Take a winter holiday stroll through mid-town Manhattan. There are many changes this year – mostly the absence of thick crowds, circles delineating social distancing for queues into shops, outdoor dining constructions bathed in warm light. The animated shop windows New York is so famous for – Macy’s, Saks (masks on the figures), Bergdorf Goodman– are more low key this year, themed around thanking all those who are getting us through this darkness and cheering on New Yorkers. Bergdorf Goodman, for many years in a row, getting my award for best, wins again this year with its stunning windows with dramatic messages of Love, Hope, Goodness, Joy and Gratitude. And there are clever innovations to spread cheer: New York’s iconic symbols illuminated on the sidewalks, like a yellow cab. Saks still has its marvelous sound-and-light show illuminating its entire façade, just across the street from the Rockefeller Center tree, but it is pared down to just a few minutes so people don’t stand around too long. And there are security controls to minimize crowding and direct people to the entrance for ice skating or tree viewing. Even Atlas, the mighty ancient Greek Titan holding the heavens on his shoulders, is wearing a mask.
There is special emphasis on bringing light, warmth and cheer this holiday season. Destinations that have offered lighting displays and holiday events have taken special care to adapt them to meet health protocols. Here is a sampling:
Holiday Lights Safaris at The Bronx Zoo
Bronx, NY – The Bronx Zoo has officially flipped the switch on Holiday Lights 2020 which runs on select dates through January 10, bringing New Yorkers much-needed joy for the winter season. Tickets for Holiday Lights must be purchased in advance and are now available online.
This year’s experience encompasses a larger area of the zoo and be organized to accommodate social distancing. With dozens more animal lanterns than last year, the zoo has created five geographically representative lantern safaris that include species from different regions of the world.
In addition to the wildlife lantern safaris and sprawling holiday illuminations, the new Luminous Garden features larger-than-life plants and animals unlike any other garden in New York including flowers, mushrooms, butterflies and other insects.
Entertainment includes ice carving demonstrations, costumed characters, stilt walkers, souvenirs, and seasonal treats. Of course, s’mores have been so popular, there are 12 fire pits where people can make their own s’mores or try one of the contest winners.
While celebrating the holiday season, all events and activities have been modified to meet all safety guidelines as directed by the State of New York. All guests over 3 years old are required to socially distance and wear face coverings, and all tickets are date-specific and must be purchased in advance online. For a full list of COVID-19 protocols, visit the zoo’s Know Before You Go page.
Visit the website for information, tickets and the full schedule of activities.
Palm Beach Zoo Lights is ‘Wild’ Holiday Celebration
West Palm Beach, Fla. – Zoo Lights presented by FPL SolarNow, illuminates Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society with more than one-million eco-friendly LED lights this holiday season. Starting November 27, the Zoo is open after regular hours on select nights from 6- 9 PM for a WILD holiday celebration featuring family fun, Santa, decadent treats, music and holiday charm.
“We can all use some holiday magic to shine through this season,” said Margo McKnight, president and CEO of Palm Beach Zoo. “The premiere of Zoo Lights last year was a huge holiday hit with our community. This year it is even more important to offer visitors a safe celebration where families can be outside in nature, enjoy great weather and embrace the spirit of the holidays.”
Zoo Lights visitors can expect to have a safe, socially distanced and enjoyable experience including photos with Santa, a DJ playing holiday tunes, sweet treats and more including:
An evening stroll through the Zoo surrounded by one-million holiday lights and lighted displays.
A unique theme for each area of the Zoo. New for 2020, the Asia section will dazzle in golden hues as lighted animals sparkle, adding more square footage to the vast event.
The Florida Wetlands section features traditional holiday cheer and Santa’s workshop. Families can have their portraits made with Santa, and children can share their holiday wishes through December 23.
The Fountain Plaza transforms into a North Pole dance floor where a DJ spins family-friendly holiday hits each evening.
While the jaguars sleep, the Mayan Plaza shines with blue lights and dripping icicles.
The Tropics Cafe features festive holiday fare, and food stations around the Zoo offer seasonal treats, beverages and cocktails, as well as a s’mores fire pit.
The gift shop offers lighted merchandise sure to be your children’s favorite.
For the second consecutive year, Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) is sponsoring Zoo Lights with its FPL SolarNow program. “It’s fitting for Florida Power & Light Company to illuminate the holiday season in this special way, with energy-efficient LED lights that brightens the Zoo’s pathways and gives families a safe place to celebrate,” said Matt Valle, vice president, FPL Development at NextEra Energy, Inc. and Zoo board member. “Having the ability to bring your family to a world-class destination that represents conservation is a benefit that many parents, such as myself, find invaluable now more than ever.”
Tickets for Zoo Lights are $14.95 for adults and $12.95 for children. Palm Beach Zoo Annual Members receive special pricing. Pre-sale tickets are available atwww.palmbeachzoo.org/zoolights
This year, Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society is the official non-profit community partner of Sandi and the City of West Palm Beach Holidays in Paradise annual downtown campaign. In addition to taking part in Zoo Lights, plan on visiting Sandi and her flamingo friend Hope as Sandi Brings Hope to West Palm Beach. Learn more at wpb.org/events
For more than 50 years, Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society has provided visitors with up-close and personal animal encounters that connect people to wildlife. Palm Beach Zoo guests explore a WILD ecosystem thriving on 23 lush, tropical acres while discovering hundreds of exotic animals. Visitors enjoy interactive animal experiences, nature and water play, and a lakeside cafe. Palm Beach Zoo participates in AZA Species Survival Plan® programs, ensuring healthy animal populations for rare and endangered species. The impact of a visit to Palm Beach Zoo extends beyond the gates, inspiring people to take action and save wildlife in wild places. For more information, visit www.palmbeachzoo.org.
Have a Colonial Christmas in Williamsburg, Virginia
Williamsburg, VA – In Colonial Williamsburg, in addition to Grand Illumination, enjoy special holiday events throughout December include caroling at the Courthouse, walking tours highlighting colonial Christmas decorations and the galleries of the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg, visits with Father Christmas, ice skating at the Liberty Ice Pavilion, the community Christmas Tree lighting with special readings of “The Night Before Christmas,” the Lighting of the Cressets on historic Duke of Gloucester Street with strolling musicians and tidings of good cheer Dec. 17 – 24, holiday feasts and meals, and opportunities to shop for colonial gifts such as wreaths and centerpieces. The living history attraction remains open for daily holiday programs with special health protocols in place.
Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area is fully decorated and holiday-themed programming is being presented daily ― mostly outdoors ― through New Year’s Day, along with a range of new exhibitions, seasonal programming and the famous Folk Art Christmas Tree at the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg, which this year completed a $41.7-million donor-funded expansion.
In Merchants Square, a variety of shopping and dining options await, along with Liberty Ice Pavilion, now open daily on Duke of Gloucester Street. A new Christmas Market opens Fridays through Sundays, Dec. 4-19, at the corner of South Boundary Street and Francis Street, hosted in partnership with the City and CultureFixVA.
The Busch Gardens Christmas Celebration runs on select dates through Jan. 3, featuring new village entertainment, fifteen coasters and rides, a Gingerbread Scavenger Hunt, festive holiday shopping, sweet culinary offerings, and meeting Santa in his Workshop.
In Yorktown, catch the Yorktown Christmas Tree Lighting, a community tradition that goes back to 1945, on Dec. 4. The Christmas Market on Main Street, Dec. 5-6, features 60 vendors for holiday gift shopping along with holiday music, The Fifes and Drums of Yorktown, festive food and drink, and an appearance by Santa on York County’s first fire truck. On Dec. 6, enjoy Cookies with Santa at the Gallery at York Hall and learn about ancient Norse influences on modern Christmas culture at the Viking Yuletide Celebration at the Watermen’s Museum. Shop for holiday gifts while enjoying chowders, soups, baked goods and other treats at the Mistletoe Market at Riverwalk Landing, Dec. 12, also featuring a live ice carving demonstration and a Toyland Parade. From Dec. 19-31, Christmastide in Virginia at Jamestown Settlement and the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown recalls 17th- and 18th-century holiday traditions through special interpretive programs and musical entertainment of the period. At the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, hear accounts of Christmas and winter in military encampments during the American Revolution and glimpse holiday preparations on a Revolution-era farm. A Jamestown Settlement, compare and contrast English Christmas customs of the period with how the season may have been observed in the difficult early years of the Jamestown colony.
At Berkeley Plantation, enjoy Centuries of Christmas, Dec. 5 – Jan. 1, when the elegant 1726 mansion will be beautifully decorated with fresh greenery from Berkley’s gardens. Highlights include costumed guides sharing four centuries of stories, tours, workshops, teas and other special events.
Holidays in the Brandywine Valley
Wilmington and the Brandywine Valley is one of the most picturesque and historic places especially during the holiday season. Here are highlights:
Longwood Christmas at Longwood Gardens, one of America’s most lauded holidays light displays shines brightly in the Brandywine Valley through Jan. 10, with more than 500,000 sparkling lights, dancing fountains, an illuminated light show set to yuletide music and the 100-foot tunnel of light that pulses with changing colors. spreading holiday cheer throughout the gardens every night. Walk through this winter wonderland, stop into the conservatory for a dazzling display of holiday colors in every corner. Time your visit to sing along with Christmas carols as they’re played on the 10,010-pipe Aeolian organ, the largest ever constructed in a residential setting. To make a reservation and for more details, visit www.longwoodgardens.org.
Decking the halls is a full-time job for whoever decorates Henry Francis du Pont’s 175-room home for Yuletide at Winterthur. This premier museum of the American decorative arts, each room on the Yuletide Tour tells a story of how Americans have celebrated the holidays, starting back in the days when our nation was still young. There are sparkling trees, magical dollhouses, visits from Dickens and a number of holiday events (like the Yuletide Brunch with Santa) that tend to sell out early.
Holiday Magic at the Brandywine River Museum of Art, through Jan. 10, is highlighted by the Brandywine Railroad O-gauge model train that travels nearly 2,000 feet of track, passing through factories, a farm, a small town, and even a carnival setting. Kids programs run all month long, including the Polar Express Read-Aloud Pajama Night and sensory-friendly mornings with the trains. Exciting new additions this season are two model train sets once owned by Nicky and Jamie Wyeth, the sons of the renowned American artist Andrew Wyeth.
Cape May MAC’s 47th Annual Christmas Candlelight House Tour Goes Virtual But Holiday Tours of Physick Estate Continue
Cape May, NJ –Cape May MAC (Museums+Arts+Culture) announces its 2020 Cape May Christmas Candlelight House Tour is available for purchase to experience virtually this year, but other Cape May traditional holiday programs, focused around the historic Emlen Physick Estate, with health protocols firmly in place, continue over the six weeks of the season.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions and protocols this year, Cape May MAC made the difficult decision that these annual holiday tours, usually offered on three nights in December, must be cancelled in 2020. Cape May’s Christmas Candlelight House Tours have been a beloved annual tradition for nearly half a century. Cape May MAC launched this tour in 1973 and ever since it has been a highlight of the Christmas season in Cape May, America’s only National Historic Landmark City. Thousands of people on three nights in December travel to more than a dozen homes, inns, B&Bs, churches and hotels, stepping across the thresholds to take in interiors beautifully decorated for the holidays. It is one of Cape May MAC’s largest fund-raisers.
“This year, it was decided to create a video that will bring the joy and excitement of these Cape May Christmas tours directly into people’s homes, to continue this tradition unbroken. With enthusiastic participation from Cape May innkeepers, B&B owners and homeowners, planning began this summer and production is nearly complete.”
“Of course, we look forward to when we can offer these self-guided tours in person once again, but we could not have Christmas in Cape May without them in 2020,” said Cape May MAC Director and CEO Jody Alessandrine.
For the first time, the tour will be entirely virtual, via a video available for purchase through Vimeo On Demand ($30). Featured are 10 Cape May homes, B&Bs and inns decorated for the holidays including interviews with owners and innkeepers. Participating properties include: The John B. McCreary House (“The Abbey”), Angel of the Sea Bed & Breakfast, The Bedford Inn, The Cherry House, The Emlen Physick Estate, Franklin at 721, The Henry Sawyer Inn, The Mainstay Inn, The Mason Cottage and The Mission Inn.
This presentation is sponsored by Sturdy Savings Bank and Brown & Brown Insurance. Proceeds benefit Cape May MAC, a not-for-profit organization committed to promoting the preservation, interpretation and cultural enrichment of the Cape May region for its residents and visitors since 1970. Cape May MAC membership is open to all. Visit capemaymac.org/support/membership to learn more.
While the candlelight tour is virtual, the rest of Cape May’s traditional holiday tours are taking place daily:
The Emlen Physick Estate is open daily (except Thanksgiving and Christmas) for holiday tours. Designed by American architect Frank Furness, the Physick House is Cape May’s Victorian House Museum. Its restoration began Cape May’s 50-year renaissance that continues to this day.
New in 2020! Winter Wonderwalk this season at the Physick Estate.
Open-air trolley tours are offered throughout this holiday season in Cape May. Bring a blanket!
Vintage restaurant is open during the holidays with heated, outdoor dining under the patio tent on the grounds of the Emlen Physick Estate, for both brunch and dinner.
An Old-fashioned Christmas Exhibit features a huge indoor Christmas Tree and Dept. 56 Dickens Village collection. Free admission to this popular annual display.
For information about Cape May MAC’s year-round schedule of tours, festivals and special events, visit capemaymac.org. For information about historic accommodations, contact Cape May Historic Accommodations at capemaylodging.com. For information about restaurants, accommodations and shopping, call the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Cape May at 609-884-5508. For information on the city’s COVID-19 response, visit capemaystrong.org.
Drive-Through Holiday Lights Display at Jones Beach State Park, Long Island
Long Island, NY – The Magic of Lights 2.5-mile long drive-through holiday display at Jones Beach State Park, presented by New York Community Bank, takes place through Jan. 2. It features themed light displays using the latest LED technology and digital animations, including the drive-through Blizzard Tunnel as well as other returning favorites including 12 Days of Christmas, Winter Wonderland and The Night Before Christmas. The popular Toyota Mega Tree Spectacular also returns this season, featuring favorite holiday programming displayed across 240 feet of LED Christmas trees.
Magic of Lights is open daily day from dusk and run through 10pm Sunday through Thursday and until 11pm on Friday and Saturday.
