Timeout New York Kids

Make the most of your city

Christmas trees in NYC

Light up your life at these holiday sights.

The New York Botanical Garden
Tree lighting Sat Nov 20 4--5:15pm. On view through Sun Jan 9. Leon Levy Visitor Center at the NYBG, Kazimiroff Blvd at Fordham Rd, Bronx (718-817-8700, nybg.org). Travel: B, D to Bedford Park Blvd; 4 to Bedford Park Blvd--Lehman College, then take the Bx26 bus to the garden's gate; or Metro-North's Harlem line local to Botanical Garden. Free with garden admission.
Get back to nature at this early lighting as you take in the winter wonderland of the New York Botanical Garden. After the conifer gets lit, exercise your family's vocal chops by joiningthe Westchester Chordsmenin an old-fashioned sing-along of tunes from just about every tradition.

American Museum of Natural History Origami Holiday Tree
On view Mon Nov 22--Sun Jan 2. Central Park West at 79th St (212-769-5100, amnh.org). Subway: B, C to 81st St--Museum of Natural History. Free with museum admission.
More than 500 folded-paper decorations adorn the museum's Tannenbaum. This year’s theme is "discovery": The origami celebrates dinosaur digs, the exhibit "Race to the End of the Earth," and the tenth anniversary of the Rose Center for Earth and Space. Kids can view tiny rockets, dogsleds and dinosaur bones.

Metropolitan Museum of Art Annual Christmas Tree
On view Tue Nov 23--Thu Jan 6. 1000 Fifth Ave at 82nd St (212-535-7710, metmuseum.org). Subway: 4, 5, 6 to 86th St. Free with museum admission. No strollers on Sundays.
Inside the Met's Medieval Sculpture Hall, some 50 angels adorn a blue spruce. An 18th-century Neapolitan Baroque crche—composed of terra-cotta--and-wire nativity figures—crowds its base. A lighting ceremony takes place every day at 4:30pm. On Fridays and Saturdays, there are additional lightings at 5:30 and 6:30pm. All ages.

FREE South Street Seaport
Tree lighting Fri Nov 26 at 6pm. On view through Sat Dec 25. Pier 17, Fulton St at South St (212-732-7678, southstreetseaport.com). Subway: A, C to Broadway--Nassau St; J, Z, 2, 3, 4, 5 to Fulton St.
No, the 55-foot twinkling Norway spruce on the pier won't break into song—but local choirs (including the Big Apple Chorus, the New York City Gay Men's Chorus and the Young New Yorkers' Chorus) will serenade the tree's admirers with carols every Friday evening at 6 and 7pm, and on Saturdays and Sundays at 3 and 4pm, through December 19. Of course, the big party is on Friday, November 26, when TV personality Jill Martin hosts a lighting ceremony, with performances by singer Darlene Love and Big Apple Circus acts. Santa Claus wraps up the show with a parade down Front Street featuring the Soul Tigers Marching Band, Rudolph, Frosty the Snowman and elves. Kids can take complimentary photos with St. Nick from 6:30 to 8pm. All ages.

FREE Winter's Eve at Lincoln Square
Tree lighting Mon Nov 29 at 5:30pm. Dante Park, Broadway at 63rd St (winterseve.org). 1 to 66th St--Lincoln Center.
Ring in the holidays at this annual festival sponsored by the Lincoln Square Business Improvement District and Time Warner. From Columbus Circle to 68th Street, enjoy a block party with performances by Big Apple Circus performers and Kidrockers, and yummy grub from area restaurants (tastings cost $1--$4). The festivities kick off with a neighborhood tree lighting in Dante Park.

FREE Rockefeller Center
Tree lighting Tue Nov 30 7-9pm. On view through Sun Jan 2. 30 Rockefeller Plaza at 49th St between Fifth and Sixth Aves (212-632-3975, rockefellercenter.com). Subway: B, D, F, M to 47--50th Sts--Rockefeller Ctr.
Touted as the world's most famous Christmas tree (and who could prove otherwise?), this towering Norway spruce in midtown will be illuminated with more than 30,000 LED lights and crowned with a glimmering Swarovski crystal star in a gala ceremony on Tuesday, November 30. Celebrity performances begin around 7pm, followed by the lighting at 8:55pm (though if you want to have a view of the festivities, plan to arrive during the early afternoon). Tip: If your little one fits in a front carrier, leave the stroller at home. The crowds here are especially resistant to vehicular nudgings; it's better to slip between bodies like the Ghost of Christmas Past.

