NYC holiday decorations 2015

One of my favorite things about being a real estate agent in New York City is being able to move around all neighborhoods within the city. For so many people, we spend time around our place of work and around our home – but for me, the entire city is my place of work! NYC is endlessly changing and never boring, but I believe that at no point during the calendar year does it shine as brightly as December. We humans have been so clever, creating repetitive rituals that specifically call for light just as we hit the darkest time of the year. This December we have had unusually warm weather, and no snow, but the holiday decorations have proceeded full force. The following is a selection of some of 2015’s holiday decorations, taken in various neighborhoods in the city.

The grand dame of the city’s holiday scene is certainly the tree at Rockefeller Center. Although they manage to find an impressively large and full tree every year, to my mind the tree itself is not what makes this such an iconic spot – it’s the framing device. Towering 30 Rock behind the tree, Prometheus and skaters beneath it, wind-whipped flags surrounding it, and heralding angels leading the viewer from Fifth Avenue toward the tree – it just doesn’t get better than that. I would advise you go early in the season or very early or late at night to avoid intense crowds that take away the awe and replace it with claustrophobia.


If in the Rockefeller Center area, the light and music display on the front of Saks Fifth Avenue just across the street is worth waiting a bit for. Every 10 minutes from about 4-11 PM, the building is transformed into “The Winter Palace” using over 225,000 lights and a synchronized soundtrack.

Radio city wreath

If you are fortunate enough to be able to catch the Radio City show, expect to be overwhelmed with Art Deco holiday lusciousness. Even if outside the Music Hall, you can appreciate the elaborate decorations.

I particularly enjoyed the Peanuts-themed decorations outside Macy’s this year.

Macy squirrel

Inside Macy’s, they have created a beautiful but somewhat whimsical lighted forest, including animatronic squirrels.

Barneys is continuing to develop upon its ice theme from last year (live ice skaters performed on ice in the windows in 2014) with ice sculptures being created in real time in one of its windows (starting around noon every day). I found it amusing that, rather than carols, Foreigner’s “Cold as Ice” plays regularly as the artist works his magic in the chilled chamber.


The holiday markets that spring up all over the city every year are wonderful – food, crafts, and atmosphere. A particular favorite of mine is in Union Square.

bryant park skating
The Bryant Park holiday market has the advantage of surrounding the tree and ice skating rink (free!), with the additional possibility of heading around the front of the NY Public Library to see the great stone lions Patience and Fortitude, majestic and wreathed.

holiday markets
The holiday market at Columbus Circle puts you right at the Southwest corner of Central Park.


Across the street from that holiday market at the shops at Columbus Circle, with a beautiful snowflake light and sound show running almost continually.


The city’s museums share in the holiday spirit, with the American Museum of Natural History presenting topiary dinosaurs with wreaths and tiny white lights. Inside, they have a tree covered in origami art.


Somewhat more seriously, the Metropolitan Museum of Art across the park presents the Neopolitan tree inside the Medieval Sculpture Hall with exquisitely carved figures, angels ascending, and seasonal music.


While on the Upper East Side, be sure to see the Park Avenue mall with its majestic line of trees from the base of the MetLife building all the way up to 96th Street.

santa upper east side

Some of my favorite decorations are those you come across while walking through different neighborhoods. From a simple menorah or tree glimpsed in a window to elaborate townhouse decorations like those pictured above, even familiar blocks can reveal surprises at this time of the year. When I see personal decorations, for one moment I feel a connection with the person who took the time to send some light into this dark time of the year (often dark for some personally or for the world, in addition to the shortening days), my neighbors in this wonderful city.
For previous blog posts about this season, click here and here .

4 thoughts on “NYC holiday decorations 2015

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