Explore New York City

The Rockettes Guide to New York City

We talked with the world-famous Radio City Rockettes about their favorite places in New York City for the holiday season.
Sponsored by the Radio City Rockettes

Few stage productions are as synonymous with New York City and the holidays as the “Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes.” Since 1925, the world-famous Rockettes have been the gold standard of dance troupes, and it’s easy to see why. To celebrate the holiday season, we talked with three of the Radio City Rockettes about their favorite spots in New York City, the holiday season in the Big Apple and what it’s like to be part of one of the most famous dance troupes in the world. 

Radio City Rockettes Live on Stage New York | WHERE Traveler®
Radio City Rockettes Live on Stage (Courtesy Radio City Rockettes)

NYC For the Holidays With the Radio City Rockettes

WT: Rockettes are so iconic and essential to the NYC performing arts scene. How does it feel to be part of something so quintessentially NYC? 
Payton: It still feels a bit surreal at times. I think the moments that I cherish the most are when I meet young girls who aspire to be Rockettes. Seeing their faces light up takes me back to when I used to watch the Rockettes on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and dreamed of performing with them, too. 
Kelley: To be a part of the Rockettes’ legacy and to perform in my favorite city is nothing short of a dream come true! When you think of NYC, you think of the Rockettes’ famous eye-high kicks and precision dancing. It’s a powerful bond, and I am so blessed to be a small part of it.
Paydo: It’s an honor to be a Rockette! Talented women have been performing our classic numbers like “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers” since 1933. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade just wouldn’t be the same without a performance from the Rockettes. It is humbling to be part of such a special group of people that means so much to the best city in the world. 

Alexis Payton of the Radio City Rockettes New York | WHERE Traveler®
Alexis Payton (Courtesy Radio City Rockettes)

WT: Where would you go for the perfect night on the town in the Big Apple?
Payton: Definitely Rooftop Cinema Club. It’s an intimate outdoor movie on a rooftop, complete with concessions. There’s just something nostalgic about watching movies outdoors. It’s so beautiful at night, watching the movie under string lights and seeing the stars. 
Kelley: I would first have an early dinner at my favorite Italian restaurant, Il Mulino, off West Fourth Street. Then I would head uptown and take in a Broadway show. I love the arts and supporting my many friends who are working hard on the Broadway stages! I might end the night meeting up with friends before heading home.
Paydo: The “Christmas Spectacular,” of course! Seeing the tree in Rockefeller Center, checking out the window displays on Fifth Avenue, catching the “Christmas Spectacular,” and wrapping up the evening with a treat at Serendipity 3 – that is the perfect December evening!  

Megan Kelly of the Radio City Rockettes New York | WHERE Traveler®
Megan Kelly (Courtesy Radio City Rockettes)

WT: What do you think makes the “Christmas Spectacular” such an essential part of the holiday season?
Payton: I think the “Christmas Spectacular” has endured as an integral part of the holiday season because it’s captivating for all ages. Each number we do is so unique and different from the next; it really takes the audience on a journey. From the “Living Nativity” scene, which has been in the show since its inception in 1933, to “Snow,” which transforms the stage into a winter wonderland, there’s truly something in the show for everyone! 
Kelley: Since the “Christmas Spectacular” first opened in 1933, it has been bringing joy and magic to so many people from all over the world. No matter who you are or where you’re from, there is something in it for you to enjoy. It is a fully immersive experience that gets people dancing in their seats and really into the spirit of the holidays. It is the perfect reminder of what is most important in life: love and family.
Paydo: The history and tradition of the show make the “Christmas Spectacular” such an important part of the holiday season! Every New Yorker has a story to share connected to the “Christmas Spectacular,” and, as a Rockette, I delight in hearing those tales. Some remember their grandparents taking them for the first time, and others recall a magical first date with their significant other or reminisce about bringing their children to Radio City. These memories are always heartfelt, warm, genuine and filled with emotion—a testament to how beloved the “Christmas Spectacular” is.

Stacy Paydo of the Radio City Rockettes New York | WHERE Traveler®
Stacy Paydo (Courtesy Radio City Rockettes)

WT: The holiday season in New York is so magical; what are your favorite ways to enjoy the holidays in the city?
Payton: I love going to the Union Square holiday market to find gifts for my family and friends, all while supporting local vendors. When my parents came up to visit me for the first time last year, we took a stroll down Fifth Avenue to look at all the elaborately decorated storefronts. My tip – go at night and stop at Saks Fifth Avenue to view their light show!
Kelley: One of my favorite things to do is pay a visit to the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center. It is another iconic NYC tradition, just like the “Christmas Spectacular.” So many people from all over the world come to see it, and the energy flowing through that entire area of Manhattan is so infectious. I also enjoy exploring the outdoor holiday shops that pop up around the city. Bryant Park has a wonderful set-up of shops with all sorts of holiday-inspired gifts and trinkets. They are great places for finding extra special gifts for the ones you love.
Paydo: The Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Garden is a delight. If you’re looking for a feast for your eyes, Rolf’s is a festive restaurant that really delivers during Christmas time. To really get into the holiday spirit, look no further than an ice skating session at Rockefeller Center near our home at Radio City Music Hall. The joy in Midtown during December is tangible.