New York City for the Holidays

By Annie Shustrin

One of the most popular times to visit New York City is during the holidays. For us locals, holiday crowds can make getting around Midtown Manhattan a bit of a mess, but the twinkly lights and upbeat environment often make us forget the annoyance and get into the holiday spirit. (Well, sometimes.)

Bryant Park at Christmas

I have been calling NYC my home base for the last 10 years, but I am originally a California girl. Christmas in California, though still cold due to the famous San Francisco fog, was never white. And I never wore big coats with boots. Or a hat. Though our holidays were always sparkly and festive, winter snow and city excitement were rarely an important piece.

New York City, on the other hand, seems to be made for the holiday season, Christmas in particular. Growing up, on occasion we would visit family in NYC around Christmas, and those trips were always filled with holiday indulgence: the Fifth Avenue’s holiday windows at Saks, Lord & Taylor, and Bergdorfs. The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree and skating rink were highlights for me as the tree seemed to tower above me for miles. The lights of Park Avenue dazzled. My family spent most of our time in Manhattan, yet the Christmas lights in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, were always on the television.

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

Now I am a resident of Brooklyn and find myself in Midtown most days of the week. I’ve grown used to the city life and buzz as a local, but I’ll always still see Christmas time as I did as a child—exciting and beautiful. With a Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree that still is as tall as the sky. New York even has the biggest Hanukkah Menorah that is lit all 8 nights on 59th Street.

In the past few years, it seems Christmas has expanded even more across Midtown Manhattan, with outdoor markets attempting to rival Europe’s famous Christmas markets and the CitiPond skating rink popping up as a centerpiece in Bryant Park. On a cold night, the Holiday Fair inside Grand Central Terminal will let you shop sans enormous down coat. On a cold day, however, the skating rink is the perfect place for earmuffs and good laugh.

With so many beautiful decorations and indoor and outdoor activities for the holidays, it’s hard not to get into the spirit.

Have you been to New York City for the holidays? What is your favorite memory in New York City this time of year?

Annie Shustrin is a travel addict. When she’s not on the road, she’s either thinking about past trips, planning future ones, or fantasizing about where she’d like to be right now.  She has visited over 30 countries on both long and short term travels, and is now based in New York City. She writes for her blog TravelShus.com, as well contributing articles to other online travel publications. Though Indonesia and New Zealand are amongst her favorite destinations, her favorite travel memory was in China, where she got to hold a baby panda on her very own lap.

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