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Holiday Happenings In New York City

Only in NYC: Must-see Traditions

No matter where you are, the holiday season is usually a festive affair: twinkly lights, cheery music, pumpkin everything, decked-out shops and fresh-air outings.

But in New York City? It's off-the-charts magical — truly, the stuff of legends.

If you're headed to the city for the holidays, consider adding these unforgettable options to your calendar.

Archie relaxing in his Archer king Empire view guest room

Light display

Saks Fifth Avenue

The holiday light display at the iconic NYC store between 49th and 50th Streets is always a hit with locals, visitors and families. Along with larger-than-life window displays that are unveiled in late November, the entire building’s façade is decorated with lights. Then around 5 PM, a theatrical light show accompanied by music occurs every 10 minutes, until around 11 PM. Crowded? Yes. Worth going? Absolutely.
Photo by Johnell Pannell on Unsplash

Tree lighting + ice skating

Rockefeller Center

With more than 50,000 multicolored LED lights, the annual lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting is a sight to behold. This tradition began more than eight decades ago. While the initial lighting event is in late November, the tree and entire square are festively decorated and on display through the end of the year. Afterward, the tree is donated to Habitat for Humanity and used to build homes.

Take a spin around the ice skating rink at Rockefeller Center. This NYC tradition is a quintessential wintertime activity that's set beneath the glow of the well-lit Christmas tree.

Photo by Ibrahim Boran on Unsplash

Festive Windows

In the city that never sleeps — the one so nice, they named it twice — these New York City holiday storefronts are as festive as they get:

Photo by Spencer Imbrock on Unsplash

The Bank of America Winter Village

Bryant Park

The Winter Village at Bryant Park hosts the city’s only free-to-skate ice rink. Surrounding the rink are the Holiday Shops featuring the work of artisans from NYC and around the world. Refuel at The Lodge Bar + Food Hall, with its festive cocktail bar and food options, while watching the skaters go ’round. Or reserve your spot (including a curling lane and heated dome) at the Curling Café + Bar. A bonus: The Winter Village is right around the block from Archer Hotel New York.
Rhododendrites, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Holiday Spirits + Eats

Keeping your energy up for all this holiday revelry is easy in New York City. These bars and eateries are bedecked and bedazzled in high holiday fashion:

  • Rolf’s German Restaurant — Over the top Christmas décor in every nook and cranny, in Gramercy Park at 22nd Street and 3rd Avenue.
  • Oscar Wilde NYC — A Victorian-styled restaurant and bar (the longest in Manhattan) where “extravagance is always in season,” in NoMad on 27th Street.
  • Spyglass Rooftop Bar — Inspired by Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rear Window,” the bar atop Archer Hotel with festive cocktails (including a signature Giving Drink, exclusively available during the holiday season), shareable bites and an up-close view of the holiday-lit Empire State Building.
  • Papillon Bistro & Bar — Seasonal exhibitions with sophisticated debauchery and live opera on Saturday nights, plus two bars and a French-American-Italian menu, in midtown on 54th Street.
  • Pete’s Tavern — The city’s oldest original bar and restaurant, the ceiling blanketed in red holiday twinkle lights, in Gramercy Park on East 18th Street.
  • Molly’s Shebeen — “The most authentic Irish pub in New York City,” with sawdust floors, shepherd’s pie and plentiful Christmas decorations, in Gramercy Park on 3rd Avenue.
A breathtaking view and a cocktail at Spyglass Rooftop Bar

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