Nowhere does Christmas and New Year’s Eve like New York City does. Experience both on this exciting new 13-day tour, combining the culture, art and architecture of New York with the vibrant atmosphere of the holiday season: from the Winter Solstice celebrations at the Cathedral of St John the Divine, to a traditional New Year’s Eve performance by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra at the Lincoln Center and the Rockettes’ Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall. These performances, in addition to opera, theatre, exceptional museums, New York’s stunning architecture and fine dining at Michelin-starred restaurants, round out this unique experience.
Festive New York, from 5th Avenue’s famous seasonal window displays to the incredible Christmas lights of Brooklyn’s Dyker Heights
Special events and performances, including the the annual Winter Solstice Celebration
New Year, New York-style: canapes, cocktails and the iconic crystal ball
The best of New York’s art and design, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and MoMA
Performances Eight top performances are included:
The smash-hit Musical Hamilton, based on the life of New York founding father Alexander Hamilton
A top-flight opera at by one of the world’s premiere opera companies – The Metropolitan Opera at their home, the Lincoln Center
A traditional New Year’s Eve performance by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra at the Lincoln Center’s David Geffen Hall
A performance at the world-famous Carnegie Hall. The 125-year old venue is steeped in tradition and boasts excellent acoustics
The Radio City Rockettes’ Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall – an American icon since the 1920’s
The Winter Solstice celebration performance at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, a fixture on the city’s holiday calendar since 1980
An evening of jazz at ‘Jazz at the Lincoln Center’
A new production of a stage play from the Broadway 2019-20 season
The itinerary includes some of the world’s top art and history museums, and dining in a selection of the city’s best restaurants:
Art, Architecture and History
A private out-of-hours viewing of the Museum of Modern Art with a museum lecturer
Curator-led tour of The Cloisters, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s exquisite medieval collection on the northern tip of Manhattan
Charming small galleries, including the Frick Collection and the Neue Galerie
Architectural tours of Midtown, Downtown and Chelsea, featuring Beaux-Arts, Art Deco and Post-Modern masterpieces
Lunch at the Michelin two-star restaurant The Modern, inside the Museum of Modern Art
The best of New American cuisine at the Michelin one-star Gramercy Tavern
A grand Christmas lunch and leisurely afternoon at one of New York’s top restaurants
A detailed itinerary for this tour is available. Click on the link above to view or download.
Qantas and United Airlines fly regularly to the East Coast. Contact us for quotes and bookings.
Included meals are shown with the symbols B, L and D.
Saturday 21 December: Arrival and Introduction
Flights from Australia arrive in New York in the late afternoon. In the early evening, we gather for drinks in a private suite and make our introductions.
Sunday 22 December: Downtown – Winter Solstice
We begin our exploration of New York’s unique history and architecture in the Downtown area, where the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam was founded in the 17th century, as well as Wall Street and the heart of the financial district so central to New York’s rise. Sights include the 9/11 Memorial, Trinity Church, the Woolworth Building, and New York City Hall. We have a welcome lunch at the Capital Grille near Wall Street, located within an old bank vault, and have an introductory talk on the history of the city. The afternoon is free. In the evening, we’ll have our first performance, the 41st Winter Solstice celebration performance at St John the Divine’s, a fixture on the Christmas calendar located within one of the city’s most beautiful churches. (B, L)
Performance details Venue: St John the Divine’s Cathedral Program: Paul Winter’s Winter Solstice Performers: To be advised
Monday 23 December: Museum Mile – The Rockettes
Today we visit two stunning museums on the Upper East Side. The Neue Galerie, specialising in German and Austrian art, has become a must-see after the famous acquisition of Gustav Klimt’s Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer (The Woman in Gold). We’ll have a private tour of the collection in the morning before the museum opens. Not far away is the Guggenheim Museum, Frank Lloyd Wright’s last architectural masterpiece. We will inspect the building and have free time to tour the collection in the afternoon. In the evening, we’ll attend a performance of the Rockettes’ Christmas Spectacular, showcasing music and choreography at Radio City Music Hall since 1932.
