Best Christmas Trees to See in NYC

From Rockefeller Center to the Met and Park Avenue

USA, New York, New York City, Manhattan, Lower Plaza of Rockefeller Center with ice skating rink and Christmas tree
Stefano Politi Markovina / Getty Images

No matter what New York City neighborhood you're in during the holiday season, you're sure to be impressed by the festive lights and decorations. These are the must-see Christmas trees, many with lighting ceremonies, all around New York City, during the 2018 holiday season.

This is only fitting because New York City, as the story goes, was the home of the first Christmas tree to have electric lights. Before that, trees were lighted, only briefly on Christmas Eve and day, by candles. At a townhouse on East 36th Street in 1882, the first Christmas tree to ever be adorned with electrical lights was lit. It was the home of Edward Hibberd Johnson, an engineer and vice president of the Edison Electric Light Company, as well as Thomas Edison’s business partner. Johnson had the "bright idea" of wiring 80 red, white and blue light bulbs together around his Christmas tree and placing it in his parlor window.

 

  • 01 of 09
    Christmas tree Rockefeller Center
    Rudy Sulgan / Getty Images

    The most celebrated of Christmas trees, the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is a classic New York City destination for holiday visitors and residents alike.

    This Christmas tree is a world-renowned symbol of the holidays in New York City. The free tree lighting ceremony is open to the public. The ceremony includes live performances that entertain bystanders packing the city streets, sidewalks, and walkways leading up to Rockefeller Plaza and the millions of viewers watching it live on television.

    The 2018 tree will be lit for the first time on Wednesday, November 28 at Rockefeller Plaza. The tree will remain lit and on display on the plaza between West 48th and 51st Streets and Fifth and Sixth Avenues until 9 p.m. on January 7, 2019. Each year, thousands crowd the sidewalks for the event and millions more watch the live broadcast.

  • 02 of 09
    Origami Christmas Tree at AMNH
    Courtesy of American Museum of Natural History

    Since the 1980s, the American Museum of Natural History has celebrated the holiday season with its highly original origami tree. It's on view from mid-November through early January.  

    Produced in partnership with OrigamiUSA, the tree is delightfully decorated with more than 800 hand-folded paper models created by local, national, and international origami artists. 

    You can even learn how to fold origami yourself at one of the museum's workshops

  • 03 of 09
    MET museum christmas tree
    Mario Tama/Getty Images

    The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Christmas tree and Neapolitan Baroque creche will be on display from November 20,​ 2018, to January 6, 2019. 

    The 20-foot blue spruce features 18th-century Neapolitan angels and cherubs flanking the nativity scene at its base in the museum's Medieval Sculpture Hall. 

    The installation will be set in front of the eighteenth-century Spanish choir screen from the Cathedral of Valladolid. Recorded Christmas music will add to the enjoyment of the holiday display. 

  • 04 of 09
    Cathedral Of St. John The Divine Peace Tree
    Courtesy of Cathedral Of St. John The Divine, NYC

    The Peace Tree in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine is decorated with 1,000 paper cranes and other peace symbols. Children can participate in a workshop to learn to make the cranes, and you can also take a walking tour of the cathedral that highlights the pre-Christian origins of Christmas, as well as the ways the cathedral celebrates the holidays.

    The Peace Tree will be up from early December to just after Christmas.

    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09
    park ave christmas trees new york
    wdstock / Pixabay

    Anyone driving or walking on the Upper East Side during the holiday season should take a detour to view the stretch of Park Avenue between 54th and  97th streets, where beautifully lighted trees illuminate the malls.

    The tradition began just after World War II ended to honor those who had lost their lives in the war. And the lighted trees are still a symbol of peace and the price paid for it. 

    The trees are traditionally lit on the first Sunday evening of December following a ceremony outside the Brick Presbyterian Church (Park Avenue and 91st Street) that serves as a reminder of the original meaning of the lights and a celebration of the holiday season.

  • 06 of 09
    Lincoln Square Christmas Tree
    Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images

    The annual Winter's Eve Festival at Lincoln Square on the Upper West Side starts with a tree lighting in Dante Park on Nov. 26, 2018, with festivities running along Broadway from Columbus Circle to 68th Street. The hours are 5:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

    Winter’s Eve at Lincoln Square is an annual neighborhood holiday celebration that draws almost 20,000 people and features free entertainment and live music at over 20 performance venues, food tastings from 30+ of the area’s finest restaurants and eateries, family fun, shopping, and more.

  • 07 of 09
    South Street Seaport christmas tree lighting
    Gary Gershoff/WireImage

    South Street Seaport, at South and Fulton streets, has joined with the South Street Seaport Museum to put up a tree in the newly opened Seaport Square that will highlight the ships Wavertree and Ambrose. Both ships will also sport a decorated tree for Christmas.

  • 08 of 09
    NYSE christmas tree
    Drew Angerer/Getty Images

    The New York Stock Exchange Christmas Tree at 11 Wall Street has been a Downtown New York tradition since 1923, with the 95th annual celebration in 2018.

    The lighting ceremony begins with holiday performances that include the Radio City Rockettes. The tree is officially lighted at 5 p.m. on Nov. 30.

     

    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09
    Bryant Park Christmas Market
    Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

    The Holiday Tree at Bryant Park is a 55-foot-tall Norway spruce decorated with more than 30,000 LED lights and 3,000 custom ornaments.

    Each year a celebrity guest reads an original Christmas tale to the crowd. As the story unfolds, the characters are brought to life by world-class skaters performing on the ice, under the stars in the Midtown cityscape. Excitement builds until the finale: the Tree is lit, surrounded by fireworks.

    The annual tree-lighting ceremony is held during the first week of December, and visitors can go ice skating for free afterward at Winter Village and do some holiday shoppingBryant Park is at Sixth Avenue between 40th and 42nd streets.