Booking Your Christmas Break: New York
Thinking of Christmas in New York City brings to mind iconic scenes such as ice skating next to the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center, watching a performance of The Nutcracker at Lincoln Center and strolling down the snow-covered sidewalks of 5th Avenue while marveling at the elaborate Christmas window displays and anticipating a visit with Santa. While these classic Christmas activities are often high on visitors’ lists, lesser-known alternatives do exist that provide unique holiday experiences without the overcrowding common to the more popular events.
Rockefeller Center Plaza is known for its huge, lighted Christmas tree, which has been an annual fixture since 1933. The Christmas tree lights number over 30,000, and crowds amass in late November or early December to watch the official tree lighting ceremony and gather throughout the holiday season to enjoy its splendor. For the more offbeat visitor, the American Museum of Natural History displays its Origami Holiday Tree from mid-November to early January. Less busy than Rockefeller Center, the museum gives visitors the opportunity to view this interesting tree at close range and examine the over 500 handcrafted origami decorations that adorn it.
The ice skating rink at Rockefeller Center Plaza is also a favorite Christmas destination for locals and visitors alike. While it is fun to watch skaters glide across its glassy surface, the rink itself is often crowded and may require a long wait for visitors wishing to get out on the ice. While still busy, the Wollman Rink in Central Park is larger and less crowded than Rockefeller Center, and Citi Pond in Bryant Park offers free admission and a more relaxed atmosphere than the popular, more expensive rinks.
The traditional ballet “The Nutcracker” is a must-see when visiting New York; however, the New York City Ballet’s version is certainly not the only show in town. Small and large ballet companies throughout the five boroughs stage performances of this classic, including the American Ballet Theatre and the Joffrey Ballet. Often these performances offer better seating for less money than an attendance at Lincoln Center.
When visiting Santa Claus, the first place that comes to mind is Macy’s Santaland. Made famous in the movie “Miracle on 34th Street,” Macy’s dedicates an entire floor to its Christmas wonderland, where fidgety children wait with patient parents for a brief encounter with St. Nick. While the 13,000 square feet of decorations are astounding, visitors hoping for a shorter line to see Santa may find success at Bloomingdale’s on Third Avenue where a smaller but no less impressive display awaits.
Christmas in New York City comes in many styles, not unlike the fashions worn by its inhabitants. However, as in fashion, sometimes the most popular option is not the right fit. Whether classic and traditional or modern and offbeat, New York City offers a variety of holiday events that will suit all types of visitors and provide memories that will last far beyond the season.