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Exploring Christmas in New York with John Friia

John Friia, the creator behind @here_in_ny, guides you through New York's holiday history on his new audio walking tour.

the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lit up with buildings in the background
Photo: John Friia @here_in_ny

"Christmas in New York has always been a special time of year for me, and it brings me so much joy discovering and learning about the history of places I'm in." -John Friia

John Friia began his content creation journey in 2020. A former producer for a local news station, he got on a Citi Bike during the pandemic and began filming history videos around Manhattan. Since then, his popular content has gained an audience of over 200k across social media.

In our conversation, he dives into the story behind his latest audio tour, Christmas in New York City: Discover Holiday Traditions that Started in NYC. The tour is self-guided and can be experienced at your own pace.

What inspired your Christmas in New York audio tour?

Christmas in New York has always been a special time of year for me. Growing up on Long Island, I remember every holiday season my family would take the train into the city and see all the windows, lights, and of course the Rockefeller Center tree. It brings a smile to my face just thinking about it. When I thought about doing an audio tour, a Christmas one was a no brainer. I took my love for history and my favorite time of year to make this tour with the hope that I help family, friends and people visiting New York to have a deeper appreciation of the Christmas traditions we have in the Big Apple.

How did you approach researching stories and producing the tour with Gesso's platform?

As a history content creator, it feels like I live and breathe to discover the hidden history of New York City. I’m always reading books and articles about the city’s history, including holiday traditions. When I find something that makes me say “oh!”, I make a little mental note of it and do more research. As I planned this tour, I kept asking myself questions – Do I find this interesting? Would people be surprised to know “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” was made famous in a New York City apartment? How did the Rockettes start?

I knew where I wanted the tour to start and end, so from there I started to think of the order of the places that would make sense to visit.

I was intimidated at first to create the audio tour. Once I got started, it was so easy to add markers, audio files, transcripts and photos. I wished I started to use the platform earlier.

What do you hope listeners will take away from your holiday tour?

I really hope people look at some of the big tourist attractions in the city a little differently with more of an appreciation. It’s nice to snap a photo of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, but what made this tree so special? I crafted this tour in a way so that people that live in the city and those that are just visiting can still walk away with a little more knowledge about the Big Apple and what makes this city so special. I always say we are constantly on the run and passing by places that we might not notice what happened there. I hope the spots on this tour will make people say “wow.”

What advice do you have for creators who are interested in using audio tours to reach new audiences across cities?

My advice is make sure you have a thorough outline for what you would like to talk about. I wrote scripts for each location to make sure I got all the details that I wanted to say. It doesn’t matter what city you are in, because there is always something that makes your city unique. Make your tour fun, personable, and educational. Let your personality come out because you are the person that is representing your city to the listeners of the tour.

John Friia's Christmas in New York City audio tour is available to experience here.


Gesso is an audio storytelling platform for creators of all backgrounds. Create an account for free and publish your own audio walking tours in any city. It’s as easy as dropping pins on a map.


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