The Christmas holidays in New York are best experienced on foot so you just fall into the enchantment – from the magic of the animated windows in department stores that so delight children of all ages, to the cheer of ice skaters at Rockefeller Center, Bryant Park and Central Park, the horse-drawn carriages, and the chestnut vendors.
It’s always fun, but the effect is best at night, when the brilliant lights and colors really dazzle and bring warmth and cheer.
Begin your nighttime walking tour of (where else?) at Macy’s. Walking down 34th Street, are the traditional windows telling the heart-warming story of “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.”
Then, rounding the corner onto Broadway, this year’s animated windows are themed for Peanuts. There is an interactive piano (macys.com)
The pedestrian and seating area beside the pocket park – reclaimed from the roadway – makes this an absolutely delightful place to meet up with people, and peeking up and around, you also get a lovely view of the Empire State Building, decorated in green-and-red for the season.
Walk over to Fifth Avenue and uptown, to 38th Street and Lord & Taylor, where the windows are more quaintly old fashioned and sweet. (424 Fifth Ave at 39th St., lordandtaylor.com).
Walk up to Fifth Avenue to Lord & Taylor, which has the most nostalgic of windows. Lord & Taylor creates a garden of lights – the windows are about ginger bread and candy treats.
Christmas Central is Rockefeller Center. Music fills the entire street. Stand in front of the angels and look across at Saks Fifth Avenue, where the entire facade of the building becomes the canvas for a stunning, musical light show.
From the Rockefeller Center side, look across Fifth Avenue to Saks Fifth Avenue, and watch as the whole facade of the building becomes a musical light show.
Then cross the street and queue up to see Saks’ astonishing array of windows, which get this year’s prize for the best of all. First there are more than a dozen themed Winter Palace – stunning, imaginative displays. But the highlights are the special windows, Each one is a dazzling, creative scene that reimagines iconic places as “Winter Wonders of the World” including “The Icy Eiffel Tower,” “The Sub-Zero Sphinx” (that opens up from a pyramid); the Great Wintry Wall of China; the Ice Cold Colosseum; The Great Brrrier Reef”. Absolutely stunning and clever (611 Fifth Ave between 49th and 50th Sts, saks.com).
Walk through Rockefeller Center, along landscaped gardens overseen by Christmas angels, to the Ice skating rink, ringed with Nutcrackers who “guard” the famous Christmas tree.
Walk up Fifth Avenue – just across the street from Saks is the magnificent St. Patrick’s Cathedral – up to 57th Street, passing the elaborated lighted jewelry stores – Bulgari, Cartier, Tiffany – and dozens of iconic stores decked out in festive finery.
At 58th Street, you come to Bergdorf Goodman where you will find spectacularly styled fanciful scenes (754 Fifth Ave at 58th St., bergdorfgoodman.com).
The city streets, reflecting the lights, are magical – chestnut vendors, horsedrawn carriages complete the scene.
Holidays in New York City: Where to find the best festivities in 5 boros and slideshow
Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures