The holiday season truly is the best time to be in New York City. With so many things to do and see, it’s no wonder that it attracts tourists from all over the world as well as locals. New York feels incredibly festive from the creative window displays to the street decorations to the beautifully lit Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center.
If you happen to be in town during the time the tree is being lit, you should make it a priority to see the lighting ceremony, which is filled with cheerful crowds and live entertainment. This tradition, now going strong for over 80 years, has stood as a holiday symbol for New Yorkers and its visitors. On average, more than half a million people pass the tree on a daily basis, bringing together all walks of life. Jeremy Bines, a born and raised New Yorker, said “It wouldn’t be Christmas without coming to see the tree at least once,” as he’s taking a selfie with his fiancé. Another happy couple nearby mentioned they got engaged last winter in front of the tree, “What more romantic setting could you ask for,” Christopher Michaels said about proposing to his girlfriend.
If you prefer to avoid the crowds yet still see a beautiful tree, you can also have a nice sighting at Bryant Park. Bryant Park’s Winter Village offers free entry to ice skating (you do have to pay for the rental of skates or bring your own) as well as “Santa’s Corner” where you get a free picture with Santa Clause and they have tons of holiday shops you can browse and shop through. Daniel Nathan, a tourist from South Africa, said: “I truly love just sitting here and watching my children skate while my wife shops and I can take in all the New York Christmas spirit.”
If shopping is more your thing, have no fear because from Macy’s to Bloomingdales and every store in between there is something for everyone on your list. Not only do these stores have sales but they have beautiful, creative window displays that attract millions. At Macy’s Herald Square there is a “Mail your letter to Santa” mail post which is part of Macy’s Believe in the Magic of Giving campaign. For every letter a child drops in there for Santa, Macy’s donates to the Make a Wish Foundation. “We are blessed enough to be here during the holidays and with our families, it’s important to remember to give back,” said Isabel Torres, as her 5yr old daughter slips in a letter.
If you’re doing your holiday shopping down 5th Avenue, be sure to stay long enough to see, for the first time ever, their new light show. Playing from 4:30-11:30pm daily and every ten minutes in between, it’s truly a site for sore eyes. Natalie Pavlosky, a student from Moscow living in NY for less than a year, said she feels truly wonderful to be able to experience Christmas in NYC for the first time. When watching the displays on 5th Avenue all she could say was “wow.”
For those that prefer more mellow times during the holidays can catch the Rockettes in their annual Christmas Spectacular show at Radio City Music Hall. “You can feel the magic come alive on stage,” said Monica Mendez. She and the family make it a holiday tradition to see the Rockettes every other year, she said it is important to not forget the Christmas traditions and hope her kids will do the same with their children one day. Before or after the show, you can join fellow tourists or locals as they sip Serendipity’s infamous frozen hot chocolate, a must have anytime you are in New York. Also, as you are walking around the city do not forget to look up at the Empire State Building, during the holidays on most nights it is lit up in green and red.
So what does Christmas time in New York City mean to people? Lots of things; whether they are coming to see the tree for the first time or going ice skating at Bryant Park for their 50th time, Christmas in New York means happiness. No matter what they are doing or whom they are with, New York Christmas spreads a certain holiday cheer to everyone from everywhere.