What’s that old saying? “All hearts come home for Christmas.” My heart will always be in New York for Christmas and there is nowhere more magical. Even hardened New Yorkers will tell you that the city has a new spirit once the giant tree is lit in Rockefeller Center. It is lit each day by 30,000 lights and will remain illuminated until the evening of January 7th.
The Fifth Avenue Department stores, Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor decorate their windows, as does Macy’s in Herald Square. Children line up with noses pressed to glass to see fairytales come to life through animation. In recent years, Sixth Avenue has also been decorated in high style from the animated toy solders which sit on the roof of Radio City Music Hall, to the big Christmas lights and large scale ornaments which fill the fountains in front of every office building.
Skaters can find seasonal ice rinks in Central Park at the Wollman Rink and Bryant Park. Even some hotels such as The Standard (High Line) boast a small skating rink, while those who would rather sip hot chocolate can do so at rink-side cafes.
MUST DOs for first-time tourists: Grab some tickets for the Radio City Christmas Show with the Rockettes. The show rarely changes from year-to-year but it’s a holiday tradition worth at least one visit in your life.
The NYC Ballet always stages The Nutcracker.
Finally, if you’re lucky enough to book a hotel room with a view of Times Square, celebrate the New Year in what is probably one of the most watched New Years Eve celebrations in the world.
Also take a subway and head to the Christmas Train Show at the Botanical Gardens in the Bronx. Old New York City is illuminated inside the crystal pavilion greenhouse and all of the buildings are erected in natural plant materials, as toy trains chug their way in and out, along a quarter mile of track. If you are there at night, you can cross the street and enjoy the evening’s light show at the Bronx Zoo and then over to Arthur Avenue to grab a great Italian dinner.