Limited early bird tickets are available for a reduced price of $20 with a code while supplies last at www.Ticketmaster.com. Admission is $25 per vehicle in advance and $30 at the gate on Monday through Thursday and $35 Friday through Sunday. Buy tickets in advance for a contactless experience on-site. Receive $3 off weekday admission when you bring at least two non-perishable food items benefiting Long Island food banks.
Some of the evenings are designated as charity nights. Last year Magic of Lights’ philanthropy made a meaningful impact in local communities by raising more than $150,000 for local organizations in addition to collecting non-perishable food items, toys, books, coats and more for those who need it most.
Nothing can stop the holiday magic so iconic to New York, and though this holiday season will be different, the spirit and cheer shines through with traditions and iconic events that have delighted generations continuing, albeit with some innovations and modifications. This guide was compiled by NYC & Co.:
“New Yorkers and visitors are invited to mask up and safely enjoy this festive, holiday season in New York City, with less crowds, significant savings, and more outdoor activities than ever before,” said NYC & Company President and CEO Fred Dixon. “From ice skating rinks and igloos to colorful light displays, cultural exhibitions and holiday shopping, there’s no shortage of things to see and do. By taking advantage of our All In NYC: Neighborhood Getaways offers including the Mastercard $100 rebate, you will also be supporting local businesses and hospitality industry jobs. We’re also encouraging those from afar to give the gift of NYC this year by shopping iconic NYC merchants online, gifting museum memberships and buying gift cards for future travel.”
New Yorkers and visitors alike can show support for NYC by masking up and taking an NYC-cation, staying overnight at one of the City’s welcoming hotels. NYC & Company’s most ambitious savings program ever—All In NYC: Neighborhood Getaways—offers nearly 300 deals across accommodations, attractions, dining, retail, tours and more, available at nycgo.com/neighborhoodgetaways. Those who register their Mastercard for the All In NYC: Neighborhood Getaways program—now including new offers through a unique holiday collection—can receive up to $100 total in statement credit when spending $100 or more at hotels and $20 or more at all other businesses.
Those unable to visit are encouraged to Shop NYC this year, through purchases at nycgo.com/shopinnyc, including a roundup of e-commerce/gift cards, distinctive apparel and accessories, signature hotel items, museum gifts and memberships, food and gift baskets, souvenirs, books, music, games and more.
Additionally, Virtual NYC experiences are available online for those from afar to enjoy NYC this festive season, including live stream presentations from Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Carnegie Hall, Cathedral of St. John the Divine, Lincoln Center and more, available at nycgo.com/virtualnyc, along with a special holiday collection.
Here are a selection of holiday-themed events, attractions, markets, hotel offers, gifts and more, available this holiday season in NYC. For more information, visit nycgo.com/holidays.
Holiday Light Displays and Light Shows
Holiday Lights at Bronx Zoo November 20 through January 10, 2021 | The Bronx During this festive celebration, visitors can enjoy five animal lantern safaris, as well as holiday-themed music, ice-carving demonstrations, costumed characters, stilt walkers, souvenirs, and seasonal treats like hot chocolate and s’mores.
Harlem Holiday Lights November 16 through December 31 | Manhattan Each holiday season, Harlem’s 125th Street is illuminated with more than 10,000 festive LED lights across nine blocks, from Broadway to Fifth Avenue. The annual Turn On the Lights event will be live streamed this year, enabling all to watch the iconic thoroughfare light up with festive light and window displays, as well as a caravan of decorated floats traveling around Harlem to safely greet participating buildings and businesses.
Shine Bright at Hudson Yards November 22 through December 31 | Manhattan NYC’s newest neighborhood will introduce new holiday decor, , that will illuminate the Public Square and Gardens, The Shops at Hudson Yards, Vessel and Edge with white lights set against evergreen trees and one-of-a-kind set pieces. By downloading this app, guests will be transported through augmented reality to the North Pole and Santa’s Workshop where they will be able to walk through mounds of snow, along candy cane lanes, pose for pictures alongside animated polar bears, elves, penguins, and Rudolph, and video chat with Santa Claus.
Luminaries at Brookfield Place November 27 through January 8, 2021 | Manhattan Lower Manhattan’s Brookfield Place will feature a canopy of colorful lights emanating from hundreds of lanterns suspended among the shopping center’s palm trees. Touchless, motion-activated stations allow visitors to make a wish and prompt a magical display of lights and colors.
New York Botanical Garden will present a gorgeous outdoor light show, illuminating its landmark gardens and the Haupt Conservatory on 14 select nights. As part of the experience, visitors will also be able to enjoy artistic ice sculptures, music, roving dancers and more outdoor fun.
LuminoCity Festival November 27 through January 10, 2021 | Manhattan A spectacular light show which debuted for the first time last year on Randall’s Island, LuminoCity will feature several acres of new light art installations and sculptures inspired by nature, history and magic.
Holiday Lights at Arthur Avenue November 30 onwards | The Bronx Come walk the Bronx’s “Little Italy” and take in the bright lights strung along Arthur Avenue, as well as the area’s holiday windows. A neighborhood Christmas tree at Ciccarone Park will be festively lit, beginning November 30.
Lighting of the Largest Menorah in Brooklyn December 10–17 | Brooklyn The annual lighting of Brooklyn’s largest Menorah at Grand Army Plaza will take place each night of Chanukah, kicking off with a socially distanced celebration on December 10.
Holiday Light Show Featuring Carrie Underwood’s “Hallelujah” with John Legend at the Empire State Building December 19–25 | Manhattan The Empire State Building’s annual music-to-light show will kick off on December 19, with Carrie Underwood’s new song “Hallelujah” with John Legend being synced to the iconic building’s dazzling holiday lights. In conjunction with the release of Underwood’s new Christmas album My Gift, at 8pm each night the song will be broadcast on iHeartRadio’s Z100 and LiteFM, and the light show will also be streamed live via Earthcam.
Holiday Train Show at New York Botanical Garden Now through January 31, 2021 | The Bronx Marvel at model trains zipping through an enchanting display of famous NYC landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, Rockefeller Center and other favorites, each delightfully re-created from natural materials such as birch bark, acorns and cinnamon sticks. Due to limited capacity and tickets this year, the Train Show can only be viewed by a Member, Patron, Corporate Member, or Bronx Community Partner.
UrbanSparkle at UrbanGlass Now through January 15, 2021 | Brooklyn UrbanGlass presents UrbanSparkle, an annual holiday exhibition which features artists exploring the material of glass as decoration. Works selected for this installation feature five artists using a variety of techniques, offering one-of-a-kind gifts to holiday shoppers.
The Origami Holiday Tree at the American Museum of Natural History November 25 through January 10, 2021 | Manhattan An annual tradition for more than 40 years, the Origami Tree is a beloved New York City holiday offering. This year’s tree features 1,000 colored origami cranes, representing peace and good wishes as the City continues to be challenged by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Christmas Tree and Hanukkah Lamp at The Met Museum November 27 through January 6, 2021 | Manhattan The Met continues a longstanding holiday tradition with the presentation of its Christmas tree, a magnificently lit, twenty-foot blue spruce that looms over a vivid eighteenth-century Neapolitan Nativity scene, enshrined in an abundant array of lifelike figures with silk-robed angels hovering above. Recorded Christmas music adds to the enjoyment of the holiday display. The Met will also have a spectacular silver Hanukkah lamp on display, generously on loan from the Moldovan Family Collection. Both beautiful and functional, this remarkable lamp was created in 1866 through 1872 in Lemberg (Lviv), Eastern Europe. Its rich history connects the lamp to centuries of Hanukkah celebrations across Jewish communities throughout the world.
“Broadway at the Drive-in” Radial Park at Halletts Point November 27 through December 19 | Queens Head to Astoria to experience the Christmas Show, featuring new and classic Christmas flicks, live performances, a holiday-themed installation, games, raffles and secret Santa fun all in a socially distant manner with views of the Manhattan skyline and East River.
Candlelight Tours at Historic Richmond Town Saturdays, November 28 through December 19 | Staten Island Visitors are invited to experience intimate, small-group tours of select, decorated historic buildings illuminated by candlelight, at this historic village and museum complex. In-costume interpreters will demonstrate period customs from the 18th and 19th centuries, including games, songs, and traditional treats and beverages. Prepaid reservations are required and tickets can be purchased now.
Sing for Hope at Hudson Yards December 1—31 | Manhattan One baby grand and seven upright pianos painted by artists inspired by Hudson Yards will be displayed throughout The Shops. The pianos will be played by Broadway artists and Juilliard students. In early January, all pianos will be delivered and donated to communities, homes and others who will benefit from the healing power of the arts.
Winter Activities at Queens Botanical Garden December 5—6 | Queens Celebrate the holidays with a slate of winter activities at the garden: wreath-making workshops, winter trees tours, beeswax candle making, and a holiday sale at the gift shop.
Holiday Wreath Workshops and Winter Solstice Garden Walk at Wave Hill December 5 & 6, December 20 | The Bronx On December 5 and 6, join local florist Hanako Shimamoto in Wave Hill’s grand and historic Armor Hall for a holiday wreath workshop. Beginning with a balsam wreath base, design a one-of-a-kind wreath accented with natural materials, accessories and fresh greens harvested from the gardens. On December 20, join a garden interpreter for a peaceful guided stroll on the eve of the Winter Solstice. The leafless trees provide spectacular views of the Hudson River and cliffs of the Palisades, to enjoy the serenity of the season and the promise of brighter days to come.
Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol at The Morgan Library & Museum December 7, 2020 through January 11, 2021 | Manhattan Each holiday season, the Morgan displays Charles Dickens’ original manuscript of A Christmas Carol in J. Pierpont Morgan’s Library. The Morgan now advances the Christmas Carol manuscript by one page each season, and this year, the manuscript is open to Scrooge’s vituperative remarks about Christmas. Explore A Christmas Carolonline and view other related highlights from the collection, and share in the festivities with a copy of A Christmas Carol available from the Morgan Shop.
Chanukah Family Experience at the Jewish Children’s Museum December 13-17 | Brooklyn Enjoy an experiential Chanukah celebration with the family by creating various art projects – from designing a dreidel-shaped pillow and helping to create a Chanukah mural on a Menorah, to decorating a mouth-watering holiday donut or discovering the art of olive oil making.
Iconic NYC Traditions
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade November 26 | Manhattan This beloved holiday tradition of larger-than-life balloons and dazzling floats has been transformed into a television-only experience that will be aired on NBC and Telemundo from 9am–12pm, in all time zones, for all to enjoy safely from the comfort of home. The 94th annual parade will feature Broadway performances by Hamilton, Mean Girls, Jagged Little Pill, and Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations.
Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting December 2 | Manhattan Bringing joy and Christmas spirit to the City, the 88th annual Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting has taken place. Visitors can see will take place on December 2 from 7—10pm with no public access, however, all are invited to view the live national broadcast “Christmas in Rockefeller Center” from home on NBC. the 75-foot-tall Norway spruce from Oneonta, NY, arrived at Rockefeller Center this past weekend.
New Year’s Eve Times Square Ball Drop December 2020 through January 1, 2021 | Manhattan Each year, millions of viewers watch the Times Square Ball Drop from NYC and around the globe, and this year, for the first time ever, the event will be televised only with the traditional ball drop, live performances and special guests to be announced. Additional annual activities include the Wishing Wall activation (month of December), Numeral Arrival of “2” and “1’ for 2021 (December 21), Numeral Installation atop One Times Square (December 26), Crystal Installation (December 27), Good Riddance Day (December 28), Confetti Test (December 29) and Ball Test and Balloon Preparation (December 30).
Ice Skating Rinks
The Rink at Winter Village at Bryant Park Now through March 7, 2021 | Manhattan Enjoy the City’s only free, outdoor ice skating rink in Midtown at Bryant Park’s Winter Village, with reduced capacity to allow for social distancing. Advanced ticket purchases are required.
The Rink at Brookfield Place November 16 onwards | Manhattan The Rink at Brookfield Place provides skaters of all levels a spot to take lessons or skate on their own while enjoying views of the Hudson River and surrounding cityscape.
Vale Rink at The William Vale November 27 onwards | Brooklyn Skate on the eco-friendly, synthetic rooftop rink of The William Vale in Williamsburg, with views of the NYC skyline. Guests will also be able to warm up in private, socially distanced tiny houses.
Wollman Rink at Central Park Now through March 2021 | Manhattan Situated in the heart of Manhattan at 59th Street and Sixth Avenue, the iconic Wollman Rink offers spectacular views of the NYC skyline and programs that cater to the entire family—ideal for visitors and local skating enthusiasts.
Rink at Rockefeller Center November 21, 2020 through January 17, 2021 | Manhattan The world-famous ice skating rink will open for the holiday season, with advanced tickets available for purchase at www.skatingatrockcenter.com. Skaters also have the option of purchasing VIP packages in partnership with City Winery.
How’s this for a novel way to engage in the holidays: Bike New York is organizing a series of “Holiday Lights & Sights” rides in the boroughs, starting with Brooklyn (Dec. 12), Manhattan (Dec. 13,); Bronx (Dec. 18). You need to preregister ($10; free for members). https://www.bike.nyc/events/local-rides/.
Holiday Markets, Retail Displays and Shopping
Virtual Holiday Fair at Grand Central Terminal Now through December 24 | Manhattan This holiday attraction will be online only this year, featuring handmade home goods, toys, art, accessories, jewelry, bath and body products, and men’s, women’s and children’s apparel.
Holiday Under the Stars at The Shops at Columbus Circle Now through December 24 | Manhattan Spend time shopping for that perfect gift and dine under the stars, daily, from 4—7pm at 14-foot stars hang from the ceiling and illuminate to the beat of holiday music in the Great Room overlooking Central Park.
Open Storefronts Program Now through December 31 | Citywide This holiday season, there is no better gift to give than shopping local and supporting small businesses. The Open Storefronts program assists existing ground-floor, storefront businesses who want to use outdoor areas on a temporary basis to sell merchandise through the holiday season.
The Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park Now through March 2021 | Manhattan In addition to one of the most popular ice skating rinks in NYC, the Winter Village provides must-buy gifts and winter activities at the Holiday Shops. For a festive cocktail or bite to eat, check out The Lodge Deck by Urbanspace.
