Name a more magical time than New York City during the holidays. We will wait… With the temperature dropping, sleigh bells are about to fill the air. Whether visiting or a permanent resident, grab the nearest camera and hit the streets of the concrete jungle. Check out these spots for the ultimate holiday bucket list.
Rockin’ Around Rockefeller Center
Perhaps one of the most iconic holiday spots in Manhattan, Rockefeller Center is home to THE Christmas tree. This year’s tree is an 85-year-old, 79-foot Norway Spruce, measuring in at 46 feet wide and 12 tons! More than 50,000 LED lights totaling five miles long will help the tree light up Rockefeller Center along with the signature Swarovski topper. The star is made of three million crystals and weighs 900 pounds.
After taking a picture at the tree, strap on some skates and glide across the ice at The Rink at Rockefeller Center. The tree is lit from 6 a.m to midnight daily and skating begins at 9 a.m. Book skating tickets at www.rockefellercenter.com.
Since 1933 – with the exception of 2020 – the curtain at Radio City Music Hall has been raised for showtime and holiday magic. The Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes, presented by Chase, has been a tradition for many. The iconic show includes a cast of 150 with 1,000 costumes and nine quick changes from The Rockettes.
Anyone that has seen the show knows of the red double decker bus, but did you know that it weighs seven tons? When not in use, the bus is hoisted 23 feet high in the air, stored hanging out of the way. The show will run through January 2, 2022. www.rockettes.com/christmas.
A Winter Wondervillage
Home to another must-see tree in NYC is the Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park. In its 20th year, the seasonal fun is back at 6th Avenue and 42 Street.
The free-admission rink is open daily and the Holiday Shops by Urbanspace has everything from food to craft artisan vendors through January 2. After shopping, head over to the Lodge by Prime Video for cocktails and food in a covered cove. For something a bit more private, igloos are also on site.. The park is open from 8 to 10 p.m. daily. Reserve a skate time or igloo at www.bryantpark.org.
A Stroll through the Park
Looking for another park to explore? How about Central Park? Take a horse drawn carriage while sipping on hot chocolate or a latte, or stroll through on foot. For those that are lucky, a fresh blanket of white snow will fall, covering the 843 acre park during the visit.
Bright Lights, Big City
Saks Fifth Avenue is known for luxury shopping, but during the holidays, its flagship location lights up the sky with a spectacular show. This year, the design for the center six windows on the ground floor were inspired by New York City children who were asked to illustrate what they look forward to with their loved ones this holiday season. The show is brought to life using 700,000 LED lights accompanied by a musical fusion of Christmas classics including “Carol of the Bells” and “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).” First Lady Michelle Obama was on hand for the unveiling ceremony, but if you missed it, be sure to catch the show in person now through January 4.
After all this sightseeing, a good meal is needed. Go on a restaurant tour, from BK9 in Brooklyn for some Caribbean cuisine, to a variety of chocolate martinis at Chocolat in Harlem, or stock up on treats at Harlem Chocolate Factory. FOr something more scenic, get that camera ready at SERRA by Birreria’s winter themed rooftop or in an igloo at 230 Fifth while sipping boozy hot chocolate.
With the return of the city’s shows, there is no shortage of options to choose from. Broadway is a given but from December 9-27, take the family to see Twas the Night Before… by Cirque du Soleil at Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden. Speaking of the Garden, the New York Knicks take the court on Christmas Day, a holiday tradition in NYC. Tip-off is at noon.
For something more culturally-driven, Kwanzaa: A Regeneration Celebration is taking the virtual stage on December 26 to kick off the holiday. Watch live at 7 p.m. EST with relatives from out of town, or on demand through January 3. Produced by Abdel Salaam’s Forces of Nature Dance Theatre, the show will feature performances from Soul Science Lab, Chen Lo, Asante Amin and spoken word performer Javier Gooden for a night of music, dance poetry and history. Tickets are pay as you wish, so be sure to tune in!