RECOMMENDED: Christmas for kids in New York City
Did you and the kids witness a festive tree lighting in NYC yet this season? In addition to the Rockefeller tree, there are tons of spots to see twinkling holiday lights right here in the city. If your family is looking for a bigger Yuletide adventure, head to Westchestser or New Jersey to check out their impressive displays as well! Don't forget to browse the amazing holiday windows at the city's favorite department stores.
Holiday lights in NYC
More than 100,000 visitors make the pilgrimage to the south Brooklyn nabe of Dyker Heights every December to see larger-than-life Christmas displays, which in past years have included massive nutcrackers, silicone Santas and hundreds of thousands of sparkling holiday lights. The three-and-half-hour bus jaunt takes you through the ’hood’s best spectacles. Meet in Union Square. All ages.
North Kensico Christmas Light Show
A drive through Westchester becomes especially colorful on North Kensico Ave (#19, 21, 22 and 25) where a few ambitious homeowners have decked out their abodes in the spirit of the season. The computer-operated displays feature over 10,000 lights that blink and flash along to the tune of music—don’t forget to tune your radio to 107.7 to hear songs to go along with the display. 21 North Kensico Ave, White Plains, NY (nychristmaslights.com). Daily 5:30–11pm through Jan 1. Free.
Composed of 650 LED lanterns suspended in a grid from the ceiling, this magical installation brings a bit of holiday cheer to the Winter Garden at Brookfield Place. The lanterns hang just below the tops of the atrium's famous palm trees, providing a different sort of canopy for people below. They'll glow different colors, running a light show every two hours. Three kiosks allow visitors to make a "wish" by tapping a control that fires oscillating waves across the installation—plus, each wish purchased will be matched with a $1 contribution to the GRAMMY Foundation's high school music education program up to $25,000. Open daily 10am–8pm through Jan 10.
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. After the batch of trees is lit during a ceremony at the Brick Presbyterian Church (Park Ave at 91st St), they'll stay lit for the month, casting a warm glow on the thoroughfare.
Cranbury Christmas Lights
Park your car at this New Jersey spot (details about parking available online) and get cozy with the family as you watch this three-hour show where lights dance along to the beat of 20 festive songs. On chilly evenings, gather around the provided fire pits—you can even bring hot chocolate and roast marshmallows! 128 North Main St, Cranbury, NJ (609-636-6870, cranburychristmaslights.com). 6–9pm on select days through Dec 31, suggested donation to the Local Food Bank.
Drive past an entire mile of decorations, featuring over two million twinkling lights. You’ll see nativity scenes, a light tunnel, a twinkling snowflake forest, skating penguins, snowmen and Santa’s choo-choo train on your journey. Stop by the Skylands Christmas Village afterward for caroling, refreshments (hot cocoa and s’mores included) and a make-your-own holiday craft area. You might even see Santa! Thursdays and Sundays 4:30–10pm, Fridays and Saturdays 4:30–11pm through Jan 3. Open select weekdays Dec 21–23 and 28–30. Closed Dec 24, 25 and 31. $20 per carload (cash only at the door), discounted tickets available at Skylands Stadium box office, Walgreens and Duane Reade locations in the tri-state area. (973-940-0222, skylandsstadium.com). Free admission and parking.