Make Merry Holiday 2020 Shop at Nordstrom NYC Now onwards | Manhattan The Nordstrom flagship store on Broadway will unveil its annual holiday decorations on November 27, and Santa and his elves will participate in a daily Santa Snow Show at 2pm and 6pm through December 24. A Make Merry Holiday 2020 Shop, curated by the buyers at Nordstrom, will assist with this year’s shopping needs.
Empire Outlets December 3 onwards | Staten Island Located steps away from the free Staten Island Ferry, Empire Outlets is NYC’s only outdoor outlets shopping destination with views of Lower Manhattan. This holiday season will mark the launch of Empire Outlet’s food and beverage deck including MRKTPL artisanal food hall, Bake Culture, Clinton Hall beer garden, and Wasabi Steak & Sushi. The outlets will be transformed into a winter wonderland, with a festive socially-distant tree lighting ceremony to kick off the season on December 3.
Window Displays at Macy’s Herald Square & Macy’s Downtown Brooklyn November 19 through January 1, 2021 | Manhattan & Brooklyn Thank you, Gracias, Merci, all multilingual expressions of gratitude, will be the centerpiece of Macy’s flagship world-famous windows, taking the form of a thank you letter to first responders, essential workers, marchers for equality and New Yorkers who showed their grit and hopeful spirit during a difficult year. Macy’s Downtown Brooklyn will also host a celebratory “Thank You” to the City beginning November 27. This year, Macy’s is also bringing Santa Claus to every home through Santaland, where children of all ages can take an interactive online journey through the North Pole and NYC, and take a virtual selfie with Santa himself November 27 through December 24.
Window Displays & Saks Lights Up Fifth Avenue at Saks Fifth Avenue November 23 through December 23 | Manhattan Saks’ theme for the holiday season, This is How We Celebrate, shines a light on the importance of spending time with loved ones and the different ways people and places celebrate. The theme comes to life in their holiday window display, which brings a different quintessential New York moment to life in each scene. The iconic holiday windows and 10-story-tall theatrical light show will be revealed with a reimagined, one-of-a-kind event concept titled, Saks Lights Up Fifth Avenue. In lieu of closing down Fifth Avenue for a single, large-scale performance, Saks will host several intimate ceremonies with prominent members of the fashion and entertainment communities, as well as NYC notables, lighting up the Saks New York flagship each night.
“Give Happy” Holiday Campaign at Bloomingdales November 23 through December 31 | Manhattan The reinvented “Give Happy” holiday campaign will come to life through an exclusive Virtual Holiday Benefit on November 23 featuring singer and songwriter Andra Day, innovative activations with charitable components, digital experiences, new services, and holiday window displays.
The 34th Annual Miracle on Madison Avenue December 5| Manhattan The 34th annual Miracle on Madison Avenue will be held from 10am to 5pm, and 20% of sales at participating stores will be donated to pediatric initiatives of The Society of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Madison Avenue’s holiday decor and lights will be on display a bit longer this year to spread extra cheer, from late November through early February.
Shop NYC’s Independent Bookstores Ongoing | Citywide This year, give the gift of literature and unique goods, while supporting NYC’s independent bookstores across the City by shopping local, including Books are Magic, Greenlight Bookstore, McNally Jackson and more.
Outdoor Igloo and Winter Rooftop Experiences
City Winery at Rockefeller Center Now through December 31 | Manhattan Enjoy a glass of locally-crafted wine and a bite to eat in a warm, private winter dome at City Winery, or in the Outdoor Wine Garden, offering views of the iconic Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. Reservations can be made through Resy.
The Greens at Seaport District NYC Now onwards | Manhattan The City’s premier open-air rooftop venue at Pier 17 will bring seasonal charm as it converts the Seaport’s socially distant summer dining concept, The Greens, into winterized rooftop cabins, each including comfy seating, an air purifier, a spacious and heated floor plan, a virtual fireplace, floor-to-ceiling views of NYC and more.
Igloo Bar at 230 Fifth Now through May 2021 | Manhattan Experience a winter oasis at one of the 17 igloos offered at 230 Fifth. Igloos can accommodate up to 10 guests and cannot be shared with other parties this year; advanced bookings are recommended.
The Runway Chalet at the TWA Hotel Now onwards | Queens This sixties-era après ski experience is now open, along with the heated infinity pool on the roof of the TWA Hotel. The vintage electric fireplace crackles as enjoy cocktails like the Altitude Adjustment (spiced rum and hot cider with a cinnamon stick).
Winter Experiences at The William Vale Early December onwards | Brooklyn Village at Westlight comprises of festive, enclosed chalets for small parties to enjoy food and beverage alongside the Vale Rink on the hotel’s 23rd floor rooftop, while Winter Spa treatments are being offered on the hotel’s 4th floor terrace in partnership with Terra Glamping tents.
Winter Dining at The Hoxton, Williamsburg Now Open | Brooklyn Enjoy a selection of natural wines, classic cocktails and a rustic menu served in front of the fireplace at Klein’s Wine Cellar, or warm up on the heated Winterly rooftop of this beautiful boutique property. The enclosed rooftop is open from 4—10pm on weekdays and noon—10pm on weekends.
Festive on Fifth Suites at The Langham, New York, Fifth Avenue Now through December 26 | Manhattan The Langham’s Festive on Fifth Suites package includes individualized Christmas decor for a personal family holiday celebration, with the hotel giving guests a gift as a souvenir of a fabulous holiday spent on Fifth Avenue.
Holiday Staycations at The Beekman Now through December 31 | Manhattan This holiday season, guests checking into The Beekman can save up to 25 percent on rooms and 40 percent on suites, while enjoying complimentary late checkout. This beautiful Lower Manhattan hotel is also offering festive 3-course dining menus on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Holiday Cheer at Shelburne Hotel & Suites by Affinia November 16 through December 31 | Manhattan Enjoy a cozy stay in one of the hotel’s spacious guestrooms or suites, complete with holiday movies, hot chocolate, and cookie decorating. Those who book directly with the hotel can enjoy late checkout and receive free cancellations.
Christmas Tree Sip and See and Letters to Santa at Lotte New York Palace November 18 through December 25 | Manhattan From November 18 on, enjoy hot beverages and admire the Lotte New York Palace’s beloved Christmas tree in the hotel’s Madison Avenue courtyard. Staying from November 30 through Christmas Day? Make sure to fill out the postcard given to all guests and send it to Santa via the convenient North Pole Mailbox in the hotel lobby.
New Holiday Traditions at AKA Central Park, AKA Times Square and AKA Sutton Place November 20 through January 3, 2021 | Manhattan Conveniently located close to all the action, AKA’s New York City hotels are offering a special holiday deal which includes 10 percent off when booking two or more suites of any kind for a week or longer, special holiday amenities including gourmet hot cocoa and a bottle of wine upon check-in, private access to a cinema (at select locations), a sweet treat upon departure, and more.
The Penthouse Holiday Spectacular at The Mark Hotel December 1 onwards | Manhattan Luxurious holiday offerings for guests of The Mark Hotel include a private skating rink on the hotel penthouse’s terrace, a private performance of The Nutcracker ballet, after-hours private shopping at Bergdorf Goodman, in-suite spa experiences, personal fitness classes, airport transfers by helicopter, and more.
The Gift of Travel with the InterContinental New York Barclay Purchase by December 24; Offer valid from May 1, 2021 through December 31, 2022 | Manhattan Give the gift of a future carefree stay at the InterContinental New York Barclay. For $500, this gift certificate – pre-packaged in a festive gift box! – includes a three-night stay in Executive Accommodations, daily breakfast for two during the stay, and a Barclay Momento Welcome Amenity. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to purchase.
Hotline to the North Pole at Conrad New York Downtown December 24 | Manhattan Conrad New York Downtown will have a “Hotline to the North Pole” for the first time this year, offering current and past guests, as well as the children’s ward at a large NYC hospital, the opportunity to video conference with Santa Claus on December 24 from 4-6pm. Guests utilizing the Hotline to the North Pole while at the hotel will receive complimentary milk and cookies to enjoy while talking to Santa.
Home for the Holidays at Crosby Street Hotel and The Whitby Hotel December 24–26 | Manhattan Guests checking into Crosby Street Hotel and The Whitby Hotel can experience festively decorated suites complete with their own Christmas tree, and enjoy private dining on Christmas Day followed by a holiday film screening in the hotel’s cinema.
Fireplace Package at Royalton New York Ongoing | Manhattan For colder days during the winter season, enjoy a cozy stay at the only hotel in New York City with wood-burning fireplaces in select guestrooms.
Shopping Package at SIXTY SoHo Ongoing | Manhattan Guests can take advantage of this promotion to receive a welcome bag with gifts from neighborhood stores and access to discounts at neighborhood retailers, for all your holiday gifting needs.
Festive Holiday Cruises by Classic Harbor Line November 21 through December 31 | Manhattan Guests can enjoy festive 90-minute sightseeing cruises on 1920s-style yachts this holiday season, complete with hot chocolate, holiday decor and unobstructed views of New York City’s iconic skyline, and new health and safety protocols in place.
Private Holiday Shopping Tour by Inside Out Tours Thursdays through Saturdays in December | Manhattan Enjoy a private holiday shopping experience, featuring some of the top holiday markets and retail around the city. Additionally, Inside Out is offering a Holiday Dessert Virtual Cooking Class that will showcase NYC through the lens of food and multiculturalism by having participants create and taste foods including: Mini sweet potato pies, mulled apple cider, and double fudge holiday cupcakes.
Give the Gift of New York City
Shop NYC Those who can’t go in person, can always shop some of their favorite retailers, hotels and cultural institutions online, with gift cards, e-commerce and other offerings. Discover distinctive apparel and accessories; signature hotel items like linens, robes and spa products; food and gift baskets; souvenirs, books, music, games and more. NYC & Company’s Shop NYC resource has something for every person on your shopping list.
Museum Gift Shops, Cultural Memberships and Subscriptions Consider gifting a cultural membership/subscription or purchasing your holiday gifts from one of New York City’s many world-class museums’ online gift shops, to support these beloved institutions while planning ahead for a future visit.
Junior’s Cheesecake One of the most iconic desserts in New York City, a cheesecake from makes a great holiday gift. You can send that lucky person on your shopping list a holiday themed cheesecake like their Holiday Little Fellas Sampler or their Strawberry Swirl Designer Christmas Cheesecake. There is surely something for everyone.
Levain Bakery Grab a gift card, merchandise or a gift box of Levain Bakery’s enormous and delicious cookies. Signature cookie assortments allow your friends and family to sample all four of the beloved NYC brand’s original cookie flavors.
Li-Lac Chocolates Manhattan’s oldest chocolate house, ships all over the world. Check out their holiday themed molds and goodies, as well as their NYC gifts like a chocolate Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, taxi or “Big Apple.”
Russ & Daughters A New York City staple for more than 100 years, offers some of the most delicious bagels, lox, appetizers and baked goods. Ship that homesick friend a holiday brunch basket with bagels, babka, lox and more.
Zabar’s Send a luscious gift basket filled with meats, smoked fish and pastries from
NYC & Company is the official destination marketing organization and convention and visitors bureau for the City of New York. For all there is to do and see in New York City, visit nycgo.com.
Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com
Philadelphia, a city
proud of being where the United States was invented, where history, culture and
art and entertainment ring out everywhere, a city which boasts being the “City
of Brotherly Love,” is particularly warm, welcoming and filled with good cheer
during the winter holidays.
During the course of a holiday
weekend in Philadelphia I devoted one day to reveling in the special events and
festivities – all within a 15 minute walk of my hotel, the newly opened
apartment hotel, The Roost East Market.
set out at 3 pm from The Roost, walking through City Hall – this most
magnificent of structures which becomes Holiday Central, with a carousel in the
center, Christmas markets, street musicians playing in each of the four
corridors. Outside, in Dilworth Park, is an outdoor skating rink, snack bars,
more markets. And each night, beginning at 5:30 pm, every hour on the half
hour, there is a light show in which the entire building façade becomes
head to Comcast Center (17th & JFK), which features an
extraordinary 20-minute Holiday Spectacular light show in the lobby (you just
walk in, no tickets needed), that happens on the hour, from 10 am to 8 pm.
I’m about 30 minutes
early and the guard suggests I go over to the Universal Sphere at the Comcast
Tech Center. You have to register for a time and I sign up for 4:30 pm. With
time still before the light show, I go to Comcast’s lower level where families
(and others) are lining up for a kindly
photographer to take photos (free) you can use for your Christmas card photo (I
can’t resist: I get to take a holiday
photo with E.T.), take in the pop-up Christmas market, and go back to the
Comcast Center for the holiday show.
A Philly holiday tradition, the Comcast Center’s annual Holiday Spectaculartransforms otherwise innocuous walls transform into a super high-res LED, 27-million pixel display so detailed that the figures – an orchestra
conductor, dancers – almost seem three-dimensional, that is to say, real. There
are delightful scenes: the Pennsylvania Ballet’s The Nutcracker,
scenes that are reminiscent of Disney’s Fantasia or Dumbo, a magical sleigh
ride over the city (with a bird’s-eye view of the new Comcast Technology
Center) and a sing-along. More than 2 million people have seen the show since
its debut in 2008. The 15- minute show (free) runs daily through New Year’s
Day, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. (every hour on the hour except 5 p.m. on weekdays;
Comcast Center, 1701 John F. Kennedy Boulevard.)
return to the Comcast Tech Center just in time for my “trip” in the Universal Sphere – this is a permanent
installation that was introduced last spring. You enter a sphere (it looks like
a giant golf ball), that becomes a space capsule (like in “Contact”, you
actually move and feel like you are traveling, but thankfully, it doesn’t make
you motion sick) to explore where ideas come from. In just 7 minutes, this
multi-media work of genius produced by Steven Spielberg and DreamWorks is an inspirational,
heart-warming, optimistic exploration
into what is an idea, where ideas come from, and where the next idea will come
(it doesn’t have to be a big idea; even small ideas can change lives.). “Ideas
start with nothing, become an intuition, a
notion, a thought, a concept. Ideas build upon each other, evolving and
changing to make new ideas.” The essential message is this: “Ideas are our
superpower, the very thing that makes us human.” Spielberg said of the project. “I want
everybody who experiences this to feel that they matter, that they count,” The
experience is enlightening, inspirational, absolutely fantastic and free and
You can reserve a time online and get a ticket; same day reservations open at 9 am. (Extended holiday hours, Nov 29-Dec. 31, daily 10 am-8 pm; Christmas Day & New Year’s noon-5 pm, 1800 Arch Street, Comcast Technology Center, Upper Lobby) More background info: https://comcastcentercampus.com/universal-sphere/. (Comcast Center Campus, 1701 John F. Kennedy Blvd., www.comcastcentercampus.com)
I still have time before my next holiday stop, so even though it is foggy, I ride up 57 stories (883 feet) to the One Liberty Observation, the highest point in Philadelphia, that normally provides a 360-view of the entire city. (1650 Market Street, PhillyFromTheTop.com, 215-561-3325.)
