A Glorious NYC Holiday Season

With New York City’s 8.5 million residents, the holiday season in the Big Apple and surrounding area isn’t comparable to anywhere else in the world. Millions of locals experience the holiday spirit across this urban jungle in a variety of ways that even the most Scrooge-iest of people enjoy. Join us in cheer and splendor as we explore some of our favorite New York City holiday traditions.

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For a unique tradition, head to Rockefeller Center on December 17, to enjoy low brass Christmas medleys during the 44th Annual Merry Tuba Christmas Concert. The Tuba Christmas tradition began in 1974 in New York and has since spread to over 200 cities throughout the United States. Now, hundreds upon hundreds of tuba players gather together to play Christmas carols for audiences across the country.

In Germany, the Germans celebrate Christmas in the most magical of ways, and there is certainly no exception for Germans in the States either! For the most festive “season’s eatings,” head to Rolf’s, an authentic German restaurant, in Gramercy Park at 22nd Street and 3rd Avenue. From the holiday season until May (MAY!), the restaurant is decked out in the finest and most beautiful holiday decorations. Ornaments surround diners on all sides and even from above while this German restaurant celebrates the most wonderful time of the year. Nothing beats holiday spirit and tasty German foods and brews.

The world’s largest menorah resides in New York City, and for those looking to celebrate Chanukah, make way to the Grand Army Plaza to see this 32-foot, 4,000 pound sculpture ignited in light. 

One of New York’s most dazzling family-friendly traditions takes place each year at the New York Botanical Gardens during the Holiday Train Show. Here, over a dozen trains chug through foliage and a marvelous display of 150 New York landmarks- constructed entirely out of bark, leaves, and various natural goods. Displays below and above eye level enchant visitors in the mystical botanic gardens. This season’s Holiday Train Show will run until January 15, 2018.

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Another popular Chanukah tradition is “Chanukah on Ice” at the Lasker Rink in Central Park. Fun ice skating, live music, special holiday treats, and even an ice Menorah grace the event. For a very special sight, skaters should stay for the ice Menorah lighting. Tickets for this event sell quickly, so planning a trip to the Lasker Rink in advance is important!

During the holiday season, an outdoor winter oasis takes over at Bryant Park during the Bank of America Winter Village, transporting visitors into a charming village while never leaving the big city. New York City’s only free ice skating rink, special dining, artisan shopping stands, and other razzle-dazzle transform the area into a magical winter wonderland for all ages to enjoy. Special events, such as the annual Winter Carnival, college skate nights, scavenger hunts, children’s skatefests, a tree lighting ceremony, and other activities all take place at the Winter Village.

For fantastic sight-seeing displays, the iconic Fifth Avenue window displays never disappoint. They’ve come to be a staple in New York City yuletide traditions, and the displays in Bergdorf Goodman, Macy’s, Lord & Taylor, Saks Fifth Avenue, Barneys, Bloomingdales, and other stores all evoke magical Christmas feelings.

This year, take the family to the New York City Fire Museum on Spring Street for the event of the year: Chanukah Circus, as hosted by the Chabad of Tribeca Jewish Center and My Little School. Kid-friendly activities, like magic shows, crafting, a photo booth, balloons, face painting and other circus-themed events will delight children of all ages. For parents and children alike, latkes, donuts, cotton candy and other treats will also be available. The event costs between $50- $60 per family, so plan accordingly, but be ready to have an incredible time!

By Alex Fitzpatrick

By Alex Fitzpatrick

For mouth-dropping Christmas light displays, the Dyker Heights neighborhood provides incredible light shows. This family-friendly neighborhood continues the 1980s tradition of an unofficial Christmas lights competition where neighbors attempt to outshine one another with the most elaborate house displays, resulting in a spirited display that exudes feelings of the North Pole’s happiness and joy.

The Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre performs “The Three Bears Holiday Bash,” incorporating Christmas, Chanukah, and Kwanzaa traditions into this puppetry show. Spectators are invited to sing in songs that celebrate and honor the very diverse holiday season. While the event is recommended for ages 3 to 9, parents are sure to enjoy this encompassing holiday puppet show.

Every holiday activity in New York City promises to create lasting memories with loved ones. We’d love to hear about your seasonal traditions as well; share them in the comments below!

Owen M. McCafferty II