FREE Winter Garden at the World Financial Center
Building lighting Wed Dec 1 at 6pm.

220 Vesey St at West St (212-417-7050, artsworldfinancialcenter.com). Subway: A, C, 1, 2, 3 to Chambers St.
An hour-long version of New York Theatre Ballet's Nutcracker kicks off with a light show, during which the gorgeous glass atrium is illuminated with 100,000 twinkling bulbs.

FREE Battery Park City, South Cove
Tree lighting Thu Dec 2 5:45pm--7pm.
Battery Pl between First and Third Pls (212-267-9700, bpcparks.org). Subway: 1 to South Ferry; 4, 5 to Bowling Green; R, W to Whitehall St.
Join Battery Park City for its annual tree-lighting celebration. The festivities include live music from The Roches, cookies, cider and hot chocolate. Spread the good cheer by bringing a new toy or article of clothing to donate to kids and teens living in city shelters.

FREE Citi Pond at Bryant Park
Tree lighting Thu Dec 2 6-8pm. 40th St between Fifth and Sixth Aves (thepondatbryantpark.com). Subway: B, D, F, M to 42nd St--Bryant Park; 7 to Fifth Ave--Bryant Park.
Your family can take in Bryant Park's winter-wonderland transformation as the iconic space lights its festive 50-foot tree, festooned with 3,000 ornaments and tens of thousands of lights. Also look for performances on the ice rink from pros and synchronized skaters, and live music.

FREE Atlantic Avenue
Tree lighting Thu Dec 2 6--8pm. The Belarusian Church, 401 Atlantic Ave at Bond St, Boerum Hill, Brooklyn (718-875-8993, atlanticavenuebrooklyn.wordpress.com). Subway:A, C, G to Hoyt--Schermerhorn;2, 3, 4, 5 to Nevins St.
Deck your Brooklyn halls with boughs of holly at this fest centered around Atlantic Avenue between Hicks Street and Fourth Avenue. After Councilman Stephen Levin lights the tree, kids from P.S. 38 and P.S. 261 will lead caroling. Stick around for performances by Rolie Polie Guacamole and the Brooklyn Ballet, a visit from Santa, and complimentary treats from local shops. All ages.

FREE Old Stone House
Tree lighting: Sat Dec 4 at 5:30pm. On view through Sun Jan 2. FifthAve between 3rd and 4th Sts, Park Slope, Brooklyn (718-768-3195, parkslopefifthavenuebid.com). Subway: F, R to Fourth Ave--9th St; R to Union St.
Take a trip back in time at the Old Stone House, a reconstruction of a Dutch farmhouse from 1699. It won't be a bunch of old fogies lighting the tree, though—music and good cheer are promised for all! All ages.

FREE Little Italy
Tree lighting Sat Dec 4 at 6:30pm. On view through Sun Jan 2.
Most Precious Blood Church, 109 Mulberry St between Canal and Hester Sts (212-302-0551, littleitalyguide.com). Subway: D, F to Broadway--Lafayette St;N, R to Prince St;6 to Spring St.
Take advantage of more than just the pasta in Little Italy on December 4. As part of a three-weekend-long Christmas celebration, "America's authentic Italian neighborhood" will light its festive, 20-foot-tall tree. Singer-actor Gianni Russo (who played Marlon Brando's son-in-law in The Godfather) presides over the ceremony, which includes a concert featuring singers Giada Valenti, Jimmy Alleva and Jenna Esposito. All ages.

FREE Charles A. Dana Discovery Center
Building lighting Sun Dec 5 3--5pm. On view through Fri Dec 31.
Charles A. Dana Discovery Center, Central Park, enter park from 110th St between Malcolm X Blvd (Lenox Ave) and Fifth Ave(212-310-6600, centralparknyc.org). Subway: 2, 3 to 110th St--Central Park North.
So it's not exactly a tree lighting: The Central Park center lights up its facade with thousands of tiny LED lights. Before the illumination, kids can chat with Santa, decorate cookies and craft ornaments to hang on their home spruces. Live music keeps the atmosphere festive. All ages.

