The Museum of Natural History Origami Tree 2019 is just one of dozens of amazing Christmas tree lightings to be found in New York City. To get you in the holiday spirit, we’ve listed a sampling. So grab that candy cane, dust off your striped mittens, and get tree-ing!
Christmas Trees in New York: The American Museum of Natural History Origami Tree 2019
Inspired by exhibits and objects in the museum, the 13-ft. Natural History Museum Origami Tree—which has been a feature of the museum’s holiday season for 40-some years—holds more than 800 origami designs that have been hand-folded by artists from around the word. The 2019 theme is T. rex and Friends: History in the Making, with models inspired by the Museum’s special exhibition T. rex: The Ultimate Predator. This year, the tree will be up from November 25th through January 12th, 2020. If you want to get your craft on and make some origami ornaments yourself, volunteers from Origami USA will be there on Sunday, December 15th to show you how to create your own piece of origami art. Fun Fact: It takes almost a year of planning, but the actual decorating of the tree takes less than a week.
Christmas Trees in New York: The Rockefeller Center Tree
The towering tree in Rockefeller Center is an international symbol of the holiday spirit. This year’s tree lighting ceremony on Wednesday, December 4th will feature live performances from 7 to 9pm. The tree will remain lit, and can be viewed, through Jan. 5, 2020. Note that the lighting ceremony gets very crowded, so it’s best to be there hours in advance, or come back after the 28th, when the scene is more manageable. rockefellercenter.com This year's show will include performances by Gwen Stefani, John Legend, Lea Michele, Idina Menzel, and more.
Christmas Trees in New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Right across the park from the AMNH, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has its own holiday tree. The Neapolitan Crèche and Christmas tree is a time-honored tradition at the Met, complete with period music and tree lighting ceremonies. Adorned with silk-robed angels and more than 50 cherubs, the tree is enhanced with the display of a crèche, complete with wise men and animals. More than 200 18th-century Neapolitan crèche figures were presented to the museum in 1964 and have been on display at the holidays for more than 40 years.
Fun Facts: The arrangement of the figures and the angels on the tree vary slightly from year to year. The third generation of the family that originally gave the figures is now involved in the installation. (Open through January 6, 2020.)
Christmas Trees in New York: Lincoln Square
On Monday, December 2nd from 5:30 to 9pm, holiday festivities come to the Upper West Side in the form of the 20th annual Winter’s Eve festival at Lincoln Square, billed as New York’s largest holiday festival. It kicks off with the tree lighting: this tree is 30 feet tall and almost 15 feet across, so it’s no slouch. Artists, street performers, musicians, and more join the festivities as a tree is lit in Dante Park (Broadway and 63rd Streets). Local stores and restaurants host food tastings and activities. This year's special guest will be Ronnie Spector and the Ronnettes! The tree will remain up through January, 2020.
Christmas Trees in New York: Cathedral of St. John the Divine
Head uptown to see the peace tree at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine (and of course, the amazing building itself—it’s the world largest Gothic cathedral.) The 20-foot Peace Tree is covered with 1,000 paper cranes, which were inspired by a victim of Hiroshima. The cranes themselves stand for luck, peace, or redemption, depending on which source you believe. No matter which one you choose, it’s an amazing sight. The annual Christmas concert at St. John the Divine's will take place Saturday, December 14. The 40th anniversary of Paul Winter's Winter Solstice Concert takes place December 18th through 21st.
Christmas Trees in New York: Charles A. Dana Discovery Center
Also uptown: The 23rd annual tree lighting at the Charles A. Dana Discovery Center in Central Park (inside the Park at 110th Street between Fifth and Lenox Avenues) takes place on Wednesday, December 5th at 5:30pm. While you’re there, meet Santa, sing carols, and sip some hot cocoa. The event includes the lighting of a flotilla of trees on the Harlem Meer.
Christmas Trees in New York: Tavern on the Green
The iconic Central Park restaurant Tavern on the Green will be hosting its 4th annual tree lighting ceremony on Tuesday, December 3rd. The festive celebration will start at 5pm outside the restaurant and will feature holiday carolers, free cider, hot chocolate and more treats, all crafted by Executive Chef Bill Peet. Tavern on the Green will light its very own 20-foot tree surrounded by New Yorkers and visitors. This holiday season, the restaurant will also be partnering for a third consecutive year with West Side Campaign Against Hunger (WSCAH), a non-profit organization helping alleviate hunger by ensuring that all New Yorkers have access to a choice of healthy food and supportive services. In an effort to give back this Giving Tuesday, 5% of all Tavern on the Green proceeds from the tree lighting festivities will be donated to the WSCAH.
Christmas Trees in New York: Brookfield Place
And if you’re thinking: who has a fresh new twist on the Christmas tree? Ta da! For a modern slant on the holiday, venture to Brookfield Place, the downtown shopping mecca. Designed by LAB at Rockwell Group, “Luminaries” is a reimagined take on a holiday tradition—a lighting display suspended from the ceiling of the Winter Garden in Lower Manhattan. Filled with glowing LED lights, the suspended lanterns will be on view Tuesday, December 3rd through Friday, January 3rd, 2020.
Christmas Trees in New York: New York Stock Exchange
Downtown’s the place to be for the lighting on the NYSE Christmas Tree on Dec. 5. Performances (which include heavy hitters like members of the Rockettes and the Globetrotters) start at 2:30pm, with the tree-lighting ceremony slated for 5pm. (11 Wall Street.) The tree has 1,000 strands of multi-colored lights and a six-foot star. This year's tree lighting will include a live performance by Dionne Warwick.
Christmas Trees in New York: Empire Outlets
New to the ranks this year is the shiny new Empire Outlets, located on Staten Island, just steps from the Staten Island Ferry. The mall's first tree lighting will be taking place on Tuesday, December 3rd at 6pm. The evening will feature a 40-foot crystal tree, live music and caroling, hot chocolate, seasonal bites, in-store shopping deals, and holiday revelry for the whole family. The date also aligns with #GivingTuesday, a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration. In the spirit of the charitable season, Empire Outlets will partner with Toys for Tots and will ask guests to bring toys for kids in need. At 5pm, guests can enjoy pre-show caroling and complimentary hot chocolate. The program will begin at 6pm with holiday medley performances, welcome remarks by entrepreneur Joseph Ferrara and event partners, and a countdown to light the holiday tree and the LED lights that will illuminate Empire Outlets’ central courtyard.
Christmas Trees in New York: Bryant Park
The tree lighting ceremony in Bryant Park comes with a side of skates—it's, in fact, called the tree lighting “skate-tacular.” An original holiday tale is read by a narrator, while world-class skaters act out (skate out?) the characters; it all culminates in the tree lighting. This year's event on Thursday, December 5th is hosted by Alyce Zwick; performances will include Christmas sing-alongs led by Harlem youth chorus DREAM Choir, world-class skaters Ryan Bradley, Evelyn Walsh and Trennt Michaud, and The Haydenettes, plus fireworks, Santa, and more!
Christmas Trees in New York: The New York Botanical Garden
The holiday tree and menorah lighting ceremony take place on Sunday, December 8th at 4pm—complete with an old-fashioned sing along. (The group of trees all lit up is a seriously great sight.) And for an authentic winter tree experience, the Garden offers its Winter Wonderland tree tour on various days, to see their conifer collection and old growth forest. In New York, that’s about as close to the source as you can get.
For more on how to celebrate the holidays in NYC, click here.