Nothing is quite as magical as New York City at Christmastime. This year, Thanksgiving weekend through January 7, 2014, is the best time to experience the peak of colorful, creative decorations and holiday cheer.
These are our family’s favorites:
The Rockettes have been performing at Radio City Music Hall for 86 years. The Radio City Christmas Spectacular is a classic for all ages.
Rockefeller Center Plaza is where more than 30,000 lights illuminate the giant Christmas tree overlooking the golden Prometheus statue and ice rink. This year, the tree will be lit on December 4. Lights go out nightly at 11:30 p.m.
The breathtaking NYC skyline is the perfect backdrop for ice skating at Trump Rink (formerly Wollman Rink) in Central Park. Skate rentals are available for a nominal fee. This rink is a little less crowded than the one at Rockefeller Center.
Window Shopping on 5th Avenue or anywhere in midtown. Stunning store windows of Tiffany’s, Barney’s, Macy’s and other big retailers sparkle with hundreds of Tiffany diamonds, complex mechanical displays, entertaining optical illusions and elegant dioramas. Even the chiseled, bare-chested male models at Abercrombie & Fitch are out on the sidewalk in sub-zero temperatures.
Times Square is like being plunged into the middle of a Christmas tree on steroids. Enormous digital billboards, flashing lights and street performers all compete for the overwhelming crowd’s attention. Of course, this is where the annual New Year’s Eve celebration takes place, but if you feel claustrophobic in tight crowds, visits earlier in the season.
The Apple Store on 5th Avenue at Central Park South is simply an empty giant glass cube sitting in the middle of a concrete plaza. The store itself is below ground, but can be seen from street level. Even if the inside is too crowded, go just to see the outside—there’s nothing like it.
Christmas markets are a fun way to shop for reasonably priced, unusual treasures. We like Bryant Park on 6th Ave. at 42nd St. and the Holiday Market at Union Square, 14th St. at Broadway which have a wide variety of crafts, from crystal creations and handmade items to fun t-shirts. There are plenty of food vendors in the area including pretzels, hot chocolate and delicious ethnic foods.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral has been a NYC architectural and spiritual masterpiece for more than 130 years. This historic place of worship welcomes more than five million visitors every year from every nationality and faith. It’s a beautiful place to experience but also a wonderful place to worship, especially during the Christmas season.