During the festive holiday season, New York City’s five boroughs come alive with both iconic and hidden holiday activities. Here’s why it’s a magical time of year to visit.
This holiday season there are a number of events in New York City, including the popular 86th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, The New York Botanical Garden’s Holiday Train Show and Radio City Music Hall’s Christmas Spectacular.
Lesser-known, but equally fascinating events include the Christmas lights of Dyker Heights in Brooklyn, Annual Holiday Family Day at Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum in the Bronx and the Queens Historical Society annual Historic Holiday House Tour.
With something to offer everyone this winter, the unique events and programming throughout the five boroughs provide you with the opportunity to experience the city’s holiday season like a local. Plus, you can plan your travel itinerary by using the tourist board’s (NYC & Company) Save the Date planning tool at nycgo.com/savethedate.
Here are a few highlights from the five boroughs of the city that visitors often overlook.
During the Annual Holiday Family Day, it’s A Storybook Christmas at Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum with Christmas trees inspired by children’s holiday stories displayed throughout the 19th-century mansion on 1st December from 10am to 1pm. Activities include a shadow-puppet show, holiday crafts, photos with Santa, holiday shopping and more. Reservations are requested.
Van Cortlandt by Candlelight allows visitors to experience the house decked out in the finest 18th-century Christmas decorations bathed in the warm glow of candlelight. Held on two consecutive weekends in mid-December, the tour includes a display of confections, explanations of holiday-themed legends and a glass of warm cider at the conclusion of the tour.
For over 25 years, Brooklyn has been coming alive with the Christmas lights of Dyker Heights. Truly a sight to behold, the spectacle attracts thousands of visitors during the festive season. The best displays can be seen on the blocks between 83rd and 86th Streets from 11th to 13th Avenue in this small neighbourhood between Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst. Enjoy the holiday light displays and sample desserts from an authentic Brooklyn neighborhood pastry shop with A Slice of Brooklyn’s Christmas Lights and Cannoli Tour. Prices for the tour are $55, adults; $45, children.
Join Brooklyn Borough Hall President Marty Markowitz in a lighting ceremony of the Menorah of Brooklyn at Borough Hall Plaza with refreshments and entertainment on 10th December.
Twelve 14-foot colour-lighted stars will ‘dance’ to holiday music in the Great Room with 150-foot ceilings at the Time Warner Center. Not only is the show enchanting, but it is also thought to be the largest speciality crafted display of illuminated colour in the world. For that extra special holiday experience, be sure to join Inside the Circle for free information about culinary and fashion events, special promotions, give-aways and prizes.
Le Parker Meridien will host its fourth annual Gingerbread Extravaganza. This year, local pastry chefs will create large-scale confectionery creations highlighting monuments from around the world, on display from 1st December to 3rd January 2013. For $1, you can vote for the best gingerbread design and enter to win a prize. All proceeds will benefit City Harvest, an organisation that rescues food to feed hungry New Yorkers.
The Queens Historical Society presents the annual Historic Holiday House Tour on Sunday, 9th December, from 1 to 5pm.
This guided trolley tour includes stops at five festively decorated museums and historical sites, including the Queens Historical Society at the Kingsland Homestead, the Flushing Quaker Meeting House, Flushing Town Hall, the Voelker Orth Museum and Lewis H. Latimer House.
A local historian will narrate the tour, and you will have access to all exhibits at each site, which will also feature festive refreshments and family activities. Tickets cost $10 for adults, with children under 12 free, and can be purchased in advance from the Queens Historical Society or from any of the participating sites the day of the event.
In Staten Island, visitors can see the sights and sounds of Historic Richmond Town at its festive best. On 2nd December, from 10am to 5pm, Historic Richmond Town will host Christmas in Richmond Town, sponsored by the Women’s Auxiliary.
The day’s activities will close with a tree lighting at 5pm. Get more of Richmond Town with the annual Candlelight Tours, on 14th and 15th December, when the town will be lit by candles, oil lamps and blazing fireplaces. Prepaid reservations are required.