The yuletide season is upon us! Take in New York's array of sparkling lights, watch the Rockettes' Christmas Spectacular at Radio City or gaze upon the iconic Rockefeller Center Tree. If you want some New York Christmas events on the cheap, grab some roasted chestnuts and stroll to one of the glittering department-store holiday window displays around the city.
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If you’ve perfected your rendition of “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” now’s your time to shine. Belt that tune, along with ones from Run-D.M.C., Justin Bieber and Bob Dylan (yep, he did a Christmas album), at this yuletide karaoke jam. When the official party ends, stragglers can join in the after-party, which may or may not include a group rendition of “Dick in a Box.” Ugly reindeer sweaters aren’t just optional, they’re encouraged.
Divisive charity-focused bar crawl SantaCon is going ahead this year despite rumors of cancellation and entreaties from the NYPD that publicans refuse to serve participants. As a result, some of us will be avoiding the mayhem in our quiet, vomit-free homes, while others will dust off the old Kris Kingle suit and prepare to get messy. If you fall into the latter camp, follow @santacon on Twitter or check the website for the starting location, as well as updates throughout the day on the route and new Santa Spectacular party. And remember the four fs of SantaCon: Don’t fuck with kids, don’t fuck with cops, don’t fuck with bar staff, and (please) don’t fuck with NYC. Locations and time TBA; visit nycsantacon.com for more information.
Revisit the saga of the Boy Who Lived at this annual bash thrown by wizard-rock band Harry and the Potters. Fancy-dress robes are the garb of choice and magical elixirs to induce euphoria await you, along with performances from the Potter Puppet Pals and Lauren Fairweather. A portion of each ticket will benefit nonprofit the Harry Potter Alliance (thehpalliance.org).
You'll get a kick out of this holiday stalwart, which—after more than eight decades—still features Santa, wooden soldiers and the leggy, spunky Rockettes. In recent years, new music, more eye-catching costumes, and advanced technology were introduced to bring audience members closer to the performance.
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 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.
Henri Bendel has partnered with the estate of Al Hirschfeld to create window displays inspired by the celebrated cartoonist's work. In one window, you'll see 3-D depictions of celebs like Sarah Jessica Parker, Liza Minnelli and Woody Allen; in the store itself, Bendel's giant tree becomes a playhouse for a model of Charlie Chaplin.
In its 12th season, this outdoor market boasts more than 125 artisans selling everything from clothing and accessories to food and hot drinks. Gift ideas include Diana Warner New York rose-gold necklaces, SOVL NYC recycled messenger bags and Brazilian Home Collection hand-painted lamps.
Festooned with more than 500 meticulously hand-folded paper ornaments, this year’s tree is inspired by the museum’s new “The Power of Poison” exhibit, meaning you’ll spot toxic mushrooms, poison ivy, spiders, snails and jellyfish. In addition to the venomous flora and fauna, the stationery has been fashioned into popular literary characters well versed in lethal substances, including Macbeth’s witches and Sherlock Holmes. Do some sleuthing of your own in the exhibit proper, where you can use forensic clues (and museum iPads) to solve mysterious poisoning cases.
The trees change, but the annual sense of wonder remains the same. A chance to gawk at this year’s 76-foot-tall behemoth, decorated with 45,000 LED bulbs, is well worth the fighting the crowds.
Empire Steak House – East
For the classic New York steakhouse experience, look no further than Empire Steak House. Start with an hors d'oeuvre like jumbo shrimp cocktail ($21.95), a Maryland crab cake ($18.95) and French onion soup ($8.95). Carnivores might have a hard time deciding on a main course, though—choices include a Kobe burger ($28.95), dry-aged emperor’s steak for two ($129.95) or a twelve-ounce Wagyu ribeye ($275). Chilean sea bass ($35.95) and spaghetti with lobster ($36.95) might tempt seafood lovers, too. There are plenty of steakhouse sides to go with your meat, like truffled mac and cheese ($15.95), creamed spinach ($10.95) and a jumbo baked potato ($6.95). If you somehow still have room for sweets, the dessert menu is also quite extensive, with treats like apple strudel a la mode ($13.95), chocolate lava cake ($10.95) and creme brulee ($9.95).
Venue says: “Host your private event in our upstairs mezzanine with a full bar or downstairs in our private wine room.”