Performance details Venue: Radio City Music Hall Program: Christmas Spectacular Performers: The Rockettes
Tuesday 24 December: Midtown and Christmas Eve
This morning we have a lecture and then explore some of the Art Deco architecture of New York’s Midtown district, including the Chrysler Building, the United Nations, Rockefeller Center, and Grand Central Terminal. We’ll also go to the Top of the Rock and get the best view of New York from the top of the Rockefeller Center, and have a chance to see the beautiful Christmas window displays on the grand department stores on 5th Avenue. For those interested, in the afternoon there will be the opportunity to experience Christmas Lessons and Carols at the beautiful St Thomas’ Church on 5th Avenue, where some of the best choral singing of the season will be on show. In the evening, we’ll have a Christmas Eve party in a private hotel suite, complete with traditional American Christmas treats such as egg nog and spiced cider. (B)
Wednesday 25 December: Christmas Day
Today is Christmas! We’ll start the day with private celebrations in the hotel, gifts and a Christmas tree. Afterwards, we’ll have a relaxed group Christmas luncheon at one of the leading restaurants in the area. The evening is free. (B, L)
Thursday 26 December: Central Park – Hamilton
This morning we have a lecture, and then take a walk through Central Park, always stunning in winter snows. One of the most important landscaping projects of the 19th century, it was influential in its style and insightful in its careful design of various areas, which we’ll explore. The afternoon is free. This evening we make our first trip to Broadway for the smash-hit musical Hamilton, the hottest ticket in the city. The musical tells the story of the dramatic life of New Yorker and founding father Alexander Hamilton, the first secretary of the US treasury. It’s an unlikely topic for a musical, but its incredible popularity is proof of Broadway’s never-ending inventiveness, as well as the ground-breaking nature of its score and casting. (B)
Performance details Venue: Richard Rodgers Theatre Program: Hamilton Performers: To be advised
Friday 27 December: The Metropolitan Museum – Jazz
Today we spend the morning at The Cloisters, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s medieval department, located on the northern tip of Manhattan, with a guided tour of their highlights. We then travel to the Museum’s main campus, where you can select from the 50 departments presenting outstanding art from pre-history to the 20th century and from all corners of the globe, or stick with your tour leader, who will take you around the highlights of the American Wing of the Met’s encyclopaedic collection. You’ll have free time to wander the museum at your leisure too in the afternoon. Tonight, we’ll make our way to Columbus Circle for an evening of the city’s finest jazz performance at Jazz at the Lincoln Center, as well as drinks and canapes. (B, D)
Performance details Venue: Jazz at Lincoln Center Program: To be advised Performers: To be advised
Saturday 28 December: Great Libraries – Metropolitan Opera
After a morning lecture, today we visit the Morgan Library and have a guided tour of its exquisite collection of extremely rare manuscripts and books. We also take a tour of the magnificent New York Public Library, and visit Bryant Park, Herald’s Square, the United Nations and the Empire State Building area. We’ll have a group luncheon in the Bryant Park area during the day. This evening we head to the Metropolitan Opera at the Lincoln Center to enjoy a performance from their 2019-20 season. (B)
Performance details Venue: Lincoln Center Opera House Program: To be advised Performers: To be advised
Sunday 29 December: Gospel & Great Art – Broadway Play
For early risers, there is the chance to witness a gospel church service at Convent Avenue Baptist Church in the Harlem neighbourhood and tour some of the sights in northern Manhattan, including Alexander Hamilton’s Grange Estate. Later in the morning, we visit the Frick Collection, one of the world’s finest house museums. In his lifetime Pennsylvania entrepreneur Henry Clay Frick assembled a collection of European Old Masters’ paintings, furniture and decorative arts of the very highest quality, today displayed in his former 5th Avenue mansion. After lunch, we return to Broadway for a matinee performance of a stage play, selected from the best of the 2019-20 season. The evening is free. (B)
Performance details Venue: A Broadway theatre Program: A stage play, to be advised Performers: A stage play, to be advised
Monday 30 December: Lower East Side – Carnegie Hall
