Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree
Origami Holiday Tree
Charlie Brown would be blown away by the Christmas trees New York has to offer, from Rockefeller Center's green giant to the origami-bedecked pine at the American Museum of Natural History. And so you've got a place to stash your gifts, we've also got the scoop on where you can buy your own evergreen and a guide to pimping your Christmas tree with dollar-origami ornaments.
RECOMMENDED: Christmas in New York guide
Other Christmas trees in New York
This year marks the centennial of Madison Square Park’s conifer, for 2012 a 35-foot-high balsam fir with all the trimmings. History buffs should venture to south edge of the park and keep an eye out for the Star of Hope, which sits atop a post. It marks the spot of the city’s first community holiday tree, which was funded in 1912 by a wealthy resident who wanted to make sure no one went without a tannenbaum.
The city’s most elegant tree is an exhibit unto itself, hung with more than 200 18th-century hand-sculpted Neapolitan crèche figures, which are wearing jeweled and embroidered costumes. Many of the ornaments are arranged in pairs, including an angel gesturing to a shepherd.
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 a murder of crows.
The 104 balsam firs that line Park Avenue are more than just festive holiday adornments: The topiaries were first lit in 1945 in remembrance of those who lost their lives during World War II. The tradition continues to this day, and each tree is strung with 25 strands of white lights.
Christmas lights and decorations in New York
More than 100,000 visitors make the pilgrimage to this south Brooklyn nabe 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. For the optimum twinkly experience, sign up for Tony Muia’s Christmas Lights and Cannoli tour. The three-and-half-hour bus jaunt takes you through the ’hood’s best spectacles and ends with cannoli and hot cocoa for everyone. Meet at Fourth Ave between 13th and 14th Sts. Subway: L, N, Q, R, 4, 5, 6 to 14th St–Union Sq.
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. When you're done marveling, don't forget to check out the ten new stores that have recently opened at the TWC.
The Great White North descends on Saks Fifth Avenue’s ten-story facade this season. This year’s LED holiday light projection features snow flurries 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 two-minute show repeats every seven to eight minutes and ties in with the Snowflake Spectacular display in the store's 12 windows.
Barrel and Fare
Whether you’re dining indoors or al fresco at this Gowanus favorite—the restaurant opens up its outdoor patio during the warmer months—you’re sure to find something intriguing on the varied menu. Some bites—like the mac and cheese croquettes ($9), tuna avocado tartare ($11) and scorched shrimp ($12)—are available for both brunch and dinner. The rest of the morning menu leans toward classic fare, like challah French toast with mascarpone ($12) and a breakfast burger topped with peppers, onions and a sunny–side up egg ($14). At dinner, you’ll find more elevated entree options, like crispy farro with butternut squash and kale ($15), a braised lamb shank with kohlrabi puree ($22) and bacon-wrapped pork medallions served with mustard-glazed fingerling potatoes ($21). As for drinks, choose from the restaurant’s list of wines available by the glass or bottle, or sip a seasonally inspired cocktail, like the wintry Gingerbread White Russian that graced the menu recently ($11).
Venue says: “Brunch on the mind? Try our mushroom tart - homemade puff pastry, creamy mushroom duxelle, & topped with a poached egg.”