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Holiday trees and tree lighting celebrations in New York City

Enjoy festive entertainment at a family-friendly tree lighting celebration 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 tree lighting ceremonies to illuminate the cold winter nights. 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


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. Mon Jan 6
More info

Origami Holiday Tree

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

More than 500 handmade origami ornaments adorn the holiday season's craftiest Christmas tree. This year's theme is "Museum’s Collections," so keep your eyes peeled for baubles representing exhibits and creatures from the AMNH’s trove, including lemurs, spiders, monkeys and even crows. All ages.

  1. American Museum of Natural History Central Park West, at 79th St, 10024
  2. Until Sun Jan 12
More info

South Street Seaport Tree Lighting

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Fete the opening of the See/Change ice rink with live music and the 30th annual lighting of South Street Seaport's holiday tree. All ages.

  1. South Street Seaport 19 Fulton St, at Front St
  2. Until Fri Nov 29
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 they'll be free hot chocolate. Afterwards, say hi to Santa Claus as he makes his way down the street via an antique car. Performers like kindie band Rolie Polie Guacamole, the M.S. 51 chorus, carolers, puppeteers and jugglers from Puppetry Arts will line the avenue, and holiday movies will be projected outside of Freddy's Bar all evening long. The same shops will also stay open late on the following three Saturdays. All ages.

  1. Brooklyn
  2. Until Sat Nov 30
More info

Winter's Eve

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Ring in the holidays in classic New York City style at this annual festival. The block party kicks off with a neighborhood tree lighting and performances by Broadway vets Brian Stokes Mitchell and Bebe Neuwirth in Dante Park at Broadway and 63rd Street, and continues along Broadway from Columbus Circle to West 68th Street. Catch more music by kindie band the Pop Ups at the Kids' Central zone (Broadway at 61st St), where there'll be face painting, temporary tattoos, a holiday card workshop, a Voice Painter station and Magnolia Cupcakes. Stop into the Film Society of Lincoln Center for three free screenings of Miracle on 34th St (3:30pm, 5:30pm and 7:30pm). 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, Santa Claus and tons more cold-weather fun. All ages.

  1. Manhattan
  2. Until Mon Dec 2
More info

Citi Pond at Bryant Park Tree

  • 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 3, 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. Until Tue Dec 3
More info

Atlantic Avenue Tree

  • 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 December 3, after Councilman Stephen Levin lights the tree, Rolie Polie Guacamole, Dancewave and kids from P.S. 38 will perform. 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. Until Wed Jan 1
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 30,000 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. Until Tue 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 17 evergreen trees on the Harlem Meer will remain lit through the holidays. On Dec 5, a lighting ceremony will include activities like 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. Until Thu Dec 5
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. Until Fri Dec 13
More info

Carl Schurz Park Holiday Tree

  • Free

Head outdoors to scope out this festive Upper East Side tree. At the lighting on Dec 8, 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 8
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 8. All ages.

  1. Brick Presbyterian Church 62 E 92nd St, at Park Ave, 10128
  2. Until Sun Dec 8
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 101-year-old city tradition. AudraRox and the New York Life Singers provide the soundtrack to the evening’s festivities; Hill Country Pie Kitchen and SD26 Restaurant provide the treats. 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. Until Tue Dec 10
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, arts and crafts and a live musical performance. All ages.

  1. West Harlem Piers Park 125th St, at the Hudson River
  2. Until Sun Dec 15
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. Until Wed Dec 11
More info


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