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Day Tripper - New York City for the Holidays
12/02/2009 - By Teja Anderson
The December Holiday season in New York City is like no other place in the world!
For most of us living here in New Jersey being so close to the greatest city in the world is often taken for granted. But no place beats New York City for some seasonal delight. Even before the first snowflakes fall, the city is transformed into a magical winter wonderland. Watch skaters do figure-eights in Central Park, see Santa and the Rockettes kick up their heels at Radio City Music Hall, observe the Sugar Plum Fairies prancing across the stage at Lincoln Center, enjoy a romantic carriage ride through Central Park, or simply act like tourists and photograph the holiday lights and decorations that adorn the streets, stores and buildings. Let’s face it: New York City knows how to do the holidays like no other city in the world. So if the Big Apple is beckoning you this holiday season, Living in Media/livinginmedia.com is happy to tell you about our not to be missed favorites as well as a few lesser known events you might want to put on your to-do list.
One place that is a must is the Rockefeller Center Ice Skating Rink. Even if you don’t skate, this is a sight and an experience you won’t soon forget. Since it first opened on Christmas Day 1936, the rink has attracted over a quarter million people each year. But the skating surface can accommodate only 150 skaters at a time! And, they accept cash, credit cards, and traveler’s checks, but no reservations!
Next on our list is the one and only Radio City Christmas Spectacular. Come see the famous Rockettes prancing and dancing as reindeer, toy soldiers, rag dolls or shoppers. Fresh routines are added every year; a flying LED screen now joins old favorites like the Dancing Santas and the Living Nativity Scene. (Radio City Music Hall, 1260 6th Avenue; November 13- December 30, 2009; $40 - $100, four to six daily show times. Call 212-307-1717 or log on to www.radiocity.com for a schedule.)
Then, there’s George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker. Angels, snowflakes, mice and fairies galore turn this children’s classic story of honor and dreams into a delicate and dramatic ballet. See it in all its pomp and glory courtesy of the New York City Ballet on a Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts stage. (New York City Ballet at Lincoln Center, Columbus Avenue & 63rd Street, November 27 - January 3, 2009; tickets $10 - $215. See www.nycballet.com for complete schedule and ticket orders.)
Worth the crowds is the lighting of the Rockefeller Christmas tree. It’s an event even New Yorkers love! Although it’s typically lit on the Wednesday after Thanksgiving, you can visit any time day or night after that until the New Year. The 2009 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree lighting ceremony should be on Wednesday, December 2 this year, but this is subject to change depending on the weather. Call 212-632-3975 for up to date information. A great photo op is the Rockefeller Center Plaza heading towards the tree.
These are the must sees, but the following are our other favorite things to do:
• Holiday craft fairs; our favorite is at Union Square (14th Street & Broadway). Over 100 vendors from all over the world set up camp here from the day after Thanksgiving until Christmas Eve in an open air market.
• Handel’s Messiah at Carnegie Hall starting Dec. 23; for tickets call 212-247-7800
• The World’s Largest Menorah (32 feet) every night of Chanukah at Fifth Avenue and 59th Street near Central Park.
• The UNICEF Snowflake at 57th and Fifth Avenue. Look up to see the 23 x 28 foot illuminated snowflake with over 16,000 sparkling Baccarat prism crystals.
• RE Entertainment Chanukah Concert at The Town Hall, Dec. 9 at 8:00p.m., 123 W. 43rd Street; 212- 997-1003 for tickets.
• The Annual New York Revels Winter Solstice Celebration at Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway and 95th Street. For more information call 212-864-5400
• Winter Solstice Celebration by Paul Winter at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, 1047 Amsterdam Avenue. Call 212-316-7540 for times.
• Caroling with the West Village Chorale in Greenwich Village. For information and/or auditions see www.westvillagechorale.org.
• Annual Kwanzaa Celebration in Central Park, time and place to be announced; see www.centralpark.com.
• Bronx Zoo Holiday Lights, November - January. www.bronxzoo.org
• Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Gardens. All the mini-NYC monuments are made out of plants! See www.nybg.org.
• For the teen set: Tim Burton at MOMA, Nov. 22 through April 22, 2010. Check out the artwork of this talented live action and animation film director, producer, writer and concept artist at 11 West 53rd Street. Call 212-708-9400 for further information.
• An alternative and funky Chanukah event is the 2009 Major League Spin The Dreidel Tournament at “Hanukkah Gone Metal” with Gods Of Fire, Category Sixx, and World’s Greatest Air on Saturday, Dec 12, 7:00 p.m. at the Knitting Factory; www.bk.knittingfactory.com.
• The beautiful Origami Christmas Tree at the American Museum of Natural History (www.AMNH.org) at Central Park West and 79th Street. Call 212-769-5400 for Holiday hours
• Baroque and Neapolitan Tree at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Fifth Avenue and 82nd Street. Call them at 212-879-5500 or go to www.metmuseum.org for more information.
• South Street Seaport’s Singing Chorus Tree in the center of the Seaport (an easy trip by boat from Atlantic Highlands on the Sea Streak Ferry; see www.Seastreak.com for schedule).
• “The Ball” – the world’s largest Jewish singles event – is on December 24th. For more information go to www.letmypeoplego.com.
If you have a big group and don’t like to spend a lot of time and energy walking then one of the bus tours might be best for you. CitySights NY is offering its popular Lights of the Holiday Tour starting Nov. 28th. Times Square, the Laser Light show at Grand Central Terminal, Macy’s, Lord & Taylor, 5th Avenue, Central Park, Bryant Park, the Rockefeller Christmas Tree, Radio City Music Hall, Time Warner Center, Tavern on the Green, Trump Tower and St Patrick’s Cathedral are some of the sites along the tour route.
As for festive places to eat while you’re visiting the city, you can’t go wrong with these for holiday spirit, but make sure you get a reservation; they book up fast:
• The Russian Tea Room (150 West 57th Street, 212-581-7100)
• Tavern on the Green (Central Park West at 67th Street, 212-873-3200)
• Union Square Café (21 East 16th Street, 212-243-4020)
• Picholine (35 West 64th Street, 212-724-8585)
• Bobo (181 West 10th Street, 212-488-2626)
• Carmines (200 West 44th Street, 212-221-3800
• Gramercy Tavern (42 East 20th Street, 212-477-0777)
Directions: We all have our favorite ways to get into Manhattan, whether it is by car, train, bus or boat, but remember to allow extra time with the holiday crowds….
New York City
New York City never sleeps, but check your destination’s individual website for availabiltiy, ticket pricing, and scheduled times of events and shows.
From the South through the Lincoln Tunnel:
Take the Garden State Parkway North to the NJ Turnipike North, exit 129. Take the NJ Turnpike North toward US-46/I-80/Lincoln Tunnel/New York City; exits 15E - 18E. Take exit 16E toward Lincoln Tunnel/New York City. Go through the Lincoln Tunnel and you are in Manhattan.
From the South through the Holland Tunnel:
Take the Garden State Parkway North to the NJ Turnipike North, exit 129. Take the NJ Turnpike North to exit 14 toward 14A-14B-14C/Bayonne/Jersey City/Holland Tunnel. Continue straight through the toll and bend to the right. Go straight until you get the next toll for the Holland Tunnel. Continue through the tunnel and you are in Manhattan.
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