Best holiday tree lighting ceremonies in New York City

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Holiday tree lighting ceremonies in New York are the best way to kick off the holidays. There’s no better way to get into the festive spirit than coming together with your community, big or small, and singing carols, drinking hot cocoa and taking in the beauty of dazzling decorations or sparkling Christmas trees. The holidays are truly the most magical time of the year in New York City, and that magic is always kicked off by flipping the switch on the festive decorations and lights.

Here are some holiday lighting ceremonies for your family to attend this upcoming holiday season. Whether you’re looking for iconic productions or the small community gatherings, we have a perfect list for you!

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88th Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting – Midtown, Manhattan
December 1
30 Rockefeller Plaza
212-588-8601

Be one of the thousands who crowd the sidewalks to watch the iconic Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree be lit for the very first time this holiday season.  It can also be viewed in the comfort of your own home on NBC’s national broadcast of the event, in the past, there have been live performances by top singers and the Radio City Rockettes!  The annual tree lighting ceremony is free and open to the public and operates on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Don’t miss out on a New York City bucket list experience, plan your trip into Midtown to see America’s most famous Christmas tree come to life for the 88th time. The ceremony will take place from 8 pm to 10 pm and the tree will remain lit and on display between West 48th and 51st Street and Fifth and Sixth Avenues through the holiday season.

The Washington Square Association Annual Tree Lighting – Greenwich Village, Manhattan
December 8
Washington Square North
212-396-5873

Gather under the arch in Washington Square Park for the annual tree lighting ceremony. You and your family can join in on the jolly spirit with the Rob Susman Brass Quartet as they sing holiday songs. The sparkling lights on the gorgeous tree will be flipped on to celebrate the beginning of festive winter evenings. Some even say that Santa Claus himself has promised to make an appearance! The ceremony will take place from 6 pm to 7 pm both in person and virtually. The Washington Square Association will also provide songbooks when visitors come in person so everyone can sing along.

Annual Central Park Holiday Lighting – East Harlem
December 2
Charles A. Dana Discovery Center at 110th Street
212-310-6675

Celebrate the holiday season in Central Park! The entire family can kick off their holiday festivities, have the chance to meet Santa and friends, sing carols on the Plaza, and warm up with the perfect combination of hot chocolate and cookies. The festive evening will come to a scenic end with the lighting of a flotilla of holiday trees on the Harlem Meer. The event is set to take place, rain, snow or shine,starting at 5:30 pm. The event is free and registration is not required.

American Museum of Natural History’s Origami Holiday Tree – Upper West Side
November 24 through January 2, 2022
200 Central Park West
212-769-5100

Don’t miss out on one of New York’s most beloved holiday displays! This winter, visit the American Museum of Natural History to see the Origami Holiday Tree, an annual tradition for the past 40 years. The theme for this year’s 13-foot tree is Gems of the Museum, with 1,000 origami pieces inspired by the Allison and Roberto Mignone Halls of Gems and Minerals Thanks to a partnership with OrigamiUSA, the tree is made up of these beautiful paper models that are created by local, national, and international origami artists.

Sinterklaas – St. Nicholas Day & Tree Lighting – East Flatbush
December 4
Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum, 5816 Clarendon Road
718-629-5400

Bring your entire family to meet Sinterklaas and enjoy an exciting day of holiday festivities! The day will kick off at 2:00 pm with a traditional concert by colonial balladeer Linda Russel. After St. Nicholas arrives on horseback, visitors can follow Dutch traditions and feed his horse carrots and hay. Afterward, families are invited to sip on some delicious hot cider, decorate a Dutch clog, and dress the tree for the tree lighting to close the day as the sun sets. This event is free but tickets must be reserved online ahead of time.

7th Annual Fort Greene Tree Lighting – Clinton Hill
December 5
100 Washington Park
718-230-1689

Gather with neighbors at the northwest corner of Fort Greene Park, near the Myrtle Avenue and St. Edwards Street entrance for an annual event that is full of holiday cheer! Take selfies with Santa, bring unwrapped toys for the toy drive collection, vibe to fun holiday music, and enjoy the lighting of the tree as you sip free hot cocoa and cider and enjoy cookies provided by local Myrtle Avenue restaurants. This free event is great for the whole family and will take place from 4 pm to 5 pm.

Winter Wonder at the Garden – Flushing
December 4
Queens Botanical Garden, 43-50 Main Street
718-866-3800

Get into the holiday spirit at the Queens Botanical Garden with fun for the entire family! Winter Wonder in the Garden will be welcoming guests with live musical performances, photos with Santa, a fantastic tree lighting, holiday crafts, a tree tour, and blowout sales at the QBG Shop. This exciting holiday event has everything you need to kick off the holiday season! The free event will take place from 12 pm to 5 pm and is great for all ages. Specific activities may require a separate fee. If you are planning to attend, you are encouraged to register online.

9th Annual Holiday Festival and Tree Lighting Celebration – Astoria
December 5
Astoria Park Lawn, 19th Street and 23rd Ave.
718-728-7820

Come one, come all to Astoria Park for the 9th Annual Holiday Festival and Tree Lighting Celebration! Everyone is invited to this highly-anticipated and sought after free community event that rings in the holiday season. Gather on the park lawn for photos with Santa, face painting, balloon art, crafts and more, all followed by a spectacular tree lighting ceremony! The Astoria community tradition will take place from  3 pm to 4:30 pm.

Bronx Little Italy Christmas Tree Lighting – Little Italy
November 27
Ciccarone Park, E 188th Street & Arthur Ave.
718-294-8259

Ring in the holidays and celebrate small businesses with special guest Chazz Palminteri of A Bronx Tale! Enjoy festive holiday music as you indulge in Italian cookies and hot chocolate. Santa Clause is even set to travel from the North Pole to make an appearance in Ciccarone Park! Kids can even line up for a toy giveaway before they settle in for the bright and beautiful tree lighting ceremony. The toy giveaway is first-come, first-serve, and the free event is set to take place from 4 pm to 6 pm.

Bronx Zoo Holiday Lights – Crotona
November 19 – January 9th
2300 Southern Blvd.
718-220-5100

Discover the holiday season at the Bronx Zoo! Spectacular animal lanterns, animal sculptures, and colorful designs will light the way throughout the park. Enjoy the magic of the zoo, coupled with the wonderful display of holiday lights. Enjoy an unforgettable experience that’s brighter than ever thanks to LED technology. Admission tickets are $39.95 for adults (ages 13 and over) and $24.95 for children ages 2 to 12. Tickets can be purchased online. The Holiday Lights are not open December 24 and 25.

This article appears courtesy of our sister publication New York Family

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