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Holiday trees and tree lighting celebrations in New York City

Enjoy festive entertainment as a family at holiday tree lightings or wait till the crowds die down to check out some dazzlingly decorated boughs

  • Metropolitan Museum Christmas Tree and Neapolitan Baroque Creche

     

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    AMNH Origami Tree

  • South Street Seaport Tree Lighting

     

  • Festive Fifth

  • Photograph: Filip Wolak

    Winter's Eve

  • Citi Pond at Bryant Park Tree

     

  • Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

     

  • Central Park Holiday Lighting

     

  • Carl Schurz Park Holiday Tree

     

  • Park Avenue Memorial Trees

     

  • Madison Square Park Tree Lighting

  • Holiday on the Hudson

  • Photograph by Ken Howard

    Washington Square Park Tree Lighting

Metropolitan Museum Christmas Tree and Neapolitan Baroque Creche

 

Whether your brood wants to brave the crowds at the famed Rockefeller Center tree lighting or take part in a more laid-back neighborhood celebration, there are plenty of holiday tree lightings to illuminate the cold winter nights. 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 through the end of the holiday season.


RECOMMENDED: Christmas for kids in New York City


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 second annual Tree Lighting Ceremony will feature activities, entertainment, free hot cocoa and an appearance by Santa Claus himself. Get into the holiday spirit with lively performances from The Soul Tigers Marching Band, The United Steppers and the Big Apple Circus and join a carol singalong led by the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club Chorus. Kids can decorate a holiday ornament with a craft project sponsored by the Bronx Museum or try their luck with 92.3 AMP Radio's prize wheel. The festivities get rolling at 5PM; the tree lighting and performances start at 6PM. All ages.

  1. Bronx Terminal Market 610 Gateway Center Boulevard, at 150th St, 10451
  2. Until Tue Nov 18
More info

Metropolitan Museum Christmas Tree and Neapolitan Baroque Crèche

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

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.

  1. The Metropolitan Museum of Art 1000 Fifth Ave, at 82nd St, 10028
  2. Tue Nov 25 - Tue Jan 6
More info

Origami Holiday Tree

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Around 1,000 handmade origami ornaments adorn the holiday season's craftiest Christmas tree. This year's theme is "Night at the Museum," inspired by the institution's supercool sleepovers and the films in which museum artifacts, characters and exhibits come to life. Kids should keep their eyes peeled for baubles representing a mischevious monkey, an Easter Island Moai figure and Teddy Roosevelt on horseback. All ages.

  1. American Museum of Natural History Central Park West, at 79th St, 10024
  2. Mon Nov 24 - Sun Jan 11
More info

South Street Seaport Tree Lighting

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Fete the grand opening of the Seaport Ice Rink with live music, family activities and the 31st annual lighting of South Street Seaport's holiday tree. All ages.

  1. South Street Seaport 19 Fulton St, at Front St
  2. Fri Nov 28
More info

Festive Fifth

  • Critics choice

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, for the first time ever, 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 free candy canes. Local children's groups and carolers from Opera on Tap will perform and line the avenue along with other live entertainment. All ages.

Winter's Eve

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Ring in the holidays in classic New York City style at this annual festival. The Upper West Side block party kicks off with a neighborhood tree-lighting and a performance by folk legend Arlo Guthrie in Dante Park (Broadway and 63rd St), and continues along Broadway from Columbus Circle to West 68th Street. Catch more music by children's crooner Suzi Shelton at the Kids' Central zone (Broadway at 61st St), where there'll be arts-and-crafts tables sponsored by the West Size Y and the New York Society of Ethical Culture, plus mini cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery to decorate. Head to the Time Warner Center (10 Columbus Circle at Broadway) for face painting, holiday-card making, live ice sculpting and performances from the Big Apple Circus. As your family ambles along the route, you'll find yummy grub from area restaurants like Boulud Sud and The Smith and sidewalks full of street musicians, jugglers, stilt walkers, ice sculptures and tons more cold-weather fun. All ages.

