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. Happy Holidays!

winter's eve at lincoln squarephoto: kowarski via Flickr

Winter’s Eve at Lincoln Square

Hosted by the Lincoln Square Business Improvement District, the 17th 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.

Mon., Nov.28, 5:30-9 p.m.
Broadway, from 63rd to 68th St.
Upper West Side

the-plaza_tree-lightingphoto: The Plaza Hotel

Tree Lighting Ceremony at The Plaza

Feeling fancy? Sneak in a viewing of Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, put on your Christmas best and head to the Plaza! The Plaza Hotel is a true NYC landmark- don’t miss its festive Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony where this year, for the first time, the tree will be adorned with white and gold ornament lights. The hotel hosts Christmas Carolers throughout the hotel from 4-7 p.m. for your kids to sing along to their favorites. Guests can also reserve a table at the iconic Palm Court for a premium tea and champagne celebration or at the Champagne Bar to enjoy front row seats. (Note: you must be a patron of The Palm Court or The Champagne Bar in order to participate in the Tree Lighting Ceremony.)

Tues., Nov. 29th, 5 p.m.
768 5th Ave.


photo: The Seaport District

The Seaport District’s Annual Tree Lighting

For its 33rd annual Tree Lighting Ceremony, the Seaport District will be celebrating the nautical history of NYC’s “oldest new neighborhood” with a 60-foot Norway Spruce brought in from Pennsylvania and decorated in a “Constellation” theme.

The evening will feature live performances by Vy Higginsen’s Gospel Choir of Harlem and Grace VanderWall (your kids will know her as the winner of the 2016 season of America’s Got Talent!).  Before the ceremony, visit the area to treat your kids to The Taylor Swift Experience (an exhibit showcasing Swift’s tour costumes, Grammys and more) and a make trip to The Hester Street Fair outpost (an indoor holiday marketplace featuring some of NYC’s top vendors at 117 Beekman) to really take advantage of all this neighborhood as to offer.

Tues., Nov. 29, 6:30pm
19 Fulton St.
The Seaport District


photo: Anthony Quintano via Flickr

Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting

This year, the holy grail of tree lighting ceremonies will take place on November 30. The Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting is a classic for a reason, in part because its got over seven decades of tradition backing it up. If you can’t make it there in person, catch the live broadcast on NBC.

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

Third 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 Third Annual Tree lighting Ceremony. Snap a photo with santa and enjoy holiday music performed by the Susan McKinney choir. Nom on free hot chocolate and cookies before watching the tree light up at 5:30!  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. 4, 4:30-6:30pm
Myrtle Avenue Plaza in Fort Greene Park
Corner of Myrtle Ave and Washington Park

park ave christmas

photo: Marianne O’Leary via Flickr

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 evening begins with a social hour of holiday crafting and hot cocoa, followed by the tree lighting ceremony and caroling.

Sun., Dec. 4,  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 a performance by the acapella group The Rough Dozen, photo ops with Santa, holiday ornament making for kids 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; photos with Santa require a fee.

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, hitch a ride on a carriage, 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. 4; events throughout the day starting at 11 a.m.; tree lighting is at 5pm
441 Clarke Ave.
Staten Island

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”, a 40-foot balsam fir brought to the park from Vermont, will begin at 4:55pm this year. The event will feature performances by The Sweetback Sisters, The New York Life Signers, and popular kids performer, Audra Rox. Taste of Home will return with its display of gingerbread houses, Gingerbread Blvd., and visitors can vote on which one they think is the best.  Holiday treats will be provided by Hill Country Chicken, Umi Kitchen, Almond and Shake Shack.

Tues., Dec. 6, 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 under the iconic Greenwich Village arch will take place on Dec. 7, 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 7, 6 p.m.
Fifth Avenue at Waverly Place
Greenwich Village

Does your family have a must-see tree lighting? Tell us about it in the comments!

— Ilyssa Smith