New York, an iconic world city and a ‘must visit’ destination for any traveller. With its stunning skyline, Fifth Avenue shopping, the theatres of Broadway and Times Square, Central Park and of course, the fantastic array of food and drink. All the clichés are true, from the moment you get off the plane it’s like stepping onto a film set. You are greeted with the sights and sounds from the TV shows and films of your youth, exciting, hectic but all strangely familiar.
In the words of Judy Garland…
“I Love New York In
June January, How About You?”
Most cities tend to suit a season, Miami and LA need the sun, others like London and New York seem more comfortable in the cooler seasons of autumn and spring. But what about winter, especially the cold post Christmas months of January and February?
We visited New York in January and yes, it was cold, very cold. As low as -11 °C, so make sure to pack your Gregory Porter hat! However, as you can see we also had brilliant blue skies and sun.
Let’s just get all the bad stuff out of the way first.
NYC In Winter – The Bad Stuff
As already mentioned it can get very cold, especially if the infamous ‘Arctic Blast’ hits the city. Combined with the wind rushing down the streets, the chill can make it feel like your ears are burning off. Hence the need for the Gregory Porter hat, alternatively get your best earmuffs out (if there such a thing as ‘best earmuffs‘)
Possible snow and travel disruptions. There’ s always the chance of flight delays and cancellations due to the weather but unlike the UK the whole city does not grind to a halt. We had a snow storm during our visit, all the shops and restaurants remained open, the main roads were cleared and unfortunately for the local kids, schools did not close.
Basically that’s the bad stuff which is easily outweighed by all the positives.
NYC In Winter – The Good Stuff
There are less tourists (apart from us!), the queues are shorter and flight and hotels prices can be lower.
Flights are generally cheaper although don’t expect empty planes (airlines seem to have got passenger numbers down to a fine art, we rarely see many empty seats). We flew out with Virgin Atlantic on a Saturday afternoon and arrived at a fairly empty Newark Liberty Airport. Unfortunately the US border control appear to have only one member of staff willing to work Saturday evenings.
New York hotels are not cheap and have very high occupancy rates for most of the year however the ‘off season‘ is January and February. We stayed in The Pearl Hotel, a great little hotel and only a short walk from Times Square. At the time of writing, the current price per night is £200 more in December than the room price for January.
Less tourists also means it’s easier to get tickets to many of the Broadway shows. If you want cheap same day tickets then the official TKTS discount booth in Times Square has shorter queues than usual. A good option if you can tolerate standing in the cold.
Finally one of the best reasons to visit New York in January is that it can be beautifully romantic especially if there’s a dusting of snow. Walking through Central Park on a sunny, crisp winters morning with the cinematic Manhattan skyline as a backdrop is a wonderful experience.
What Else To Do – Events In January & February
- Shopping on Fifth Ave (This is sale time when shops clear their shelves, however it may not be as cheap as previous years due to the recent devaluation of the pound!)
- Ice Skating In Central Park
- NYC Restaurant Week
- NYC Jazz Festival
- Broadway Discount Week
- Museums and Galleries (Much quieter than the rest of the year)
Have you been to New York in January or February? What are your hints, tips and recommendations?