to rain so bring rain gear for all weather. I like to keep an emergency poncho in my bag so I am always protected in case it starts raining.


The New York weather in December is usually chilly or cold, with the coldest temperatures at night or in the early mornings. The beginning of December is usually milder, and the temperatures get colder as the month progresses.

Snowfall: Once in a while, it may snow in December, but it’s more likely to rain than snow during the month. It usually rains for several days in December, and humidity can be high throughout the month. If it snows, it is usually light, with 1 to 2 inches of snowfall.

Brooklyn Bridge two days after a snowfall

Here are the daily temperature progressions on a typical December day in New York City:

  • Morning (9 AM): 39°F (3°C)
  • Afternoon (3 PM): 44°F (7°C)
  • Evening (10 PM): 39°F (3°C)

Tip: When visiting NYC, be prepared to walk a lot when visiting our iconic attractions. Wear comfortable shoes and bring a water bottle so you can stay hydrated on the go. I like to carry a water bottle throughout the day and bring it along on bike rides, walks, and even doing errands. In December, it’s also a good idea to always wear a winter hat to keep your head warm and shielded from the wind.

Here are the average high temperatures during December in New York City:

  • Early December: 49°F (10°C)
  • Mid-December: 46°F (8°C)
  • Late December: 42°F (5°C)

In December in NYC, daily high temperatures decrease by an average of 7°F, from 49°F (10°C) to 42°F (5°C).

Sunrise and Sunset

At the beginning of December, the sun rises around 7:00 AM and sets around 4:30 PM. By the end of the month, the sun rises at approximately 7:20 AM and sets even earlier, around 4:40 PM. So, the days are relatively short, and the nights are long.

Tips: With shorter daylight hours, it’s important to make the most of your time if you’re exploring the city. Consider starting your day early to take advantage of the limited sunlight. Attractions that are indoors, like museums or shows, are great for the late afternoon and evening when it’s already dark.

Also, the early sunset offers a unique opportunity to see the city’s holiday lights come alive while it’s still relatively early in the evening. You can catch stunning views of the skyline glowing against the early sunset, too. So, grab your coat, and maybe a cup of hot cocoa, and enjoy the twinkling city lights!

The early darkness does mean you get to see all those amazing holiday lights sooner in the evening.

Rain and Snow

The month of December usually includes several rainy days in New York, with an average of 8 days of rain. There are sometimes snow days in December, with an average of 2 days of snow in December.

More details on rain and snow later in the weekly weather details.

Is December a Good Time?

December is a very good time to visit New York City as the weather is generally mild, and the holidays are a festive time in the city. It can get cold at times during December, but usually, the days are chilly and moderate, with colder temperatures more common at the end of the month.

Also, December is a magical time to visit NYC because the city transforms into a winter wonderland with festive decorations and events. From the iconic Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree to the lively Times Square New Year’s celebration, there’s something for everyone.

The holiday markets, light displays, and special shows add extra sparkle to the city, making December a must-visit month.

Downside: December is a peak tourist season in New York City, which means that hotel prices are generally higher than at other times of the year. The demand for rooms increases due to the holiday festivities and attractions.

Therefore, you can expect to pay a premium for accommodations, especially closer to Christmas and New Year’s Eve. However, you get to experience the city at its most festive and lively, which many consider to be worth the extra cost.

Weather Details | First Week

Brooklyn Bridge on a rainy day during the first week of December

The first week of December in NYC typically includes mild to cool weather, with temperatures that peak in the late afternoons and get colder after the sun sets.

I usually like to do outdoor excursions during the middle of the day for the mildest temperatures and the most daylight hours.

This week is a great time to visit popular attractions like the Empire State Building as the visibility is great on most days, and the temps are usually mild. Check the weather forecast before going to sites like the Empire State Building, as poor visibility can spoil your experience on the upper floors. It’s also a good time to go shopping and see popular sites before the peak holiday crowds come later in the month.


The average temperature ranges between 39°F (4°C) and 45°F (7°C) during the first week of December in NYC. It is rarely below freezing at this time but it can still get chilly and even cold.

The first week of December is ideal for sightseeing and shopping, as the weather is usually mild and the holiday crowds are not out yet. I enjoy going for runs, shopping, and eating out in early December in the city. There are plenty of bars and restaurants with indoor seating to enjoy during this time.


There are usually one to two rainy days in the first week of December in New York City. It’s a good idea to bring an umbrella on days there may be rain storms, or wear a baseball hat for light rainy days.