Today we explore some of the past and future of New York City. We start early with a boat cruise out to the Statue of Liberty, an icon of the city, as well as Ellis Island, long the port of entry for those immigrating to the United States and now a fascinating museum documenting that long storied history. Afterwards, we’ll make our way onwards to Little Italy in the Lower East Side, where there will be time for lunch. In the afternoon take a tour through one of the apartments at the Tenement Museum, an award-winning complex that has painstakingly restored 19th-century apartments lived in by newly arrived immigrants with guides that tell their often-forgotten stories. In the evening, we’ll make our way to Carnegie Hall, the premier venue for performance in New York City, to see one of their season offerings. (B)
Performance details Venue: Carnegie Hall Program: To be advised Performers: To be advised
Tuesday 31 December: MoMA and New Year’s Eve – New York Philharmonic
A highlight of our tour is this morning’s private tour of MoMA, New York’s famous Museum of Modern Art. A museum lecturer guides us through the museum’s greatest works before the doors open to the public. We then have lunch at The Modern, the elegant two-star Michelin restaurant located in the Museum of Modern Art. In the evening, we’ll return to the Lincoln Center for a traditional New Year’s Eve performance by the New York Philharmonic, an annual fixture in their calendar and a great way to say goodbye to 2019 in style. Afterwards, those wishing can try and brave the crowds at Times Square to see the ball drop, or those wishing a more relaxed affair can join the tour leader in their suite for a late-night soiree. (B, L)
Performance details Venue: David Geffen Hall, Lincoln Center Program: To be advised Performers: New York Philharmonic
Wednesday 1 January: The High Line
After a final talk in the morning, we stroll the High Line, a beautiful urban park situated on a former elevated rail line through the chic Chelsea and Meatpacking districts. After free time in Chelsea Markets, we will visit the newly re-opened Whitney Museum of American Art, now a highlight of the redevelopment of the meatpacking district. Tonight, we have our farewell dinner at Grammercy Tavern, one of the best restaurants in the city specialising in modern American cuisine. (B, D)
Thursday 2 January: Farewell
Before we farewell New York, our final morning is free for those interested in squeezing in some extra shopping or additional sights. In the mid-afternoon there is a transfer to JFK airport for those departing New York. (B)
Dr Matthew Laing
Is a historian and political scientist with a PhD from the ANU. Matthew leads tours to the United States and Scandinavia and lectures for Academy Travel.
Dr Matthew Laing is a historian and political scientist at Monash University who has led tours to the Americas and Europe with Academy Travel for five years. He has a strong personal interest in architecture, cultural history and modern art, with a particular expertise in the United States.
Matthew holds a BA and PhD from the Australian National University, and wrote his doctorate on the history of the United States presidency. He has worked as a lecturer and research fellow at the Australian National University, Utrecht University in the Netherlands, and now at Monash University in Melbourne. He is an accredited ADFAS lecturer and frequently holds public lecture series in Melbourne. He currently teaches United States history and leadership, and has published on both topics.
Matthew’s tours strive for intellectual engagement and to reveal the stories, both big and small, that can bring history to life. A voracious reader and traveller, Matthew strives to be a generalist and draws upon a wide range of subjects – from politics to architecture – to develop his understanding of a place. Matthew’s passion for the United States started as an intern in the United States Congress in 2007. Since then he has made dozens of trips across the country, for both work and pleasure, and is closing in on his goal of visiting all 50 states. He has lectured and written on a wide variety of US subjects, including the American Revolution, the Gilded Age, and American Modernist architecture. Matthew also lived in the Netherlands for two years and has travelled widely there, and has a particular interest in Scandinavia and Eastern Europe.
Matthew has been tour leading for Academy Travel annually since 2013, with many tours to the United States and Europe, and is now taking on a greater role managing and developing further tours in these regions, including developing new tours to areas like the Southern United States.
We asked Matthew, what do you enjoy most about leading a group tour?
“As an academic, the personal joy of leading tours for Academy Travel is that I get one of the best classrooms I could ask for of intelligent and attentive global travellers who share my passion for learning about our world. And yet often I also find myself the student – with intellectually-engaged travellers from all walks of life, some of the most stimulating debates and discussions I’ve had are with my clients on tours.”
