Holidays: Lights & Decor

Holidays in NYC are spectacular – here’s info on gingerbread galore, festive shop windows, high-tech light shows and more. One-time holiday events can be found on our weekly events listing (and keep checking our deals page for discounted gift-giving). **All events are free unless noted otherwise.**
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Taste of Home's Gingerbread Boulevard

Madison Square Park (Madison Avenue & 24th Street) Dec 7-20 2:00 pm–8:00 pm

Explore around and inside life-size decorated gingerbread houses and check out virtual and interactive elements such as a marshmallow snowman and Christmas tree decorating. Sip complimentary Folgers coffee and snack on M&Ms, Twix, Snickers and Dove chocolates.


Christmas at Rolf’s

Rolf’s German Restaurant (281 Third Avenue at 22nd Street) $10-$50 for food Through Dec 31 12:00 pm–10:00 pm

Dining at Rolf’s is like climbing inside an extravagant Christmas tree. Ornaments, porcelain angels, miles of garlands and more envelop the restaurant. Make reservations for lunch or be prepared to wait up to an hour+ for walk-in only dinner. No children’s menu and food starts at $10, but the sausages and schnitzel are authentic and the decor dazzling.


Flatiron Reflection

Flatiron Plaza (West 23rd Street & Broadway) Through Jan 1 All Day

Explore a bundle of giant shimmering tubes in an iconic plaza. Admire the play of light, shadow, and reflection from afar or step into nooks around the fluted perimeter offers niches. Designed by Future Expansion, the winner of the fourth annual Flatiron Public Plaza Holiday Design Competition.


Harlem Holiday Windows

Lenox Avenue (Lenox Avenue between 117th and 127th Streets) Through Jan 2 All Day

Participating businesses along a sparkle-filled Lenox Avenue between 117th and 127th Streets feature displays inspired by seven Traditional Harlem Celebrations that take place throughout the year: Three Kings Day, Christmas, Hanukah, Loiza, Ramadan, Kwanzaa, and Harlem Week. This year’s theme was suggested by high school students from The Schomburg Center’s immersive Teen Curator’s Program and executed by undergraduates from Fashion Institute of Technology’s interdisciplinary Visual Presentation and Exhibition Design (VPED) program, working closely with owners/operators and store managers.


Department Store Windows

Fifth Avenue (36th to 56th Street) Through Jan 2 All Day

Swanky store windows on and around Fifth Avenue are especially eye-catching during the holidays. Go early or on weekdays to avoid the tourist crowds. Some highlights, listed north to south:

Barneys (660 Madison Avenue @ 61st Street)
In “Haas For the Holidays,” designers Simon and Nikolai have created an imaginative universe that offers an interpretation of the Earth through the ages, with some of the Haas’ recurring characters coexisting across eras ranging from the planet’s beginning to the far distant future. Animation and sculpture illustrate four phases of time: Primordial, Utopia, Millennium, and a vision of the future that’s been titled Mushroom Singularity. Trippy, colorful and fun.

Bloomingdales (59th Street & Lexington Avenue)
Whimsical, circus acts and mannequins sporting dazzling outfits reference the new musical P.T. Barnum biopic “The Greatest Showman.” More than 7,600,000 Swarovski crystals were used to embellish and outfit the costumes and props used in each window.

Bergdorf Goodman (754 Fifth Avenue @ 58th Street)
To New York With Love” honors local cultural insitituions including American Museum of Natural History (Swarovski crystals—encrusted dinosaurs) the New York Philharmonic (red neon signs shaped like trumpets), the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), the Museum of the Moving Image, the New York Botanical Garden, the New-York Historical Society and UrbanGlass.

Henri Bendel (712 Fifth Ave @ 56th Street)
Enchanting designs featuring flowers, birds and butterflies created by Lovepop decorate the store’s front and main level, including 30,000 paper butterflies hanging from the ceiling.

Saks Fifth Avenue (611 5th Avenue @ 49th Street)
See stunning vignettes from Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in celebration of the film’s 80th anniversary of the film. Snow White frolics with adorable woodland creatures, the seven dwarfs sing in a crystal cave and the Wicked Queen acts wicket. The 49th and 50th Street windows showcase gorgeous modern interpretations of Snow White’s dress created by four designers (Alberta Ferretti, Naeem Khan, Monique Lhuillier and Marchesa). An extravagant light show on the facade repeats every ten minutes from 5 to 11 pm daily.

