It's the most wonderful time of the year, and by "it" we mean the holidays in New York! Just a few weeks after all the Halloween events wrap for the season, as soon as Santa makes his way down “The Great White Way” in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the best attractions turn into illuminated winter wonderlands, decked out with Christmas trees, holiday windows and twinkling lights.
From historical landmarks to newer destinations, here are the PANhattan team’s recommended NYC attractions for locals and tourists alike:
1. UNION SQUARE HOLIDAY MARKET
(Photo Credit: Union Square Partnership; follow unionsuqareny)
If there’s one alfresco shopping event worth braving the cold for, it’s this one. This European-style winter market boasts more than 150 local and national vendors hawking an impressive selection of handcrafted gifts, ranging from jewelry and accessories to leather goods and artwork. It doesn’t disappoint the foodie crowd either, with pop-ups from Momofuku Milk Bar. Bar Suzette and more, you could pass the entire day away here.
2. ROCKEFELLER CENTER CHRISTMAS TREE
(Photo Credit: Rockefeller Center; follow rockcenternyc)
Probably the most iconic stop on the NY Holiday Landmark Tour is the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. Since 1931, when construction workers building the art deco center of media and commerce first put up a tree, locals and tourists have flocked to Midtown to bathe in the glow and get in the holiday spirit. This year, the 78-foot, 10-ton Norway Spruce is illuminated in more than 45,000 LED lights and topped with a star boasting 25,000 Swarovski crystals, with more than 1 million facets.
Fun fact: Unlike most of us who haul our trees to the curb at the end of the season, the Rock Center tree will be upcycled, milled into lumber that goes toward a home to be built by Habitat for Humanity. So, think of your visit as a chance to see someone’s holiday wish about to come true.
3. HOLIDAY TRAIN SHOW
(Photo Credit: New York Botanical Garden website)
Enchanting model trains zip through a display of 150 landmarks, each recreated with bark, leaves, and other natural materials – all under the twinkling glow of the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx. In its twenty-sixth year, model train aficionados can marvel at G-scale locomotives humming along amid familiar sights such as the Brooklyn Bridge, Statue of Liberty, and Rockefeller Center on nearly a half-mile of track. This year’s exhibition showcases Midtown Manhattan’s iconic skyscrapers and other architectural wonders, featuring new replicas of the Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, General Electric Building, and St. Bartholomew’s Church.
4. DYKER HEIGHTS CHRISTMAS LIGHTS
(Photo Credit: dykerheightschristmaslights)
Out of all the yuletide hoopla that “The City” offers, nothing is as over the top as the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights. With monikers like “Con Ed’s warmest heartthrob,” and the “undisputed capital of Christmas pageantry,” this is an experience that garners participation from the entire community. Since the early 1980s, hundreds of thousands of people flock each year to take in the spectacles that grow more elaborate with each passing season.
5. WOLLMAN RINK IN CENTRAL PARK
Ice skating is a long-standing and beloved tradition in Central Park – as old as the park itself. Wollman Rink was opened in 1949 and has been a favorite attraction of Central Park ever since. In the fall and winter, ice skating at this 33,000-square foot rink is one of the most popular things for New Yorkers and tourists to do. You can glide across the ice under a star-covered sky while surrounded by the splendor of the Manhattan skyline.
And if you’re not tired from all of the holiday hub-bub, the PANhattan team highly recommends grabbing a hot toddy or beverage of your choice and belting out some holiday cheer at Radio Star Karaoke where we cut loose last week! From our growing family to yours, Happy Holidays!