‘Tis the season to enjoy the twinkling lights decorating holiday trees and light displays in NYC, some already underway, with the biggest of them all, the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, next week.
The best tree lighting ceremonies include FREE celebrity performances, photos with Santa for the little ones, even hot chocolate.
Here’s everything you need to know about tree lighting ceremonies, and we’ll share information about the nightly lighting of the giant Menorahs in Manhattan and Brooklyn for Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, next week.
Dress warmly for outdoor events.
An annual Museum tradition, the delightfully decorated Origami Holiday Tree and two merrily lit 19-foot Holiday Barosaurs welcome visitors to the Museum throughout the holiday season.
The theme of this year’s 13-foot tree is Oceans of Origami, with models inspired by the Museum’s special exhibition, featuring origami angelfish, lionfish, anglers, various sharks, whales, dolphins, tangs, eels, among other treasured models.
Volunteers, including local, national, and international origami artists, fold year-round, contributing to a collection of over 1,000 models displayed on the tree. Each year the 13-foot-tree features a different theme relating to special exhibitions or collections, which includes more than 34 million artifacts and specimens.
During the holiday season, volunteers will be on hand to teach visitors of all ages origami, the art of paper folding.
- Through Jan 13, free with museum admission.
NYC Tree Lighting Ceremonies in November
Sat., Nov. 24
Enjoy stilt walkers, live music from Guitar Center, Bubbledad and Glitter Tattoos from Krazy Plus Beauty. Of course, Santa will make an appearance and carolers from Opera on Tap will be singing us to the tree lighting at 6pm.
- 4pm to 8pm at 5th Ave. and Fourth St.
Mon., Nov. 26
The 19th annual Winter’s Eve Festival features folk music icons Judy Collins and Arlo Guthrie and the Guthrie family performing FREE, plus more than 20 FREE musical and dance performances, processional groups, a special area for kids’ entertainment and activities, ice sculpture demonstrations, food and more, including the annual tree lighting ceremony.
The tree lighting is at Dante Park, Broadway at 63rd., at 5:30pm.
- 5:30pm to 9pm, along Broadway, between 59th St./Columbus Circle and 70th Street.
Wed., Nov. 28
Knowledgeable visitors claim their space by mid-afternoon. This is the biggie, with live performances by the Radio City Rockettes and other celebrities. The holiday event will air on NBC from 8pm to 10pm, including performances by the Radio City Rockettes.
- This year’s tree will remain on display until January 7
Thurs., Nov. 29
22nd Annual Central Park Holiday Lighting
Celebrate the season at our Holiday Lighting in Central Park. Meet Santa and friends, sing carols on the Plaza, and warm up with hot cocoa and cookies. The event includes a festive lighting of a flotilla of trees on the Harlem Meer.
No large organized groups. Rain, Snow, or Shine. Strollers are not allowed on the Plaza. Stroller parking will be provided.
- 5:30 PM to 6:30 PM
- Location: Charles A. Dana Discovery Center, inside the Park at 110th Street between Fifth and Lenox Avenues
Celebrate the 95th annual tree lighting ceremony, in front of the NYSE, 11 Wall St., 2:30pm to 6pm.
Tues., Nov. 27
It’s not exactly a tree lighting, but Luminaries is one of New York City’s most popular holiday light displays, returning again in 2018 to dazzle 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.
- Winter Garden in Lower Manhattan, open daily to 10pm, through January 4th.
NYC Tree Lighting Ceremonies in December
Sat., Dec. 1st
The tree lighting is at 5pm, but the festivities begin at 2pm with train rides for the kids, a DJ and the musical traditions of Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa.
- On the Great Lawn of Astoria Park
Sun., Dec. 2nd
The tradition of lighting trees on Park Avenue began seventy years ago when several Park Avenue families wanted a special way to honor those men and women who died in World War II. Today the illuminated trees – which appear on the Park Avenue Malls between 54th and 97th Streets – remain a symbol of peace and a reminder of the sacrifices made to attain it.
The trees are traditionally lit on the first Sunday evening of December following a ceremony that serves as a reminder of the original meaning of the lights and a celebration of the holiday season.
- Lighting is at 6:30pm in front of Brick Presbyterian Church, Park Avenue at 91st Street
Get into the holiday spirit with fun for the whole family with live musical performances, photos with Santa (fee required), tree lighting, holiday crafts, and blowout sales at QBG Shop. All events are FREE except for a $10 fee for photos with Santa.
- Caroling and tree lighting is 5pm to 5:30pm.
Mon., Dec. 3
Starting at 5pm, guests will enjoy a variety of musical performances, free hot chocolate, and the countdown to illuminate the Seaport Christmas Tree. This year’s Seaport District holiday decorations on the cobblestones are designed by American artist Kris Ruhs, who has created the visual identity for the iconic Italian concept store 10 Corso Como, located in the Fulton Market Building.
Be sure to bring your Holiday cheer, as Santa’s Helpers will be rewarding enthusiastic guests at the Block Party with gift cards from $10 to $1,000!
Tues., Dec. 4
The annual tTree Lighting Skate-tacular returns with host Alan Cumming and performances by Olympic skaters Johnny Weir, Kaetlyn Osmond, Megan Duhamel and Eric Radford, and Jeremy Abbott.
- Starting at 6pm
Wed. Dec. 5th
The evening starts with Christmas Caroling at 5pm, with TheRob 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
Thurs., Dec. 6
This annual tree lighting ceremony includes festive performances from local groups, 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.
Thurs., Dec. 6
Join Historic Harlem Park, NYC Parks Movies Under the Stars, and The Morningside Park Conservancy for a tree lighting ceremony, winter recreational games, refreshments and film screening of the classic holiday film Elf.
- Tree Lighting – 5:30 p.m. , 113th Street and Manhattan Avenue
- Film Screening: Elf – 6:00 p.m., Ball fields at the south side of the park