The Best Holiday Light Displays in NYC

Manhattan is world-famous for its awe-inspiring seasonal light displays. Spanning from posh Fifth Avenue with an endless parade of twinkling store windows to the world famous Rockefeller Center with its sky-scraping illuminated tree, New York City offers ​an assortment of unparalleled visual feasts during the holiday season. 

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Rockefeller Center

Christmas tree Rockefeller Center
Rudy Sulgan / Getty Images
45 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10111, USA
+1 212-332-6868

Rockefeller Center wows with its multilayered holiday display. The star of the show is the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree illuminated from early December until January 7, 2019. The 78-foot tall Norway Spruce is trimmed by some 45,000 colored LED lights and topped with a massive Swarovski crystal star. 

The festive postcard-worthy central plaza spills over with even more holiday lights in a sparkling scene of illuminated 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 show at 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.

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Bryant Park

Bryant Park ice rink

Getty Images/Jon Hicks

New York, NY 10018, USA
+1 212-768-4242

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 a European-style Christmas market atmosphere. Skaters can whirl around Manhattan's only free ice skating rink (note: skate rentals are extra), and a 55-foot Norway Spruce is decked out with more than 30,000 white-and-red lights and some 3,000 ornaments. If your dates align, see the free tree lighting ceremony

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Fifth Avenue

Tiffany's on Fifth Avenue, NYC

Getty Images/Rudi Von Briel

5th Ave, New York, NY, USA

A ​stroll down Fifth Avenue between 59th Street and 39th Street is sure to set you aglow with holiday spirit. The season's most storied shopping strip is beautifully decorated with illuminated store windows that are among the very best in the city. Annual standouts include those at Bergdorf Goodman (at 58th St.), Tiffany & Co. (at 57th St.), Henri Bendel (at 56th St.), and Saks Fifth Avenue (at 49th St.).

Hotels along the prestigious promenade also make a show of it. Highlights include The Plaza (at 59th St.) and The Peninsula New York (at 55th St.) Don't forget to look up at 57th Street or you'll miss the shimmering UNICEF snowflake dangling overhead—it's crafted out of 16,000 hand-cut Baccarat crystals.

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Time Warner Center

USA - Holidays - Decorations at the Time Warner Center

Getty Images/Andrew Holbrooke

10 Columbus Cir, New York, NY 10019, USA
+1 212-823-6300

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 reflect a changing color scheme 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 holidays display. 

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Luminaries at Brookfield Place's Winter Garden

Luminaries at Brookfield Place

Arts Brookfield 

230 Vesey St, New York, NY 10281, USA
+1 212-978-1673

From December through January, the glass-enclosed, 120-foot atrium of the atmospheric Winter Garden (part of Brookfield Place, in Battery Park City) plays host to a light installation entitled Luminaries. Commissioned by Arts Brookfield from artist/designer David Rockwell, the show illuminates 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 at two-hour intervals, starting at 10 a.m. 

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The Best Holiday Light Displays in NYC