The Holidays in New York: Festivals, Window Displays, and the Famous Christmas Tree

While New York is a lively destination year-round, it takes on a whole new personality around the holidays. Festivals abound, window displays come to life, and the famous Christmas Tree in Rockefeller Center becomes lit with 30,000 LED Christmas lights. Don’t know where to start? Use this guide to help you navigate New York during the holidays.


Columbus Circle Fair

One must-see festival is the Columbus Circle Holiday Market. Over 120 stalls adorned in festive decor are set up on the outskirts of Central Park and showcase the finest independently owned boutiques and eateries selling unique and quality goods. Some of my favorite picks from the market include:

1. Spices and TeaseThere are tons of really interesting and unique herbal teas and spices. Gingerbread Black Tea, Mango Pineapple Chili Tea, “Special” seasonings for all different food dishes, and various health and wellness blends. Even if you don’t purchase anything, it’s still really fun to look at all the varieties and try to figure out what’s in them.

2. Speaker GenieCool stocking stuffer! You hook the Speaker Genie up to your i-Pod and then touch it to any surface…cardboard, umbrellas, styrofoam coolers, pizza boxes…anything really, and then the object instantly becomes a speaker. Really convenient when you want to listen to music but don’t want to carry speakers around.

3. Centuries Claywork- They basically make really interesting art and clocks using clay in a really innovative way. Funky, fun, and really creative.

Other Noteable Christmas Festivals and Markets:

  • The Holidays Shops at Bryant Park – I love this one because it’s an indoor/outdoor market in the sense that the market is outdoors but the stalls each have their own little indoor shop (with heat!). They also have an awesome ice skating rink here. Tip: Make sure to check out the Max Brenner stall and try some free samples of the best chocolates in the world!
  • Union Square Holiday Market– Outdoor market with over 100 vendors selling really unique gifts, many of which are eco-friendly.
  • Grand Central Holiday Fair– Indoor fair (inside Grand Central Station) with over 70 booths featuring jewelry, accessories, home decor, toys, hats, and clothing.

Window Displays

Window displays are also a huge part of Christmas in New York. Walk down 5th Avenue for some of the best windows, like Lord & Taylor, Saks, and stop by Macy’s on Broadway between 34th and 35th streets to see their holiday windows (above) and their famous “Miracle on 34th Street” interactive display.

The Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center

The tree is located in Rockefeller Center at 30 Rockefeller Plaza. You can enter it off 5th in between 49th and 50th. It is a beautiful and festive site but be warned, the crowds over there at this time of year are intense.

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