Alright, New York. The holiday displays are up, so you know what’s next! Get the season started right with some of the city’s (and in some cases, the world’s) best and brightest tree lighting celebrations. Bundle up and head out to these events — many of which feature food, performances and more — to set the tone for a festive season. (Check out the NYC Parks Department’s listings for local lightings in more neighborhoods throughout the city.)

photo: via Winter’s Eve Facebook page 

Winter’s Eve at Lincoln Square

Hosted by the Lincoln Square Business Improvement District, the 18th annual Winter’s Eve at Lincoln Square is one of New York’s largest outdoor holiday festivals — with programming held inside as well. The evening begins with lighting of the Upper West Side Holiday Tree in Dante Park at Broadway & 63rd Street,  and continues with free kids entertainment and activities galore. Music, jugglers, stilt-walkers, processional groups and more will take to the sidewalks for a festive evening alongside great bites provided by 30+ local restaurants and activities from dozens of local stores. Click here to see all the kid-friendly happenings. 

Mon., Nov. 27, 5:30-9 p.m.
Broadway, from 63rd to 68th St.
Upper West Side


photo: Anthony Quintano via Flickr

Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting

This year, the holy grail of tree lighting ceremonies takes place on November 29. The Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting is a classic for a reason, in part because it’s got over seven decades of tradition backing it up. If you can’t make it there in person, catch the live broadcast on NBC from 7-9p.m., and visit the tree any time up until January 7, when it’s taken down.

Wed., Nov. 29, 7-9 p.m.
30 Rockefeller Plaza

photo: Bryant Park Facebook page/Elizabeth Shrier

Bryant Park Tree Lighting Skate-tacular

Another big to-do in Midtown, Bryant Park’s Tree Lighting Skate-tacular on Friday, December 1 is timed to World AIDS Day in support of (RED).

Narrated by Tony Award winning, Emmy and Golden Globe-nominated actress, Jane Krakowski, it will feature a lineup of live performances from Olympic and World Champion skaters including Johnny Weir, Kimmie Meissner, Meryl Davis, Charlie White and Jeff Buttle, followed by ice skating for all. Following the tree lighting fireworks, all guests are welcome to skate to live music on the city’s only free admission ice skating rink. (Skate rentals are $20/pait.)


December 1, 6 p.m.
Bryant Park
The Rink, 41st St. and Sixth Ave.


photo: via Fort Greene Park Conservancy Facebook page 

Fourth Annual Fort Greene Park Tree Lighting

Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership and the Fort Greene Park Conservancy are excited to kick off the holiday season with their Fourth Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony. Snap a photo with santa and enjoy holiday music performed by Manifest choir. Nom on free hot chocolate from Castro’s and Brooklyn Sweet Spot cookies before watching the tree light up at 5 p.m. The event will also be collecting new, unwrapped toys to benefit Fort Green SNAP and Whitman Resident Association’s annual holiday toy drive.

Sun., Dec. 3, 4-6 p.m.
Myrtle Avenue Plaza in Fort Greene Park
Corner of Myrtle Ave and Washington Park

photo: via Brick Presbyterian Church Facebook page

Park Avenue Tree Lighting and Carol Sing

Since 1945, the trees at Brick Church have been illuminated as a memorial to Americans who sacrificed their lives in war and in celebration of New York’s holiday season. Sponsored by the Fund for Park Avenue, the interfaith and inclusive evening begins with a social hour of holiday crafting and hot cocoa, held in the church’s Watson Hall from 5-6 p.m. The tree lighting ceremony and caroling Sing, led by Brick Church’s Minister of Music, Keith S. Tóth, follow at 6:30 p.m.

Sun., Dec. 3,  5pm-7:30 p.m.
Park Avenue between 89th and 93rd Street


photo: via Queens Botanical Garden Facebook page

Christmas in the Garden & Tree Lighting at Queens Botanical Garden

The Queens Botanical Garden is celebrating the the holiday spirit with an afternoon of fun, crafts, music and a tree lighting. This free event will feature live music from acapella group Rough Dozen, holiday crafts, photo ops with Santa (for a fee), and a tree illumination at 5 p.m. to cap off the day. (Plus: big sales at the Garden’s shop!) Note: the event is free but there is a $10 parking fee, a cost for snaps with Santa.

Sun., Dec 4, 1-5 :30p.m.
43-50 Main St.

rt-richmond town-christmas

Historic Richmond Town Tree Lighting

Visit Historic Richmond Town to experience Christmas like they did  way back in the day. Visit Santa, tour the historic village, shop for baked goods, crafts, and ornaments — then see the town tree lit up at 5 p.m. The tree lighting is free, but Santa, shopping and tour of Historic Village are $5 for everyone over six years of age.

Sun., Dec. 3; events throughout the day starting at 11 a.m.; tree lighting is at 5pm
441 Clarke Ave.
Staten Island

photo: via Owl’s Head Park Volunteers Facebook page

Owl’s Head Park’s 6th Annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony
The Owl’s Head Park Horticulture Group and Senator Marty Golden present this event neighborhood event. Free hot cocoa will be provided by Bay Ridge Manor and cookies furnished by the senator. Christmas carols will be sung by the Guild for Exceptional Children Choir and Santa will give out gifts to kids.

Tues., Dec 5, 7-8 p.m.
Owl’s Head Park (In front of Park House across from Bliss Terrace and 68th St.)

mad sq park christmasphoto: alan miles via Flickr

Madison Square Park Conservancy’s Tree Lighting Ceremony

The illumination of the Conservancy’s “Tree of Light” will take place at 4:45 on Thursday, December 7. The event will feature performances by The Sweetback Sisters, The New York Life Signers, and popular kids performer, Audra Rox. Gardener Steph will lead kinds in a seed packet activity, while wagamama will provide treats and Almond some hot soup.

Thurs., Dec. 7, 3:30-5:30 p.m.
Madison Square Park, between 5th and Madison Aves., Northern Plaza near 26th St.

Washington SQ Park christmas

photo: Eden, Janine and Jim via Flickr

Washington Square Park Lighting Ceremony

The Washington Square Association is offering New Yorkers two opportunities to get in the holiday spirit this year. The lighting of the 45-foot tree — which has been bumped from its traditional spot directly under the park’s iconic arch by a piece in artist Ai Weiwei’s installation “Good Fences Make Good Neighbors” — will take place on Dec. 6, with the Rob Susman Brass Quartet leading the crowd in holiday carols. (Songbooks are provided.)Santa will make an appearance at the event, and will come bearing candy canes. For those who can’t enough, Susman and crew will return on Christmas Eve at 5 p.m. for more caroling en masse.

Tree Lighting, December 6, 6 – 7 p.m.
Fifth Avenue at Waverly Place
Greenwich Village

What’s your family’s must-see tree-lighting? Tell us about it in the comments!

— Ilyssa Smith