Tiffany (727 Fifth Avenue @ 57th Street)
Wooden drawing figures pose in fun scenarios including literally “fishing” for jewels. Miniature versions of Tiffany’s “starburst” chandelier by Austrian glassmaker Lobmeyr sparkle in each window.

Lord & Taylor (424 Fifth Avenue between 38th & 39th Streets).
In “The Best and the Brightest,” celebratory two polar bears, a starry NYC skyscape, a vintage circus, a woodland wonderland and Santa are seen through giant snow globes. Sparkling greenery flanks the front entrance.

Macy’s (West 34th Street between Sixth & Seventh Avenues)
“The Perfect Gift Brings People Together,” showcases family traditions and preparations with an ornate ice-skating window, sesonal cityscapes and more. A fifteen foot tall Santa perches above the marquee (don’t forget to visit him inside).


Let There Be Light!

Museum at Eldridge Street (12 Eldridge Street) Through Jan 2 10:00 am–5:00 pm

See an array of diverse menorahs from the collection of the Lori and David Moore family that show just how many ways there are to light up the holiday. Traditional and whimsical designs include an American flag menorah, traditional Chanukah lamps from around the world, and menorahs that take playful forms, including a shoe, a dog and an oversized book of matches.


Luminaries

Brookfield Place (220 Vesey Street) Through Jan 5 8:00 am–10:00 pm

650 hanging lanterns create a canopy of rainbow lights in the Winter Garden at Brookfield Place. Visitors send a wish to the lanterns above by touching a wishing station, transforming the installation and spurring a $1 donation from Arts Brookfield to the GRAMMY Foundation® to support its GRAMMY in the Schools® music education programs for high school students. Choreographed light shows, entitled “Snowfall,” “Christmas Tree,” “Ribbons,” “Firecracker,” and “Northern Lights” occur every two hours between 8 am and 10 pm.


Wreath Interpretations

Arsenal, Central Park (830 Fifth Avenue (at 64th Street)) Through Jan 5
Weekdays 9:00 am–5:00 pm
9:00 am–5:00 pm

Employing an array of uncommon materials, more than 40 participating fine artists, designers, and imaginative individuals create unique and unconventional wreaths. This year’s wreaths draw inspiration from a range of themes ranging from the personal to the universal.


Winter ONEderland at One World Observatory

One World Trade Center (285 Fulton Street) $34+ Weekends 11 am–7 pm 9:00 am–9:00 pm

The already stunning One World Observatory at the top of the Freedom Tower is transformed into a winter wonderland with immersive, multi-media experiences. Follow animated Ollie the snow owl through a hallway featuring 144 individual screens of world landmarks in winter, then wander through a magical glacier cave to Snowy SkyPods, some of the fastest elevators in the world. Zoom to floor 102 while watching a 47 second video show about the evolution of New York City. Admire the dramatic view at the top and take a photo through a giant snow globe showcasing NYC’s skyline. On weekends from 11 am–7 pm, visit Santa and get an included professionally captured 8×6 photo and surprise gift.


Holiday Under The Stars

Time Warner Center (10 Columbus Circle) Through Jan 8 5:00 pm–10:00 pm

14-foot stars hanging from the 150-foot tall ceiling light up in an array of colors in time to holiday tunes by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. Peek into the festively decorated Williams-Sonoma for free samples of holiday candy and hot apple cider. See cast members of Broadway shows perform on Mondays 5-6 pm.


Gingerbread Lane

New York Hall of Science (Flushing Meadow-Corona Park) Free with museum admission Through Jan 15 10:00 am–6:00 pm

Marvel at the largest gingerbread village in the world. Lots of fun details to discover including cable cars and subway stations, all made from only edible ingredients: gingerbread, royal icing and candy. A great excuse to explore the entertaining interactive science exhibits at the museum.


Sea of Light: An Interactive Journey Through Light and Sound

Seaport District (Fulton & Front Streets) Through Feb 5 All Day

The Sea of Light installation will be like no winter light show you have ever seen before. Sea of Light is a fully immersive sensory adventure of light and sound activated by proximity and touch. Spheres of various sizes, ranging up to nine feet in height, will be illuminated with warm-colored light from over 150,000 LED bulbs, and will react to various movement and sound patterns. Each individual interaction will provoke a unique lighting pattern that makes for a rare winter art experience.


Whiteout by Erwin Redl

Madison Square Park (Madison Avenue & 24th Street) Through Mar 25 All Day

Hundreds of suspended transparent white spheres, each embedded with a discrete, white LED light, gently sway with the wind one foot above the ground creating shummering patterns across the Madison Square lawn.


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