I’m back at Dilworth Park, in front of City Hall, in time for the Deck the Hall Light Show, featuring. technicolor projections synchronized to holiday music that animate the western façade of City Hall over Dilworth Park. Created by Klip Collective, a new feature for 2019 is that visitors can deck the hall themselves on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings using an interactive keyboard that projects lights onto City Hall. (Nightly every hour on the half hour from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm, see dilworthpark.org)
Skating on the Rothman Orthopaedics Ice Rink set underneath City Hall’s lights at City Hall while
listening to a mix of holiday tunes and bouncing beats, creates its own festive
vibe and also affords perfect views of the Deck The Hall Light Show from the
ice. ($5/skate, $1-0/rental, thru Feb. 23, Dilworth Park, 1S 15th
In the new Wawa Holiday Plaza at City Hall’s
North Apron (a first for Philly this year), is a 65-foot tall Christmas Village Ferris Wheel and a Holiday Train and holiday shops. ($4 to
ride the ferris wheel, $3 to ride the holiday train. (Thru Dec. 24, 1400 John
F. Kennedy Blvd.)
Wawa holiday plaza also hosts the Visit Philadelphia Holiday Tree— a 50-foot-tall white fir covered in
4,000 feet of multi-color LED lights, ornaments and a base that reflects
Philly’s 22 diverse neighborhoods around the city.
I walk back through City Hall’s beautiful courtyard featuring ACME Winter Memories, Christmas Village vendors and a fanciful
carousel ($3 a ride, but free on ACME Family Wednesdays, when each visitor also
gets a complimentary Santa hat).
A few steps away, at LOVE Park, is a mega-popular Christmas
Village in Philadelphia, featuring a traditional German Christmas
market with more than 80 vendors to check out.
timed my next stop at Macy’s, housed
in the former, historic Wanamaker’s Department Store – grand doesn’t even begin
to describe the interior. For the holidays, there is a giant light show
displayed three-stories high in the appropriately named Grand Court, an atrium
that soars four-stories, with balconies around, preceded by an organ recital on
what is called “The King of Organs.” At the center is a famous brass eagle.
The Macy’s Christmas Light Show, starring the 40-foot tall “Magic Christmas tree,” is a traditional favorite that generations have enjoyed since 1956. Narrated by Julie Andrews, it features “The Sugar Plum Fairy” and “Frosty the Snowman” with an enchanting nod to Julie Andrews’ “Sound of Music” and the wistful “good bye, good bye.” (Through Dec. 31; every two hours, from 10 am to 8 pm). Macy’s also hosts Santa visits through Dec 24, and there is a Dickens Village open until Dec. 31, where you watch as a Christmas Carol comes to life (photos with Santa packages start at $18.99, macys.com/santaland). (See macys.com/events.)
organ is actually a notable attraction. It boasts being the “world’s largest
pipe organ” and was first played in the Wanamaker soaring atrium at the exact moment
King George V was crowned in Westminster Abbey.
the crowd clears out (the store is open for holiday shopping until 11 pm), it’s
also an opportunity to become familiarized with the enormous Grand Court Eagle, which was created for the
1904 St Louis World’s Fair by sculptor August Gaul. Wanamaker purchased the
brass eagle for his flagship store and it became a catchphrase for shoppers,
“Meet me at the eagle.” The floor beneath is reinforced with extra girders to
accommodate its 2500 pounds; its 5,000 feathers (including 1600 on the head)
were wrought by hand.
A historic marker (one
of Philly’s many fascinating markers) outside Macy’s notes that John
Wanamaker (1838-1922) was a Philadelphia merchant famed for the department
stores that bore his name. He opened his first store in 1861, and built his
“new kind of store” in Philly in 1876, implementing new concepts including
one-price system and money-back guarantee. He also built schools and churches
and as US Postmaster General (1889-93), he fostered rural free delivery and
introduced the commemorative stamp.
I’m not done! I find out that one of Philly’s newest holiday festivals, East Market Snow Walk, happens in the plaza next door to The Roost East Market hotel, a nightly light show featuring the giant Christmas tree throughout December (6:30, 7:30, 8:30 pm) with live entertainment on Saturday nights (tonight’s is a sensational 1920s-style swing band, Parlour Noir) (get schedule, EastMarket.com).
There are more holiday happenings through the city that
I couldn’t fit in during my all-too-brief stay:
The annual Franklin Square Holiday Festival features a free Electrical Spectacle Holiday Light Show
presented by PECO that makes this historic square twinkle with more than 80,000 LED lights dancing to a
soundtrack of seasonal tunes from The Philly POPS. A 12-foot-tall kite serves
as an ode to Philadelphia’s favorite son, Benjamin Franklin’s famous
kite-and-lightning experiment, hovering 20 feet above the square’s centerpiece
fountain. Light shows begin every day of the week at 4:30 p.m. and light up
every 30 minutes until 8 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, and 9 p.m. on Fridays
and Saturdays. Other festivities include
Saturdays with Santa; rides on the holiday train and carousel; comfort foods,
local beer and hot beverages at Ben’s Sweets & Treats and holiday fare at
SquareBurger; and mini-golf. (Through Dec. 31, Franklin Square, 200 N. 6th
Deck the District – Fashion District Philadelphia, the retail and entertainment space which opened in September in the city’s Market East neighborhood, celebrates its first holiday season with an inaugural light show. The destination boasts a 45-foot-tall floating tree with giant stainless steel mirror ornaments and a light show timed to music by The Philly POPS. The five-minute show, by designer Matthew Schwam, known for putting big, bright red bows and dazzling lit-up snowflakes on significant city buildings, is best viewed from in front of Candytopia, located near the entrance at 9th Street and Market Street. The show runs every 30 minutes from 4 p.m. until closing. (Thru Dec. 31, 901 Market Street, 215-925-7162, fashiondistrictphiladelphia.com)
LumiNature at Philadelphia Zoo – Two years in the making, a new, immersive
display transforms the zoo’s day-scape into a nighttime multimedia light and
music spectacle. Dancing lights, sounds (even talking trees) throughout furnish
illusions of animals coming to life. A flock of flamingos forms a 25-foot-tall
tree; an enormous polar bear broadcasts the magnificence of our planet; all
four seasons host their very own party. Seasonal fare, live performers, hot
chocolate and adult beverages promise to spark the winter spirit. (Timed
tickets through Jan.5. 3400 W. Girard Avenue, 215-243-1100, philadelphiazoo.org.
Photo Pop Philly: Winter Wonderland – The ultimate selfie station, located inside
the historic Bourse building (now a modern food hall), invites ticketed guests
through a series of artist-envisioned, purposefully Instagram-able rooms
featuring virtual reality, a photo booth and lots of snow-filled
backdrops. (Select days through Jan. 5. 111 S. Independence Mall East,
Staying at The Roost
East Market apartment hotel really enabled us to be part of the city. It’s
not hyperbole to say the comfort of a fully-equipped, gorgeously furnished
apartment meets luxury amenities of a boutique hotel. All of the apartments
feature full-size kitchens with cookware and utensils (I especially love not
having to go out for breakfast) and king size beds. A
third-floor is devoted to guest amenities including a well-equipped 24-hour
fitness center, magnificent and comfortable lounge areas and library, a huge
demo kitchen, a private screening room, an outside, 20-meter heated lap pool,
barbecue area, landscaped terrace, community vegetable garden; and bike-share program. There is also 24-hour
front desk and concierge, security (you need your card to access the elevator
and public areas); and direct access to a parking garage. They even arrange dog-walking and grocery
The Roost East Market is
wonderfully situated on the edge of Philadelphia’s Midtown Village neighborhood
(aka Gayborhood), a short walk away from City Hall, Reading Terminal Market,
the Pennsylvania Convention Center and the shopping destination Fashion
District Philadelphia. It is a 15-minute walk to Independence Hall and all the
attractions in that area. (The Roost East Market, 1199 Ludlow
Street Philadelphia, PA 19107, 844-697-6678, https://myroost.com/philadelphia/east-market/).
This is the third location of the Philadelphia-based extended-stay brand (though there is no minimum length of stay). The others are the ROOST Rittenhouse (1831 Chestnut St. Philadelphia) and ROOST Midtown (111 S. 15th St. Philadelphia). The brand is also expanding to other cities including Washington DC, which will also have a restaurant; Charleston, and Tampa.
My holiday happenings are bookended by visits to several of Philadelphia’s incomparable sites and attractions: Barnes Museum (2025 Ben Franklin Pkwy, barnesfoundation.org); Independence Hall (you need to get a timed ticket, either walk up for free or in advance online for $1 fee, www.nps.gov/inde/planyourvisit/independencehalltickets.htm); a fabulous exhibit devoted to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Notorious RBG) at the National Museum of American Jewish History, located within the Independence Hall area (thru Jan. 12, at 5th & Market, mnajh.org, 215-923-3811); Philadelphia Magic Gardens (doesn’t need any holiday embellishments, 1020 South St., 215-733-0390, phillymagicgardens.org);and Franklin Institute (222 North 20th St., 215-448-1200, www.fi.edu), before having to pull myself away from Philadelphia. (See story)
A Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package includes
overnight free parking and perks, and is bookable at Greater
Philadelphia’s official visitor website, visitphilly.com, 800-537-7676 where you can explore things to do, upcoming
events, themed itineraries and hotel packages.
Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com
My criteria for great destination places to spend the winter holidays starts with charm, offers plenty to do indoors as well as outdoors that interests everyone in the family, is walkable to get around or at least offers great public transportation, perhaps even a cutesy trolley or something that is fun, has great decorations, and a festive feel. Here are more of our favorite places, where the spirit glows bright throughout the holidays, from Thanksgiving to New Year’s. (See also: Favorite Places to Go Where the Holiday Spirit Glows Brightest)
Philadelphia’s Winter Wonderland
is well known for its wintertime holiday traditions. The season begins with
America’s oldest Thanksgiving Day Parade—enjoying its momentous 100th running this year. But this year, three
newcomers get an early start on the holidays. These include a vast, immersive,
evening light display—LumiNature at the Philadelphia Zoo—a seasonal
selfie station at The Bourse—Photo Pop Philly: Winter Wonderland—and a
massive floating tree, with a sound and light show, at the center of the
just-opened Fashion District Philadelphia.
is what’s new for the 2019 winter holidays in Philadelphia:
Holiday pop-ups abound around City Hall in
the heart of Center City, including the dazzling nightly Deck the Hall Light Show (November 25, 2019 – January 1, 2020),
projected on to the side of City Hall. The outdoor Rothman Orthopaedics Ice Rink & Cabin (November
8, 2019 – February 23, 2020) offer ice skating, skate rentals, twinkling lights
and indoor space to warm up and fill up on snacks, cocktails, seasonal beer and
hot drinks. The charming, stroll-worthy Wintergarden (November 8, 2019 – February 23,
2020) is aglow with seasonal plants and lights. Also, the Made In Philadelphia Holiday
Market (November 23, 2019 – January 1, 2020) returns with
dozens of independent local vendors selling their wares. (Dilworth Park, 1 S. 15th Street).
During the annual Franklin Square Holiday Festival, the Electrical
Spectacle Holiday Light Show presented by PECO makes this historic square twinkle
with free shows every night. Among the 75,000 bulbs set to music is a giant,
illuminated kite. Other festivities include Saturdays with Santa; rides on the
holiday train and carousel; comfort foods, local beer and hot beverages at
Ben’s Sweets & Treats and holiday fare at SquareBurger; and mini-golf.
the District – The
Fashion District Philadelphia offers great local art, amazing bargains,
delicious drinks and a holiday light show. Designer Matthew Schwam, known for
putting big, bright red bows and dazzling lit-up snowflakes on significant city
buildings, has promised a magical, 45-foot tall floating tree featuring 600
mirrored, stainless steel orbs for the center of the complex. Every half hour
from 4 p.m. until closing, the tree will host a free light show featuring the
festive sounds of the Philadelphia POPS. November 14-December 31, 2019.901 Market Street,
(215) 925-7162, fashiondistrictphiladelphia.com
Pop Philly: Winter Wonderland – The ultimate selfie station, located
inside the historic Bourse building (now a modern food hall), invites ticketed
guests through a series of artist-envisioned, purposefully Instagram-able rooms
featuring virtual reality, a photo booth and lots of snow-filled backdrops,
just in time for holiday card-making. Select days, November
15, 2019-January 5, 2020.111 S. Independence Mall East,
(215) 925-7900, photopopphilly.com
at Philadelphia Zoo – Two years in the making, a new, immersive display
transforms the zoo’s day-scape into a nighttime multimedia light and music
spectacle. Dancing lights, sounds (even talking trees) throughout furnish
illusions of animals coming to life. A flock of flamingos forms a 25-foot-tall
tree; an enormous polar bear broadcasts the magnificence of our planet; all
four seasons host their very own party. Seasonal fare, live performers, hot
chocolate and adult beverages promise to spark the winter spirit. Timed
tickets. November 20, 2019-January
5, 2020.3400 W. Girard Avenue, (215) 243-1100, philadelphiazoo.org
Philly Overnight Hotel Package includes overnight free parking and more
perks, and is bookable at Greater Philadelphia’s official
visitor website, visitphilly.com, 800-537-7676 where
you can explore things
to do, upcoming events, themed itineraries and hotel packages.
Festive Holiday Traditions
on Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard & Nantucket
Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket bring the classic
spirit of the season to life Thanksgiving through New Year’s, each putting
their special stamp on beloved holiday traditions.