Generally, only one rainy day throughout the week will have heavy rains. I always check the weather before going anywhere in the morning to make sure it won’t rain. If it’s supposed to rain, I wear a hat or pack an umbrella for heavy rains.

I like to keep a poncho in my bag so I always have some sort of protection from rain that may hit. The weather forecast is not always 100 percent accurate so it’s good to be prepared just in case.

Daily Progression

On a typical day in the first week of December, the average temperature progression from early morning until late evening looks like this:

  • 6:30 AM: 39°F (4°C), coldest time
  • 11:45 AM: 45°F (7°C), warming up
  • 4:45 PM: 45°F (7°C), warmest time
  • 10:00 PM: 41°F (5°C), getting chilly

It can get cold at night in early December in NYC. You may experience average lows of around 39°F (4°C) at 6:30 am. I like to wear a hoodie, winter coat, and beanie when going out after dark or in the early mornings in December in the city.

Wear layers at all times of the day or night so you can stay warm and take off layers if the temperatures climb. The temperatures are usually the warmest in the late afternoons.

Weather Details | Second Week

The weather continues to get cold in the second week of December in New York City, and the days grow shorter.

I enjoy doing outdoor activities in the afternoons in December and going out in the evenings to indoor restaurants and bars. Wear layers and a hat and gloves when you go out at night during this week.


The second week of December in NYC is slightly colder than the first week and is the perfect time to do indoor activities or sightsee outdoors in the afternoons. The nights can be windy and cold so dress in warm layers for evening excursions.

The average temperature ranges between 39°F (4°C) and 45°F (7°C) during the second week of December in NYC.


The second month of December usually includes one or two days of rain in New York, with one day potentially having heavy rainfall. Bring a heavy raincoat for rainy days or you can layer and put a poncho over your regular winter coat when it rains.

For light rainy days, I like to wear a baseball hat to keep my face shielded from the rain without having to carry around an umbrella. If you do need an umbrella, keep in mind that many people are walking in tight spaces so try to be mindful not to knock people in the face with your umbrella.

Daily Progression

On a typical NYC day within the second week, the average temperature progression from early morning until late evening often looks like this:

  • 6:30 AM: 37°F (3°C), coldest time
  • 11:45 AM: 42°F (6°C), warming up
  • 4:45 PM: 42°F (6°C), warmest time
  • 10:00 PM: 39°F (4°C), getting chilly

The days start to get colder in the second week of December, with the coldest temperatures at night and in the early mornings. The warmest times are usually in the late afternoons.

The weather is at its coldest around 6:30 am; when it’s only 37°F (3°C).

Usually, the daily temperature progression increases by an average of 5°F, from 37°F (3°C) to 42°F (6°C).

Weather Details | Third Week

The third week of December is approaching the peak holiday time in NYC, and there will be many things to see and do in the city. Also, the days are short so the sun sets early this week.

I like to see the holiday lights on Fifth Avenue and the Winter Village at Bryant Park in Midtown Manhattan at this time. Getting outside in the afternoons is the best time for the warmest temperatures, and you’ll need layers at night with a hat, gloves, and winter gear.


The third week of December in NYC gets colder, with the afternoons offering the warmest temperatures. The best time to do outdoor activities is in the late afternoons, but the weather is usually manageable at all hours, as long as you wear winter layers.

The average high temperature ranges between 35°F (2°C) and 40°F (5°C) during the third week of December in the city.


It usually rains one to two days in the third week of December. It may snow one day during this week, which is usually welcome during the holidays. Snowfall in December tends to be light.

The weather in New York City can change fast so always check the weather before going out for the day or evening.

Daily Progression

This is the temperature progression on a typical NYC day in the middle of the third week from nighttime/early morning until late evening:

  • 6:30 AM: 35°F (2°C), coldest time
  • 11:45 AM: 40°F (5°C), chilly
  • 4:45 PM: 40°F (5°C), warmest time
  • 10:00 PM: 37°F (3°C), getting colder

The temperatures tend to be colder in the third week of December than the previous weeks in the month. Snow becomes more likely but is usually still light if it does snow. I like to do outdoor activities in the afternoons when the sun is strongest.

If you are sightseeing, go during the week days for the least amount of crowds.

The daily temperature progression increases by an average of 5°F, from 35°F (2°C) to 40°F (5°C) from very early in the morning until the afternoon. Although the late morning may be the same temperature as the late afternoon, it usually feels the warmest by the afternoon, when the sun is the strongest.

Weather Details | Fourth Week

The fourth week of December is the coldest week of the month, with short days and cooler temperatures after sunset. There may be wind at any time, but especially at night. It’s essential to wear a winter coat during this week at all times of the day or night.