  1. Manhattan
  2. Mon Dec 1
More info

Bryant Park Tree Lighting

  • Critics choice
  • Free

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 2, look for skating performances on the ice rink and listen for accompanying live music. All ages.

  1. Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park Sixth Ave, between 40th and 42nd Sts
  2. Tue Dec 2
More info

Atlantic Avenue Tree Lighting Ceremony and Party

  • Critics choice
  • Free

You'll be inspired to deck your Brooklyn halls when you see this tree and window display centered around Atlantic Avenue through the ages. On Dec 3, the tree will be set aglow, the winner of the annual holiday window competition will be announced, and Rolie Polie Guacamole, and kids from P.S. 38 and 261 will perform. Keep an eye out for Santa and be sure to bring a wrapped book or toy to donate to children living in the nearby Gowanus Houses and Independence Towers. All ages.

  1. Belarusian Church 401 Atlantic Ave, at Bond St
  2. Fri Dec 5
More info

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

  • Critics choice
  • Free

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 45,000 LED bulbs and a Swarovski crystal star is well worth the fighting the crowds. The tree lighting ceremony will take place December 4.

  1. Rockefeller Plaza Fifth and Sixth Aves, between 48th and 49th Sts
  2. Thu Dec 4 - Wed Jan 7
More info

Central Park Holiday Lighting

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Central Park invites families to kick off the holiday season with a holiday lighting extravaganza: The Dana Discovery Center and a flotilla of evergreen trees on the Harlem Meer will remain lit through the holidays. On Dec 4, a lighting ceremony will include activities like live ice-carving demos, caroling, photo ops with Santa and a sleighful of cookies and hot cocoa. All ages.

  1. Central Park, Charles A. Dana Discovery Center enter at E 110th St and Fifth Ave
  2. Thu Dec 4
More info

Carroll Park Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony

  • Free

Join Brooklyn's friendliest park for a traditional tree lighting ceremony, caroling, hot cocoa and merriment on the Carroll Park ballfield. For the kids: stick around for an appearance from the big jolly man himself. All ages.

  1. Carroll Park President St, between Court and Smith Sts
  2. Fri Dec 5
More info

Carl Schurz Park Holiday Tree Lighting

  • Free

Head outdoors to scope out this festive Upper East Side tree. At the lighting on Dec 7, sing carols by candlelight, catch performances by Il Cantori choir and Orbit Brass Quintet, and indulge in gratis hot chocolate, cookies and candy canes. All ages.

  1. Carl Schurz Park E 86th St, at East End Ave
  2. Sun Dec 7
More info

Park Avenue Memorial Trees

  • Critics choice
  • Free

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. The tradition continues to this day, and each tree is strung with 25 strands of white lights. The tree lighting ceremony will take place on Dec 7. All ages.

  1. Brick Presbyterian Church 62 E 92nd St, at Park Ave, 10128
  2. Sun Dec 7
More info

Madison Square Park Tree Lighting

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Don your warm winter wear and head to this green space to partake in this 102-year-old city tradition. Kindie singer AudraRox will provide the soundtrack to the evening’s festivities; Hill Country Chicken and SD26 Restaurant provide the treats. Kids can get in on horticulture demos with Gardener Steph and hear a story from the Reading Rangers. The Tree of Light will be illuminated at 5pm. All ages.

  1. Madison Square Park 23rd St to 26th St, between Fifth and Madison Aves, 10010
  2. Tue Dec 9
More info

Holiday on the Hudson

  • Critics choice
  • Free

If your brood enjoyed Summer on the Hudson's blend of concerts, performances and other kid-friendly events, then head to West Harlem for its wintertime reincarnation, featuring a tree lighting, festive arts and crafts and a live musical performance. All ages.

  1. West Harlem Piers Park 125th St, at the Hudson River
  2. Sat Dec 13
More info

Washington Square Park Tree Lighting

  • Critics choice
  • Free

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 with the Rob Susman Quartet and meet Santa. All ages.

  1. Washington Square Park W 4th St to Waverly Pl, between MacDougal St and University Pl
  2. Fri Dec 12
More info


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