Nantucket Island’s month-long (November 29, 2019 to January 1,
2020), Nantucket Noel, is a venerable tradition. This year’s theme is Winter
Nights & Holiday Nights — a reminder that, on Nantucket, the
winter holidays commence with the Tree Lighting and continue for 33 days
through The New Nantucket New Year’s Event and The Nantucket Hotel’s Anchor
Drop on New Year’s Eve. Nantucket Noel 2019’s festivities
— including the signature event Christmas Stroll Weekend (December
6-8, 2019) features more than 150 majestically attired balsam Christmas trees
lining the side perimeters of cobblestoned Main Street and adjoining byways. (Book
your ferry reservations online at www.SteamshipAuthority.com or
Edgartown: Downtown Edgartown comes alive December 12-15 for the 38th
Annual Christmas in Edgartown. Twinkle-lit
architecture sets the scene for cookie contests, wreath making, amazing store
promotions, The Great Chowder Contest, and a parade down Main Street.
Family Fun: Take a guided ride along a winter
wonderland route in an over-sand vehicle to the remote Cape Poge Lighthouse
for Christmas at the Lighthouse on Martha’s
Vineyard (December 7-8). The Nantucket Whaling Museum is ablaze with color
during the Nantucket Historical Association Festival of Trees
(December 6-31), featuring creatively decorated trees by local merchants,
artists and children. And nine miles of twinkling lights greet visitors to
Heritage Museums & Gardens’ Gardens Aglow, where you can visit with Santa
in a 1913 Model T Ford, roast marshmallows over outdoor fire pits and stroll
through the grounds on a reindeer scavenger hunt (November 29-December 29,
Shop Local: Quaint
boutiques, charming bookstores and eclectic galleries adorn downtown areas,
making it easy to tackle your holiday shopping list. One-of-a-kind gifts by
local artisans can be found at Featherstone’s Holiday Gift Show(November
15-December 15), the Vineyard Artisans’ Annual Holiday Fair(December 21) and the Holiday LoveLocal Fest in Hyannis
(December 7-8). Peruse the beautiful glass-blown ornaments at Sandwich Glass
Museum’s Glassblowers’ Christmas, featuring handmade
ornaments available for purchase (November 15-December 30). And if you shop on
Nantucket between November 1 and December 24, you can earn red tickets and
enter for a chance to win up to $11,000 through the Holiday Red Ticket Program.
Yuletide Cheer in Greater Williamsburg,
What a holiday
combination! Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, a living-history museum, the
Jamestown Settlement and the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, offering a
glimpse of 17th and 18th century holiday traditions and Busch Gardens
colonial past can be seen through the Illuminations taking
place throughout Colonial Williamsburg.
Between December 10 and 15, stroll through the Palace Green, the Capitol,
Market Square or the taverns to enjoy an 18th century seasonal celebration as
candles and cressets illuminate these sites, and the firing of muskets and a
musical performance by the Colonial Williamsburg Fife and Drums whisk us back
Jamestown: Military history
aficionados may take delight in Christmastide in
Virginia at Jamestown Settlement and the American Revolution
Museum at Yorktown between December 20 and 31. 17th and 18th-century
holiday traditions are recalled through special interpretive programs and musical
entertainment of the period. At the American Revolution
Museum at Yorktown, hear accounts of Christmas and winter in
military encampments during the American Revolution and relive holiday
preparations on a Revolution-era farm. At Jamestown Settlement,
English Christmas customs of the period can be compared and contrasted with how
the season may have been observed in the difficult early years of the Jamestown
Busch Gardens—Christmas Town 2019 offers
one of the largest lights displays in North America with more than 10 million
tiny globes making all merry and bright. Between November 16 and January
5, 2020, the season rejuvenates with festive food and drink, lighted Christmas
train rides, holiday shopping and heart-warming shows in Busch Gardens –
Christmas Town 2019. New for 2019, the Traditions Tree Maze presented by Coca-Cola features
500 fresh-cut Christmas trees creating a spectacular maze that allows
park-goers to take a stroll around the world and explore holiday traditions
celebrated in places like Japan, South Africa and Mexico. Country of origin
themed craft-making stations for the kids, picture-taking moments, music and
lights make this immersive experience like no other. Also debuting this
year, Believe lets
guests dine while enjoying inspirational holiday music performed by a solo
pianist in the Italy’s San Marco Theatre. Not for the faint at heart, the
new Finnegan’s Flyer tests
the bravest of riders as they swing at speeds of 45 mph and 80 feet above the
cliffs of the Celtic Coast, taking in the festive sights of Ireland.
Here are some essentials that epitomize a
lovely winter holiday in the City by the Bay.
Park at Civic Center: Now in its second
year, the Civic Center Plaza is converted into a pop-up winter park to
celebrate the holiday season. From Nov. 30 to Jan. 5, you can skate the night
away or participate in Learn to Curl sessions. https://winterparkicerinksf.com/
Contraptions: Flights of Fancy”: For
indoor holiday fun, head to the Exploratorium at Pier 15 for an exhibition of whimsical
mechanical sculptures, also known as automata. Brought to life by simple
mechanisms and handmade pieces, each automata performs an entertaining drama.
Understand the inner workings of these automata in “Curious
Contraptions” from Nov. 21, 2019 to Jan. 26, 2020. www.exploratorium.edu
Norton’s Holiday Bazaar: Off the Grid (OTG), the
quintessential champion of the mobile food movement in the Bay Area and beyond,
is debuting Emperor Norton’s Holiday Bazaar Nov. 29 to Dec. 24, 2019. Inspired
by the tradition of European Holiday Markets, the Bazaar will take place at the
iconic Salesforce Transit Center and Salesforce Tower Plaza. Emperor
Norton’s Holiday Bazaar will deliver a magical experience with classic holiday
décor, cozy spots to relax and connect, and opportunities to shop for unique,
handmade gifts – all paired with the soul-warming food and drink for which Off
the Grid is famous. https://offthegrid.com/emperor-nortons-holiday-bazaar/
Great Dickens Christmas Fair: A
treasured Bay Area tradition since 1970, The Great Dickens Fair is takes place Nov.
23 – Dec. 22, 2019 at the Cow Palace. The Fair’s 20th season features over
800 performers in over 120,000 square feet of theatrically-lit music halls,
dance floors, and Christmas shops. https://dickensfair.com/
Tuk Tuk Tour: This might just be the most holiday fun you
can have on wheels. Lucky Tuk Tuk’s vibrant vehicles are eco-friendly and
colorfully decorated with holiday lights to tour you through the city with
holiday cheer. Lucky Tuk Tuk can fit up to six riders, perfect for a family
outing. While on board, you can enjoy a hot cup of cocoa, candy canes and even
sing-along karaoke. www.lucky-tuk-tuk.com/
For information on reservations, activities and more, visit www.sftravel.com or call
WINTER WOODS SPECTACULAR: Experience the twinkling of millions of lights at this new event from the producers of the popular Jack O’ Lantern Spectacular. Held in scenic Iroquois Park, the event features a half-mile drive of lighting and artistry exploring and celebrating the holiday season. (Nov. 30 through Dec. 31)
FÊTE DE NOËL: Louisville’s Paristown neighborhood is the site of this inaugural event. A six-week Winter Village features Louisville’s only authentic outdoor ice-skating rink, along with the return of Louisville’s award-winning Holiday Laser Dome, Stoneware & Co. ornament decorating, holiday family movies and more.
LIGHTS UNDER LOUISVILLE: At this holiday favorite, Louisville Mega Cavern is transformed into a festive underground light spectacular. Enjoy a 30-minute ride through part of 17 miles of underground passageways. Featuring more than 850 lit characters with three million points of lights. ( Open through Jan. 4)
For more information, Louisville Tourism,gotolouisville.com
Christmas on the Beach in St. Petersburg
St Petersburg, Florida affords a marvelous opportunity to combine arts, culture, heritage with white sand beach. St. Petersburg/Clearwater offers scores of special activities – lighted boat parades that take place at various times in small villages; outdoor carolers at the holiday market. The very special Clearwater Marine Aquarium (home of the Dolphin’s Tale stories) transforms into Winter’s Wonderland. The annual Holiday Lights in the Gardens has a million LED lights shining throughout the Botanical Gardens (from 5:30 p.m.; $5 suggested donation). Head to Christmas Town at Busch Gardens for some great thrill rides and to see the park transform into a holiday wonderland of Christmastime entertainment, holiday shopping and a million twinkling lights!. Stay at the glamorous, historic and grand beach resort, the DonCesar Resort, known as “the Pink Lady” (www.doncesar.com) or the Vinoy Renaissance, both members of Historic Hotels of America (historichotels.org, 800-678-8946).
offers a surprising array of extraordinary experiences: walk through a secret
underground ice cave and see Rock City’s Enchanted Garden of Lights, explore a
nocturnal fantasyland with more than one million twinkling lights high atop Lookout
Mountain; hop on board a train for a North Pole adventure; sing Christmas
carols and dance with Santa on a river cruise; meet coral reef Santa divers;
build creative gingerbread houses; watch animals open their own Christmas
presents when you visit the Children’s Discovery Museum and the Tennessee
Chattanooga’s Holiday Trail of Lights Nov. 15, 2019 – Jan. 17, 2020: Now in its third
year, the ChattanoogaHoliday Trail of Lights showcases
12 major holiday activities featuring millions of twinkling lights, holiday
meals on a river cruise, live holiday music and entertainment, animal
encounters, ice skating, Santa sightings and train excursions to the North
Pole! Throughout the trail there are an array of
festivals, gingerbread-house making workshops, special holiday meals, live
music, theater performances, shopping deals, artist demonstrations, fireworks
and plenty of ways to spend New Year’s Eve in Chattanooga.
The Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel offers an
absolutely magical experience. The historic hotel (and member of Historic
Hotels of America) is literally created out of the legendary railroad station
dating back to 1909, where you can stay in one of 48 Victorian train cars
converted to the most delightful rooms, wonderfully furnished in period pieces
(but with modern amenities like high-speed wireless Internet access), and the
station serves as the hotel lobby (you can also tour some of the historic
trains and meet the engineer). A free electric shuttle from the bus terminal
next door takes you downtown. I don’t know when I have had a more enjoyable and
enchanted stay. (Chattanooga Choo Choo, 400 Market St., Chattanooga, TN 37402,
800-TRACK-29 (872-2529, www.choochoo.com.)
by Karen Rubin, Travel
Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com
The best thing about Christmas is that the festivities that brighten and warm all the days of the holiday season go on from Thanksgiving to New Year’s. And the best part is you don’t have to wait for Christmas week – festivities are happening throughout December. Here are some of our favorite places to revel in the holiday spirit:
in the Capital
Here are some of the best,
can’t-miss ways to experience the holidays in Washington DC::
The National Christmas Tree, one of DC’s iconic holiday traditions, lives in
President’s Park on the White House Ellipse, surrounded by trees decorated with
handmade ornaments from 56 U.S. states and territories. Each night throughout
the holiday season there are musical performances. The display is free to visit
and open from 10 am – 10 pm while the National Christmas Tree is lit
each day from 4:30-10 pm, from Dec. 5, when the lighting ceremony takes place.
Visit the Smithsonian National
Zoo during ZooLights, when the zoo is illuminated with
more than 500,000 environmentally-friendly LEDs, animated light
installations, live music and various animals on display. ZooLights runs Nov.
29 – Jan. 1 (closed Dec. 24, 25 & 31).
Enchant Christmas is a light maze, billed as the biggest in the world, that
is in DC for the first time at Nationals Park from Nov. 22 – Dec. 29.
Throughout the holiday season there are ice skating trails and a large holiday
market offering products from more than 60 vendors, including local businesses
and international brands. (Use promo code “VISITDC” to
get 10% off when you buy tickets.)
GLOW exhibition of light-art, a stroll
through DC’s most historic
neighborhood has proven to be such a
hit that it’s now a month-long celebration (Dec. 6 – Jan. 5,
5-10 pm). Afterwards, wander through a winter wonderland at The Washington
Harbour, one of the district’s favorite places
to ice skate.
The U.S. Botanic Gardengets decked out for this
annual exhibit. This year’s display focuses on gardens from Hawaii to
Maine, including iconic spots like the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Franklin Park
Conservatory and Huntsville Botanical Garden. Inside the Conservatory are the garden’s collection of DC’s iconic
landmarks and a showcase of poinsettias. Season’s Greenings is
open from Nov. 28 – Jan. 5 (10 am – 5 pm), and stays open until
8 pm, with holiday concerts on select Tuesday and Thursday evenings.
A magnificent tree decks the Great
Hall of the Library of Congress‘ Thomas Jefferson Building each December, visited from
the First Street SE entrance between 8:30 am and 4:30 pm (the Jefferson
Building is closed Sundays and on Christmas). (Check the guide to visiting the largest library in the world so you can properly
Harbor, a shopping, dining and amusement
park-like landmark located just 20 minutes south of DC (reached by public
transportation). Step inside the Gaylord National Resort for ICE! (Nov. 15 – Dec. 30), an indoor winter wonderland
featuring two million pounds of hand-carved ice sculptures, ice slides, a live
carving area and a retelling of Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole
Christmas. While at National Harbor, view the tree from atop the Capital Wheel, shop for gifts at the Tanger Outlets and experience weekend
events like holiday markets,
performances and movie screenings.
The Willard InterContinental Washington offers a holiday tradition throughout December. You can enjoy afternoon tea from 1-4 p.m. in the elegant Peacock Alley every day of the month (except Dec. 24, 25 and 31). There will be seasonal decor, sandwiches, pastries and the beautiful sounds of a harp to accompany you as you sip on festive teas from one of DC’s most historic hotels.
Now in its 15th year, Vintage Christmas, taking place throughout December, transforms Portsmouth, New Hampshire, which National Geographic/Travel described as “possibly the greatest small town in the USA,” into a picture-postcard winter wonderland.
Those who visit Portsmouth during
the holiday season discover an intimate streetscape framed by 19th century
storefronts, boutiques and sidewalk cafes. The city’s reputation as a
“foodies’” haven is upheld by chef-owned restaurants on more than every corner.
The thriving craft beer and local music scene banish all suggestions of “staid
New England” without losing the charm. And sales tax-free shopping offers
delights for every age and taste.
