‘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, even hot chocolate.
Some trees already are shining bright, lit with fanfare, celebrity performances and wide eyed children, including the world-famous Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, last week.
Here’s what’s on the calendar this week and next, including the nightly lighting of the giant Menorahs in Manhattan and Brooklyn for 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
Trees and Lighting Displays already underway
- Rockefeller Plaza between 48th and 51st Sts
Brooklyn’s Park Slope
- Fifth Avenue and 4th St, Brooklyn
Luminaries 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.
- Brookfield Place, formerly known at the Winter Garden, open daily to 10pm.
- 19 Fulton St., South Street Seaport
- Where to eat in the Seaport area
Central Park – Celebrate the season at the north end of the park, with multiple glittering holiday trees, reflected in the Harlem Meer.
- Charles A. Dana Discovery Center, inside the Park at 110th Street between Fifth and Lenox Avenues
- Sixth Ave between 40th and 42nd Sts.
Also visit Brooklyn’s Park Slope holiday tree
- Fifth Avenue and 4th St, Brooklyn
NYC Tree Lighting Ceremonies Dec. 4-15
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.
Thursday, Dec. 7
28th Annual Light Up the Holidays – This celebration in Downtown Brooklyn includes live reindeer.
- 4pm to 6:30pm, 2 MetroTech Center.The after-party at Circa Brewing Co. is 6:30pm to 8pm.
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