Nowhere does Christmas and New Year’s Eve like New York City does. Experience both on this exciting 13-day tour, combining the culture, art and architecture of New York with the vibrant atmosphere of the holiday season: from the Rockettes’ Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall to a traditional New Year’s Eve performance by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra at the Lincoln Center. 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.
The itinerary includes eight performances:
A musical on Broadway, the iconic heart of New York City, selected from the best of the 2020-2021 season
An opera by one of the world’s leading companies, the Metropolitan Opera of New York, at Lincoln Center
A traditional New Year’s Eve performance by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra at the Lincoln Center’s David Geffen Hall
An evening at Carnegie Hall, New York’s most storied concert venue and host to the world’s greatest artists and orchestras
The Radio City Rockettes’ Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall – an American icon since the 1930’s
George Balanchine’s The Nutracker, a sumptuous favourite performed every holiday season by the New York Ballet
An evening of jazz at ‘Jazz at the Lincoln Center’
A new production of a stage play from the Broadway 2020-21 season. We often wait to see reviews before deciding which stage play to include
Experience 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 viewing of the Museum of Modern Art with a museum lecturer
Expert-led tour of The Cloisters, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s exquisite medieval collection
Charming small galleries, including the Whitney Museum of American Art 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
The tour begins and ends at our hotel in New York. Qantas, Delta and United Airlines offer direct regular flights to and from New York, with stopovers in Los Angeles or Dallas Fort Worth. Contact us for quotes and bookings.
Included meals are shown with the symbols B, L and D.
Monday 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.
Tuesday 22 December: Downtown – The Nutcracker
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 Nutcracker, a timeless classic performed every Christmas by the New York City Ballet company at their home in the Lincoln Center (B, L).
Performance details Venue: David Koch Theater, Lincoln Center
Program: George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker Performers: New York City Ballet Company
Wednesday 23 December: Museum Mile – Metropolitan Opera
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). Not far away is the Guggenheim Museum, Frank Lloyd Wright’s last architectural masterpiece. We will have a guided tour of its excellent permanent collection, with free time to inspect this architectural wonder and explore the temporary exhibitions. In the evening we head to the Metropolitan Opera at the Lincoln Center to enjoy an opera from one of the world’s leading opera companies. (B)
Performance details Venue: Lincoln Center Opera House
Program: Announced March 2020
Performers: Announced March 2020
Thursday 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 carol 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)
Friday 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, with the option of joining the tour leader to explore Dyker Heights, famous in and around New York for its incredible Christmas light displays. (B, L)
Saturday 26 December: Central Park – Broadway Musical
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. We’ll also have a chance to take a tour down the top of 5th Avenue, the premiere shopping destination in New York City, known for its grand department stores and amazing window displays during the holidays. The afternoon is free to pick up a bargain or two. In the evening, we’ll head to Broadway for one of the best shows from the 2020 season. (B)
Performance details Venue: Announced March 2020
Program: Announced March 2020
Performers: Announced March 2020
Sunday 27 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 and the St Nicholas Historic District. After lunch, we return to Broadway for a matinee performance of a stage play, selected from the best of the 2020-21 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 28 December: Lower East Side – The Rockettes
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. We return to the hotel in afternoon. In the evening we’ll venture down to Radio City Music Hall to the see the incredible Rockette’s perform their annual holiday spectacular, featuring some of the best choreography and synchronised dancing you’ll ever see (B).
Performance details Venue: Radio City Music Hall
Program: Rockette’s Christmas Spectacular Performers: The Rockettes
Tuesday 29 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 remain 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: Announced August 2020
Performers: Announced August 2020
Wednesday 30 December: Great Libraries – Carnegie Hall
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 time for lunch and a browse of the famous winter markets in the Bryant Park area during the day. In the evening, we’ll make our way to Carnegie Hall, the premier venue for performance in New York City, for a taste of some of the best music the world has to offer. (B).
Performance details Venue: Carnegie Hall
Program: Announced March 2020
Performers: Announced March 2020
Thursday 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 2020 in style. Afterwards, those wishing to can try and brave the crowds at Times Square to see the ball drop, or those wishing for a more relaxed affair can join the tour leader in the hotel for a late-night soiree. (B, L)
Performance details Venue: David Geffen Hall, Lincoln Center
Program: Announced August 2020
Performers: New York Philharmonic
Friday 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 Gramercy Tavern, one of the best restaurants in the city specialising in modern American cuisine. (B, D)
Saturday 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
A political scientist and expert in US history, with a doctorate on the history of the United States presidency.
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.
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, taxis or public transport are 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
Costs involved in obtaining visas for countries visited, where required and when stated as included
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?
Our 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
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