Instagrammable NYC- Top Spots for Christmas Holiday Photos

Instagrammable NYC- Top Spots for Christmas Holiday Photos

Hello friends! So who's super excited about the holidays?? πŸ™‹πŸ™‹‍♂️πŸ™‹ What are you planning on doing this year? I have to admit, I've been getting more hyped about it than usual. Why you ask? Well, as you know, NYC is one of the most festive places to be for the holidays. And this year I've been keeping extra busy visiting all the Christmas installations New York is famous for. Just so that I could report back to you!

Now guys, if you want Instagrammable content for the holidays in New York, it's no trivial thing. I need you to get ready. Because I'm about to take you through...


Instagrammable Christmas Spots NYC Peninsula Hotel

For those unfamiliar with Christmas Content Dash- It's a series of events where you run all over town with your blogger friends and try to take pictures of each other in front of as many glittery lights, popup experiences, and giant Christmas trees as you can. The participant who captures the best series of photos and/ or accumulates the most Instagram likes wins!!!  ❤️❤️❤️  Some of the awards include Best Costuming,  Most Creative Pose, and Best Edit.

The best thing about it? Anyone can participate! (Also in case my sarcasm isn't coming through, it's not a real contest... just in our minds! haha) However, don't be fooled by how effortless the photos look... this takes a lot of dedication and training.

Will you be cold in that tiny skirt in the below-freezing temperatures? Absolutely. Will you have to wait 45 minutes to get that one shot with no tourists in the background? Of course. But will it be totally worth it the first time you see your perfect set of photos with the Rockefeller Tree glowing celestially in the background? Yes, yup, and you betcha. Sign me up for the next 3 years in advance, please.

Singularly, any of the places I'm about to list is a perfect backdrop for your photos and will leave you feeling good vibes that last throughout the year. However, I highly suggest you get out there and do as much of it as you can! Your nose will be cold but your heart will be full. And your Instagram followers will be thoroughly wowed πŸ˜

So enough chit chat. Onto my picks!


Aaah, it's the capital of NYC Christmas! Yes, it's touristy and overdone but it's for good reason. The energy here is so cheerful, the tree is so much better in real life, and there are several spots where you can capture great photos. It's simply a must-do.

I've passed by Rockefeller Center countless times, but this year, I saw the tree lit up at night for the first time. To be honest, I wasn't expecting much but it gave me ALL the holiday feels. I skated in the rink right afterward. And while I'm no figure skater, it really was a perfect ending to a perfect day.

So some bad news- you're not going to be able to avoid the crowds here. Maybe if you go in the early morning (they turn on the tree at 5:30am)

Good news- there are lots of creative tricks and angles to try! For instance, the photo below was taken on a very crowded night with people around me on every side. For this type of shot, if you shoot from a low angle with a tighter frame, you can avoid people in your picture.

FYI, The tree lighting ceremony is usually in late November after Thanksgiving, and it stays up until early January.

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree NYC
The Rink at Rockefeller Center New York



Another gorgeous place oozing with Christmas spirit. This Winter Village can get VERY crowded. Like 'I can barely walk' kind of crowded. My trick- I went early in the season before Thanksgiving to get shots of the rink, and it wasn't super crazy at all. I'd recommend getting there as early in the season, or early in the day as possible.

There are lots of photo opportunities to take advantage of here. Aside from the rink, but you can also get shots of the pretty market stalls, the Christmas tree, Instagrammable drinks, and the light wall inside The Lodge.

Tip- To get the shot along the ice rink with all the glittery buildings in the background, head all the way to the corner facing west. If you're in the corner, there's less people around! To get the shot with the Empire State Building in the backgournd, head to the middle of the skating rink facing south.

Dates and times vary, but in general-

Ice Rink is open 10/31- March 1st from 8am to 10pm
The Holiday Shops are open 10/31-1/5 from 8am-10pm

Bryant Park Ice Skating Rink New York City
Winter Village at Bryant Park Ice Rink


Luxe vibes to the max. You'll be singing "Santa Baby" all the way back home after you've visited Cartier for some photos.

I feel like if you're going to Cartier for shots, you're going to need a dressy outfit. Don't worry if you don't have one! Casual looks work perfectly well here too. I'm just saying that to match the vibes of this location, sequins and ballgowns are not out of the question here. πŸ˜‰  Don't be afraid to be extra!

Tip- In my opinion, the best shot is diagonally across from the building, but directly across from the building works too! Just warning you, you might need to stand in the street while traffic has a red light. But if you ARE shooting while traffic is going on behind you, try to catch a yellow cab in the background πŸš•It screams New York.

Cartier Christmas decorations nyc


I've only ever heard of this place recently, and boy was I excited to visit for the first time! It's been all over Instagram for a few years, and if you come here you'll see why. There's over 5,000 ornaments and 150,000 Christmas lights covering the inside of the entire restaurant. This place deserves a spot in the Instagrammable Hall of Fame for sure 🌟🌟

Not surprisingly Rolf's gets very busy, even early on in the day. You'll definitely need reservations. My friend and I were lucky enough to be let in a little early (it opens at noon) so that there were no people in the background. I wouldn't count on that though, as the manager seemed pretty strict about it. (Plus we only got let in early because she writes for a publication.)

Still! If you are creative with your angles and timing. you can make it look emptier than it is.

Tip- You can get good shots along the bar area looking towards the back of the restaurant, as well as the section to the left of the bar with booths.

Rolf' German Restaurant Christmas Decorations NYC
Rolf's German Restaurant Christmas Decorations


Are you grabbing shots at the Flat Iron building? If not, you should. Instagram LOVES that building, and I always get a good response every time I post pics of it!

