There's no shortage of stunning holiday displays all around New York City. Whether you're in search of bright lights, fabulous fir or something truly thrilling, you're sure to find it in NYC. Here are some of our favorites.
Starting November 29, Brookfield Place presents its “Luminaries” display. Hundreds of lanterns will bathe the collection in a canopy of light. Visitors can activate wishes via a touchless screen and customize their own light show with music as part of the experience. “Luminaries” was created by the LAB at Rockwell Group.
Hudson Yards brings back “Shine Bright” to New York City this holiday season. The returning display consists of over two million lights on over 115 miles of string. The illuminating experience creates a sparkling forest for visitors with 725 evergreen trees and a centerpiece hot air balloon suspended in The Great Room. “Shine Bright” is presented by Wells Fargo.
Department Store Displays
Saks Fifth Avenue
The music and light show on the façade of Saks Fifth Avenue is a must-see, and you can’t miss the festively wrapped building—you’ve probably seen it all over social media. Support the stores, if you can, by shopping in person and acknowledging their good work for the year.
The holiday windows at Bloomingdale’s turn and sparkle with colors and glitter. The window displays at Macy’s Herald Square are a showstopper as well, and the famous department store’s windows always feature scenes from the classic film Miracle on 34th Street, among other displays. Make sure to check online for more details.
Rising 70 to 100 feet tall and reached by a path of illuminated, trumpet-blowing angels, the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is the grandfather of holiday evergreens and never fails to thrill, even after 81 years. The tree-lighting ceremony, a celebrity-studded event interspersed with musical numbers, takes place on December 4. Keep the kids up late and head to 30 Rock in the evening (lights out isn’t until 11:30 pm most days throughout the season) if you want to avoid the most intense crowds and really get to gaze.
Avenue of the Americas
Once you’ve had your fill of fir, head west to the stretch of giant office towers on Sixth Ave., aka the Avenue of the Americas, from W. 47th St. to W. 52nd St., each building seems to compete with the next for the most ingenious, outsized decorations in its front plaza: giant red ornaments, gargantuan Christmas lights, skyscraper-high toy soldiers and a humongous toy train.
Fifteen blocks uptown, Lincoln Center rivals Rockefeller Plaza for holiday spirit. The dominant tree of the Upper West Side, with thousands of lights and ornaments, is lit on December 2 during the 14th annual Winter’s Eve at Lincoln Square festival. The celebration starts at 5:30 pm in Dante Park, a patch of green across from Lincoln Center. It stretches along Broadway, from the Time Warner Center on Columbus Circle to W. 68th St., with Broadway and jazz artists performances, food from local eateries, and ice sculpting.
South Street Seaport
Elsewhere in Manhattan, you can enjoy some of the most creative conifers without encountering Jurassic Park-size crowds. The South Street Seaport Christmas Tree (actually a steel structure covered in greens, adorned with thousands of LED lights), for instance, makes its post-Superstorm Sandy comeback with the opening of a brand-new skating rink. After a twirl on the ice—the rink is free, though there is a skate-rental fee—grab a drink or a bite to eat at any of the restaurants surrounding the Seaport.