New York City is absolutely brimming with holiday attractions, from elaborate window displays to Christmas markets, outdoor ice skating rinks, and one mega tree. One of the best and most beloved activities, especially for families with kids, is visiting Old Saint Nick at Macy's. Over the years, Santaland has become a December staple of New York City. It will be open in 2019 from November 29 to Christmas Eve.
The famous 13,000-square-foot Christmas Village is located on the 8th floor of Macy's Herald Square in Midtown, on 34th Street, where Broadway meets 6th and 7th Avenues. You can enter Macy's on 34th Street at either Broadway or 7th Avenue, but the latter tends to be less chaotic.
To get to Macy's Herald Square by subway, take:
- A, C, or E trains to 34th Street/Penn Station, then walk one block east on 34th Street to 7th Avenue
- 1, 2, or 3 trains to 34th Street, then exit on 7th Avenue and 34th Street
- B, D, F, V or N, Q, R, W trains to 34th Street/Herald Square, then exit on Broadway for Macy's main entrance
Macy's Santaland gets so busy leading up to Christmas that they had to implement a reservation system to see Santa. Reservations, which can be made for free online 30 minutes to five days in advance, cut down on lines and wait times.
The reservation system isn't entirely fail-proof, however, and you should still expect to wait for about an hour on busy weekends. Mondays through Thursdays are a better bet.
Santa Express Lane
Those interested in booking on a weekend or between 2 p.m. and 9 p.m. Monday through Friday may want to opt instead for the Santa Express Lane. The Santa Express Lane—which can also be arranged online for free—guarantees that you will go directly to Santa upon arrival (so long as time slots are available), but doesn't take you through the Christmas village, where all the traffic jams are. If you're in a hurry or have seen it before, the Express Lane could be your best bet.
Photos With Santa
Professional photos of this experience are not cheap. There is no pressure to make a purchase, but the photo packages range from $20.99 to $59.99. The good news is that you can often ask an elf or assistant to take a photo with your phone and they will oblige.
The on-site photographer will typically take at least two photos. After your visit with Santa, you can take your ticket to the shop to purchase prints, Christmas ornaments, or keepsake CDs.
Additional Attractions in Santaland
Santaland is about much more than the man in red. The experience begins with viewing the holiday window vignettes from "Miracle on 34th Street" and boarding the Macy's Santaland Express. There will be elves and Mrs. Claus and visitors are permitted to take pictures of them all.
You will travel through wintry villages and snowy scenery until you're greeted at the North Pole by Santa's elves. Marvel at igloos, ice sculptures, poinsettias, and lights, and then watch animatronic animals decorate a tree in the Enchanted Forest.
Next, approach the Rainbow Bridge and a massive Lionel Trains Industrial City display complete with six train sets around a tree. Santa's Workshop is nearby, along with his sleigh, already loaded up with presents. Pass by reindeer in a stable before arriving at the main event.