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The Budding Gourmet

New York Festivities Across the Five Boroughs

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Seven Million Travelers Expected to Visit New York City This Holiday Season

NYC & Company, New York City’s official destination marketing organization, invites worldwide visitors to enjoy the festive annual holiday season in the greatest city in the world. NYC & Company forecasts seven million visitors will visit the City during the 2019–2020 holiday season. 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 and more taking place from early November into January.

Following are festive events, performances and activities across the boroughs to celebrate the holiday season in New York City.

Annual Celebrations

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.
For serious parade aficionados, head up to the American Museum of Natural History on November 27 from 1:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. to watch the balloon inflation at West 79th Street and Columbus Avenue.

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.

Lighting of the Largest Menorah in Brooklyn and Lighting of the World’s Largest Menorah: Manhattan
December 22 | Prospect Heights, Brooklyn; Grand Army Plaza, Manhattan
Both the Manhattan and Brooklyn Grand Army Plazas compete in the race for the World’s Largest Hanukkah Menorah. The Largest Menorah in Brooklyn has been lit since 1985, and the annual concert to kick off the holiday will be held on December 22.

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 specular, 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.

Sparkling Light Festivities

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.

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.

Hello Panda 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.

Holiday Shopping

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.


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.

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.
Winter Exhibits and Cultural Events:
• The Origami Holiday Tree at the American Museum of Natural History
November 25–January 12 | Upper West Side, Manhattan
This beloved tradition includes a 13-foot tree and 1,000 origami models. The signature Origami Holiday Tree, themed “Oceans of Origami” this season, has been a part of the celebrations for more than 40 years.
• 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 | Richmond Town, 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
• An unforgettable Broadway experience, Christmas Carol at the Lyceum Theatre will run November 7-January 5 with a new, enchanting interpretation of this holiday masterpiece.
• For a unique venue, head to the 1832 Merchant’s House Museum in Greenwich Village, as an actor portraying Charles Dickens shares this memorable story November 29–January 4.
• The Players Theatre will bring Charles Dickens’ timeless tale to life in their 11th annual A Christmas Carol the Musical December 1–20 in Greenwich Village.
• A Christmas Carol at Queens Theatre transports the audience to Victorian England to experience Scrooge’s iconic journey December 6–22.
• Three Extraordinary Versions of The Nutcracker
• George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker at the Lincoln Center Plaza brings the classic Christmas Eve tale to life with breathtaking music and choreography November 29–January 5.
• The Salzburg Marionette Theatre’s The Nutcracker is coming to Flushing Town Hall in Queens on December 4 with a historical puppet cast bound to entertain children and adults alike.
• The Brooklyn Nutcracker at Kings Theatre transforms familiar characters and scenes to represent the diverse traditions and vibrant culture of Brooklyn on December 14.
• Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at New York City Center December 4–January 5 | Midtown, Manhattan
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s holiday season opens with premieres, new productions and repertory favorites, including the masterpiece Revelations.
• A Holiday Doo Wop Spectacular at the St. George Theatre December 7 | St. George, Staten Island
The famous theatre presents its annual Holiday Doo Wop Spectacular featuring critically-acclaimed performers such as The Vogues, The Crystals and Eddie Holman.
• 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

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