Explore New York City

New York City’s Chanukah Celebrations

It’s the time of year when lights shine bright, and latkes are on the plate in NYC.

Chanukah, the “Festival of Lights,” commemorates the victory of the Maccabees against the Sellucid Greeks. It also recognizes the miracle of the oil that lasted eight nights during the re-sanctification of the Temple in Jerusalem. Remembering this miracle, a menorah is lit for eight nights with one candle added each night until all eight (plus the “helper” Shamash candle) glow brightly, and foods typically cooked in oil are enjoyed.

This year’s celebration lasts from December 18-26, overlapping with Christmas, and is filled with lights, delicious foods, and family-friendly events. If you’ve ever wondered what a hanukkiah (menorah) was or why everyone seems to be eating potato pancakes (latkes), chocolate coins (gelt) and jelly doughnuts (sufganiyot) during these eight days, here’s your chance to join in the festivities and experience the holiday yourself. 

Celebrating Chanukah in New York City

Menorah Lightings – Manhattan and Brooklyn

Two of the United States’ largest menorahs stand tall in the city and are lit each of the eight nights of Chanukah, one in Manhattan at the southern edge of Central Park at Grand Army Plaza and the other in Brooklyn at Grand Army Plaza. Each menorah is 32 feet tall and is made of 4000 pounds of steel. In Brooklyn, lightings are accompanied by live music, hot latkes and gifts for children. 

Kaufman Center

On Sunday, December 18, Merken Hall is the location for the Kaufman Music Center’s annual Chanukah celebration. This year, Zamir Chorale and Zamir Noded will perform under the direction of Matthew Lazar. The program will celebrate the first night of Hanukkah as well as the upcoming 75th anniversary of Israel with holiday favorites as well as music from Israel.

Jewish Museum

Celebrate the beginning of Hanukkah with artmaking and an exploration of Hanukkah menorahs in The Jewish Museum galleries. On December 18 from 11 a.m. – 3:30 p.m., capture your discoveries through drawing, collaborate on a giant light construction as a family, and re-mix everyday materials to design a holiday sculpture inspired by art in New York: 1962-1964. Reserve a time slot online. 

Agi’s Counter

At Agi’s Counter, the Jewish and Eastern European-inspired cafe and restaurant in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, Chef Jeremy Salamon celebrates Chanukah with a special Latke Soiree menu which includes a build-your-own latke plat. Latkes are served with salmon roe, sour cream, apple jam, herbs, and, of course, traditional (and housemade) apple sauce and sour cream. Add tour roe or white anchovies for a distinctive taste. For dessert, indulge in the restaurant’s coconut macaroons. 

Bubby’s

Starting on the first night of Chanukah, Bubby’s in Tribeca adds to their homestyle menu with potato latkes with applesauce, caramelized onions, smoked salmon and crème fraiche on the dinner menu.

Veselka

Late-night revelers know Veselka in the East Village. The Ukrainian restaurant has been addressing munchies and warding off hangovers with their hearty borscht and pierogis since 1954. But it’s their latkes that are a standout for Chanukah. Dense and packed with potato flavor without any trace of greasiness, Veselka latkes have mastered the art of the potato pancake. You can sit outside in one of their private booths with heat lamps or join the party spirit indoors with the cool kids.

The Regency Bar & Grill

Well-known among NYC’s power brokers, The Regency Bar & Grill on Park Avenue welcomes all with its Festival of Lights celebrations for lunch and dinner. Warm up your meal with a classic Matzah Ball Soup with carrots and herbs or a stack of potato latkes as you discuss the fate of the world and NYC business.

Zou Zou’s

Zou Zou’s is a lively and modern Eastern Mediterranean restaurant by chef Madeline Sperling at Manhattan West. For Chanukah, Zou Zou’s offers crispy latkes with frizzled thyme, taking further inspo from Chef de Cuisine Juliana Latif’s Jordanian and Lebanese roots.

William Greenberg’s Desserts

The lines are even longer at William Greenberg’s Desserts over Chanukah. In addition to their signature desserts, the bakery serves up latkes for your Chanukah meal. For more of a traditional sweet, Greenberg’s turns their beloved black and white cookies blue and white for Chanukah while still keeping the rich chocolate and vanilla icing. You can buy them as single cookies or packed as a gift box along with mini jelly donuts and Hanukkah butter cookies. Butter cookies are hand-decorated to represent the Star of David, Menorah and other traditional shapes.  

Mini Melanie

For a treat to please all ages, sister-run Mini Melanie from Brooklyn offers blue and white Hanukkah Cake Pops to celebrate the Festival of Lights. The perfect kids’ (and adults”) favor, one package includes six individually wrapped vanilla sprinkle cake pops with a silver sparkle chocolate shell, and six chocolate cake pops with a gold drizzle chocolate shell.

Breads Bakery

For the holiday week, the four Breads Bakery outlets feature traditional and unusual twists on holiday flavors. Try latkes in regular and sweet potato versions that come with sour cream and homemade cinnamon applesauce. And because we’re all deserving of a sweet end to the year, add some sufganiyot available with fillings like yuzu basil, coconut lime, strawberry and chocolate.

Zabar’s

Want a celebration at home or a gift to bring to your Chanukah dinner? Zabar’s sells Hanukkah-themed gift baskets, including a latke-specific insulated basket known as the “Lot A Latkes Box” that also comes with homemade apple sauce, Chanukah gelt, Chanukah cookies and dreidels. Other versions include a mix of Chocolate coins, chocolate babka, cinnamon rugelach, silver and blue chocolate-covered almonds, blue and white mini lentils, Hanukkah chocolates, a Hanukkah cookie assortment, blue and white cookies, Hanukkah candles and dreidels.

Katz’s Delicatessen

Katz’s Delicatessen offers a Hanukkah Dinner package featuring matzo ball soup, pastrami sandwiches, brisket sandwiches, mini latkes and knishes served with their signature deli mustard and chocolate babka for dessert. Skip the cooking and order this to go. 

Liebman’s Kosher Deli

During Hanukkah, 70-year-old Liebman’s Kosher Deli in the Bronx offers “bagel-sized” latkes, so popular that they claim to make more than 2000 each day during the holiday.