Late December is a popular time to see holiday lights and attractions such as the Rockefeller Center Tree. I like to check out the lights on Fifth Avenue at this time in the early evenings after the sun sets. Although the temperatures can get cold, with a winter coat and accessories, you can stay comfortable during all times of the day or night.


The fourth week of December is usually chilly to cold during the days and nights, with the coldest temperatures at night and in the early mornings.

The average temperature ranges between 34°F (1°C) and 39°F (4°C) during the fourth week of December in NYC.

Rain and Snow

There is an average of one day of rain in the fourth week of December. It may also snow one day during this week. Usually if it snows, it is just an inch or two. Some lightweight snow boots will help your feet stay dry and comfortable as you explore the city. I like to wear waterproof sneakers if it’s a very light snow day or a rainy day to keep my feet dry and warm.

Daily Progression

The temperature progression on a day in the fourth week of the month typically looks like this:

  • 6:30 AM: 34°F (1°C), coldest time
  • 11:45 AM: 39°F (4°C), chilly
  • 4:45 PM: 39°F (4°C), warmer temps but still brisk
  • 10:00 PM: 36°F (2°C), getting colder

The daily temperature progression increases by an average of 5°F, from 34°F (1°C) to 39°F (4°C).

If you plan to attend holiday events or see attractions, be prepared for crowds, especially in the late afternoons and evenings. If you want to get holiday photos without the crowds, try going to see the Rockefeller Center tree on weekdays in the early mornings or late at night. The weekends are the busiest times for holiday activities.

What to Wear / What to Pack

Pack enough layers for your December visit, as it gets quite cold, especially later in the month.

Our basic tips:

  • Jeans
  • Sweater or hoodie over a light base layer
  • Winter hat such as a beanie
  • Winter coat
  • Comfy and warm walking shoes

In early December, you most likely won’t need a base layer during the days. At night, you will need layers to stay warm during any time of the month.

The weather is colder in mid to late December and at night-time, so you will need layers at those times.

💡 If you are visiting within the first half of the month, you will most likely need layers only at night but can forego them during the day. In the second half of the month, dress in layers during the day and night to stay warm.

Rain gear: It rains sporadically here in December, so bring an umbrella at the minimum, and if you have room, pack a waterproof jacket or poncho as well. There is a slim chance of snow throughout the month, and your winter coat and regular boots or high-top sneakers should be fine for light snowfall.

Wind protection: New York City is surrounded by water, and it often gets windy, especially in the winter months and at nighttime. We like to be prepared for the wind by wearing beanies. Bring a beanie or winter hat to keep your head warm when it’s windy, and wear a base layer long-sleeved shirt with a hoodie or sweater, topped with a winter coat.

Shoes: Pack a good pair of walking shoes so you can fully enjoy exploring New York City in December. It’s a walking city, so comfortable and warm walking shoes will help you see all the sights. Wear sneakers, high-tops, or comfortable boots for your trip.

💡 Tip: Read our full guide about ‘What to Wear in December in NYC‘ with outfit and styling tips for women and men.

Things to Do / Things to See

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting

  • Cost: Free
  • Best Time: The lighting ceremony happens in late November or early December, but you can view the tree all December.

The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is a must-see. Every year, a gigantic Christmas tree gets lit up in a big ceremony. The lights are beautiful. Imagine a tree taller than your house, full of sparkling lights!

Did you know? The tree is usually between 75 and 100 feet tall. That’s like stacking about 15 cars on top of each other!

Tip: It’s super crowded during the lighting ceremony, so if you want a quieter visit, go on a weekday morning.

Ice Skating in Central Park

  • Cost: Around $12–$19 for admission and $10 for skate rental
  • Best Time: Weekdays, when it’s less crowded

Central Park has a cool ice skating rink. You can skate with the city skyline in the background. It’s a fun and active way to enjoy the holiday season.

Hey, even if you’re not a pro, it’s all about having fun, right?

Tip: You can buy hot chocolate at stands nearby to warm up.

Visit Dyker Heights Christmas Lights
  • Cost: Free
  • Best Time: After dark, but before 9 pm

Dyker Heights is a neighborhood in Brooklyn. Every December, the houses there get decorated with crazy Christmas lights. You can walk around and see the bright and colorful displays.

People go all out with their decorations; we’re talking inflatable Santas, snowmen, and even more.

Tip: Wear enough layers. It gets chilly at night.

