The holiday season in the city stretches from early December through mid-January. It is a frenzied time of year with so much to see and do. The city literally glitters with holiday displays and lights that make window shopping – and gift shopping – an experience to remember. The city becomes a magical place filled with hope and excitement.
Perhaps the most iconic symbol of Christmas in NYC is the Rockefeller Center tree. Ceremoniously lit the week after Thanksgiving, the tree can be viewed from all sides of Rock Center between 48th and 50th Street across from 5th Avenue. It draws huge crowds, especially after sundown, and it never fails to awe. Also on view is the ice rink where visitors can try out some skating moves or just watch people.
After the tree, it’s time to see the famous store windows on Fifth and Madison Avenues. Begin with Saks Fifth Avenue, which usually has a theme to its fashion windows, then head uptown to ogle at the jewelry displays at Harry Winston, Cartier and Tiffany, whose building façade is wrapped up and glowing in its iconic blue bow. Finally, at 59th Street, Bergdorf Goodman never disappoints. It is definitely worth walking a block to Madison Avenue to catch the displays at Barney’s and Hermes, even if it is freezing cold. And you can always warm up on the ground floor of any of these retailers (don’t worry, the intimidating security guards will let you in!) and feel the holiday spirit as you browse the gorgeous merchandise. If you are not with children, consider warming up with a cocktail in the elegantly decorated lobbies of The Plaza Hotel or the St. Regis. Those with children will delight in the food hall located below The Plaza where hot chocolate, coffee, sweet and savory snacks can be had.
For those looking to purchase gifts at a more practical price range, there are several outdoor Holiday Markets where you can shop, dine and enjoy the holiday spirit. The Winter Village at Bryant Park is magical, with an array of clothing, accessories, crafts, toys and other shops, dining options and even a skating rink. The Union Square Holiday Market is loaded with foods for holiday cooking and gifting, and an array of gifts ranging from jewelry to leather goods. The Holiday Market at Columbus Circle is similar to Union Square but slightly smaller, with more of a street fair feel. For some funky and unique gifts, check out Artists and Fleas at Chelsea Market (other locations in SoHo and Williamsburg), a pop-up bazaar representing over 30 local artists and craftsmen who display their work. Finally, the Grand Central Holiday Fair, located in Vanderbilt Hall inside Grand Central Terminal, offers one of- a-kind gifts by more than 70 vendors and is not to be missed.
If these are not enough lights for you, a ride to Dyker Heights, Brooklyn will exceed your expectations with its elaborate, professionally mastered home displays. The entire neighborhood, but especially between 11th and 13th Avenues and 83rd to 86th Streets, is lit up with jaw-dropping light displays and draws nightly crowds throughout the month. As they say, “only in New York!”
Wishing all The Connections’ readers a happy, healthy and glittering holiday season!