A Sports fan’s Christmas in New York City
With all of the major schedules now announced, we again find ourselves looking ahead to the most wonderful time of the year1… And not just because of the holiday markets and the potential for snowfall, either: 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 Day this year 2, 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 ultimate sports itinerary for Christmas in the Big Apple
December 21, 1pm: New York Islanders vs. Anaheim Ducks, Nassau Coliseum (NHL)
Admittedly, getting out to Nassau Coliseum is a bit of a hassle, but if you’ve read our most recent NHL blog, watching hockey is worth the effort. The Islanders have a staunch and vocal following at Nassau, and considering they made waves in the playoffs last year, the atmosphere will be worth the price of admission alone. Note the afternoon puck drop – don’t be caught out turning up for a 7pm start!
December 21, 7.30pm: New York Knicks vs. Milwaukee Bucks, Madison Square Garden (NBA)
Two words: Greek Freak. Yes, reigning league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo will grace the Garden just a few nights out from Christmas, and if you ask us, there’s no better present to yourself than making sure you see this game. The Bucks are littered with talent and should make a run for the NBA Finals, while the Knicks… well, go see Giannis.
Alternative: Brooklyn are also playing the Atlanta Hawks on this night across the bridge, which could be a cheaper way of seeing a much-hyped Nets team during your trip. Your call.
December 22, 1pm: New York Jets vs. Pittsburgh Steelers, Metlife Stadium (NFL)
Get your football fix a couple of days before Christmas when the New York Jets host the perennially good Pittsburgh Steelers at the Meadowlands. There’s an Aussie flavour to the Jets this year, with former rugby league star Valentine Holmes fighting for a spot on the roster at Gang Green, so get along and see some late-season NFL action while you still can!
December 23, 7pm: New York Knicks vs. Washington Wizards, Madison Square Garden (NBA)
This might be the pick of the Knicks’ games in New York over Christmas, purely because it might be the best chance they have for a home win! The Wizards are a decent chance to lose All-Stars Bradley Beal and John Wall in the offseason, so it might be best to buy tickets before that happens and with faith in the Knicks at a low point.
December 26, 8pm: Brooklyn Nets vs. New York Knicks, Barclays Center (NBA)
It might not be a Christmas Day fixture, but make no bones about it, this will be a cracker 3. Fighting for pride in the state of New York, these two young and emerging teams will be gunning hard for the W, but tickets aren’t going to be cheap, so get in quickly before prices rise!
December 27, 3.20pm: 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 quality college ball.
Teams are generally announced closer to the date, so keep your eye on the schedules for when they’re released.
December 27, 7pm: New York Rangers vs. Carolina Hurricanes, Madison Square Garden (NHL)
A good chance to tick off that “Madison Square Garden” bucket list experience. The Rangers have a talented roster this year and will be hoping to make an impact in the playoffs, so they’re well worth going to see – something which hasn’t been said for a couple of seasons. An added bonus? The Carolina Hurricanes were a standout team last season, so this game should be a good one!
December 29, 1pm: New York Giants vs. Philadelphia Eagles, Metlife Stadium (NFL)
Division rivals? Yep. Playoffs on the line? Likely. An amazing atmosphere? Guaranteed. Late-season NFL games don’t get much bigger than this, so make sure you pencil this matchup into your diaries early. The Eagles are a talented team, but the home field advantage might get the Giants over the line.
December 31, 7pm: New Jersey Devils vs. Boston Bruins, Prudential Centre (NHL)
Looking for something to do before the New Year’s Eve countdown? Do you really need an excuse to channel your inner David Puddy? Head to Jersey (and hear us out). Head out to see the Devils and Bruins (who played in last year’s Stanley Cup Finals) duke it out at the Prudential Center before making your way to the banks of the Hudson to watch the fireworks over Manhattan from the Jersey side of things. Trust us, it’s a lot less crowded than being eight blocks from Times Square, scrambling to watch the ball drop.
Three tips for purchasing tickets for NYC at Christmas:
- 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 much closer to 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 at Madison Square Garden and the Giants/Eagles 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 decent hockey team and their tickets are cheap, while Nets tickets have traditionally been easier to come across than those of the Knicks4.
You’ll end up paying a lot of money if you plan on watching the “sexy” 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?
Anything we missed?
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