Every winter, the city gets covered in Christmas lights. NYC transforms into a winter wonderland once the best New York attractions start boasting their holiday wreaths, Christmas window displays and twinkle lights for all to see. Revel in the magic and get ready to “ooh” and “ahh” at these landmarks, holiday markets and neighborhoods that create the most picturesque holiday light displays during the merriest time of year.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Christmas in New York
Best Christmas lights in NYC
On the day after Thanksgiving, the neighborhood of Dyker Heights undergoes a transformation, as residents along several blocks in the area festoon their homes with elaborate holiday decorations. And we're not talking about a Christmas tree or a simple nativity scene: Among the kitschy pieces you might see are life-size reindeer, huge inflatable Santas and snowmen, Christmas carols blaring from loudspeakers and tens of thousands of lights.
Yes, Rockefeller Center is a major tourist trap during the holidays, but you can’t deny it’s beauty. (You can be a jaded New Yorker without being a total a Grinch.) Folks travel near and far to hit the slick stuff and ogle the humungous Norway Spruce covered in 45,000 LED lights, as well as the golden angels and other illuminated shrubbery. Needless to say, this inviting landmark certainly brings it’s A-game in terms of spreading holiday cheer.
Before Jack Frost starts nipping at your nose, the Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park will already be attracting the masses (opens October 29). Apart from a free, open-to-the-public ice-skating rink, over 125 holiday shops, outstanding food and tons of planned seasonal activities, this holiday market attracts passerby with it’s stunning display of holiday lights adorning the park grounds, including its larger-than-life Christmas tree. Even if you’re simply passing by this Christmas utopia, take a moment to grab some hot cocoa, sit back and admire the magic.
Saks Fifth Avenue’s ten-story facade makes this department store a can’t-miss stop on your Christmas lights tour. In the past, festive LED light projections included “Snowflake Spectacular,” and a yeti, who according to a tie-in tale by Daily Monster creator Stefan J. Bucher, came down from Siberia to live on the roof of the department store (as is the wont of fashion-conscious horror beasts the world over). The usually two-minute show repeats every seven to eight minutes and ties in with the holiday display in the store's 12 windows.
Holiday Under the Stars
Take a break from Christmas shopping and check out Time Warner Center’s state-of-the-art holiday light display. The spectacle features a dozen 14-foot LED stars that do a colorful “dance,” flashing more than 16.7 million color mixes in time to classic Yuletide tunes. You’ll be so moved, you won’t even care that you maxed out your MasterCard getting Aunt Judy that back massager she’s been wanting.
There are many stunning Christmas trees in NYC, but the bushy spruce erected in Lincoln Center’s main plaza is one of the prettiest. The tree, adorned in glowing white and blue snowflakes, is just another seasonal signifier that Santa Claus is coming to town.
Home to the incredible, high-kicking Rockettes, Radio City Music Hall is one of the most cheerful and well-lit landmarks during the merriest time of year. It’s no shock, since the venue is known for its always-packed holiday show: Radio City Christmas Spectacular. It’s twinkling Christmas tree is certainly captivating enough to make us want to stop and take a photo or two.
While taking a winter stroll through the iconic Central Park, it’s worth stopping by the Plaza Hotel to enjoy the hospitable venue’s lovely holiday decorations. From Christmas wreaths adorned with ornaments, to pine-covered trimmings covered with rows of white lights, the view could cheer up even the Scroogiest New Yorker.
Need to get into the Christmas spirit?
Blu on Park
While New York's steakhouse stalwarts (Keens, Peter Luger) remain staunchly true to their original forms, today's newer meat meccas have redefined the boundaries of the genre. From glitzy extravagance (and Bieber appearances) at Bowery Meat Company to laidback fun (and $19 cuts) at Quality Eats, it's clear there's no one way to cut that cake. For their take on the trope, European proprietors Emir Muhic and Gigi Dzidzovic (DiWine) adopt the meet-in-the-middle approach, taking over the first three floors of a renovated 1920s-era brownstone with a contemporary-minded restaurant that also channels the building's old-time grace with gray-stained wood panels, sleek marble counters and a working fireplace. In the 132-seat space, diners can settle elegant Windsor-style chairs for an array of traditional and creative starters, as well as seven cuts of steak—all tag-teamed by co-chefs Russell Rosenberg (the Boathouse) and Dusan Celic (DiWine). A crab cake ($22), garnished with marinated jicama, apple salad and remoulade was wonderful—you’ll fight over the last bite. The jumbo shrimp cocktail ($18) featured plump, finger-long crustaceans served over ice, the cocktail sauce fiery from just enough horseradish. Of course, if you’re at a steakhouse, you’re going to go for the beef (why bother if not?). A gargantuan ribeye ($49) arrives at the table still sizzling, flanked by béarnaise and peppercorn sauces. The well-seasoned cut is perfectly cooked, so the sauces are gilding the lily. Yo
Venue says: “Join us for Happy Hour Mon-Sun 4pm-8pm, Oysters $1.5, Draft Beer $6, Well Drinks $8, House Wines $8, and Cocktail of the Day $10”