‘Tis the season to enjoy the twinkling lights decorating holiday trees and light displays in NYC, beginning this weekend. The best tree lighting ceremonies include FREE entertainment, photos with Santa for the little ones, and even hot chocolate.
Here’s your complete guide to tree lighting ceremonies and other holiday lights around town, beginning this weekend, including the lights of Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights. Dress warmly for outdoor events.
- Where to find the best NYC holiday markets
- How to get an appointment to see Santa at Macy’s Santaland
- Where to see the best holiday lights in the rest of New York State, from our friends at I Love NY
NYC Lighting Ceremonies Nov. 25-30
Saturday, Nov 25 – Park Slope Small Business Saturday Tree Lighting
This annual tree lighting ceremony includes live music, puppeteers, and the kiddies can pose for photos with Santa Claus.
- Fifth Avenue and 4th St, Brooklyn; 6:30–7:30pm.
Also Saturday, Nov. 25 – Light the Lights in Inwood
This family-friendly event celebrates Small Business Saturday, and includes live entertainment, Santa, a toy drive for the children of Puerto Rico, and the lighting of decorations throughout the neighborhood.
- Where to donate to help hurricane victims in Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands and elsewhere in the Caribbean
- Noon to 3pm, Dyckman St. and Broadway
Monday, Nov. 27 – Winter’s Eve at Lincoln Center
This 18-year-old celebration ranges over several blocks of the Upper West Side. It begins with the lighting of the holiday tree in Dante Park (Broadway and 63rd St) and continues with artists, musicians, dancers and street performers at various locations to Columbus Circle. Also, more than 30 of Lincoln Center’s restaurants will offer food tastings for $1 to $4, and local stores will be providing more festive cheer and activities throughout the evening as well.
- Columbus Ave and 63rd St; 5:30–9pm.
Tuesday, Nov. 28 – Luminaries
Okay, this isn’t a tree lighting ceremony, but it is one of New York City’s most popular holiday light displays, dazzling us with ever-changing color covering the canopy of the ten-story, glass-enclosed Winter Garden. Its 650 giant LED lights are controlled by visitors, for a unique and ever-changing show of dancing colors and intensity. Three glowing Wishing Stations allow guests to send a “wish” to the lanterns above by placing their hands on the touch-sensitive stations. Luminaries opens with a FREE a party offering up holiday sweets, performances, and ice-skating, and is on display through the end of January.
- Brookfield Place, formerly known at the Winter Garden, open daily to 10pm.
- Rockefeller Plaza between 48th and 51st Sts; 7pm–9pm.
The Seaport District presents its 33rd annual tree lighting, featuring a 60-foot Norway spruce decorated in a “constellation” theme in honor of the neighborhood’s long nautical history and the tools that European sailors would use when traveling the globe. The ceremony begins at 6:30pm and includes live performances from America’s Got Talentwinner Grace VanderWaal, and the Gospel Choir of Harlem. The Hester Street Fair Outpost holiday market is open late for gift shopping, too.
- 6:30pm to 7:30pm at 19 Fulton St., South Street Seaport
Thursday, Nov. 30 – Central Park
Celebrate the season at the 21st Annual Holiday Lighting in Central Park. Meet Santa and friends, watch a live ice carving demonstration, sing carols on the Plaza, and warm up with hot cocoa and cookies. The event concludes with lighting a flotilla of trees on the Harlem Meer.
- 5:30pm to 6:30pm at the Charles A. Dana Discovery Center, inside the Park at 110th Street between Fifth and Lenox Avenues
Also Thursday, Nov. 30 – Museum at Eldridge Street
Celebrate Hanukkah, the Festival of Light, with the lighting of more than 100 menorahs, at the opening of a new exhibition, There Be Light, when more than 100 menorahs will shine bright in the historic sanctuary of this Lower East Side synagogue museum. The menorahs are the collection of Lori and David Moore, who have made a family tradition of acquiring at least one menorah a year, and include traditional designs as well as now quirky pieces shaped like baseball diamonds, giant matchbooks, and Mahjongg tiles. FREE. The collection will be on display through the end of the year.
- 6pm to 8pm at Museum at Eldridge Street, 12 Eldridge Street, near East Broadway.
NYC Tree Lighting Ceremonies Dec. 1-15
- Starting at 6pm, Bryant Park, Sixth Ave between 40th and 42nd Sts.
Wednesday, Dec. 6 – Washington Square Park
The evening starts with Christmas Caroling at 5pm, with The Rob Susman Brass Quartet and children and grown-ups alike sing holiday songs. No worries if you don’t know the words – the Washington Square Association provides complimentary songbooks. The tree is lit at 6pm. Note – there’s traditional caroling again at 5pm on Christmas Eve . The multi-colored lights on the resplendent tree will be turned on to mark the beginning of festive winter evenings. Santa Claus himself usually appears to lead the children in the illumination countdown. The Washington Square Association provides complimentary songbooks.
- Under the Arch at Washington Square Park, Fifth Ave. and Washington Square, 5pm-6:30
Thursday, Dec. 7 – Madison Square Holiday
This annual tree lighting ceremony includes festive performances from The Sweetback Sisters, the New York Life Singers, and Audra Rox, a seed packet activity with Gardener Steph, and more, including free hot soup to warm up. Tree lighting is at 4:55pm.
- Madison Square Park, Fifth Ave. bet. 23rd and 26th Sts.
Saturday, Dec. 9 – Holiday on the Hudson
Bundle up because this celebration is along the Hudson River, with music, including Christmas carols performed by Barnard Bacchante after the tree is lit, and more. Hot chocolate will be served (while supplies last), so make sure to bring your own mug.
- West Harlem Piers, 125th St. and Marginal Ave., 4:30-6:30pm
Every Evening, Dec. 12 to Dec. 19 – Hanukkah Menorah Lighting
World’s Largest Menorah – Join the FREE nightly lighting ceremonies at the 32-foot-high, gold-colored, 4,000-pound steel holiday icon, at the Grand Army Plaza of Central Park, better known as the area between the front of the The Plaza hotel and the Apple store on the other side of Fifth Avenue. Lightings are at sunset, around 5:30pm, although it’s earlier on Friday (3:30pm) before the Sabbath, and later on Saturday (after the Sabbath). Fifth Ave., at 59th St.
Largest Menorah – Also 32 feet tall, and equally impressive, but not in the Guinness World Records, so it is just called “largest” not “world’s largest”. Lighting times are the same. In addition to singing and dancing, on the first night there will be free hot latkes. At Grand Army Plaza, Prospect Park, Brooklyn. Sponsored by Chabad Park Slope and also FREE