Mike Virgintino Sep 16, 2009
Christmas is a wonderful time to visit New York City. Its major thoroughfares are decorated with fascinating holiday displays and there are plenty of things to do. Rockefeller Center is, literally, the center of activity during the holiday season. The holiday tradition here began in 1933. Each year, a 70-plus foot tree is identified, loaded onto a truck for its trip to Manhattan and placed in front of the main building. The trees often come from private property within a 100-mile radius of Rockefeller Center, but some trees have come from as far away as Canada. After the tree is decorated with tens of thousands of lights, an official tree lighting festival is held on a weekday evening during the first week in December. Every day through early January, thousands of tourists and locals meet, share holiday greetings and take pictures by the tree and along the promenade that enters from Fifth Avenue. Under the tree, the below ground outdoor summer restaurant is converted into the Rockefeller Center ice skating rink. Open to the public, skates can be rented or you can bring your own. Fees are modest, but the wait can be long. Sometimes the wait to skate is more than an hour. To avoid long lines, the best times to skate are Sunday mornings and New Year’s Day. Two other rinks also are available in Manhattan: The Wollman Rink is at the entrance to Central Park. It is located on the east side of the park between 62nd and 63rd Streets. Enter the park at 59th Street and Fifth Avenue. The park also has another skating rink at the north end between 106th and 108th Streets. Lasker Skating Rink offers lessons and activities with certified instructors. Enter the Park at 110th Street and Lenox Avenue. For more information call 917-492-3856. A rink is constructed each winter in Bryant Park. The park is located at 42nd Street and Sixth Avenue, behind the city’s main library that faces Fifth Avenue. Every year, current and former players for the New York Rangers hockey team skate with the public and collect toys for youth charities. Window Shopping in New York Ads by Google Free Events in New York What To Do in NY? Free Guides. Sign Up For Our Free Newsletter! http://www.DailyCandy.com/NewYorkCityNYC Teachers The Social Network for NYC Teachers Blogs, Events, Join Groups & more NYCTeachers.com Each of New York City’s celebrated department stores hold an official unveiling of display windows at the beginning of the holiday season. Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Lord & Taylor and many other stores not only showcase the latest fashions but also display artistic miniatures of winter scenes. Macy’s windows often have a theme that is associated with a holiday family movie or another event that is featured during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Many of the stores are located on Fifth Avenue near Rockefeller Center. Some others are located lower on Fifth Avenue below 42nd Street, with others on nearby Sixth Avenue. Macy’s is farther south at 34th Street and Broadway. Walking is the best way to tour the store windows. Map out the store locations, pick up a hot large pretzel (with mustard, of course) or chestnuts from a street vendor and begin the window shopping. Saint Patrick’s Cathedral Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, the seat of the Roman Catholic archbishop of New York, is steps away from Rockefeller Center. Located on Fifth Avenue between 50th and 51st Streets, its doors are open for many hours each day during December to allow huge crowds to admire the architecture, stop to say prayers at one of the many statues and alters dedicated to saints, light candles, or pause before the Christmas manger. The most popular annual event in Saint Patrick’s is midnight Mass as Christmas Eve becomes Christmas morning. Saint Patrick’s is an example of Gothic ecclesiastical architecture that prevailed in Europe (1275 to 1400). The architect was James Renwick, a native New Yorker raised in a wealthy and well-educated family. Renwick studied engineering at Columbia University, but he did not formally study architecture. His interest in architecture was nurtured through his family background, which gave him exposure to worldwide travel and art. Train Show At Botanical Garden You need to take a regular train ride to The Bronx to see the annual Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Garden. This show runs from Thanksgiving to about one week after New Year’s Day. On display are model trains that travel past miniature New York landmarks. Scenes recreate old and modern New York City. The scenery uses actual parts from plants and trees, such as pine cones, in the architecture. The Metro North Railroad leaves from Manhattan’s Grand Central Terminal and takes you directly to the Botanical Garden stop. Contact the New York Botanical Garden at 718-817-8700. Ciao Bella and Serendipity 3 for NY’s Best Ice Cream While most people think about warming up with hot chocolate during December, many ice cream fans still require a serving of their special cold treat even when the temperature dips below freezing. Ciao Bella has been in New York’s Little Italy for more than 25 years. It is known for ultra-premium ice cream and sorbets, offering unique flavors such as Blood Orange Sorbet and Key Lime Graham Cracker Gelato. Its frozen specialties embrace the flavors of classic Italy and modern America. It is located at 285 Mott Street, which is just south of East Houston Street. Open since 1954, Serendipity 3 serves serious food but is known for its unique and large ice cream offerings. Popular choices include the Forbidden Broadway Sundae that contains chocolate blackout cake, ice cream of choice, hot fudge and whipped cream, and the Strawberry Fields Sundae of cheesecake, strawberry ice cream, strawberry topping and whipped cream. It can be found at 225 East 60th Street. Every day and during every season, and especially during the year end holidays, there’s always something to enjoy in New York City.