Radio City Christmas Spectacular
  • Cost: Ticket prices vary, starting around $50
  • Best Time: Weekday matinees are generally less expensive

The Radio City Christmas Spectacular is a holiday show. It features the famous Rockettes dancers. You’ll see singing, dancing, and a lot of Christmas cheer.

It’s a real New York experience you don’t wanna miss.

Tip: Buy your tickets early. The show often sells out.

Holiday Markets

  • Cost: Free to browse, but bring some cash for gifts
  • Best Time: Weekdays, to avoid crowds

There are many holiday markets in NYC. You can buy gifts, food, and holiday decorations. Markets like the one in Union Square or Bryant Park are popular.

These markets give you that cozy, holiday feel, you know?

Tip: Try the hot apple cider at some of the stalls. It’s delicious!

Take a Holiday Lights Cruise
  • Cost: Around $40 per person
  • Best Time: Evening for the best views

A holiday lights cruise is a boat ride around Manhattan. You’ll see the city lights from the water. The boats are decorated for Christmas.

It’s a unique way to see the city’s holiday decorations, that’s for sure.

Tip: Dress warmly. It can get cold on the water.

New Year’s Eve at Times Square
  • Cost: Free
  • Best Time: Get there early to secure a good spot

Times Square on New Year’s Eve is iconic. There’s music, fireworks, and the big ball drop at midnight. It’s a lively way to ring in the new year.

Be ready for a big crowd and lots of excitement!

Tip: Use the bathroom before you go. Finding a restroom in Times Square on New Year’s Eve is not easy.

Visit Brooklyn Bridge Park

  • Cost: Free
  • Best Time: Excellent from spring to fall, but also great in winter
  • Google Maps Location: Brooklyn Bridge Park

See the best Manhattan skyline views and the Brooklyn Bridge for free from Brooklyn Bridge Park in August. This waterfront park in Dumbo, Brooklyn, is just one stop from Manhattan on the subway and offers iconic views, lots of walking paths, restrooms, and snack options.

Tip: It can be a lot colder in December because of the wind chill. I recommend going mid-day when you have some sun rather than after dark when it will feel cold. However, if you dress warm enough it’s great in the evenings and mornings as well.

Explore the Abandoned City Hall Station

  • Cost: Free
  • Best Time: Sundays are generally the least crowded on the subway
  • Google Maps: Location

Did you know that New York City has an abandoned subway station that’s been closed to the public for over 70 years? The City Hall Station is a hidden gem that’s worth exploring. The station’s architecture is impressive, with vaulted tile ceilings, arched windows, and brass chandeliers.

It’s free to see it by taking the subway. You can only see the City Hall Station by taking the 6 train to its final stop and staying on the train as it makes its turnaround. When the train makes its last stop at the Brooklyn/Bridge City Hall Station, the conductor will say to exit the train.

If you duck down and stay on the train, you will pass through the abandoned subway station as the train turns around.

Tip: For a more in-depth tour of the abandoned station on foot, the NYC Transit Museum offers private tours to museum members. Tickets are $50 and sell out quickly. You can find out more here.

Take a Helicopter Tour of the City

Seeing the city from the sky is an unforgettable experience, and taking a helicopter tour is an excellent way to do it. You’ll get to see the city’s landmarks from a new perspective, including the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, and the Empire State Building. Try Manhatten Island Helicopter for breathtaking aerial views of the city. Book your tour in advance and before the end of your trip in case you need to reschedule due to weather conditions.

Tip: Bring a camera or your smartphone with enough free space to capture the views.

Visit SUMMIT One Vanderbilt
  • Cost: $39 for general tickets, $73 for VIP experience
  • Best Time: Early morning or one hour before sunset for the best views
  • Google Maps: SUMMIT ONE Vanderbilt Location

The SUMMIT One Vanderbilt is the newest observation deck in New York City, and it offers breathtaking views of the city skyline. The experience is immersive and takes you on a journey through experiential art and views of New York City. The multi-floor exhibits include 30,375 square feet of mirrors and mind-bending art by Kenzo Digital.

Tip: Visit during the late afternoon for the best lighting and views of the sunset.

Visit Edge Observation Deck

The Edge Observation Deck is the highest outdoor sky deck in the Western Hemisphere, and it offers unobstructed 360-degree views of the city. The experience is exhilarating, with a glass floor and angled glass walls that give the illusion of floating above the city. You can see all the iconic landmarks in NYC from the observation deck, including the Statue of Liberty and Central Park.

Tip: Visit in the morning hours to avoid the crowds and get a more intimate experience.

Save the 3 Best Activities