“I think those who come on tour with me benefit most from my enthusiasm, energy and passion – whether it’s a giving a morning lecture or having a causal chat at lunch, I’m always striving to draw out new insights and connections that can further understanding and increase engagement.”
Our four-star hotel is very conveniently located in midtown Manhattan, on 54th Street. We have booked premier-plus grade rooms. These are large and comfortable, each with modern amenities. The hotel is in walking distance of many of New York’s most popular attractions. The hotel has just completed a major renovation. The Warwick has an interesting history. It was built in 1926 for newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst, primarily as a residence for his Hollywood friends, among whom was his mistress Marion Davies. Over the years guests have included James Dean, Elizabeth Taylor, Elvis Presley and The Beatles. Actor Cary Grant lived in the Warwick for 12 years.
What is included in the tour price? Unless otherwise stated in the itinerary, our tours include the following:
Any flights mentioned in the itinerary that take place during a tour
Land travel by private air-conditioned coach. Where appropriate public transport is also used for short distance travel on some tours
All accommodation in hotels or apartments as stated in the itinerary
Breakfasts, lunches and dinners specifically stated as included in the itinerary
Drinks at welcome and farewell meals. Other meals may not have drinks included
Background talks on tour, site notes and online resources
Services of tour leader throughout tour
All entrance fees to sites mentioned in the itinerary
Local guides at some sites
Tips for drivers, local guides and restaurants for included meals
Tours begin either at the arrival airport or the first hotel, depending on the itinerary. If you have booked your international flights with Academy Travel and arrive before the tour commences, we will provide airport to hotel transfers to the closest main city on your arrival, and to the closest airport at the end of the tour. These may be either individual or group transfers.
What is not included in the tour price? Open-age tours do not include the following:
Return international/domestic air travel unless those flights take place during the tour
Special taxes and airport levies that can only be paid in cash at the destination. We will advise you of these charges (if any) before you depart
Costs involved in obtaining visas for countries visited, where required
Travel insurance. We require all participants to have comprehensive travel insurance. A typical policy for one of our tours will cost from $160 upwards, depending on your age, pre-existing medical conditions, the countries you are visiting and the overall length of your trip
Lunches and dinners not specifically mentioned as included in the itinerary
Personal expenses such as laundry and phone calls
Costs associated with any activity mentioned as “optional” in the itinerary, or any suggested free time activity
You will be asked to sign an acknowledgement of these conditions when you book a place on a tour.
A deposit of $500 per person is required to confirm your booking on a tour. Final payment of the tour fee, insurance and any additional travel will be due 60 days before departure.
If you decide to cancel your booking the following charges apply:
More than 60 days before departure: $500*
60-45 days before tour start: 25% of total amount due
44-15 days before tour start: 75% of total amount due
14 days or less before departure: 100% of total amount due
*This amount may be credited to another Academy Travel tour within 12 months of the original tour you booked.
Unused Portions of the tour
We regret that refunds will not be given for any unused portions of the tour, such as meals, entry fees, accommodation, flights or transfers.
Academy Travel requires all participants to obtain comprehensive travel insurance. We offer a comprehensive policy with a reputable insurer if required.
Passport and Visa
A valid passport is required for all international travel. If you do not hold an Australian passport you may require a re-entry permit. Some countries require a visa to be issued before you depart Australia. We will advise you of all passport and visa requirements, but it is your responsibility to ensure that you meet passport and visa requirements before you depart.
Will the tour price change?
If the number of participants in a tour is significantly less than budgeted, or if there is a significant change in exchange rates Academy Travel reserves the right to amend the advertised price. If this occurs you will be given the option of cancelling your booking and obtaining a full refund. If an Academy Travel tour is forced to cancel you will get a full refund of all monies paid.
Will the itinerary change?
Occasionally circumstances beyond the control of Academy Travel make it necessary to change airline, hotel or to make slight amendments to daily itineraries. We will inform you of any changes as soon as they occur.
Full and final payment for the tour, airfare travel, insurance and any additional travel you book is due 60 days before departure. Payment may be made by bank deposit, cheque, cash or credit card. Please note there is a surcharge for payments made by credit card.
Academy Travel reserves the right to decline the booking or terminate the holiday of any traveller.