For 2019 Vintage Christmas in
The Music Hall, a historic theater dating from
1878 on Chestnut Street, presents “Annie” from November 27 to December 22,
with Sally Struthers reprising her Broadway tour reprisal of Miss Hannigan. Juston
McKinney: Last Laugh 2019 on Dec. 27, 28 & 29, looks back at “the
year that was” with one of the region’s most “popular stand-up comics. New
Year’s Eve Champagne Pops with the Portsmouth Symphony Orchestra on
Strawbery Banke Museum: 40th Annual Candlelight Stroll on December 7, 8, 14, 15, 21 and 22, showcases 300+
years of daily life and holiday festivities around the theme “A Tradition for
Every Family” in the historic waterfront neighborhood and living history museum
of Puddle Dock. Saturdays 5-9 pm. Sundays 4-8 pm. Adult $25; child (5-17) $10,
Family (2 adults/2 kids) $60. Children under 5 and Military families, free.
Labrie Family Skate at Puddle Dock
Pond, Strawbery Banke’s seasonal outdoor
ice skating rink, open daily 9 am to 9 pm, also hosts costumed Victorian
skaters evoking Currier & Ives during each of the December evenings of
Vintage Christmas Trolley. This free trolley, courtesy of the City of Portsmouth,
shuttles visitors on a 15-minute loop throughout the festively decorated
downtown, from hotels and parking garages to the key events and shopping areas
on weekends, December 7-22, 1:30-10:30
more information, visit VintageChristmasNH.org; Discover Portsmouth, PortsmouthHistory.org, 603-436-8433.
Christmas in Newport, RI
Newport, Rhode Island, the Gilded
Age’s favorite summer resort, is always
enchanting, but never more so than at the winter holidays, when, it seems, the
entire town is one big festival. A sampling of “Christmas in Newport”
(now in its 49th year) and winter festivities include:
Holiday Lantern Tours: Hear the
history of early American holiday traditions on an evening walk and learn how
Newporters did, or did not, observe the holidays. Tours depart from the Museum
of Newport History and Shop (Nov. 22 – Dec. 28, Fridays and Saturdays at 4 p.m.)
Christmas at the
The glitter of gold and the sparkle of silver dazzle as you tour three magnificent
mansions decked out in yuletide finery. Music, tours and spectacular
decorations highlight celebrations at The Breakers, The Elms and Marble House –
each of which will have Gingerbread Mansion replicas on display. Special events
include “Holiday Evenings at the Newport Mansions” and “Santa Sundays.” (Nov.
23 – Jan. 1)
Enjoy elaborate holiday decorations around every corner of this historic early
19th century estate in Bristol. (Nov. 29 – Jan. 1)
Features a curated selection of travel, lifestyle and fashion finds. (Nov. 29 –
Dec. 20, Friday – Sunday).
Dinner Train: Immerse
yourself in the classic tale of humbuggery, ghosts and redemption with this
interactive retelling of “A Christmas Carol” by the Marley Bridges Theatre
Company. Experience a dining journey along the Newport and Narragansett Bay
Railroad in a custom-designed theater car featuring special tables for two all
facing center stage. (Nov. 30 – Dec. 21, Saturdays)
A Rough Point Holiday: Experience the
holiday traditions and winter caretaking practices at Doris Duke’s Rough Point
with various rooms of the mansion museum both spruced up for the Christmas
holiday and cloaked in their winter coverings. 30-minute guided tours offered
throughout the day. (Dec. 7 – 28, Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m)
Gurney’s Newport Resort: Features heated multi-sensory igloos overlooking
Narragansett Bay, each with its own theme including Santa’s Workshop, Winter
Wonderland, Cozy Log Cabin, Roaring 20s, Harry Potter, Tropical Summer,
Northern Lights, Astrology and Après Ski, complete with activities and cocktail
pairings. Proceeds will go to Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Rhode Island. (Nov.
22 – Feb. 29)
Resort Skating Rink:
Opens for the season with outdoor skating on the North Lawn overlooking the
Newport Harbor Lighthouse, The Point and the Newport Bridge. Open seven days a
week. (Nov. 26 – March 1)
Goat Hikes at
Spend an afternoon on a two-hour hike led by Farmer Karla and her crew of
adventurous, fun-loving goats. Each participant gets their own goat to
walk on a leash. The afternoon finishes with hot chocolate made with the milk
from the farm. (Nov. 24 – Jan. 1)
Painting with Color and Light,” an exhibit of colorful glass artwork and objects by the renowned Louis
C. Tiffany opens at Rosecliff beginning Sunday, Dec. 8, and continuing through March 1. The exhibition is free to view with paid
admission to Rosecliff (548 Bellevue Ave.). For tickets and information, visit
newportmansions.org/learn/adult-programs or call (401) 847-1000, ext. 178. Rosecliff
is one of the Preservation Society of Newport 11 historic properties, seven of
them National Historic Landmarks, collectively spanning more than 250 years of
American architectural and social development. (NewportMansions.org)
See more holiday and winter events in Newport and plan a visit
at DiscoverNewport.org, 800-326-030, 401-849-8048.
A Longwood Christmas
at Longwood Gardens, is magical with 500,000 lights gracing 150 trees throughout the outdoor
Gardens, a four-acre Conservatory with holiday sing-alongs accompanied
by a 10,010 pipe Aeolian organ – the largest organ ever constructed in a
residential setting. At the Open
Air Theatre, fountains dance day and night to holiday classics. Delight in
Longwood’s outdoor train display as it travels past miniature Longwood
landmarks illuminated for the holiday season. In the Meadow Garden, stroll
through a 140-ft tunnel of light in the winter landscape, and discover a grove
of glowing architectural orbs that pulse and change to the rhythm of holiday
music. Grab a hot chocolate and
cozy up to one of the many fire pits. ALongwoodChristmasruns November 22, 2019– January
5, 2020 (including Christmas Day). Admission to the Christmas display is by
Timed Admission Ticket, with tickets purchased in advance for a specific date
and time. (Tickets and reservations at longwoodgardens.org.)
Yuletide at Winterthur: From November 23 through
January 5, you can experience one of the Brandywine Valley’s most memorable attractions. Henry du Pont’s mansion is
transformed into a magical holiday spectacle, with food, music, exhibits, an
exquisite 18-room dollhouse mansion, and an Enchanted Woods children’s garden.
Reservations are recommended for the Yuletide exhibits, and the last chance to see Winterthur’s Costuming
THE CROWN (showcasing costumes from Netflix’s Emmy winning series) before it
closes on January 5.
Nemours Estate: Starting November 17, you
can experience holidays in traditional du Pont style as you tour the 1907 mansion and gardens that Alfred du Pont built for his wife
Alicia. See original decorations (including a 19th century
German crèche), twinkling lights, and bright colored ornaments.
Holidays at Hagleyat Hagley Museum takes
you back to 1803 as you visit the du Pont ancestral home Eleutherian Mills,
decorated in vintage holiday charm. There’s also a “Christmas Trees Past and
Brandywine Christmas atthe Brandywine River Museum of Art, renowned for its collection from three generations of Wyeth family artists, during the holiday season showcases the region’s most impressive model train display, which includes nearly 2,000 feet of track. Throughout the season, festive trees and crafts, live musical performances, and imaginative “Critter” ornaments made by local volunteers. There’s also a Polar Express Pajama Party, breakfast with the trains, and more special events. (www.brandywinemuseum.org)
Holiday Light Express: throughout
December you can take a 45-minute ride in 100-year old (heated!) coaches and
experience thousands of holiday lights twinkling as you pass decorated homes
along the route.
A Christmas Carol: Delaware Theater Company’s adaptation of the Dickens classic has
a twist: performed with just five actors
bring Charles Dickens’ beloved characters to life using props, puppets, bold
physicality and the imagination of the audience. Opening night is December 7,
so make this a cultural must-see on your holiday road trip.
Experience the magic of the
Christmas City: Bethlehem, in Lehigh Valley, PA boasts one of the top-ranked
holiday markets in the world, now celebrating its 27th season. Christkindlmarkt (weekends, Nov. 22 – Dec. 22) offers visitors wares
from 100 vendors, musical performances, and glass blowing demonstrations.
Along Main Street, browse the Christmas Huts on Main (weekends, Nov. 22 – Dec. 22), a shopping experience
inspired by a German Weihnachtsmarkt, complete with charming wooden huts
lining the streets offering holiday gifts. Browse the Moravian Book Shop, the oldest continuously operating bookstore in the
Join Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites for a variety of tours including Christmas City
Stroll, which takes you on a walking excursion through the city’s National
Historic Landmark District. Led by a guide in period dress, this tour will give
you a peek into what Moravian life was like in the 1700s.
To get a great view of the famous
star atop South Mountain, get tickets for the Bethlehem by Night bus tour. On this tour, participants will learn
why the north side of the city dons white lights and the SouthSide dresses up
in colored lights. (Reserve in advance.)
One of the most distinctive holiday
traditions is the Bethlehem’s Live Advent Calendar. Thought to be the only one
of its kind in the country, visitors can join locals in this activity nightly,
Dec. 1 – 23, at 5:30 p.m. Crowds gather outside the Goundie House at 501 Main Street. A selected visitor knocks on the
door and the group is greeted by representatives from local businesses offering
a surprise for all to enjoy. Nightly surprises could include musical
performances, a story, or a tasty treat.
As you wander along Main Street,
enjoy the music. Trombone choirs stroll the sidewalks playing holiday tunes, a
nod to the city’s Moravian heritage.
For a special view of the city’s
historic district, take a horse-drawn holiday carriage ride, hosted by the
Bethlehem Carriage Company.
A free Christmas City Trolley is
offered Fridays-Sundays, Nov. 15 – Dec. 22. The trolley runs every 20-30
minutes, shuttling between the Historic District and the SouthSide Arts
a special holiday tradition with friends and family on a festive tour of
Victorian Cape May during Christmas Candlelight House Tours, presented by the
Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC). Every year since 1974,
a large selection of Victorian inns, homes, churches and hotels open their
doors and welcome visitors to share the warmth and hospitality of the season
during these popular, self-guided, walking tours. You will be welcomed inside
with holiday hospitality and cheer. Enjoy Christmas carols by candlelight,
strolling musicians along the historic streets of Cape May and beautiful
holiday decorations. Walk from site to site, stopping at hospitality centers
for warm beverages and holiday treats during your travels. Free heated shuttles
make limited stops along some routes. The three Christmas Candlelight House
Tours of the 2019 holiday season are held on Saturdays, Dec. 7, 14 and 28, from
5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. (tickets should be purchased in advance). The
festivities begin Friday, Nov. 22 and continue through Jan. 1, 2020.
For information about MAC’s year-round schedule of tours, festivals, and special events, call 609-884-5404 or 800-275-4278, or visit MAC’s Web site at www.capemaymac.org. For information about restaurants, accommodations and shopping, call the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Cape May at 609-884-5508 or visit www.capemaychamber.com. For information about historic accommodations, contact Cape May Historic Accommodations at www.capemaylodging.com.
The 93rd edition of the iconic Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade ushered in the holiday season with 16 giant
character balloons; 40 novelty balloons, heritage balloons, balloonicles,
balloonheads and trycaloons; 26 floats of fantasy; 1,200 cheerleaders and
dancers; more than 1,000 clowns; and 11 of the nation’s finest marching bands, starting
with the pilgrims riding a giant turkey and finishing with Santa Claus on his
Despite strong winds and gusts on the cusp of forcing the giant
balloons to be grounded, heroic balloon handlers acted more like wranglers to
keep the balloons in control, though flying so low as to touch the ground.
Still, there were thrills to be had, and not just the excitement at seeing favorite
characters as tall or as long as a building flying overhead, as the balloons
passed cross-streets where the winds were strongest, almost pushing the
balloons over. The crowd cheered their encouragement, “Go, go, go.”
New giant balloon characters joining
the line-up this year included Astronaut Snoopy by Peanuts Worldwide, Green
Eggs and Ham by Netflix, and SpongeBob SquarePants & Gary by Nickelodeon.
In celebration of his 75th birthday, a heritage balloon and fan favorite Smokey
Bear once again takes to the skies over Manhattan.
Returning giant balloon characters included
Diary of A Wimpy Kid® by Abrams Children’s Books; Sinclair Oil’s DINO®; The Elf
on the Shelf®; Goku; Illumination Presents Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch; Jett by Super
Wings™; Olaf from Disney’s “Frozen 2”; Chase from PAW Patrol®; Pikachu™ by the
Pokémon Company International; Pillsbury Doughboy™; Power Rangers Mighty
Morphin Red Ranger; Ronald McDonald®; and Trolls. Completing the inflatable
lineup is the famed Aflac Duck, Sinclair Oil’s Baby DINOs and the Go Bowling
balloonicles, as well as Universal Orlando Resort’s The Nutcracker.
The parade also featured special performances and appearances by
Natasha Bedingfield, Black Eyed Peas, Chicago, Ciara, Josh Dela Cruz, Celine
Dion, Jimmy Fallon and The Roots, Debbie Gibson, former NASA Astronauts Kay
Hire & Janet Kavandi, Chris Janson, Idina Menzel, Lea Michele, Miss America
2019 Nia Franklin, NHL® Legends Dominic Moore and Eddie Olczyk, the cast &
Muppets of Sesame Street, NCT 127, Ozuna, Billy Porter, Kelly Rowland, That
Girl Lay Lay, TLC, Tenille Townes, and Chris Young.
year, five new floats debuted
including Nickelodeon’s Blue’s Clues & You! (Josh Dela Cruz), The
Brick-changer by The Lego Group (NCT 127), Home Sweet Home by Cracker Barrel
Old Country Store® 3 (Tenille Townes), Rexy in the City by COACH® (Billy
Porter), and Toy House of Marvelous Milestones by New York Life (Kelly
The returning float roster and
its scheduled performers and special stars included 1-2-3 Sesame Street® by
Sesame Workshop™ (The cast and Muppets of Sesame Street); Big City Cheer! by
Spirit of America Productions (Miss America 2019 Nia Franklin); Central Park (Lea
Michele); Christmas Cheer is Near by Elf Pets®/The Elf on the Shelf®;
Cornucopia; Deck the Halls by Balsam Hill® (Idina Menzel); Everyone’s Favorite
Bake Shop by Entenmann’s® (Jimmy Fallon and The Roots); Fantasy Chocolate
Factory by Kinder™ (Natasha Bedingfield), Harvest in the Valley by Green Giant®
(Chris Janson); Heartwarming Holiday Countdown by Hallmark Channel (Chicago);
Mount Rushmore’s American Pride by South Dakota Department of Tourism (Chris
Young); the NHL® Most Valuable Hockey Mom presented by MassMutual (Black Eyed
Peas and NHL® Legends Dominic Moore and Eddie Olczyk); Parade Day Mischief by
SOUR PATCH KIDS® Candy (Ozuna); Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by
Nickelodeon (Ciara); Santa’s Sleigh (Santa Claus); Shimmer and Shine by Nickelodeon
(Debbie Gibson); Snoopy’s Doghouse by Peanuts Worldwide (Charlie Brown and
former NASA Astronauts Kay Hire and Janet Kavandi); Splashing Safari Adventure
by Kalahari Resorts and Conventions (TLC); Tom Turkey; and Universal Playground
by Universal Kids (That Girl Lay Lay).
