The holidays are here, and we are all about enjoying our city with a magical bucket list for this month’s double issue. Yeah, I said it, magical! For NYC with its pack subways (again) and gridlock traffic somehow always comes out shining during this time of the year. And perhaps it isn’t magic per se, but it’s the people that make this city so phenomenal during the holidays.
So whether it’s heading to a favorite museum, enjoying Central Park, or checking out the holiday windows, we’re all in, and we have all the ways you and your family can enjoy this time of the year as well!
Psst… Check out The Rink at Rockefeller Center Opens for The Season!
Free Ice Skating!
The Rink, located at the Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park
Nov 1- 6 March 2022
Get your skate on at the only free-admission ice skating rink in NYC. Go online to reserve your spot, and keep in mind that new reservations are open throughout the season. Skate rentals are $15 if you do not have skates. Located at 42nd Street and 6th Avenue.
The Christmas Spectacular is back. Staring the famous Radio City Rockettes, this show is iconic New York, and the entire family will enjoy gorgeous dance numbers and the unity of the Rockettes. Radio City Music Hall, 1260 6th Ave. Visit rockettes.com/christmas for time and tickets.
North Pole Express by Top View
Nov 13 – Jan 2
Visit this satellite Santa location (wink, wink) and take a journey with Top View for a holiday adventure on the North Pole Express. Dress warmly, sip on hot chocolate, eat delicious cookies all while enjoying the sights of New York. Meet the Express Conductor, an elf, and Santa! Located at 2 East 42nd Street, visit topviewnyc. com for tickets and details.
Surprisingly, when winter permits, the Central Park Carousel ($2.50 a ride and located mid-park at 65th street) and Zoo ( East Side between 63rd and 66th)) are both open. Visiting this park never gets old, and enjoying it during the holidays is extra—tickets for the zoo range from $14.95 to $19.95 with kids under three are free.
Holiday Lights at Bronx Zoo
Nov 19 – Jan 9
A family fun favorite is this iconic light show of animal lantern safaris, ice-carving demonstrations, holiday treats, costumed characters, wildlife theater, stilt walkers, and more! Visit Africa, Asia, Latin America, and more on a fun and safe tour of this seasonal celebration. The event is on select dates from November 20- January 10- and tickets must be reserved in advance.
The New York Botanical Gardens Holiday Train Show
Nov 20 – Jan 23
Visit this popular model train show of 175 landmarks re-created with bark, leaves, and other natural materials. The train show is located at the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, making for a lovely day with the kids. New York Botanical Garden, 2900 Southern Blvd., Bronx. Visit nybg.org/visit/admission for price packages.
Queens County Farm Museum Illuminate the Farm
Nov 25 – Jan 2
The Winter Lantern Festival located in Queens is a perfect family holiday activity where dazzling lanterns in fantastic shapes such as tractors, farm animals, and flowers illuminate the night. This year- kids can purchase (for $5) a wish lantern of their own to decorate and take home. Queens County Farm Museum7 3-50 Little Neck Parkway, Queens, NY. Visit Queensfarm.org.
Lighting Largest Hanukkah Menorahs
Nov 28 – Dec 25
Head over to this joyous (and free) lightning of The Largest Menorah lighting in Brooklyn. Every night of Chanukah- New Yorkers commemorate and celebrate this event with music, hot latkes to mark the Maccabean victory of right over might and light over darkness. Located at Grand Army Plaza. Visit Chabadparkslope.com.
Nov 24 – Jan 22
Explore the gardens after dark with a 1.5-mile colorful adventure—the GLOW show. Will light up the gardens on 25 designated nights—visit nybg.org/event/holiday- train-show-2021/nybg-glow for dates and tickets.
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
Nov 25, 9 am-noon
Bring the family together to Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which celebrates its 93rd year lining the streets of Manhattan. Central Park West, Columbus Circle, or Sixth Avenue between Central Park South and 38th Street in Manhattan, macys.com.
A fun and free holiday tradition is the unveiling of NYC holiday windows. Windows go up around the third week of November. Some of the must-check-out windows are Bloomingdale’s, Sak’s Fifth Avenue, Macy’s: Herald Square, Bergdorf Goodman, Bloomingdale’s, Louis Vuitton, and American Girl (Midtown).
If looking for indulgence this season, take a horse and carriage ride in Central Park. Visit well-known attractions like Belvedere Castle, Strawberry Fields, and more. For more info visit centralpark.com/tours/horse- carriage-rides.
George Balanchine’s “The Nutcracker”
Nov 26 – Jan 2
A seasonal classic and a New York holiday tradition where beautiful costumes, a growing tree, and exceptional choreography by New York City Ballet entertain the family. David H. Koch Theater, 20 Lincoln Center Plaza in Manhattan, nycballet.com.
Nov 26 – Dec 24
Visit Santa in IRL! Reservations will open at 5:30am five days before the date of your wish to visit to minimize wait times and adhere to social distancing guidelines. Macy’s Herald Square, 151 W. 34th Street, 8th floor(across from Au Bon Pain). Macys.com
Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree
Dec 1, 6 am –12am
Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is *Free* to view. If you are in town on Christmas Day, the tree will be lit for 24 hours. On New Year’s Eve, the tree shines from 6 am to 9 pm. 45 Rockefeller Plaza.
