By Patricia Canole
There’s no place like New York City during the holidays! From the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, lighting the Tree at Rockefeller Center to watching all the animated figures in the Holiday Windows, it’s a month long wonderland of lights and magic. Let’s take a tour of a New York-style Holiday Season!
MACY’S THANKSGIVING DAY PARADE
On Thursday, November 24th the 90th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will parade down Central Park West and 77th Street to Columbus Circle along Central Park South to Sixth Avenue. From there it will follow Sixth Avenue to 34th Street and along 34th Street to Herald Square. More than 8,000 people take part in the parade, including clowns, balloon handlers, and marching bands, while many more line the streets along the parade route to see it in person. Since 1924, the parade has become an annual tradition and has been getting bigger and better every year. Get ready for giant character balloons, floats, cheerleaders/dancers, marching bands, celebrities—and Santa Claus! Don’t Miss: One of the most anticipated events of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade occurs the night before. The Balloon Inflation allows you to get up close and personal to watch technicians inflating nearly 25 parade balloons from 3 to 10 PM. The excitement begins at the American Museum of National History (just off Central Park West between 77th and 81st St.) where the entire family can see the balloons come to life. Info: macys.com/parade
RADIO CITY MUSIC HALL CHRISTMAS SPECTACULAR
Radio City Music Hall is most famous as the home of the legendary Rockettes and their high-stepping Christmas Spectacular which has been entertaining us since 1933. This year’s show—which runs from November 11th through January 2, 2017—won’t disappoint. You’ll see lots of favorites along with the Rockettes, as well as some special effects technology and updated choreography. Not to be overlooked is the return of the live animals in the “Living Nativity” and the Nutcracker scene. Info: 1260 Sixth Ave. (between West 50th and 51st Sts.); rockettes.com/christmas
The Tree at Rockefeller Center is hands down the iconic Christmas image and continues to attract visitors every holiday season. However, there are more trees to check out including the unique Origami Tree at the American Museum of Natural History and lots more.
ROCKEFELLER CENTER CHRISTMAS TREE
It’s the most celebrated of holiday trees and a classic destination for holiday visitors and residents alike. The 84th annual tree lighting will be November 30, 2016. The tree will remain lit and on display until January 7, 2017. Info: Fifth Ave (between West 48th and 51st Sts.; rockefellercenter.com/holidays).
HOLIDAY TREE AT BRYANT PARK
The tree at Bryant Park is decorated with over 30,000 LED lights and 3,000 custom ornaments. The annual tree lighting ceremony this year will be on December 2, 2016 and will be displayed through early January 2017. The lighting ceremony will also feature musical and skating performances. Visitors can enjoy free ice skating at Winter Village as well as holiday shopping. Info: Fifth and Sixth Aves. (between West 40th and 42nd Sts.; wintervillage.org).
ORIGAMI CHRISTMAS TREE AT AMERICAN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY
For over 30 years the AMNH has celebrated the joyous with its Origami Tree, this year decorated with the theme of “Dinosaurs Among Us” featuring 1,000 folded-paper works, constructed by volunteers throughout the year. On display from November 21, 2016, through January 8, 2017. Info: Central Park West (between West 77th and 81st St.; amnh.com).
CHRISTMAS TREE AND NEAPOLITAN CRECHE AT THE MET FIFTH AVENUE
The Met continues its holiday tradition with the presentation of its Christmas tree: a brightly lit, twenty-foot blue Norwegian Spruce featuring 18th-century Neapolitan angels and cherubs gracing its boughs. At the base of the tree is the crèche figures flanking the Nativity scene. The display is enhanced by animals and background pieces that create a beautiful setting for the Nativity, including a typical Italian fountain. The tree and crèche are on display from November 24, 2016 through January 7, 2017. Info: 1000 Fifth Avenue (between East 80th and 84th St.; metmuseum.org).
