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Holidays in NYC: Top 10 events for your family to celebrate

People come by the busload from as far

People come by the busload from as far as Pennsylvania to see the Christmas decorations in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, Dec. 5, 2015. Credit: Jonah Markowitz

If your lights start to flicker and dim this season, a visit to New York City can be the electrifying jolt needed for a flagging holiday spirit. With so many vibrant seasonal events on offer in the city, it’s hard to showcase just 10.


WHEN | WHERE Nov. 22, 9 a.m.-noon, Upper West Side, Manhattan

For 92 years, this iconic annual pageant with its giant helium character balloons has been a festive start to the city’s holiday season, as 3.5 million spectators elbow each other for a better view of more than 8,000 parade participants, including celebrities, athletes, clowns, dance groups, pop stars, America’s best marching bands, Broadway actors and fabulous floats. Enjoy this high-energy procession with its white-bearded, red-suited guest of honor, before tucking away the turkey with family and friends.

INFO 212-494-4495,


WHEN | WHERE Beginning Nov. 23, Macy's Herald Square, 151 W. 34th St., Manhattan

Children of all ages (even grizzled Grinches) can warm to this wondrous Christmas Village of spangled forests, snow-dusted mountains, twinkling lights, cuddly animals, candy canes and nutcracker soldiers, among other delights, on the eighth floor of Macy’s flagship department store in Herald Square. Santaland is free and open to the public, but conferences with Kriss Kringle are in high demand and by reservation only. They can be made on the website between 30 minutes and five days in advance of a visit, with only one appointment per customer.

INFO 212-494-4495,


WHEN | WHERE Nov. 28, 7-9 p.m., 30 Rockefeller Plaza, Manhattan

Rockefeller Center’s towering Christmas tree has been the core of the city’s holiday celebrations for more than eight decades, attracting New Yorkers and visitors alike in a continuation of the tree-decorating tradition begun by day laborers during the Great Depression.  Every year, thousands of merrymakers pack the sidewalks to view the center’s dazzling holiday decorations and the lighting of a glittering evergreen tree spanning up to 100 feet.

INFO 212-332-6868,


WHEN | WHERE December in Midtown Manhattan

Looking to experience holiday décor elevated to 21st-century high art you can’t afford? Look no further than the opulent seasonal window treatments of New York City’s prominent Midtown department stores. The most imaginative and extravagant flights of fancy are typically on display at Saks Fifth Avenue, Barney’s, Bloomingdale’s, Bergdorf Goodman, Tiffany & Co., Lord & Taylor, Henri Bendel and Macy’s Herald Square. Soak up the colorful neon light shows, sophisticated musical compositions, wafting seasonal aromas, touch-sensitive camera displays and even tasty seasonal food pageants — all nestled among expensive fashions, fur coats and priceless gems.

INFO Visit individual department store websites for more information


WHEN | WHERE December, in Dyker Heights Brooklyn, 11th-13th avenues from 83rd-86th streets

Turn up the wattage on your Christmas experience this year with a visit to this residential Brooklyn neighborhood, where homes are festooned with thousands of colorfully twinkling lights — not to mention glowing angels, giant snowflakes, shimmering Christmas trees, oversized nutcrackers, peaceful Nativity scenes, inflatable reindeer, sparkling carousels and motorized mannequins, among other surreal fantasy scenes. All 22 blocks of the neighborhood participate, though this six-block area is the centerpiece.


WHEN | WHERE Dec. 9, 2-3 p.m., Christ Church, 524 Park Ave., Manhattan  

Celebrate the season with your pets — be they dogs, cats, llamas, ferrets or bearded dragons. Join a procession of animals to the altar of Christ Church in Manhattan for a blessing by a minister and a rabbi. You just might encounter local farmers with their sheep and pigs, and law officers with their police dogs and horses. Seating is first come, first served, and space is limited. All pets must be accompanied by their owners, and all owners must be accompanied by their pets.

INFO 212-838-3036,


WHEN | WHERE Dec. 16 and 17 at 7 p.m., Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1071 Fifth Ave., Manhattan

In what has become a beloved annual tradition at the Guggenheim, patrons can stand along the iconic spiral staircase designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and enjoy a holiday concert featuring the Vox Vocal Ensemble conducted by George Steel. Besides the jubilant strains of seasonal music, there will be a new Works & Process commission by composer Sarah Kirkland Snyder, inspired by the Guggenheim’s exhibition “Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future.”

INFO 212-758-0024, 212-423-3587,


WHEN | WHERE Dec. 17 at 5:45 p.m., starting in Washington Square Park, Manhattan

Composer Phil Kline leads a massive chorus of boomboxes, soundblasters and Smartphones in what becomes a radiant soundscape that dazzles listeners and participants alike as they proceed from Washington Square Park to Tompkins Square Park. Each Unsilent Night participant receives one of four tracks of music on cassette, CD or MP3 and then plays their part on cue (music can also be downloaded online prior to the event). The street promenade was launched by Kline in New York City in 1992, and now takes place in cities across the world.



WHEN | WHERE Dec. 29 at 2 and 7:30 p.m., Apollo Theater Mainstage, 253 W. 125th St., Manhattan

This exuberant celebration honors the principles of Kwanzaa — which include family, community and culture — and has taken place on one day of the weeklong holiday annually since 2006. This year’s joyous evening of dance and music will feature the renowned New York-based dance company Abdel Salaam’s Forces of Nature Dance Theatre along with guest performances. The company performs a blend of contemporary modern dance, traditional West African and neo-African dance, contemporary ballet, house and hip-hop forms and martial arts.

INFO 212-531-5305,


WHEN | WHERE Dec. 31 in Times Square, Manhattan 

Make a resolution to get to Times Square on New Year’s Eve and ogle this bejeweled 12-foot sphere as it plunges down a flagpole on One Times Square at midnight. With an estimated one million rowdy revelers anticipated, arriving early is recommended, and the best viewing is on Broadway from 43rd to 50th streets, and along Seventh Avenue, as far north as 59th Street. The raucous celebration has live music, fireworks, celebrities and enough confetti to bury a small nation.

INFO 212-768-1560,

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