by Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com
Nothing can stop the holiday magic so iconic to New York, and though this holiday season will be different, the spirit and cheer shines through with traditions and iconic events that have delighted generations continuing, albeit modified. This guide was compiled by NYC & Co.:
“New Yorkers and visitors are invited to mask up and safely enjoy this festive, holiday season in New York City, with less crowds, significant savings, and more outdoor activities than ever before,” said NYC & Company President and CEO Fred Dixon. “From ice skating rinks and igloos to colorful light displays, cultural exhibitions and holiday shopping, there’s no shortage of things to see and do.”
NYC & Company’s most ambitious savings program ever—All In NYC: Neighborhood Getaways—offers nearly 300 deals across accommodations, attractions, dining, retail, tours, available at nycgo.com/neighborhood getaways. Those who register their Mastercard can receive up to $100 total in statement credit when spending $100 or more at hotels and $20 or more at all other businesses.
Ynable to visit? You can still Shop NYC through purchases at nycgo.com/shopinnyc, including a roundup of e-commerce/gift cards, distinctive apparel and accessories, signature hotel items, museum gifts and memberships, food and gift baskets, souvenirs, books, music, games and more.
Additionally, Virtual NYC experiences are available online for those from afar to enjoy NYC this festive season, including live stream presentations from Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Carnegie Hall, Cathedral of St. John the Divine, Lincoln Center and more, available at nycgo.com/virtualnyc, along with a special holiday collection.
Here is a selection of holiday-themed events, attractions, markets, hotel offers, gifts and more, available this holiday season in NYC. For more information, visit nycgo.com/holidays:
Holiday Light Displays and Light Shows
Holiday Lights at Bronx Zoo, The Bronx, through Jan. 10, 2021: Enjoy five animal lantern safaris, as well as holiday-themed music, ice-carving demonstrations, costumed characters, stilt walkers, souvenirs, and seasonal treats.
Shine Bright at Hudson Yards, Manhattan, through Dec. 31: NYC’s newest neighborhood will introduce new holiday décor. By downloading an app, guests will be transported through augmented reality to the North Pole and Santa’s Workshop where they will be able to walk through mounds of snow, along candy cane lanes, pose for pictures alongside animated polar bears, elves, penguins, and Rudolph, and video chat with Santa Claus.
GLOW at New York Botanical Garden, The Bronx, select nights through Jan. 9, 2021
New York Botanical Garden will present a gorgeous outdoor light show, illuminating its landmark gardens and the Haupt Conservatory on 14 select nights. Enjoy artistic ice sculptures, music, roving dancers and more outdoor fun.
Lighting of the Menorah, Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn, nightly, Dec. 10-17
Holiday Light Show at the Empire State Building, Manhattan, Dec. 19-25. Featuring Carrie Underwood’s “Hallelujah” with John Legend, broadcast on iHeartRadio’s Z100 and LiteFM nightly at 8 pm and the light show streamed live via Earthcam.
Luminaries at Brookfield Place, Manhattan, through Jan. 8, 2021: touchless, motion-activated stations allow visitors to make a wish and prompt a magical display of lights and colors.
The Origami Holiday Tree at the American Museum of Natural History, Manhattan, through Jan. 10, 2021: An annual tradition for more than 40 years, this year’s tree features 1,000 colored origami cranes representing peace and good wishes as the City continues to be challenged by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Christmas Tree and Hanukkah Lamp at The Met Museum, Manhattan, through Jan
A magnificently lit 20-foot blue spruce that looms over a vivid 18th century Neapolitan Nativity scene. A spectacular silver Hanukkah lamp, gon loan from the Moldovan Family Collection, dates from 1866 in Lemberg (Lviv), Eastern Europe.
Holiday Express: Toys and Trains from the Jerni Collection at the New-York Historical Society, Manhattan, through Feb. 21, 2021: Featuring toy trains, figurines, and miniature models from the renowned Jerni Collection, Holiday Express transports guests to a long-gone era at the New-York Historical Society.
Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol at The Morgan Library & Museum, Manhattan, through January 11, 2021: Each holiday season, the Morgan displays Charles Dickens’ original manuscript of A Christmas Carol in J. Pierpont Morgan’s Library. The Morgan now advances the Christmas Carol manuscript by one page each season, and this year, the manuscript is open to Scrooge’s vituperative remarks about Christmas. Explore A Christmas Carol online and view other related highlights from the collection, and share in the festivities with a copy of A Christmas Carol available from the Morgan Shop.
Chanukah Family Experience at the Jewish Children’s Museum, Brooklyn, Dec. 13-17: Engage in projects, from designing a dreidel-shaped pillow and helping to create a Chanukah mural on a Menorah, to decorating a mouth-watering holiday donut or discovering the art of olive oil making.
