New York City, New York
There are few major cities in the western world that don’t dress up for the holidays, but nobody decks the halls, and avenues, like New York City; and ground zero for New York’s Christmas splendour is the incomparable Rockefeller Center. Built during the 1930s, Rockefeller Center dominates the heart of Midtown Manhattan and is one of the largest commercial complexes in the world. From mid-November through the beginning of January, Rockefeller Center and the surrounding neighborhood is drenched in magnificent decorations and fairy-tale store windows, not to mention the world’s most famous Christmas Tree. For visitors to New York City during the holiday season, Rockefeller Center and Fifth Avenue are the quintessential Christmas experience.
Rockefeller Center sprawls over three full city blocks in Midtown between Fifth and Sixth Avenues at 49th Street. The centerpiece is 30 Rockefeller Center, also known as the GE Building. In front of the GE Building is the famous ice skating rink, and it is here where the city’s iconic Christmas tree is set up every year. The lighting ceremony usually takes place mid-week following Thanksgiving and is attended by city officials, celebrities and tens of thousands of gawking onlookers. Other traditional Christmas decorations of the plaza include a choir of angels with trumpets heralding in the season and legions of giant toy soldiers keeping watch over the crowds.
Spectacular holiday window decorations are another New York City tradition, and some of the best can be found on Fifth Avenue close to Rockefeller Center, including the traditional favorites at Saks Fifth Avenue just across the street. Displays range from the sumptuous, such as those at Bergdof Goodman a few blocks to the north, to the magical, such as those at Lord & Taylor a few blocks to the south, with countless others in between. Competition for the best holiday windows is fierce, and the unveiling of new displays each year has become a venerable tradition, with New Yorkers and tourists alike coming to gawk at the fanciful creations.
Rockefeller Center is located more or less at the center of Manhattan. Most decorations are on display from the weekend after Thanksgiving until the weekend after New Year. Everything worth seeing is out in the open and free. The Christmas Tree is generally lit from 5:30am-11:30pm. Web: www.rockefellercenter.com (official website of Rockefeller Center)