The lights from New York City's glittering skyscrapers dazzle all year long, but there's nothing quite like the illuminated spectacle that is the Christmas season in our city. Very soon, the switches will flip, transforming NYC into a winter wonderland aglow in spectacular decorations.
Dates have been set for nearly all of the most light-up celebrations across the city, and we’ve compiled them below. They’re listed in chronological order so you can find an event (or two or three) that fit into your schedule. We’ll continue updating the last as more festivities are announced, and if we missed one that you know of, email us (firstname.lastname@example.org).
When do NYC’s holiday lights get turned on?
Shine Bright Only at Hudson Yards
Two million twinkling white lights adorn Hudson Yards for the shopping center's annual Shine Bright event. The display includes 115 miles of string lights, 725 evergreen trees dressed to create a gleaming forest, 16-foot tall illuminated hot air balloon decorations and a massive 32-foot hot air balloon centerpiece. See it through January 7.
Harlem Holiday Lights
Harlem kicks off the holiday season with NYC’s only parade of lights. Festivities include a special ceremony and a confetti-filled countdown to start the parade of lighted floats.
Lightscape at Brooklyn Botanic Garden
The gorgeous, after-dark illuminated spectacular will run through January 1.
New York Botanical Garden GLOW
The outdoor light experience in the Bronx will brighten up the grounds with thousands of energy-efficient LED lights and festive installations. GLOW is open on select dates through January 13.
Bronx Zoo Holiday Light Show
Expect the Bronx Zoo to dazzle with 400 wildlife lanterns representing 100 species. It's open through January 7.
Frost Fest at Luna Park in Coney Island
Luna Park in Coney Island will host its inaugural tree lighting event kicking on Saturday, November 18. After that, the park will be open on select dates through January 7 with legendary rides on site, a skating rink, holiday lights, shopping and Santa.
Most of the homeowners—and professional decorating companies—hang their Christmas lights and decorations the weekend after Thanksgiving. However, the best time to see the lights is mid-December through New Year’s Eve. Go anytime between dusk and 9pm if you plan to travel by foot. The decor usually stays up until the end of the first week of January.
Industry City is hosting its first-ever tree lighting ceremony, titled Brooklyn Lights Up, with BK Chamber and BK One, on Saturday, November 25. Hosted on Small Business Saturday, expect free kids' activities, crafts, carolers and holiday fun.
Though the tree at Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park will be lit on November 28 at 6pm, holiday fun is already well underway here with ice skating and a large market.
The Seaport will turn on its holiday sparkle during a ceremony on Tuesday, November 28 from 6-7pm at the intersection of Water and Fulton Streets. Expect a drum line, chorus, and cozy drinks.
After a special light-up night ceremony on November 29, the iconic tree will be lit daily from 5am to midnight. On Christmas Day, the tree is lit for 24 hours and on New Year’s Eve it is lit from 5am to 9pm. The tree goes dark for the season at 10pm on January 13.
For more than 25 years, the Central Park Conservancy has been draping the Charles A. Dana Discovery Center in holiday lights to ring in the season. Head to the northeastern part of Central Park to see it.
Washington Square Park
Framed perfectly inside the park's famous arch, Washington Square Park's beautiful tree is a sight to behold. If you miss the tree lighting, you can see the beautifully lit 45-foot tree throughout the holiday season, lit from 4pm-1am daily throughout December.
Madison Square Park
Enjoy festive jazz music during this time-honored tree lighting which celebrates its 111th anniversary this year. The festivities are on Wednesday, December 6 from 4-6pm at the park's Northern Reflecting Pool.
NYC is home to two massive menorahs, an ice menorah, chocolate menorah and many more. Menorah lightings from December 7-15 during Hanukkah.
More Christmas fun in NYC
In addition to being dazzled all the beautiful lights, make the most of this holiday season by admiring incredible gingerbread displays, seeing a festive show, going ice skating and shopping local. Here's our full guide to the holiday season in New York City.