LINCOLN SQUARE CHRISTMAS TREE
On Monday, November 28, 2016, the 17th Annual Winter’s Eve at Lincoln Square—New York’s largest holiday festival will feature an evening of music, food, dancing and fun for the whole family. The highly anticipated event promises a new and lively lineup of legendary performers, up-and-coming musicians, dancers, street entertainment and more to ring in the holiday season and light up the Upper West Side. Bring your appetite and enjoy the food tastings at three different outdoor spots in the neighborhood. Info: Broadway (at West 63rd St.; winterseve.nyc).
A visit to New York City during the holiday season wouldn’t be complete without a view of the city’s department store windows.
BARNEYS NEW YORK
If you’re shopping along on Madison Avenue, Barneys windows are a must-see. Every year they show hip and stylish displays, accented with a dose of fun. Recent years have brought “live” performances to the windows. Info: Madison Ave (at East 61st St.; thewindow.barneys.com).
Holiday windows here are usually unveiled in mid-November and reflect the sophisticated design of Bergdorf Goodman. They not only feature high-fashion but authentic antiques: each a work of art. Put this one on your list of must-do. Info: Fifth Ave (at West 58th St.; bergdorfgoodman.com).
The holiday window displays are playful and before Black Friday so holiday shoppers can enjoy them throughout the season. The windows along Lexington Avenue are the favorites since they showcase an annual theme. Info: Lexington Ave (at East 59th St; bloomingdales.com).
LORD & TAYLOR
Every year this store features classic holiday window displays which are unveiled in late November. The colorful displays feature imagery and mechanical movements that make them both traditional and very enjoyable for families. Info: Fifth Avenue (between West 38th and 39th St.; lordandtaylor.com).
Every November, Macy’s has windows depicting animated scenes from of New York. In years past, Miracle on 34th Street and a Charlie Brown Christmas have created a stir on 34th Street. The windows are perhaps New York City’s most famous window displays and are always on view in time for visitors who are here to take in the Thanksgiving Day Parade. Info: Broadway (at West 34th St.; visitmacysusa.com).
SAKS FIFTH AVENUE
The holiday window displays are unveiled in late November and often feature playful animations. Conveniently located Saks Fifth Avenue’s windows are located across from the Rockefeller Promenade. Don’t Miss: Saks also produces a beautiful Winter Palace Light Show on the facade of the building during evening hours. Info: Fifth Avenue (at East 49th St.; saksholiday.com).
From November through the end of December you’ll find the best that New York City has to offer—unique gift items including jewelry, clothing, home goods, arts, crafts, antiques, electronics, and so much more.
HOLIDAY SHOPS AT BRYANT PARK’S WINTER VILLAGE
The Holiday Shops include more than 100 boutique-like kiosks offering lovely gift ideas from jewelry, decorative goods, local foods, and much more--for all ages. The Holiday Shops which are housed in Bryant Park’s custom-designed kiosks and will close on January 2, 2017. Info: Sixth Ave. between 40th and 42nd Sts; theholidayshopsatbryantpark.com).
GRAND CENTRAL HOLIDAY FAIR
Holiday Fair is the only one held indoors. This year, the Fair will fill Vanderbilt Hall with close to 100 vendors offering an incredible array of holiday gifts. Clothing for adults and children, handbags, hand-crafted jewelry and accessories for men and women top the list. Closes December 24th. Info: 42nd St. (between Vanderbilt and Lexington Ave; grandcentralterminal.com).
UNION SQUARE HOLIDAY MARKET
Over 100 merchants are on hand to bring you unique gifts. Hand-blown glass housewares; handmade leather goods; bags and accessories; and a good variety of handmade jewelry are just some of the items available. As in years past, there will also be nibbles and noshes throughout the market. To warm things up, treat yourself to a hot apple cider or cappuccino. Closes December 24th. Info: Southern side of Union Square Park (urbanspacenyc.com).
COLUMBUS CIRCLE HOLIDAY MARKET
This market is considered by many as one of the most elegant places for holiday shopping. Conveniently located near the entrance to Central Park, at 59th Street, shoppers enjoy walking around discovering one-of-a-kind items including art, jewelry, from local designers. Closed December 24th. Info: Central Park (at West 59th and Broadway; urbanspacenyc.com).