Every once in a while the universe converges to create a ready-made experience just waiting to fall into your lap. This year, a fortuitous confluence of events means that if you’re the type who wants to recreate a Victorian Christmas in New York City in 2017 (because why not?) then you’re in luck!
The Morgan Library has obligingly put together an exhibit called “Charles Dickens and the Spirit of Christmas,” which “assembles, for the first time, all five manuscripts of Dickens’s Christmas books—A Christmas Carol (1843), The Chimes (1844), The Cricket on the Hearth (1845), The Battle of Life (1846), and The Haunted Man (1848)—to explore the genesis, composition, publication, and reception of A Christmas Carol, and its impact on Dickens’s life.” If you can’t make it to the exhibit, you can still get a small part of the experience by purchasing their facsimile copy of A Christmas Carol in the gift shop.
To continue in the Dickens vein, you can pop on over to the Kips Bay AMC or similar movie house to catch a screening of The Man Who Invented Christmas, which you may or may not love depending on your tolerance for fanciful biopics. This fanciful biopic, however, stars Dan Stevens, a.k.a Dreamy Cousin Matthew from Downton Abbey so, yeah. Sold. Just be sure not to write any nasty reviews of the flick, though, because otherwise its distributor will send you a lump of coal.
For those who prefer the personal touch afforded by live theatre, the Merchant’s House Museum is offering their live, one-man version of A Christmas Carol again this year. Plus, there’s free wine, and books! According to the museum’s website, “Guests will enjoy light fare and mulled wine (champagne punch for our New Year’s Eve weekend audiences) and receive a special gift: Mr. Dickens and His Carol, a transporting novel by Samantha Silva.” The show runs through New Year’s Eve, including on Christmas Eve, which I think sounds like a pretty dreamy way to spend the night before Christmas. As an added bonus, you’ll be enjoying this Yuletide festiveness in a genuine 19th century haunted home, and nothing goes better with Christmas than ghosts (in our opinion, anyway).
Speaking of which, you’ll definitely want to add our “Ghosts of Christmas Past” walking tour to your itinerary. On this tour, you’ll discover the astounding connections between New York City, Christmas traditions, and the telling of ghostly tales. Your sprightly Boroughs of the Dead tour guide will draw out these often-overlooked connections, enriching your understanding of our own contemporary holiday traditions and reviving a few long-past and nearly forgotten, all in a festive celebration of the “spirit” of Christmas.
Finally, it wouldn’t be a Victorian Christmas without a few more outdoor activities, namely caroling and ice skating. Time Out rounds up the best caroling opportunities this year, and for ice skating we personally recommend avoiding the usual heavily trafficked areas like Rockefeller Center, Bryant Park, and Central Park. Prospect Park’s Lakeside Rink is much lovelier, less touristy, and adjacent to the very Victorian architecture in Park Slope and Ditmas Park. Depending on your post-skating destination, a walk through one of these neighborhood decorated for the season will transport you back to another era.