‘Twas the Night Before by Cirque du Soleil
Dec 9– Dec 27
The theatrical ‘Twas the Night Before by Cirque du Soleil features acrobats, dancing, and more at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden. Visit bit. ly/3GFH1V3 for times and tickets.
Layer up, gather the family and head over to this popular outdoor caroling event. Sing your heart out with winter and holiday songs of all faiths, languages, and cultures as you stroll through Jackson Heights. Meet in front of Cassidy’s Ale House, corner of 31st Ave & 75th St in Queens. 7 pm – 10 pm.
A New York ritual is heading to Dyker Heights to enjoy the gorgeous neighborhood lights. This Brooklyn neighborhood goes all-out on its holiday decorations. Here, you can expect to see life-size Santas, stunning light displays, and possibly even hear Christmas carols. These light displays are between 11th to 13th Avenue or 83rd Avenue to 86th St.
The Kings Theatre is like no other, meaning they often give a classic-a new spin, literally. The Hip Hop Nutcracker, a contemporary dance spectacle set to Tchaikovsky’s timeless music, is pure joy. Bring the entire family for this show that features a dozen all-star dancers, a DJ, a violinist, and MC Kurtis Blow (yes!), who opens the show with a short set. The theatre is located at 1027 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn. Showtimes are at 2 pm and 7 pm.
If your family is obsessed with The Elf on the Shelf, then head to Brooklyn for this fun The Elf on the Shelf: The Musical spectacle of music and dance at the North Pole and check-in with Santa’s Scout Elves. Kings theatre brings the family an original story and score, beautiful sets and costumes on this don’t miss production. 1027 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn. Showtimes are 2 pm & 7 pm.
New & Special Exhibitions
The Butterfly Conservatory: Tropical Butterflies Alive in Winter
Opens Saturday, November 20
The Butterfly Conservatory: Tropical Butterflies Alive in Winter, an annual favorite, returns to the Museum. Celebrating its 23rd year at the Museum, this popular attraction transforms the coldest day into a summer escape, inviting visitors to mingle with up to 500 fluttering, iridescent butterflies among blooming tropical flowers and lush green vegetation in 80-degree temperatures.
Origami Holiday Tree
Opens Wednesday, November 24
The delightfully decorated 13-foot Origami Holiday Tree will welcome visitors to the Museum throughout the season. As a celebration of the Museum tradition that started in the early 1970s, the theme of the 13-foot tree is Gems of the Museum, featuring 50 specially created gold-colored models for the “golden anniversary” 50th Origami Holiday Tree. Among the more than 1,000 origami pieces decorating the tree will be models of dazzling specimens from the new Allison and Roberto Mignone Halls of Gems and Minerals, jaw-some pieces inspired by the new special exhibition Sharks, and those depicting iconic Museum exhibits like the Blue Whale, Titanosaur, and T. rex.
Opens Wednesday, December 15 with Member Preview Days Friday, December 10 – Sunday, December 12
Fixed in the public imagination as toothy, fearsome predators, sharks are far more fascinating, and more complex, than their depiction in popular culture. Sharks brings to life the incredible diversity of this ancient group of fishes and offers visitors a unique look at pre-historic and modern shark species, their habitats and hunting styles, and the conservation threats these magnificent animals are facing today. Featuring fossils, touch-free media, and a spectacular “parade” of sharks with 30 lifelike models ranging from 33 feet to 5 inched long – including the mega-predator megalodon that’s known as the “Tyrannosaurus rex of the seas,”- the exhibition brings visitors face to face with the incredible diversity of this ancient and misunderstood group of fishes.
Allison and Roberto Mignone Halls of Gems and Minerals
All-New Permanent Hall Now Open
The all-new Halls which opened this summer offer a brilliant showcase for one of the world’s most important collections of gems and minerals and an engaging guide to our dynamic planet. The exhibits tell the fascinating story of how the vast diversity of mineral species arose on Earth, how scientists classify and study them, and how we use them for personal adornment, tools, and technology. Thoroughly redesigned and reinstalled, the 11,000-square-foot galleries feature more than 5,000 specimens from 98 countries, including a pair of towering, sparkling amethyst geodes from Uruguay that are among the world’s largest on display and a wall-sized panel of fluorescent rock from Sterling Hill in New Jersey that glows in shades of orange and green.
Worlds Beyond Earth Hayden PlanetariumSpace Show
The Museum’s most recent Space Show is currently screening in the Hayden Planetarium Space Theater. Viewers can journey beyond our own blue planet to marvel at the latest discoveries from our cosmic neighbors. Narrated by Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o, Worlds Beyond Earth takes viewers on an exhilarating journey that reveals the dynamic nature of the worlds that orbit our Sun and features immersive visualizations of space missions and breathtaking scenes depicting the evolution of our solar system.
Sea Lions: Life by a Whisker Giant-Screen Film
The giant-screen film is now showing in the Museum’s LeFrak Theater, which features a 40-foot-high, 66-foot-wide screen with a state-of-the-art digital sound system. The film follows the journey of an endangered Australian sea lion pup named Otto as she learns to navigate her beautiful but harsh coastal environment with the help of her mother and others in her colony.
This article appears courtesy of our sister publication New York Family.