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New York City's Best Holiday Lights and Decorations

See how New York City lights up for Christmas


There is nowhere else in the world like New York City at Christmas: the twinkling lights, the elaborate holiday window displays, the festive decorations. It's enough to warm the heart of even the most cynical New York grinch.

The only problem with our famous holiday decorations is that they draw such big crowds of tourists. It's hard to stop to admire the holiday bling without being run over by bargain hunters, tour groups, or a wayward pedicab. If you can't beat them, join them. Don't let the crowds prevent you from getting out to see New York City's holiday sparkle.

1. Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree and Holiday Lights

Photo by Pamela Skillings

Rockefeller Center is New York City's most famous and popular destination for holiday decorations. Tens of thousands of people turn out for the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony every year and tens of thousands more stop by Rockefeller Center to shop, skate, or admire the lights during the holiday season. 

2. Fifth Avenue Department Stores

Photo by Pamela Skillings
Take a stroll up Fifth Avenue and admire the brilliance of the holiday window displays -- true works of art in many cases. Stroll by Bergdorf's, Saks Fifth Avenue, Tiffany's, and all of the stores competing to capture your attention. Don't miss the famous UNICEF snowflake made of Baccarat crystal, which illuminates Fifth Avenue near Tiffany's at 57th Street.

3. Holiday Lights at Grand Central Terminal

Grand Central Terminal holiday light show
Photo courtesy of Grand Central Terminal
Don't miss the annual holiday festivities at Grand Central Terminal. Kids will love the model train exhibit sponsored by The New York City Transit Museum and shoppers will enjoy browsing for unique gifts at the Holiday Fair booths in Vanderbilt Hall. See photos of the holiday light show and decorations at Grand Central Terminal.

4. "Under the Stars" at Time Warner Center

Time Warner Center Holidays
Photo by Bjorg Magnea

Twelve 14-ft stars dazzle from the soaring ceilings of Time Warner Center, lighting up all of Columbus Circle throughout the holiday season.  See photos of the holiday dazzle at Time Warner Center.

5. The Bronx Zoo

Bronx zoo photo monkey
Photo by Pamela Skillings
Take a short subway ride from Manhattan to admire the beautiful holiday Wild Winterland display at the Bronx Zoo. This year, to reduce carbon output, the usual nighttime light show has been transformed into a daytime extravaganza. See the holiday decorations, watch the animals open their holiday presents, take a horse-drawn wagon ride, and feed the reindeer. Kids can also enjoy storytelling, ice-carving, marshmallow-roasting, and other entertainment.

6. Bryant Park

Bryant Park Holiday Market in New York City

Bryant Park transforms into a winter wonderland during the holiday season. See the decorations, take a free spin around the Bryant Park Citi Pond ice skating rink, or browse for unique gifts at the Holiday Shops at Bryant Park.

7. Origami Holiday Tree at the American Museum of Natural History

holiday dinosaur

Visit the American Museum of Natural History during the holiday season and marvel at the famous Origami Holiday Tree, a New York City tradition for more than 30 years. Volunteers started folding in July to make the 500 origami decorations on display and master folders will be on hand during the holiday season to teach visitors the art of origami.

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