Sing for Hope at Hudson Yards, Manhattan, through Dec. 31: Pianos painted by artists are played by Broadway artists and Juilliard students. In early January, all pianos will be delivered and donated to communities, homes and others who will benefit from the healing power of the arts.
Candlelight Tours at Historic Richmond Town, Staten Island, Saturdays, through Dec. 19: Intimate, small-group tours of select, decorated historic buildings illuminated by candlelight. In-costume interpreters demonstrate period customs from the 18th and 19th centuries, including games, songs, and traditional treats and beverages. Prepaid reservations are required.
Holiday Markets, Displays and Shopping
Window Displays at Macy’s Herald Square & Macy’s Downtown Brooklyn, Manhattan and Brooklyn, through Jan. 1, 2021: Thank you, Gracias, Merci, all multilingual expressions of gratitude is the theme for Macy’s flagship world-famous holiday windows, taking the form of a thank you letter to first responders, essential workers, marchers for equality and New Yorkers who showed their grit and hopeful spirit during a difficult year. Macy’s Downtown Brooklyn is also hosting a celebratory “Thank You” to the City.
Macy’s is also bringing Santa Claus to every home through Santaland, where children of all ages can take an interactive online journey through the North Pole and NYC, and take a virtual selfie with Santa himself, through Dec. 24.
Window Displays & Saks Lights Up Fifth Avenue at Saks Fifth Avenue, Manhattan, through Dec. 23: Saks’ theme for the holiday season, This is How We Celebrate, shines a light on the importance of spending time with loved ones and the different ways people and places celebrate.
Holiday Under the Stars at The Shops at Columbus Circle, Manhattan, through Dec. 24: Shop and dine under the 14-foot stars hanging from the ceiling, illuminated to the beat of holiday music overlooking Central Park, daily, from 4-7pm.
The Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park, Manhattan, through March 2021: Surrounding one of the most popular ice skating rinks in NYC, the Winter Village offers gifts and winter activities. For a festive cocktail or bite to eat, check out The Lodge Deck by Urbanspace.
Make Merry Holiday 2020 Shop at Nordstrom NYC, Manhattan, through Dec. 24. Daily Santa Snow Show at 2 and 6 pm.
“Give Happy” Holiday Campaign at Bloomingdales, Manhattan, through Dec. 31: The reinvented campaign features innovative activations with charitable components, digital experiences, new services, and holiday window displays.
Empire Outlets, Staten Island: Located steps away from the free Staten Island Ferry, NYC’s only outdoor outlets shopping destination with views of Lower Manhattan.
Ice Skating Rinks
The Rink at Winter Village at Bryant Park, Manhattan, through March 7, 2021
Enjoy the City’s only free, outdoor ice skating rink in Midtown at Bryant Park’s Winter Village, with reduced capacity to allow for social distancing. Advanced ticket purchases required.
Rink at Rockefeller Center, Manhattan, through January 17, 2021: The world-famous ice skating rink, with the iconic Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree as a backdrop, requires advanced purchase tickets (www.skatingatrockcenter.com). VIP packages with City Winery available.
Wollman Rink at Central Park, Manhattan, through March 2021
Outdoor Igloo and Winter Rooftop Experiences
City Winery at Rockefeller Center, Manhattan, through Dec. 31 (Reservations through Resy)
The Greens at Seaport District NYC, Manhattan, open-air rooftop venue at Pier 17
Igloo Bar at 230 Fifth, Manhattan, through May 2021
The Runway Chalet at the TWA Hotel, Queens
Winter Experiences at The William Vale, Brooklyn
Winter Dining at The Hoxton, Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Give the Gift of New York City
Shop NYC: Shop favorite retailers, hotels and cultural institutions online, with gift cards, e-commerce and other offerings.
Museum Gift Shops, Cultural Memberships and Subscriptions: Consider gifting a cultural membership/subscription or purchasing holiday gifts from one of New York City’s many world-class museums’ online gift shops, to support these beloved institutions while planning ahead for a future visit.
Junior’s Cheesecake: One of the most iconic desserts in New York City, a cheesecake from makes a great holiday gift. Send a holiday themed cheesecake like their Holiday Little Fellas Sampler or their Strawberry Swirl Designer Christmas Cheesecake.
Levain Bakery: Grab a gift card, merchandise or a gift box of Levain Bakery’s enormous and delicious cookies.
Li-Lac Chocolates: Manhattan’s oldest chocolate house, ships all over the world. Check out their holiday themed molds and goodies, as well as their NYC gifts like a chocolate Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, taxi or “Big Apple.”
Russ & Daughters: A New York City staple for more than 100 years, offers some of the most delicious bagels, lox, appetizers and baked goods. Ship that homesick friend a holiday brunch basket with bagels, babka, lox and more.
Zabar’s: Send a gift basket filled with meats, smoked fish and pastries
NYC & Company is the official destination marketing organization and convention and visitors bureau for the City of New York. For all there is to do and see in New York City, visit nycgo.com.
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