But while you're there, definitely stop by Eataly, which is right across the street. Then go up to the top floor to visit Serra Alpina by Birreria. This is a rooftop restaurant that changes it's decor with the seasons! It has really pretty floral displays in the spring and summer, and can be a great spot for photos any time.

When my friend and I visited, we didn't actually get a meal. We told the hostess we were there to sit at the bar, and she let us in. There was a separate area that seemed to be for private events. However, there was no one in there and the staff let us basically play around, probably so we would stay out of their hair πŸ˜‰

Tip- Go around lunch time when it's not as busy. This way, you'll be less likely to annoy the staff, and they'll let you stay for longer. The Instagram-famous shots are under the arch!

Serra Alpina by Birreria Winter Decor
</p>SERRA ALPINA by Birreria New York City Flatiron


Definitely one of the prettiest locations in all of NYC for Christmas photos! I don't know why, but I didn't realize at first that Lotte New York Palace was a hotel. So if you didn't know... now you know!

I've heard varying things about how busy it gets. When my friend and I went in the afternoon, we were able to get our shots pretty quickly. However, another friend said that she had to wait for a half-hour to even get near the tree.

The classic shot is directly in front of the tree, facing the hotel. But if you want something a little different, you can go on the opposite side and get St. Patrick's Cathedral in the background! The latter shot will come out a little darker, just fyi.

Tip- If you go inside the hotel, there are sets of pretty stairs with Christmas trees set up in the lobby that you can shoot! There's also a bathroom that they'll let you use to change outfits if you wish. I love being able to fit multiple shooting spots into one location, so this is great if you can fit it in.

Lotte Palace New York Christmas Tree


I haven't seen this location a lot on Instagram, but that's a good thing! It's still got a beautiful tree in the lobby. It's plenty Instagrammable, will be less busy, and the staff will be less annoyed. WIN.

The Peninsula has a relatively small lobby and I thought we might get kicked out at first... A lot of places aren't too keen on the "Influencer" trend and get snippy if you try to take photos. But the staff was incredibly chill and even gave us tips on good angles! Even so, after about 40 minutes of shooting, we were politely given the boot πŸ˜‚

Tip- go up the stairs, then along the railway near the elevators. You can get the below shot with the ornaments in the foreground and the tree in the background. I love the framing!!

The Peninsula Christmas Tree New York


Radio City is always a treat to visit. But around this time of year, they put out an art installation of giant Christmas ornaments, and it's too irresistible! The oversized ornaments in the photo below are located on 1251 Avenue of the Americas.

Tip- If you go around the backside to 49th and 6th, you will be able to get a view of the ornaments, with Radio City in the background

Radio City Christmas Ornaments Installation NYC


This one's a little far out (unless you happen to live in lower Brooklyn.) Also, you might need a car to get there (You can definitely take the subway, but it's a bit of a walk!) But for those that are obsessed with seeing insane Christmas lights displays, Dyker Heights is a must!

For years, the residents here have tried to outdo each other by piling on as many Christmas lights as possible onto their houses for the holidays. You can find the lights if you start walking along 11th to 13th Avenues, between 83rd and 86th Streets. To find the more elaborate houses, just follow the crowds!

Tips- If you're using a camera- bring a tripod, but be sure to also bring a friend to help you. There's tons of people around, and you don't want it accidentally knocked over! Especially if you're shooting at "that" Christmas house 🌟⭐️πŸ’«

Also- it WILL be crowded, and you'll have to be a little aggressive while jumping in to get your shot!

Dyker Heights Christmas Lights
Dyker Heights Christmas lights


After Thanksgiving, the Christmas tree stands start coming out!! They make a perfect photo opportunity. There's really no way to find a specific one, as you can't predict if they'll be back at the same spot every year with the same setup. My advice is, just keep an eye out and have your camera handy!

In the below photo, I'm showing off the very tree that we bought for our apartment this year!

Christmas Tree Stand NYC


It's a really great time of year to look for temporary installations and popups. Every year, brands scramble to make an impression on New Yorkers and tourists at Christmas time. They're hoping everyone will then blog, gram, and tweet them to their audiences. You get cool photos, they get exposure. Win for everybody!

A lot of Instagrammers are SUPER on top of popup trends so that they can photograph cool locations that haven't been seen in the blog world yet. What happens is, you'll start seeing this one really cool location on your feed and think to yourself "Wow, I've gotta get there too!!"

These are a little harder to track. You'll have to be on tons of lists, or just keep your eye on Instagram. Some that I've captured this year and last are the gingerbread houses at Madison Square park, and this vintage car installation at Billy Reid in SoHo.

NYC Holiday Popup
NYC Holiday Popup

Of course, you can't be everywere at once, and so there are definitely places I didn't get to see this time (but there's always next year!!) Here's a short list of the ones I'm excited about-

Lillie's Victorian- A very festive restaurant, close to all the other Midtown attractions (Radio City, Rockefeller Center, etc.) There's a storefront window with a Christmas tree, flanked by two big nutcracker dolls.

Sak's Fifth Avenue- Every year they have a dazzling light display that looks especially epic at night.

NYC Winter Lantern Festival- This is in Staten Island, so might be a trek to get to depending on where you live. A Chinese-inspired lantern festival with huge glowing displays and a light tunnel.

LuminoCity Festival- Another light festival that's a little more accessible on Randall's Island. Can't wait to check it out!

Doing these shoots is a really good time! You get to see beautiful things and bond with awesome ladies. And you just can't help but smile when you're in the midst of so many other happy people. You stroll through the stalls holding your hot cocoa and marvel at the grandiosity of each and every experience you go to.

Have you been out to capture photos at Christmas time in NYC?


♥♥♥ Follow me on Instagram!  @chantillysongs

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