Returning for a third year by popular demand, the Macy’s Singing Christmas Tree by Delta Air
Lines will feature the harmonious voices of more than 100 Macy’s colleagues and
friends from Delta hailing from across the nation and the world. Performing an
original song to celebrate the start of the holiday season, the golden-voiced
chorus will touch the hearts and uplift the spirits of millions.
For this year’s 93rd march, 11 of the specially chosen marching bands from around the country included
Awesome Original Second Time Arounders Marching Band (St. Petersburg, FL), Blue
Springs High School Golden Regiment (Blue Springs, MO), Catalina Foothills
Falcon Band (Tucson, AZ), Franklin Regional Panther Band (Murrysville, PA),
Macy’s Great American Marching Band (United States), Madison Central High
School Band (Richmond, KY), Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. High School’s Kings of
Halftime (Lithonia, GA), Morgan State University’s The Magnificent Marching
Machine (Baltimore, MD), NYPD Marching Band (New York, NY), Ronald Reagan High
School Marching Band (San Antonio, TX), and Western Carolina University’s Pride
of the Mountains Marching Band (Cullowhee, NC).
Parade watchers also got a taste of the specialty performance groups. Joining the line-up
this year were the teen dancers and cheerleaders of Spirit of America Dance Stars
and Spirit of America Cheer – together featuring more than 1,200 of the very
best performers recruited from hometowns nationwide. Also, the hilarious 610
Stompers (New Orleans, LA), modern dance youth talent showcased by The Alvin
Ailey School (New York, NY).
Other performances included the tap dance theatrics of children from
The Nice List (New York, NY). Rounding out the performance group line-up and
joining select talent performances will be Gamma Phi Circus (Normal, IL),
Manhattan Youth Ballet (New York, NY), the dance stars of the world-renowned
in-school arts education program National Dance Institute (New York, NY) and
Young People’s Chorus of NYC (New York, NY).
Some 3.5 million people turn out to line the two-mile parade route; another
50 million watch on television.
Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com
From the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade to the Christmas Tree Lighting at Rockefeller Center and the New Year’s Eve ball drop in Times Square, New York City offers unparalleled ways to celebrate the holidays with vibrant performances, tours, lightings, special events taking place from early November into January.
“New York City’s celebratory spirit and excitement are palpable during the annual holiday season. From iconic attractions and events to hidden-gem activities in all five boroughs, there’s an endless roster of memorable programming to enjoy from November to January,” said NYC & Company president and CEO Fred Dixon. NYC & Company, New York City’s official destination marketing organization, is forecasting seven million visitors will visit the City during the 2019–2020 holiday season.
Here are some of the festive events, performances and activities across the boroughs to celebrate the holiday season in New York City.
Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, November 28, Manhattan The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is a classic New York City celebration of the holidays, featuring larger-than-life helium balloons, fantasy floats, clowns, performance groups, Broadway’s best musicals, celebrity appearances and more. The 93rd Annual spectacle will feature new balloons including Astronaut Snoopy, Netflix’s Green Eggs and Ham, SpongeBob SquarePants & Gary, Smokey Bear and Yayoi Kusama’s Love Flies Up to the Sky. New floats include Nickelodeon’s Blue’s Clues & You!, The Brick-changer by The Lego Group, Home Sweet Home by Cracker Barrel Old Country Store®, Rexy in the City by COACH® and Toy House of Marvelous Milestones by New York Life. The parade begins at 9 am on 77th Street and Central Park West, snakes around Central Park South and heads down Sixth Avenue before concluding at Macy’s Herald Square at 34th Street and Seventh Avenue.
Balloon Inflation, November 27, 1-8 pm: Head up to the American Museum of Natural History on November 27 from 1 to 8 pm to watch the balloon inflation at West 79th Street and Columbus Avenue but be prepared for long lines (entrance at 73rd and Columbus.)
Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony, December 4, Midtown, Manhattan: The Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center has been a tradition for more than eight decades. Lighting up Rockefeller Plaza, the tree lighting ceremony features performances and classic Christmas songs. The tree will arrive on November 9, light up on December 4 and be on view through early to mid-January.
New Year’s Eve Times Square Ball Drop, December 31–January 1, Times Square, Manhattan: Each year, millions of viewers watch the Times Square Ball Drop from New York City and around the globe. The Waterford Crystal Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball sparkles in Times Square for visitors to see all season, but its descent is a spectacular, once-in-a-lifetime way to ring in the New Year.
New Year’s Eve Fireworks at Prospect Park, December 31–January 1, Prospect Park, Brooklyn: The Grand Army Plaza’s iconic New Year’s Eve Fireworks at Prospect Park offer an alternative to the frenzy of Times Square. This spectacular celebration includes live music, followed by a fireworks show at midnight.
Shine On at Hudson Yards, November 29-January 5. A new tradition being introduced at Manhattan’s newest neighborhood. Kicks off the day after Thanksgiving with full day of live performances featuring award-winning New York musicians, dangers and entertainers, plus Only at Hudson Yards offers. Then, every Tuesday through December 24, music and dance performances throughout Hudson Yards, and Saturdays children’s activities and family events. Immersive Light and Music Shows: the New York premiere of artist Christopher Schardt’s light sculpture Lyra, 5 pm daily at multiple locations throughout Hudson Yards. Visit Wells Fargo Lodge for hot chocolate tastings and 360-degree photo ops, plus interactive Star Stations with gift wrapping. Unlock holiday offers from SAP with shine ON LED bracelet available at Hudson Yards retailers.
Holiday Lights at the Bronx Zoo, November 21–January 5, Fordham, the Bronx: Returning for the first time since 2007, the stunning light displays at the Bronx Zoo will cover several acres in a walk-through experience with wildlife-themed LED displays, custom lanterns and animated light shows.
LuminoCity Festival, November 23-January 5, Randall’s Island Park, Manhattan: Sixteen acres of lights will illuminate themed worlds during this inaugural festival, creating an immersive journey for visitors that includes a castle, skating unicorn and enchanted forest.
Brookfield Place Light Up Luminaries, December 3-January 4, Battery Park City, Manhattan: This spectacular light installation kicks off December 3 with an evening of free ice skating, snacks and live performances.
Festival at Citi
Field, December 6–January 26,
Flushing, Queens: The debut of this international lantern, food and art
festival will include 60 global cuisine vendors, arts experiences, live
performances and a holiday market.
NYC Winter Lantern Festival, November 20–January 12, Randall Manor, Staten Island: The NYC Winter Lantern Festival is returning for a second year to Staten Island. Sponsored by Empire Outlets and venue partner Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden, eight acres will be lit up by more than 50 LED installations, accompanied by live performances of traditional Chinese dance and art.
New-York Historical Society, (November 1, 2019 – February 23, 2020: A holiday favorite returns this season, reimagined to celebrate the 100th birthday of Busytown series author and illustrator Richard Scarry. Holiday Express: All Aboard to Richard Scarry’s Busytown showcases artwork and graphics of Scarry’s characters like Huckle Cat and Lowly Worm from publisher Random House Children’s Books alongside more than 300 objects from the Jerni Collection’s antique toy trains, stations, and accessories. Using Busytown stories and characters, dynamic displays explore the workings of the railroad, the services it provides, and the jobs required to keep people and goods moving. Fun, train-related activities for kids of all ages take place through the exhibition’s run―all free with museum admission. These include: Celebrating Richard Scarry and Busytown! (Saturday, December 14 and Sunday, December 15; 1–3 pm); December School Vacation Week (Thursday, December 26 – Wednesday, January 1) (170 Central Park West (77th St), New York, NY 10024, www.nyhistory.org)
Gingerbread Lane at New York Hall of Science, November 23–January 12, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens: Gingerbread Lane at the New York Hall of Science invites visitors to witness the vast collection of gingerbread structures embellished with candy canes, chocolate and frosting.
New York Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show, November 23–January 26, Fordham, the Bronx: Conveniently accessible via the Metro-North Railroad from Grand Central Terminal, head to the New York Botanical Garden to be enchanted by model trains zipping through a display of more than 175 NYC landmarks, each re-created with natural materials.
Belmont BID Arthur Avenue Tree Lighting Ceremony, November 30, Belmont, the Bronx: Experience Christmas in the Bronx’s Little Italy at the Belmont BID Arthur Avenue Tree Lighting. The annual event features a visit from Santa, cookies and hot chocolate among the twinkling lights.
Seaport District NYC Celebrations, Seaport District NYC, Manhattan: Festivities in this neighborhood include the Winterland Holiday Tree Lighting on December 2, Menorah Lighting on December 22, a pop-up tree farm, ice skating and a light display at Pier 17.
Holiday Workshop Weekend at Wave Hill, December 7–8, Riverdale, the Bronx: Create one-of-a-kind holiday decorations by the gorgeous gardens and galleries at Wave Hill during their interactive Holiday Workshop Weekend.
Historic Richmond Town Candlelight Tours, December 14–21, Staten Island: This Christmas season, experience the tastes and scents of centuries past at Historic Richmond Town. Step back in time while touring the unique New York City which is illuminated by candles and oil lamps.
11th Annual Latke Festival at the Brooklyn Museum, December 16, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn: One of New York City’s most unique and delicious holiday tasting events, the Latke Festival is a charity event that celebrates the best and most creative potato pancakes.
Melrose Holiday Parranda, December 21, Melrose, the Bronx: The Melrose Holiday Parranda follows in the footsteps of Puerto Rican holiday caroling with a procession based on plena music and holiday songs. Cheer-Filled Performances:
Radio City Christmas Spectacular Starring the Rockettes, November 8–January 5, Midtown, Manhattan: The Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes returns to Radio City Music Hall, dazzling audiences of all ages with incredible costumes, festive songs and synchronized high kicks.
Four Renditions of
the Holiday Classic A Christmas Carol
Holiday Performances at the World
Famous Apollo Theater, Harlem,
Manhattan: The Apollo Theater, celebrating its 85th anniversary in 2019, hosts
holiday events including a Harlem gospel choir performance at Coca-Cola
Winter Wonderland on December 14, followed by the Amateur
Night Holiday Special. Gospel legends Yolanda Adams and Donald
Lawrence headline annual concert Holiday Joy: A Gospel Celebration on
December 21. As a grand finale, the annual Kwanzaa Celebration on
December 28 features Abdel Salaam’s Forces of Nature Dance Theatre and guest
Year’s Eve Concert for Peace, Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine, (1047 Amsterdam Ave. at 112th St., New York 10025,
212-316-7540,email@example.com, www.stjohndivine.org), Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2019,
7-8:30 pm,: Founded by Leonard Bernstein in 1984, the
annual New Year’s Eve Concert for Peace is a signature Cathedral event with performances
by the Cathedral Choir and Orchestra led by Director of Music Kent Tritle.
Harry Smith, host; special guests Paul Winter, Jamet Pittman,
Jason Robert Brown, and David Briggs. General admission seats are free and open
to the public on the night of the show. Reserved seats are available now.
Holiday markets: New York City is full of incredible holiday markets, with must-buy gifts, sweets, drinks and winter activities. This year, the Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park opened earlier than ever on October 31. Other popular markets include the Union Square Holiday Market, Columbus Circle Holiday Market, Brooklyn Flea and Astoria Market.
Iconic Holiday Windows: Awe-inspiring window displays at stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy’s Herald Square and the new Nordstrom Women’s Store sparkle, inviting visitors to explore the magic of New York City shopping.
Empire Outlets, St. George, Staten Island: New York City’s first-ever outlet destination, Empire Outlets, will ring in the holiday season with a special Black Friday sale and their first annual tree lighting ceremony. Easily accessible by the free Staten Island Ferry from Lower Manhattan, the outlets will be adorned with thousands of lights, garland wraps and a 40-foot tree.
23 Days of Flatiron Cheer,
December 1-23, Flatiron District, Manhattan: 23
Days of Flatiron Cheer will include free, holiday-themed events showcasing the
intersection of shopping, dining and culture in this vibrant neighborhood.
The Shops at Columbus Circlehas kicked off its fourth year of Broadway Under the Stars, a five-week series of free public performances taking place this holiday season.Select cast from today’s hottest Broadway musicals will perform against the backdrop of the destination’s famous 12 massive stars. These stars, one of the largest specialty crafted exhibits of illuminated color displays in the world, are suspended from the 100-foot-high ceilings. Performances, lasting 20 minutes, begin at 5 pm and are free to attend and open to the public, no reservations or tickets are required. (Nov. 11, Waitress, Chicago, Oklahoma!andThe Lightening Thief; Nov. 18, Come From Away, Rock of Ages;Nov. 25: Dear Evan Hansen, The Illusionists, Frozen; Dec. 2: Beetlejuice, Tootsie, Mean Girls; Dec. 9: Phantom of the Opera, Wicked). Additional Broadway Under the Stars offerings include specialty cocktails from the Shops at Columbus Circle’s Restaurant and Bar Collection which includes Monday night drink specials like Center Bar’s Pomegranate Smash cocktail ($16). Visit www.theshopsatcolumbuscircle.com for more information and list of events and happenings.
Shop at Your Hotel: Several hotels are home to retail pop-ups this holiday season, partnering with iconic stores to make shopping easier than ever for visitors.
Grand Hyatt New York is partnering with Macy’s Herald Square for a pop-up located behind the check-in desk, featuring New York City-themed gifts, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade apparel and novel gift items November 25–January 1.
Loews Regency New York Hotel and Bloomingdale’s are teaming up to bring a curated selection of holiday gifts to the lobby lounge November 29-December 24, including on-site monogramming of leather gifts by ROYCE New York.
Conrad New York Midtown is launching the first FAO Schwarz Holiday Suite, filled with shoppable toys, stuffed
animals and gifts that will be restocked for visitors who book a stay in the
suite November 18–January 5. Additionally, all guests during this time period
will be able to order gifts on demand to their suite or home address.
