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New York's Holiday State of Mind

Dec 04, 2012 03:27PM ● Published by tina

New York's famed Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center

Gallery: New York's Holiday State of Mind [3 Images] Click any image to expand.

“Oh, Christmas isn't just a day, it's a frame of mind... and that's what's been changing. That's why I'm glad I'm here, maybe I can do something about it,” said Kris Kringle (played by Edmund Gwenn) in the classic holiday movie Miracle on 34th Street.

East coast, west coast or land-locked, no matter where you call home no one can deny the New York state of mind when it comes to celebrating the holidays.  As has been tradition since 1924, New York’s most festive of seasons begins with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and carries on until the ball drops at One Times Square celebrating the turn of a new year. From the twinkling pageantry of more than 30,000 lights adorning the tree at Rockefeller Center, to the hustle of the very best holiday shopping, to the simple quiet romance of a single horse drawn carriage ride through Central Park, its no wonder millions of people from across the globe visit New York City this time of year.

After the last Macy’s balloon is folded for storage and the Thanksgiving menu turns promptly into sandwiches its time to feast your eyes on the country’s most popular tree.  Most agree the season begins with the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting, which took place on November 28. Solar panels atop Rockefeller Center power more than five miles of multi-colored LED lights. Over the years the colorful and towering tree has ranged in size from 50-foot pines to 100-foot Norway Spruces.  This year’s tree will be the 80th on record and approximately three million visitors will view the awe-inspiring sight. The lighting ceremony always features celebrity guests, musical performances and more. The tree can be seen from the ice-skating rink below and both are a must-visit for anyone in New York City during the holidays.  The festive scene will leave you hungering for more; fortunately the Rock Center Café serves contemporary dishes ranging from burgers and salads to prime rib and seafood all within view of the center’s world-famous Tree, Ice Rink and the celebrated Prometheus Statue.   Definitely an evening well spent.

After seeing the sights many will want to check off a few loved ones from their “nice” list with a bit of shopping. Believe it or not you can continue some serious sight seeing and shopping at the same time. Central Park is a favorite holiday destination for many, both for its carriage rides through the snow and for the Columbus Circle Holiday Market. Not to be outdone the Holiday Shops at Bryant Park can also satisfy your urge to splurge- together more than 200 merchants fill both parks through early January selling everything imaginable from clothing and jewelry to holiday crafts and art. 

For those who want to take their shopping indoors yet still see some of New York’s celebratory sights- there is no better time of year to visit famed toy store FAO Schwarz than Christmas. Named after its German immigrant founder Frederick August Otto Schwarz, America’s oldest toy store is currently celebrating its 150th anniversary. Macy’s Herald Square is well known for its elaborate and festive window displays. Each year the flagship store features a set of displays depicting scenes from Miracle on 34th Street in addition to a surprise, never seen before second set. Families travel the globe to see Macy’s Santaland Village to have Santa hear their holiday wishes and have their picture taken with Kris Kringle himself.

Along the way kids are awestruck marveling at the model train displays, talking trees, overflowing bags of toys, and lavishly decorated Christmas scenes.

Event more toy trains come to life at the Holiday Train Show at Grand Central Terminal-the New York Transit Museum Gallery shows off its annual holiday train show featuring Lionel trains traveling through a two-level, 34-foot-long miniature New York City and countryside scene.

As if the everyday sights and sounds of the city aren’t enough visitors just have to take the time to fit in a theatrical performance or two.  At Christmas the must see performance has to be the Radio City Christmas Spectacular a holiday song-and-dance spectacular, featuring the legendary Rockettes is now in its 85th year. The high-kicking Rockettes continue to combine classic scenes like "Parade of the Wooden Soldiers" and "New York at Christmas" with some brand new numbers and cutting-edge light shows, which transform Radio City Music Hall's interior into a true winter wonderland.   Just as classic is Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical, which allows young and old to discover the joy of Dr. Seuss' quintessential holiday tale as it comes to life on the stage at The Theater at Madison Square Garden. The hit song "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" will have the whole family singing along. 

Shopping, dining and strolling through the city that never sleeps can provide endless holiday entertainment opportunities.  And just when you think the party is over the Times Square Ball Drop rings in the new-year. Each year millions across the globe tune in to watch the city’s famed celebration but absolutely thing compares with the joy and exhilaration of ushering in another year than watching with your own eyes from the streets of Manhattan.

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