It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and nobody does the holidays better than New York City!
Whether you’re craving a dazzling display of lights or a community gathering filled with good cheer, here you'll find a roundup of the top five places to let the spirit of the season warm your heart.
Fa la la la la!
1. Midtown Manhattan: Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree
Wheeled on to the plaza on November 11, this year’s 94-foot Norway spruce is the second-largest tree in Rockefeller Center history. When decorating is complete, the 14-ton beauty will be covered in 50,000 LED lights, and the nine-and-a-half-foot star will sparkle with a staggering 25,000 Swarovski crystals. The world-famous tree-lighting kicks off with a televised spectacular on Wednesday, November 30, and the tree will remain lit through the Festival of the Epiphany, ending on January 7. It's more than worth the death-defying trek through Midtown tourists to visit America's most famous Christmas Tannenbaum.
2. Gramercy Park: Rolf's — 281 Third Ave. at 22nd Street
A quaint German eatery most of the year, Rolf's in Gramercy Park transforms into a spectacle that must be seen to be believed during the holiday season. Beginning in November, nearly every square inch of the modestly sized venue is covered in holiday cheer, including more than 80,000 lights, ornaments, ribbon, greenery and dolls. Serving Bavarian standards like heaping plates of schnitzel, potato pancakes and wursts alongside hearty steins of beer, New York Magazine calls Rolf's "as much a December institution as the Rockettes and Rockefeller Center." High praise, indeed. Prost!
3. Brooklyn: Grand Army Plaza Menorah
Welcome the Festival of Lights with the lighting of the massive menorah at Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza. Billing itself as the world's largest menorah — although its crosstown, 32-foot rival at Manhattan's Grand Army Plaza might disagree — the enormous electrical candles will be ceremonially set aflame on each of Hanukkah's eight nights, beginning this year on December 24 at 7 p.m. Each night's celebration is accompanied by live music, hot latkes and gifts for the kids.
Hoboken’s City Hall is continuing its grand holiday tradition of filling the square with lights with lively menorah and Christmas tree lightings and celebrations. The Menorah will be lit first, on December 5 at 6 p.m., with donuts, latkes, dreidels and gelt for everyone. The Christmas Tree lighting follows on December 6 at 5 p.m., with hot chocolate and local children performing hip hop, dance and orchestral renditions of Christmas music standards.
5. Upper Manhattan: The Met Cloisters — 99 Margaret Corbin Dr.
Set among the natural beauty of Fort Tryon Park, The Cloisters museum houses the Met's medieval collection. It's no surprise, then, that the gorgeous, monastery-like structure is bedecked each year in traditional decorations recalling the Middle Age custom of Christmastide — the 12 days between the Nativity and the Epiphany. Constructed entirely from plant materials, the décor features holly, ivy and boxwood alongside apples, roses and hazelnuts, with many of the plants taken directly from the surrounding 66-acre park.