On Thursday, November 28 at 9 a.m., the time honored phrase Let’s Have a Parade™ will ring from the starting line as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade kicks off on Central Park West in New York City. With more than 8,000 volunteers dressed as clowns, guiding the flight of larger-than-life character balloons, transporting spectators to new places on signature floats, bringing the beat in the nation’s best marching bands and entertaining the crowds as part of dazzling performance groups, the annual march is jam-packed with entertainment.
More than 3.5 million spectators line the two-mile
route in New York City with more than 50 million television viewers watching nationwide.
The 93rd edition of the iconic holiday event ushers
in the season with its signature giant character balloons, floats of fantasy,
the nation’s finest marching bands, whimsical groups, musical performances, and
the one-and-only Santa Claus.
The parade will also feature special performances
and appearances by Natasha Bedingfield, Black Eyed Peas, Chicago, Ciara, Josh
Dela Cruz, Celine Dion, Jimmy Fallon and The Roots, Debbie Gibson, former NASA
Astronauts Kay Hire & Janet Kavandi, Chris Janson, Idina Menzel, Lea
Michele, Miss America 2019 Nia Franklin, NHL® Legends Dominic Moore and Eddie
Olczyk, the cast & Muppets of Sesame Street, NCT 127, Ozuna, Billy Porter,
Kelly Rowland, That Girl Lay Lay, TLC, Tenille Townes, and Chris Young.
synonymous with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and each year we aim to
create an even bigger one than the last, with incredible must-see entertainment
for millions of spectators nationwide,” said Susan Tercero, executive producer
of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. “Featuring an amazing lineup of high-flying
character balloons, jaw-dropping animated floats, world-class marching bands
and performance groups, artists covering a variety of musical genres, and of
course, the one-and-only Santa Claus, we are ‘Parade Ready’ and can’t wait to
take to the streets of New York City to once again herald the arrival of the
For more than nine decades, the magic of the holiday
season has begun with the march of the Macy’s Parade, as the spectacle enthralls
the nation with its signature mix of whimsical elements and dazzling
performances. For the 93rd edition, the line-up will feature 16 giant character
balloons; 40 novelty balloons, heritage balloons, balloonicles, balloonheads and
trycaloons; 26 floats; 1,200 cheerleaders and dancers; more than 1,000 clowns;
and 11 marching bands.
To kick off the revelry, a special must-see opening
number featuring a who’s who of actors, singers, dancers and more, all joined
by the cast and Muppets of Sesame Street, will start the Thanksgiving Day party
with 2 a smash. The first hour of the national broadcast will also include a
special debut performance from her new album Courage by the incomparable Celine
The parade’s giant balloons have become a signature element since 1927, when the Parade’s character balloon swere first introduced, and over the years have come to feature some of the world’s most beloved characters. The inflatables roster has expanded over time to include high-flying giants, balloonheads and even hybrid inflatables with vehicles inside (balloonicles) or tandem tricycles (trycaloons).
New giants joining the line-up this year include Astronaut Snoopy by Peanuts Worldwide, Green Eggs and Ham by Netflix, and SpongeBob SquarePants & Gary by Nickelodeon. In celebration of his 75th birthday, a heritage balloon and fan favorite Smokey Bear once again takes to the skies over Manhattan.
giant balloon characters include Diary of A Wimpy Kid® by
Abrams Children’s Books; Sinclair Oil’s DINO®; The Elf on the Shelf®; Goku;
Illumination Presents Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch; Jett by Super Wings™; Olaf from
Disney’s “Frozen 2”; Chase from PAW Patrol®; Pikachu™ by the Pokémon Company
International; Pillsbury Doughboy™; Power Rangers Mighty Morphin Red Ranger;
Ronald McDonald®; and Trolls. Completing the inflatable lineup is the famed
Aflac Duck, Sinclair Oil’s Baby DINOs and the Go Bowling balloonicles, as well
as Universal Orlando Resort’s The Nutcracker.
Since 2005, the Macy’s Parade has featured high-flying
artwork created in collaboration with renowned contemporary artists. This year,
for the eighth edition of Macy’s Blue
Sky Gallery, Yayoi Kusama joins the parade with her Love Flies Up to the
Sky balloon. The design was developed by the artist from face motifs that
appear in her “My Eternal Soul” series of paintings that embody Kusama’s
innovative exploration of form and revolve around a tension between abstraction
and figuration. Previous balloons in the Macy’s Parade Blue Sky Gallery series
have included works from famed artists Tom Otterness, Jeff Koons, Keith Haring,
Takashi Murakami, Tim Burton, KAWS, and FriendsWithYou™.
The Macy’s Parade has must-see entertainment for everyone in the family. Joining the festivities
will be stars from a variety of global music genres including Pop, R&B,
Country, Latin and K-Pop, with a few noteworthy special appearances thrown in
the mix. Appearing or performing onboard one of Macy’s signature floating
stages will be Natasha Bedingfield, Black Eyed Peas, Chicago, Ciara, Josh Dela
Cruz, Jimmy Fallon and The Roots, Debbie Gibson, former NASA Astronauts Kay
Hire & Janet Kavandi, Chris Janson, Idina Menzel, Lea Michele, Miss America
2019 Nia Franklin, NHL® Legends Dominic Moore and Eddie Olczyk, the cast &
Muppets of Sesame Street, NCT 127, Ozuna, Billy Porter, Kelly Rowland, That
Girl Lay Lay, TLC, Tenille Townes, and Chris Young; with an extra special
appearance by the one-and-only Santa Claus.
Gliding down Manhattan, the Parade’s signature floats transport spectators
to worlds of wonder through creative design, engineering, and skillful
construction, conceived and crafted by the incredible artisans of Macy’s Parade
Studio – a design and production facility that includes carpenters, engineers,
electricians, painters, animators, sculptors, metal fabricators, scenic and
costume designers. While they may seem to float down the Parade route as three
stories tall and several lanes of traffic wide stages, the magic is truly in
the design as these floats are built to collapse to no more than 12 ½-feet tall
and 8-feet wide in order to travel safely from the New Jersey home of the
Parade Studio to the Manhattan starting line via the Lincoln Tunnel each
five new floats will debut including Nickelodeon’s Blue’s Clues & You!
(Josh Dela Cruz), The Brick-changer by The Lego Group (NCT 127), Home Sweet
Home by Cracker Barrel Old Country Store® 3 (Tenille Townes), Rexy in the City
by COACH® (Billy Porter), and Toy House of Marvelous Milestones by New York
Life (Kelly Rowland).
float roster and its scheduled performers and special stars include 1-2-3
Sesame Street® by Sesame Workshop™ (The cast and Muppets of Sesame Street); Big
City Cheer! by Spirit of America Productions (Miss America 2019 Nia Franklin);
Central Park (Lea Michele); Christmas Cheer is Near by Elf Pets®/The Elf on the
Shelf®; Cornucopia; Deck the Halls by Balsam Hill® (Idina Menzel); Everyone’s Favorite
Bake Shop by Entenmann’s® (Jimmy Fallon and The Roots); Fantasy Chocolate
Factory by Kinder™ (Natasha Bedingfield), Harvest in the Valley by Green Giant®
(Chris Janson); Heartwarming Holiday Countdown by Hallmark Channel (Chicago);
Mount Rushmore’s American Pride by South Dakota Department of Tourism (Chris
Young); the NHL® Most Valuable Hockey Mom presented by MassMutual (Black Eyed
Peas and NHL® Legends Dominic Moore and Eddie Olczyk); Parade Day Mischief by
SOUR PATCH KIDS® Candy (Ozuna); Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by
Nickelodeon (Ciara); Santa’s Sleigh (Santa Claus); Shimmer and Shine by
Nickelodeon (Debbie Gibson); Snoopy’s Doghouse by Peanuts Worldwide (Charlie
Brown and former NASA Astronauts Kay Hire and Janet Kavandi); Splashing Safari
Adventure by Kalahari Resorts and Conventions (TLC); Tom Turkey; and Universal
Playground by Universal Kids (That Girl Lay Lay).
Returning for a third year by popular demand, the Macy’s Singing Christmas Tree by Delta
Air Lines will feature the harmonious voices of more than 100 Macy’s colleagues
and friends from Delta hailing from across the nation and the world. Performing
an original song to celebrate the start of the holiday season, the
golden-voiced chorus will touch the hearts and uplift the spirits of millions.
up the Bands
The nation’s best marching bands bring the beat to the holiday revelry. For this
year’s 93rd march, 11 of the specially chosen ensembles will ignite
coast-to-coast excitement and hometown pride as they step off and perform on
the streets of the Big Apple. This year’s bands include Awesome Original Second
Time Arounders Marching Band (St. Petersburg, FL), Blue Springs High School
Golden Regiment (Blue Springs, MO), Catalina Foothills Falcon Band (Tucson, AZ),
Franklin Regional Panther Band (Murrysville, PA), Macy’s Great American
Marching Band (United States), Madison Central High School Band (Richmond, KY),
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. High School’s Kings of Halftime (Lithonia, GA),
Morgan State University’s The Magnificent Marching Machine (Baltimore, MD),
NYPD Marching Band (New York, NY), Ronald Reagan High School Marching Band (San
Antonio, TX), and Western Carolina University’s Pride of the Mountains Marching
Band (Cullowhee, NC).
Entertaining the crowds with their signature
exuberance will be the Parade’s signature large and specialty performance groups. Joining the line-up this year are the
teen dancers and cheerleaders of Spirit of America Dance Stars and Spirit of
America Cheer. These groups together feature more than 1,200 of the very best
performers recruited from hometowns nationwide. Days before Thanksgiving, they
will gather for the first time in New York City to rehearse their numbers as a
group, ahead of their once-in-a-lifetime national spotlight. Adding some wacky
1980s style dancing will be the hilarious 610 Stompers (New Orleans, LA), with
modern dance youth talent showcased by The Alvin Ailey School (New York, NY)
and the tap dance theatrics of children from The Nice List (New York, NY).
Rounding out the performance group line-up and joining select talent
performances will be Gamma Phi Circus (Normal, IL), Manhattan Youth Ballet (New
York, NY), the dance stars of the world-renowned in-school arts education
program National Dance Institute (New York, NY) and Young People’s Chorus of
NYC (New York, NY).
National Holiday Event
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is the nation’s
biggest and most anticipated holiday celebration. Broadcast nationally on NBC,
with millions of families nationwide tuning in to watch the excitement unfold,
the TODAY Show’s Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb and Al Roker will host the
three-hour broadcast from 9 a.m. – noon (in all time zones). Following the
opener, on 34th Street, Broadway’s best shows will take a star turn in front of
Macy’s famed flagship with special performances from the casts of Ain’t Too
Proud – The Life and Times of The Temptations, Beetlejuice, Hadestown and Tina
– The Tina Turner Musical. In addition, the show-stopping Radio City Rockettes®
will bring their signature high-kicking magic to Herald Square. 4
Degree Livestream on Youtube
For the fourth year, Macy’s, with NBCUniversal and Verizon, will give viewers an up close and personal second screen experience of the Parade with a 360-degree livestream on Verizon’s YouTube page. The stream will go live at 8:30 a.m. EST at www.youtube.com/verizon and will run through noon EST. With exclusive access to cameras along the entire Parade route, online spectators will get a glimpse of the magic behind the scenes, as well as a preview of what’s to come as the Parade marches down the streets of Manhattan.
For spectators in New York or those traveling to the
city to see it live, the 93rd Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade begins at 9
a.m., kicking off from 77th Street and Central Park West. The procession will
march to Columbus Circle, turn onto Central Park South and then march down 6th
Avenue/Avenue of the Americas. At 34th Street, the Parade will make its final
turn west and end at 7th Avenue in front of Macy’s Herald Square.
For an insider’s look at the holiday procession, fans nationwide should visit macys.com/parade for regular updates including behind-the-scenes previews, special tours, interactive historical information, and more. Fans can also follow @macys on various social networks and join the conversation using #MacysParade.
One of my favorite ways to bid adieu to the year and begin anew
is the annual Concert for Peace at the magnificent Cathedral Church of St. John
the Divine, now in its 34th year. This is a signature New Year’s Eve
event that was founded by Leonard Bernstein in 1984 with the idea of bringing
together New Yorkers and visitors from around the world for an evening filled
with uplifting music. It is an event that rings in the new year with
inspiration and resolve.
Led by Kent Tritle,
Director of Cathedral Music, this year’s concert featured soloist Sidney Outlaw
joining the choir for Robert Convery’s powerful setting of Martin Luther King,
Jr.’s I have a dream during the 50th anniversary
year of King’s assassination and the 20th anniversary of his composition.
The choir performed make peace by David Lang and presented the New York premiere of Wayne Oquin’s Alleluia. Jason Robert Brown performed his stirring composition, “Singing You Home” with vocalists Kate Baldwin and Ashley Perez Flanagan, a newly written spiritual performed with Spanish and English lyrics expressly for the separated migrant families.
Paul Winter performed on soprano sax his composition, “Sun Singer, written with Paul Hatley.
The concert also included music by included William Boyce’s Symphony No. 1 in B-flat; Mozart’s Symphony No. 29 in A Major, J.S. Bach’s Dona nobis pacem from his Mass in B minor.
The Cathedral Choir’s own Jamet Pittman led the audience inThis little light of mine as the entire congregation lit candles and basked in the glow to welcome the new year with hope, joy, and affirmation.
Here are more highlights:
The Cathedral itself is a marvel. Originally designed in 1888, with construction beginning in 1892, the cathedral has undergone radical stylistic changes and the interruption of the two World Wars. It started out in Byzantine Revival-Romanesque Revival style, but the plan was changed to Gothic Revival in 1909. A major fire on December 18, 2001 caused the cathedral to be closed for repairs until 2008. It remains unfinished with construction and restoration a continuing process – which inside, only adds to the mystique of the place. It boasts being the largest Gothic cathedral, and may be the world’s largest Anglican cathedral and church; it is also the fourth largest Christian church in the world.
The cathedral houses one of the nation’s premier textile
conservation laboratories to conserve the cathedral’s textiles, including
the Barberini tapestries. The laboratory also conserves tapestries, needlepoint,
upholstery, costumes, and other textiles for clients.
There are concerts by the Cathedral Choir and other artists and
events throughout the year. Check the website for details.