FREE Carl Schurz Park
Tree lighting Sun Dec 5 at 5pm. On view through Fri Jan 7. East End Ave at 86th St (212-459-4455, carlschurzparknyc.org). Subway: 4, 5, 6 to 86th St.
At this outdoor gathering, your family can watch the park's tree light up, enjoy performances by Cantori New York and Orbit Brass Quintet, and indulge in gratis hot chocolate, cookies and candy canes. All ages.

FREE Park Avenue Memorial Trees
Tree lighting Sun Dec 5 at 6:30pm. On view through Sun Jan 16. The Brick Presbyterian Church, Park Ave at 91st St (212-705-4237, fundforparkavenue.org). Subway: 4, 5, 6 to 86th St.
Every year since 1945, the firs that line the Park Avenue Malls have been lit to honor those whose lives were lost while serving in our nation's wars. This year's batch of trees will be lit following a ceremony at the Brick Presbyterian Church.

FREE Madison Square Park
Tree lighting Tue Dec 7 at 4:30pm. On view through Sat Jan 1. 26th St at Fifth Ave (212-538-1884, madisonsquarepark.org). Subway: N, R, 6 to 23rd St.
In 1912, this park lit the first community Christmas tree in America. According to the park's conservancy, a wealthy local organized the ceremony when a visitor told him of "his loneliness...during the holiday season." The lighting retains its neighborly vibe, with free cocoa and a performance by kindie band AudraRox.

FREE Brooklyn Borough Hall
Tree lighting: Tue Dec 7 at 5pm.
209 Joralemon St between Adams and Court Sts, Downtown Brooklyn (brooklyn-usa.org). Subway: 2, 3, 4, 5 to Borough Hall.
"The fir remains green throughout the year," says Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. "Most Brooklynites are kind of like that tree: We hail from nearly a hundred nations [yet] we are the global model for living in harmony." You heard the man. Now get thee to Borough Hall, for a multicultural tree-lighting ceremony featuring refreshments and excerpts from The Nutcracker by the Brooklyn Ballet.

FREE New York Stock Exchange
Tree lighting Tue Dec 7 at 5pm. On view through Sat Jan 8. Broad St between Exchange Pl and Wall St (212-656-3000, nyse.com). Subway: J, Z to Broad St; 2, 3 to Wall St.
The Financial District celebrates the season too: Head downtown to see this tall Norway spruce, decked out in 3,300 white LED lights and 250 decorative balls. WCBS-TV New York news anchor Dana Tyler hosts the festivities, which include a merry performance by the cast of Broadway's Elf.

FREE Washington Square Park
Tree Lighting Tue Dec 7 at 6pm. Washington Sq North at Fifth Ave (212-252-3621, washingtonsquarenyc.org). Subway: A, C, E, B, D, F, M to W 4th St.
If your tots can't get enough of caroling, take them to this year's lighting of the 45-foot fir under the Washington Square Arch, where they can fa-la-la along with song leader Mary Hurlbut, the Rob Susman Brass Quartet and Santa, and leaf through complimentary songbooks (just in case they've forgotten the words to their favorite tunes).

FREE Morningside Park
Tree lighting Thu Dec 9 3:30--5pm. 121st St at Morningside Ave (212-937-3883, morningsidepark.org). Subway: A, C, B, D to 125th St. Join the Friends of Morningside Park as they light the park's giant sequoia for the holidays.

FREE St. Nicholas Park
Tree lighting Sat Dec 11 5--6:30pm. St. Nicholas Park Plaza, enter park from St. Nicholas Ave at 135th St (stnicholaspark.org). Subway: B, C to 135th St.
Local luminaries, including Tamara Tunie from Law & Order: SVU and students from the Harlem School of the Arts, will perform, and Saint Nick himself will drop by to celebrate the illumination. All ages.

FREE Peace Tree at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine
Tree lighting Fri Dec 17 at 11am. On view through Thu Jan 6. 1047 Amsterdam Ave at 112th St (212-316-7540, stjohndivine.org). Subway: 1 to 110th St.
As it has for nearly 30 years, the colossal cathedral decorates its 20-foot tree with about 500 paper cranes (in Asia a symbol of harmony, longevity and reconciliation). The tradition was inspired by 11-year-old Hiroshima survivor Sadako Sasaki, immortalized in the book Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, who succumbed to radiation-related cancer before she could finish folding 1,000 origami cranes.

See more...

* Department store holiday displays
* Holiday fun

Share your thoughts
  1. * mandatory fields