A Sports fan’s Christmas in New York City
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and not just because of the holiday markets and the potential for snowfall – Christmas is one of the best times for sports fans to visit New York City.
Whether you’re into college football, ice hockey, basketball or the NFL, there’s something on offer for all sports fans.
Maybe you’ve already planned to be in New York for Christmas or perhaps you need some late inspiration to finally book those flights… whatever your situation is, we have a wall-to-wall sporting itinerary that is sure to get your mouth watering.
It’s important to note that there will be nothing to see on Christmas Eve, so maybe dedicate this day to your non-sports-loving travel partner (or don’t – it’s up to you!).
So without further ado, we’ve compiled…
The sports lover’s guide to Christmas in the Big Apple.
December 23, 1pm: New York Jets vs Green Bay Packers, Metlife Stadium (NFL)
“Twas two nights before Christmas, and all through the night, Aaron Rodgers came to town to give Sam Darnold a fright.” That’s how it goes, right?
Yes, the first item on this itinerary is an absolute doozy. Get yourself out to Metlife Stadium to watch the New York Jets – led by rookie QB sensation Sam Darnold – take on the perennially competitive Packers led by America’s richest quarterback in Aaron Rodgers.
It’ll be chilly, but the home team won’t be without a chance, meaning the atmosphere will be top notch. Get your tickets here.
December 23, 7pm: New York Rangers vs Philadelphia Flyers, Madison Square Garden (NHL)
There’s no time to rest, folks. Once you’ve seen the football over in the Meadowlands, it’s time to head back to the big city, because the Rangers are playing at Madison Square Garden – a bucket list item for sports fans visiting New York.
The game should be a ripper, too. The Rangers are an improving side, while the Flyers made the playoffs last year and should again be in the hunt. Plus it’s New York vs Philadelphia – battle of the major cities – so make sure you get down to take it all in! Get your tickets here.
December 25, 12pm: New York Knicks vs Milwaukee Bucks, Madison Square Garden (NBA)
The Knicks on Christmas Day. It’s one of the biggest events on the NBA calendar, so make sure you take that into account when you look at just how expensive these tickets are.
If you’re not fazed by the price of admission, the product on the court will be first class and as entertaining as almost any matchup in the NBA. Kristaps Porzingis (if he’s returned by then) and the Knicks. The Greek Freak and the Bucks. It’ll be pricey, but well worth it. Get your tickets here.
December 26, 7:30pm: Brooklyn Nets vs Charlotte Hornets, Barclays Center (NBA)
Want to catch an NBA game without spending your entire savings in one go? Perhaps it’s better to skip the Christmas Day game at MSG and hold off until the next night.
The Nets aren’t the NBA’s hottest tickets (and neither are the Charlotte Hornets), meaning prices will be up to one third of the price of those for the Knicks/Bucks game.
Of course, there’s nothing stopping you from seeing both! Get your tickets here.
December 27, 5:30pm: New Era Pinstripe Bowl, Yankee Stadium (College bowl game)
Sure the college football season is technically over, however a number of bowl games (that is, games between some of the more successful teams that didn’t make the playoffs) occur throughout the United States in December. Each year, at Yankee Stadium, the Pinstripe Bowl comes to town, and it’s a great excuse to get along to see some college ball.
Teams are generally announced closer to the date, so keep your eye on the schedules for when they’re released. Get your tickets here.
December 27, 7:30pm: New York Rangers vs Columbus Blue Jackets, Madison Square Garden (NHL)
If college football isn’t your thing, consider staying closer to home in lower Manhattan to watch the Rangers.
This matchup is also likely to be cheaper than the Rangers game played the other side of Christmas; the Jackets aren’t a popular team outside of Ohio, while they also don’t have as intense a rivalry as that which the Rangers share with the Flyers.
The good news, however, is that the Jackets are going all-in on the Stanley Cup this year, meaning at the very least the product on the ice will be excellent. Get your tickets here.
December 28, 7pm: New York Islanders vs Ottawa Senators, Barclays Center (NHL)
Much like catching a Nets game instead of a Knicks game, stumping up the $50 or so to see the Islanders instead of the Rangers at four times the price is a lot more palatable for budget-savvy travellers.
The downside is, of course, that you won’t be at Madison Square Garden and instead you’ll be watching NHL at arguably the worst stadium in the league for watching hockey. Okay, we might have been a bit dramatic, but if you have time, make sure you Google “obstructed view Barclays Center” and you’ll see what we’re on about. Choose your seats wisely and the experience will be unforgettable… in a good way! Get your tickets here.
December 29, 1pm: New Jersey Devils vs Carolina Hurricanes, Prudential Center (NHL)
Sick of Manhattan? Want to get out and see the sights of Jersey? No? We didn’t think so…
Hear us out: one of the biggest benefits of heading across the state border to watch some pro sport is you’ll be paying substantially less to watch the same standard on the ice, and the Devils are once again expected to make a decent fist of it in the playoffs this year.
December 30, 1pm: New York Giants vs Dallas Cowboys, Metlife Stadium (NFL)
Is there a better way to see out 2018 than watching two divisional rivals go toe-to-toe, potentially with a playoff spot on the line?
If you’re not a huge NFL fan, the Giants and Cowboys are like the Bombers and the Pies, or the Roosters and Souths… two of the league’s biggest clubs who also happen to be fierce rivals. They might even be playing for one of the last playoff spots in the NFC, so this one could produce some fireworks! Get your tickets here.
Three tips for cheaper tickets at Christmas in NYC:
- Keep abreast of each team’s results.
Like stocks, buy low, sell high. If you notice that the New York Rangers have lost eight straight games through November, it’s probably the ideal time to buy your tickets. Their value would be lower than tickets sold before the season begins, and much lower than in preseason (when hope was still alive!).
This tip is especially pertinent for NFL games; if the team you’re going to see falls out of playoff contention by early December, prices are likely to fall. Conversely, if they’re in a battle to make playoffs, ticket prices might go up – though you’ll likely see a higher standard of football.
- Risk the last-minute ticket.
Admittedly not everyone is going to have the time, money or pure mental energy to attend eight sporting events in eight days – especially in New York City. We suggest picking your non-negotiable events; buy the tickets now and then wait until the last minute for the other events to see if ticket prices come down. Often, sellers get desperate in the days leading up to an event and then lower their prices just to get some sort of return.
Be warned, however. If the game is set to be a blockbuster, last minute tickets may end up being more expensive than buying them months out. Your mileage may vary!
- Pick the least sexy games.
We alluded to it in the itinerary, but there are going to be some pretty expensive games going on while you’re in New York. Of course, a number of these (such as the Knicks on Christmas Day and the Giants/Cowboys clash) are genuine bucket list items for some and should be treated as such.
But if you’re a casual fan, or not a fan of the Knicks, Rangers or Giants (for instance), consider watching the least sexy games available. The New Jersey Devils are a top-notch hockey team and their tickets are cheap, while the Nets have been perennially bad for some time, but they’re young and do sometimes win at home.
You’ll end up paying a lot of money if you plan on watching the bigger-name teams – and no doubt it’ll be worth every penny – but there are still ways to watch sport in New York on a budget.
What do you think?
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