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.) And don’t forget—NYC hosts some awesome menorah lightings too! Click here for our list of family-friendly Hanukkah events! 

photo: via Winter’s Eve Facebook page 

Winter’s Eve at Lincoln Square

Hosted by the Lincoln Square Business Improvement District, the 19th 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. Also of note: New York Cares will be doing a winter coat drive during the fest: bring your new or gently-used coats to Dante Park to donate them.

Mon., Nov. 26, 5:30-9 p.m.
Broadway, from 63rd to 68th St.
Upper West Side

photo: Peter Cruise via Flickr

Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting

This year, the holy grail of tree lighting ceremonies takes place on Wednesday, November 28. 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 want a good view, get there early, because it gets packed with people wanting a peek at the big event. If you can’t make it there in person, catch the live broadcast on NBC from 8-10p.m., and visit the tree any time up until January 7, when it’s taken down.

Wed., Nov. 28, 8-10 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 is on Friday, December 4.

Alan Cumming will host, and Tony Award-winning, Emmy and Golden Globe-nominated actress, Jane Krakowski reads an original Christmas tale. As the story unfolds, the characters are brought to life by world-class skaters performing on the ice, under the stars in the Midtown cityscape. (This year Johnny Weird, Kaetlyn Osmond, Megan Duhamel, Eric Radford, and Jeremy Abbott will take to the ice.) Finally, the tree is lit, followed by fireworks!


Following the ceremony, all visitors are welcome to skate to live music on the city’s only free admission ice skating rink. Tree Lighting Skate-tacular is presented by Bank of America. (You do have to rent skates, though at $20/pair.)

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

photo: Central Park Conservancy

Central Park Christmas Tree Lighting and Flotilla
Ever seen a floating Christmas Tree? Now’s your chance! The Central Park Conservancy rings in the holiday season with Santa, cocoa and cookies, and cookies. The event includes a festive lighting of a flotilla of trees on the Harlem Meer.

Thurs., Nov. 29, 5:30-6:30 p.m.
Tickets: Free
Charles A. Dana Discovery Center
110th Street btwn 5th and Lenox Ave.
Central Park

photo: via Fort Greene Park Conservancy Facebook page 

Fifth 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 Fifth Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony. Snap a photo with Santa, enjoy holiday music, and nom on free hot chocolate and cookies from area businesses.)

Sun., Dec. 2, 4-5:30 p.m.
Myrtle Avenue Plaza in Fort Greene Park
Corner of Myrtle Ave and Washington Park (Enter at Myrtle Ave. and St. Edwards St.)

photo: via Brick Presbyterian Church Facebook page

74th Annual 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. 2,  5pm-8 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 2, Noon-5 :30p.m.
43-50 Main St.

photo: Historic Richmond Town

Historic Richmond Town Tree Lighting

Visit Historic Richmond Town to experience Christmas like they did  way back in the day. Santa makes a grand entrance at Noon, and you can visit with him until 4 p.m. Check out storytelling throughout the day at the courthouse, then stroll the historic village to see tinsel-making, gingerbread decorating, do some popcorn stringing, and shop for baked goods, crafts, and ornaments — and top it off with the 5 p.m. tree lighting. You can also go for a horse and wagon ride ($2), or a train ride ($3).

Sun., Dec. 2; events throughout the day starting at 11 a.m.; tree lighting is at 5pm
Tickets: $10/adults; $8 kids
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” will take place at 4:45 on Thursday, December 6. The event will feature live musical performances, food from area vendors, and holiday activities.

Thurs., 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 will take place on Dec. 5, 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, Dec. 5, 6 – 7 p.m.
Fifth Avenue at Waverly Place
Greenwich Village

Ist Annual Tree Lighting at La Isla  Garden

This Bronx garden holds its first-ever lighting in 2018. Stop by for hot chocolate, music, and good cheer!

Dec. 10, 6-8 p.m.
W. 163rd St.


— Ilyssa Smith           



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