The holiday season is in full swing since Thanksgiving and there’s NO escape from it. Every corner store, even the smallest ones, have some kind of decorations. NYC during Christmas is an overkill, a season of overindulgence and a display of lavish decorations and consumption. The days are short but the lights keep the streets bright. This is not the place if you’re looking for a quiet Christmas getaway: One of the busiest cities in the world gets even busier! People and more people squeeze their ways through the malls, markets and subway. However if you’re open to the hustle and bustle this can be quite a unique experience! Here is what Christmas in NYC makes it so special:
1. Exploring the Christmas markets
Some of the most popular parks in the city turn into a magical Winter Wonderland for the season and Christmas markets are big hit like almost anywhere. My personal favourites are the Winter Village in Bryant Park and the Union Square Holiday Market because both offer a great variety of shops and food. Bryant Park also has a beautiful ice skating rink!
2. Admiring the decorations
Lights on! This is probably the most impressive part of NYC during Christmas time! There’s certainly no lack in pompous decorations like this one at Radio City…
… or this rather humble tree at Madison Square Park.
A real surprise was the Christmas Tree at the New York Stock Exchange! It’s one of the largest and brightest I’ve seen but there was very little people to admire it – a rare sight in NYC!
I really liked the giant stars inside the Time Warner Building at Columbus Circle. They constantly changed colours and were beautiful to look at!
This list would be incomplete without the Rockefeller Center, right? Another ten of thousands of people think the same. So if you can put up with the insane crowd, you probably might find something enjoyable looking at the most famous Christmas Tree in the world. Yes, it’s impressive and should be seen at least once when you’re in the city around this time of the year. However patience is the key. I quite don’t understand the hype about that ice skate rink though… Why would I line up for hours to skate in a tiny, crowded rink? (Yes I’m spoiled because we have a huge skating rink in front of the city hall in Vienna 😉 )
I can’t tell you how long it actually took to get this clear shot of the tree 😉
3. Seeing the window displays
Even if you’re trying to get away from all the shopping madness (like me), a look at the window displays of some of the famous department stores like Macy’s and along 5th Avenue won’t hurt 😉 Some of them make a big deal of these displays and I couldn’t quite understand that until I actually saw them. They come up with new ideas every year and are made with amazing details and precision (e.g. all the figures in the photo below were moving).
4. Riding the holiday vintage train
As much as New Yorkers like to complain about the MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority who runs basically all public transportation in NYC), the holiday train has become a popular attraction. Every Sunday between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day the MTA and the New York Transit Museum pull out some of their original trains from the 1930is to 70ies to not only show them to the public but actually ride them! For the price of a normal subway ride (USD 2.75) you can travel back in time and wonder about the old ads in the cars. There’s music from the past and real train and vintage geeks come all dressed up – so it’s quite a sight and shouldn’t be missed in my opinion! You can find the routes and dates of the vintage trains here.
5. Looking for the brightest decorated houses
There’s probably quite a few things you could say about America(ns) but one thing for sure, they aren’t humble! Especially when it comes to Christmas decoration, they don’t play. I don’t speak of the already generously illuminated public buildings and parks but the private homes in the residential neighbourhoods. Especially a cluster of houses in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, made a name for “competing” each other who has the brightest, craziest, most impressive decorations! Between 11th and 13th Avenue and 83rd and 86th Street you’ll find anything from tasteless-tacky to glamorous-festive and anything in-between. And again, this proofs: There are no limits in imagination!
Snow really sparks up the holiday spirit, so whenever it snows while you’re in NYC, get out and take a walk through your neighbourhood – you won’t regret it!
In this sense I’m wishing you and your loved ones Merry Christmas! What are your favourite things about the holiday season?
Also head over to these articles if you liked this one 🙂