Where to View Christmas Decorations in NYC
Nothing can arouse that holiday spirit like the sight of a beautifully decorated and lit Christmas tree or a fabulous window display and there’s no better place to view the most spectacular sights than New York City.
From Thanksgiving until New Year’s, the Big Apple will be a holiday wonderland for natives and visitors. Here are a few of the best that New York City has to offer for the Christmas season.
The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree
The granddaddy of them all is the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, which has been delighting New Yorkers since 1933. The gala tree-lighting ceremony for 2018 took place on November 28 and will be lit every day from 5:30 a.m. until 11:30 p.m. through January 6 and for 24 hours on Christmas Day. This year’s tree, a 72-foot Norway Spruce donated by an upstate New York couple, is decorated by five miles of LED lights and topped by a 900-pound Swarovski star. On January 7, the tree will be lit from 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., after which it will be cut up into lumber donated to Habitat for Humanity.
If you want to check out this year’s tree, it’s located at the Rockefeller Center complex at 30 Rockefeller Center, between West 48th and 51st Streets and Fifth and Sixth Avenues. Insiders claim the best viewing spots are on Fifth Avenue between 49th and 50th streets. While you’re there, take a spin around the nearby ice skating rink. Open to the public, the rink is one of the best places to view the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. While this is not the only extravagantly decorated tree in town, it’s certainly the most famous.
Macy’s Christmas Windows
Every year, the Macy’s flagship store on 34th Street at Broadway and Seventh Ave. has one of the most dazzling holiday displays in the city, complete with Christmas music. For the kids, Santaland at the Herald Square store gives them the opportunity to have their photo taken with the jolly old elf and tell him their Christmas wishes. This 13,000-square-foot winter wonderland is open through December 24 and requires reservations. Professional photos with Santa go for $20.99 but you can also have one of his elves take a shot with your phone.
While Macy’s may have the most famous holiday display windows, the store has some serious competition from Barneys, Saks, Tiffany, Cartier, Bloomingdale’s and Bergdorf Goodman when it comes to lavish illumination. Saks on Fifth Avenue offers a breathtaking light show every ten minutes from 5 p.m. until 11 p.m. nightly. A stroll down Fifth Avenue or Madison Avenue is sure to deliver a variety of eye-popping window displays. Even if you plan to do all your Christmas shopping online (or already have), these store windows are worth a trip.
Christmas Lights at Dyker Heights
Every holiday season since the 1980s, this Brooklyn neighborhood has been aglow with Christmas spirit as private residences are decorated with thousands of lights and other ornaments. Every year, the lights and decorations get more elaborate as homeowners compete for the most eye-catching display in the neighborhood. Best viewing hours are between sunset and 9 p.m. with the must-see homes located from 11th Avenue to 13th Avenue and from 83rd Street to 86th Street. The easiest way to view this yearly attraction is by a guided bus tour that also offers a breathtaking view of Manhattan from the historic Brooklyn Bridge. If you want to see this unforgettable display on foot, be prepared to walk up and down dozens of city blocks, so bundle up.
Central Park Holiday Lighting
For the last 20 years, the Central Park Conservancy has been decorating the Charles A. Dana Center with thousands of twinkling lights to mark the season. Other attractions include carolers, ice carvers and Santa, of course.
Bryant Park Winter Village
This seasonal attraction offers a 17,000-square-foot skating rink plus 170 shopping and food vendors for one-stop holiday fun. If you crave more grown-up choices for food and drink, there’s the Lodge pop-up restaurant and an outdoor beer garden. Unlike most rinks in NYC, ice skating at Bryant Park is free, so just bring your own skates. The shops will be open until January 2, the rink until March. Bryant Park Winter Village is a great place to do your holiday gift shopping, especially if you’re looking for unusual items that you won’t find at the chain stores. The Bryant Park Christmas Tree will be lit for the first time on December 4 and may be viewed through the holidays. Bryant Park is located at 41 West 40th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues.
Time Warner Center’s Holiday Under the Stars
This state-of-the-art holiday light extravaganza features a dozen 14-foot LED stars dancing in time to yuletide classics, flashing more than 16.7 million color mixes. If you’re tired of all those traditional Christmas decorations, this display should be high-tech enough for you. The Time Warner Center is located at 10 Columbus Circle at Broadway.
More NYC Trees
One of the city’s oldest holiday traditions, the New York Stock Exchange Christmas Tree can be viewed at 11 Wall Street in Manhattan. The first NYSE tree was lit by President Calvin Coolidge back in 1923.
The lighting of the Lincoln Center tree at Dante Park on November 26 was the highlight of Winter’s Eve, which is billed as New York’s largest winter festival. Dante Park is located on Columbus Ave. at 64th Street.
The Astoria Park Christmas tree was lit on December 1 and can be viewed through the holiday season. It’s located on Astoria Park Lawn in Queens on Shore Blvd. between the Hell Gate Bridge and the pool.
This year’s lighting ceremony for the Washington Square Christmas tree takes place under the Washington Square Arch on December 5. The 45-foot tree will be lit from 4 p.m. until 9 p.m. The Arch stands at the foot of Fifth Avenue, at the entrance to Washington Square Park.