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
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more