Manhattan is world-famous for its awe-inspiring seasonal light displays. Spanning from posh Fifth Avenue its twinkling store windows to the world famous Rockefeller Center with its 77-foot Christmas tree, New York City offers an assortment of unparalleled visual feasts during the holiday season.
Rockefeller Center wows each year with its multilayered holiday display. The star of the show is the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree illuminated from early December until January 17, 2020. The 77-foot tall Norway Spruce is trimmed by some 45,000 colored LED lights and topped with a massive Swarovski crystal star.
The festive central plaza spills over with even more holiday lights in a sparkling scene of angels, toy soldiers, oversize wreaths, and more. While here, pair the lights spectacle with a whirl on the legendary ice-skating rink or catch a showing of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. Adults may want to dine and dance the night away at the iconic Rainbow Room while families can enjoy watching the wee ones chow down with an unforgettable breakfast with Santa experience.
Bryant Park, tucked behind the imposing New York Public Library, is transformed into an enchanting winter wonderland each holiday season. The Bank of America Winter Village is a set of twinkling glass-enclosed kiosks of more than 125 pop-up holiday shops that lend the atmosphere of a European Christmas market. Skaters can whirl around Manhattan's only free ice skating rink (skate rentals are extra), and a Norway Spruce is decked out with more than 30,000 white-and-red lights and some 3,000 ornaments. This year's tree lighting at Bryant Park is scheduled for December 5.
A stroll down Fifth Avenue between 59th Street and 39th Street is sure to set you aglow with holiday spirit. The city's most storied shopping strip is beautifully decorated every year with the elaborate store windows being the main attraction. Annual standouts include the windows of Bergdorf Goodman, Tiffany & Co., Henri Bendel, and Saks Fifth Avenue.
Hotels along the prestigious promenade also make a show of it. Highlights include The Plaza and The Peninsula New York. Don't forget to look up while walking down 57th Street or you'll miss the shimmering UNICEF snowflake dangling overhead. It's crafted out of 16,000 hand-cut Baccarat crystals.
Time Warner Center
The Time Warner Center is a hub for holiday shopping with the high-end Shops at Columbus Circle mall. The "Holiday Under the Stars" exhibit is set in the main entryway and is an installation featuring a dozen 14-foot LED stars that dangle from the 150-foot-high ceiling overhead; the stars change in color and are choreographed to festive holiday music.
The Columbus Circle Holiday Market is set up just across the street and keeps shoppers in the spirit of the season with a one-of-a-kind holiday display.
Luminaries at Brookfield Place's Winter Garden
From December through January, the glass-enclosed, 120-foot atrium of the atmospheric Winter Garden of Brookfield Place annually plays host to a light installation entitled Luminaries. Commissioned by Arts Brookfield from artist/designer David Rockwell, the show lights up the Winter Garden with a canopy of 650 glowing, LED-embedded lanterns that change color and intensity.
Three additional touch-sensitive "wishing stations" are spread out within the Winter Garden's palm trees, where guests can send "wishes" to the lanterns, which are then magically transformed into a display of color in the lanterns overhead. Each wish sent out by the public will translate into a donation to the GRAMMY in the Schools program, up to $25,000. Viewing hours are from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily; choreographed light shows are scheduled once per hour starting at 10 a.m.