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Where to see a tree lighting in NYC during the holiday season

Bring the kids to see performances and dazzlingly decorated boughs at a festive holiday tree lighting in NYC

Whether your brood wants to brave the crowds at the famed Rockefeller Center Christmas tree or take part in a more laid-back neighborhood celebration, there are plenty of spots to find a holiday tree lighting NYC families can enjoy together. Admiring the giant, glimmering Christmas trees is one of our favorite things to do with kids in NYC in the winter, and don't stress if you skip out on the ceremonies—most of these festive boughs will stay lit throughout the holiday season to illuminate the cold winter nights. Don't forget to head to some cool holiday train shows to continue the festive fun!

RECOMMENDED: Christmas for kids in New York

Where to see a tree lighting in NYC

Bronx Terminal Market Tree Lighting Ceremony

Thousands of LED lights will illuminate the pedestrian bridge at the Bronx Terminal Market to kick off the holiday season. The shopping center's annual Tree Lighting Ceremony will feature activities, entertainment, free hot cocoa and an appearance by Santa Claus himself. The festivities get rolling at 6PM; enjoy live performances and don't forget to get in on giveaways and a photo opportunity with St. Nick! All ages.

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19 Nov 2015

Origami Holiday Tree

Critics' pick

What if we said you could see an ultracool holiday tree inside your kids’ favorite museum? You’d say, “Heck, yeah!” The ornate 13-footer at the American Museum of Natural History makes a statement with a great theme every year, this season’s being “Mighty and Microscopic Life.” Check out 1,000 handmade ornaments inspired by the museum’s upcoming exhibitions “The Secret World Inside You” and “Dinosaurs Among Us,” plus try your hand at the art of paper folding with on-site volunteers. All ages.

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Until Sun Jan 10

Winter's Eve

Critics' pick

Families flock to the Upper West Side to usher in the holiday season at this annual bash. The fun-filled block party kicks off with a neighborhood tree-lighting ceremony and festive tunes from the Chapin Family in Dante Park (Broadway and 63rd St) before the merry crowd continues along Broadway between Columbus Circle and West 68th Street. Stop in at Kids' Central at Raymour & Flanigan (Broadway and 66th St) to hear high-energy tunes from the Dream Jam Band and get in on free craft projects, then check out live ice sculpting by OKAMOTO STUDIO and grab treats from area restaurants. Stay tuned for announcements about other musicians, dancers and performers bringing live entertainment to the sidewalks and public spaces surrounding Lincoln Square. All ages.

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Until Mon Nov 30

Metropolitan Museum Christmas Tree and Neapolitan Baroque Crèche

Critics' pick

The city’s most elegant tree is an exhibit unto itself, hung with more than 200 18th-century hand-sculpted Neapolitan crèche figures wearing jeweled and embroidered costumes. A traditional nativity scene and animal figurines of sheep, goats, horses and an elephant round out the display. All ages.

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Until Wed Jan 6

Festive Fifth

Critics' pick

Brooklyn's answer to the Upper West Side's Winter's Eve packs a Park Slope–style punch: Along Fifth Ave between Dean and 18th Sts (that's 30 blocks in all!), locally-owned businesses will stay open late for post–Black Friday shopping, but the real fun is centered around the tree lighting (6:30pm, Fifth Ave at 3rd St), where a real 20-foot tree will brighten the corner. Afterwards, sip free hot chocolate and say hi to Santa Claus as he makes his way down the street, giving out candy canes. Local children's groups and carolers from Opera on Tap will perform and line the avenue along with other live entertainment. Nearby shops will be decked out in holiday decor also stay open late for the occasion. All ages.

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Until Sat Nov 28

Bryant Park Tree Lighting

Critics' pick

Your family can take in Bryant Park's winter-wonderland transformation as the iconic space puts its festive tree on display. During the lighting ceremony on Dec 1, hear an original story called The Lights Before Christmas and watch a special Tree Lighting Skate-tacular performance on the ice rink, featuring stars such as Nancy Kerrigan, Brian Noitano, Johnny Weir, Meryl David and Charlie White and synchronized skating group, The Haydenettes. Get out on the ice during public skate, when live music from Jazz at Lincoln Center will be played. All ages.

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Until Tue Dec 1

South Street Seaport Tree Lighting

Critics' pick

Head down to Fulton Street for the annual lighting of South Street Seaport's holiday tree. It will take place on Tuesday, December 1 at 6pm in honor of Giving Tuesday, featuring live musical performances—a cappella group the Mistletones gospel youth group Livre', Connell Cruise and the Mariners' Temple Baptist Church choir included. Gaze up at the 60-foot Norway Spruce, decorated with a "Constellation" theme, featuring Old World sailor's tools, and don't miss appearances by American Idol winner, Nick Fradiani as well as Santa Claus himself! Come by Seaport Studios from 5–8pm to get a photo of the kids with the man in red. All ages.

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Until Tue Dec 1

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony

Critics' pick

An annual pilgrimage here never fails to remind us why we love New York City in December. A chance to gawk at this year’s behemoth, decorated with 30,000 LED bulbs and a Swarovski crystal star is well worth the fighting the crowds. The tree lighting ceremony will take place December 2.

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Until Sat Jan 2

Charles A. Dana Discovery Center Building Lighting

Critics' pick

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.

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Until Thu Dec 3

Carroll Park Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony

Join Brooklyn's friendliest park for a traditional tree lighting ceremony, caroling, hot cocoa and merriment on the Carroll Park ballfield. Afterward, stick around for food and fun in the Robert Acito Park House where kids can see the big jolly man himself. Make sure to bring a non-perishable item for the final collection of the City Harvest holiday food drive. All ages.

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Until Fri Dec 4
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