For a big concrete jungle, there’s something magical about New York during the festive season. Perhaps it’s the music coming from Broadway and Radio City, the Disney characters walking through Times Square, the fact it’s the ultimate Christmas shopping destination, or all the lights. I think the fact that Elf was filmed in New York is a contributing factor. So, is the Radio City Christmas Spectacular worth it?
As I’ve seen the show twice (2010 & 2012), I’m not going to do a review of the individual shows, but rather detail the overarching experience. This is going to resonate more with what you’re actually going to see and experience if you go because no two runs of it are the same.
Why Not Just See Something On Broadway?
Broadway is amazing. Seeing a show on Broadway should be on everyone’s bucket list, however, you can see something on Broadway anytime of the year, like The Lion King. They do also host Christmas shows, like the Nutcracker, and now Frozen, but Broadway just isn’t something most people associate with the holiday season.
Radio City have shows and events all year, but the most iconic is the Christmas Spectacular. You’ll already feel festive by the time you arrive at the theatre if you’re walking past the Rockefeller Center and catch a glimpse at the iconic ice-rink and Christmas tree.
When it comes to Christmas in New York, seeing this show is arguably the top of the list.
One of the best things about the Radio City Christmas Spectacular is that it changes every year. I saw it two years apart so the story was different.
It always has the same overarching theme about family, and kids believing in Santa Claus, etc., but the main characters are always different.
There’s always plenty of opportunities to see the Rockettes throughout the show, because it wouldn’t be Radio City without them! Their iconic toy solider routine has been the same since the show first opened in the 1930s – and is one thing that will probably never change.
Between both years I saw, I couldn’t pick a favourite version because the quality is just as high each time.
It’s only a 90-minute show and it absolutely flies by! There’s no intermission as, per my experience, so either pee before it starts or hold it until afterward because you won’t want to miss a moment.
Things To Keep In Mind
The Christmas Spectacular runs into January, but take it from me; I saw Elf in January a few years ago, and coming out to it to no longer being the Christmas season was a bit depressing. Both times I’ve seen this show, it was November, which was perfect because New York isn’t too cold by then, and it’s already very festive. I think it’s nicer to be looking forward to Christmas after the show rather than lamenting that it’s passed. New York is also unbearably cold in January, so wrap up or go earlier in winter.
However, if you’re on a budget, then by all means, see a matinee or see it in January. I find something special about going to a show in the evening, but the 2012 show was a matinee and just as magical.
If you want good, somewhat affordable seats, book them a few weeks in advance. If seats don’t sell out, they sometimes have Rockettes out and about in New York City selling them. You can also show up on the night, and if there are a few left or no-shows they’ll let you in, but these seats probably won’t be great.
You shouldn’t take pictures during the show out of respect for the performers and other guests. You’re also not allowed to bring in outside food. The food in the venue is pricey, even the water was expensive, so maybe snack on a hot dog or a pretzel outside first. There actually was a hot dog stand right outside the last time I saw it, so you won’t need to go far!
So Is The Radio City Christmas Spectacular Worth It?
I think the Radio City Christmas Spectacular is well worth it! The Rockettes and other performers are always outstanding.
It’s something you can see time and time again and still be entertained, but it’s familiar enough that you won’t get fomo if you only go once.
What Else To Do To Feel Festive In NYC
If you’re already in New York and it’s the Christmas season, you might as well find other festive activities to do.
Here’s what I’d recommend:
- Ice-skate at the Rockafeller center, and admire the big Christmas tree
- Go Christmas shopping in Macy’s
- Appreciate the stores’ window displays
- See the inside of the Empire State Building
- Walkthrough Central Park – it was a Home Alone 2 Lost in New York filming location.
Have you ever seen the Radio City Christmas Spectacular? If so, what did you think?