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The Best Christmas Tree Lightings in NYC

Skip the Rockefeller Center madness for these equally festive celebrations
NYC Christmas Tree Lightings 2017
Photo: Elizabeth Shrier Photography

Experiencing Rockefeller Center's Christmas tree lighting firsthand can be a breathtaking experience—that is, if you don't mind being packed in like a sardine for hours on end. If you'd rather get into the holiday spirit in a way that doesn't sacrifice your personal space, check out these nine other (but still equally festive) tree lightings throughout the city. Besides, you can always catch the Rock Center spectacle on TV.

New York Stock Exchange Christmas Tree Lighting (November 30)

 

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The performances, including an appearance from the Radio City Rockettes, begin in the early afternoon, but just be sure to make it downtown before the closing bell rings. Wall Street's towering tree gets illuminated promptly at 5 p.m. for its 94th annual lighting.

Central Park Holiday Lighting (November 30)

Head to the northeast corner of Central Park, where after you've taken your obligatory Santa picture and sung your heart out with fellow carolers, a set of floating Christmas trees will illuminate the center of the Harlem Meer.

Bryant Park Tree Lighting Skate-tacular (December 1)

 

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A lineup of Olympic and world champion ice skaters will perform a narrated Christmas play in front of Bryant Park's 50-foot Christmas tree before it lights up underneath a fireworks display. With the ceremony falling on World AIDS Day, visitors will have an opportunity to donate and purchase products that support the nonprofit organization (RED).

New York Botanical Garden Holiday Tree Lighting (December 3)

After you've taken in the decked-out conifer trees, warm up inside by exploring the botanical garden's annual holiday train show, where you can watch locomotives weave their way through 150 of New York's most notable landmarks.

Park Avenue Tree Lighting (December 3)

It takes a month to install the army of trees that line Park Avenue—a tradition that started 70 years ago as a way to honor the men and women who died in World War II. The trees will be lit following a ceremony outside the Brick Presbyterian Church. 

Fort Greene Park Tree Lighting (December 3)

Looking for something a bit more low key? Fort Greene Park is hosting its fourth annual lighting ceremony, where you can bump shoulders with neighbors while enjoying free hot cocoa and cookies from Myrtle Avenue restaurants.

 

Dumbo Holiday Tree Lighting (December 4)

Go for the singing Santa photo booth and Nutcracker performances; stay for the free mugs of hot chocolate, courtesy of famed chocolatier Jacques Torres.

Washington Square Park Tree Lighting Ceremony (December 6)

Start your vocal warm-ups: A brass quartet will be on hand to accompany your best Christmas carol renditions as Santa passes out candy canes amid the glow of a 45-foot tree. 

Madison Square Holiday (December 7)

In 1912, Madison Square Park became the first public space in the country to host a lighting ceremony—a tradition still going strong over a hundred years later. Snack on treats from nearby Eataly and Wagamama as you count down to the big moment.

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