Rockettes’ 9 Favorite Holiday Light Displays In New York City
New York is always a city of lights, but during the yuletide season, the Big Apple glows even brighter than usual (especially with that 75-foot tall Norway Spruce in Rockefeller Center that’s adorned with more than 50,000 multi-colored LED twinkling lights!). From the ethereal angels in Channel Gardens to the outlandish Christmas light displays in Brooklyn’s Dyker Heights, here are nine of our favorite NYC wintertime attractions that are sure to brighten up your holiday season in unforgettable ways:
The New York Botanical Garden’s 26th annual Holiday Train Show sees the museum’s Enid A. Haupt conservatory converted into a stunning miniature landscape that holiday-lovers of all ages will adore. Watch more than 25 G-scale model trains and trolleys wend their around 150+ mini-landmarks (including new re-creations of the Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, General Electric Building and St. Bartholomew’s Church!) all rendered using natural materials such as bark and leaves. This year’s exhibit showcases Midtown Manhattan’s iconic skyscrapers and other architectural wonders; and a light-filled finale adds an extra touch of Christmas magic to this popular holiday attraction.
New York City’s light displays are mostly feasts for the eyes, but the technologically astute exhibit Luminaries in the Winter Garden at Brookfield Place appeals to each visitor’s sense of touch as well. This holiday light installation, which was created by famed designer David Rockwell, consists of a smattering of 650 suspended lanterns whose colors can be manipulated by users who interact with one of the display’s three “wishing stations.” Could there be a more 21st century holiday light display in NYC? We’re betting not.
In addition to its famed only-in-New-York Origami Tree, the American Museum of Natural History attracts visitors and passersby with an annual lights display that includes a festive holiday tree and illuminated dinosaur topiary sculptures. For kids (and adults!) who love all things dinosaur, this is a must-see.
Wintertime delights abound at the Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park. Whether you opt to do a few laps around the skating rink, grab a bite at Public Fare or explore the 125 food and artisanal boutiques lining the park’s pathways, you’re sure to experience some holiday magic amid the Village’s many attractions and twinkling lights.
Explore a new neighborhood in the boroughs of New York by checking out the World’s Largest Menorah in Brooklyn’s Park Slope. Standing at 35-feet over Grand Army Plaza, the 4,000-pound, luminous gold-colored menorah has been drawing crowds since 1985.
One of the major hallmarks of the holiday season in New York is the 3,300 pound, 28-foot UNICEF snowflake ornament that hangs over 57th Street in Manhattan. Comprising of 16,000 individual crystal prisms, this glittering emblem lights up the city while drawing attention to the organization’s inspired and committed community who have pledged to safeguard the world’s children.
Most of New York City’s superlative holiday displays belong to parks or major institutions. But in Dyker Heights, a quaint neighborhood in southwest Brooklyn, the annual Christmas-lights bonanza is more of a grassroots effort. In the spirit of healthy competition, homeowners in the neighborhood cover their houses, yards and everything in between with lights, festive inflatables and otherworldly decorative, motorized displays. Fun fact? Some of the decorations can cost upwards of $20,000!
Each holiday season, New York City’s famed shopping destinations put a new spin on the term “window shopping” by erecting elaborate holiday displays and scenes that draw crowds with unforgettable evocations of the holiday spirit. Map out a few choice locations—Bergdorf Goodman (754 Fifth Ave. at 58th Streets), Tiffany & Co. (727 Fifth Ave. between 56th and 57th Sts.), Bloomingdale’s (59th St. and Lexington Ave.) and Macy’s (34th St. and Sixth Ave.)—and embark on a transformative window-shopping tour. And be sure not to miss Disney’s Snow White at the Seven Dwarfs-themed display at Saks Fifth Avenue that includes scenes from the beloved fairytale and haute couture gowns created by four designers who re-imagined what Snow White’s dress would look like today. (In 2014, we Rockettes helped Saks Fifth Avenue New York kick off the season at their amazing holiday window unveiling and were the stars in their holiday magalog!)
It wouldn’t be Christmas in New York City without Rockefeller Center! From the infamous massive bough to the wildly popular skating rink, Rockefeller Center remains a must-visit attraction for any holiday-lover in the city. During the winter months, the Channel Gardens turns off their fountains and the Center is trimmed with Christmas decorations, including 12 wire-sculpture angels that hold six-foot-long brass trumpets angled toward the 78-foot tall Norway Spruce. Artist Valerie Clarebout constructed each eight-foot-high angel with hundreds of different gauge wires that she twisted and shaped into wings, faces and halos and then fastened thousands of tiny white lights that fill the area with a delicate glow.