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Tree Night 01 - Photo by Colin Miller.jpg
Rockefeller Center: The place to see the famous Christmas tree decorated with 50,000 LED lights and topped with a Swarovski star. (Photo: Colin Miller)

NYC is a magical place to be during the holiday season

As a former New Yorker, there are two things I never lost--my New York accent and my love of seeing NYC decked out for the holidays.

To me, nothing says the holidays like New York - the twinkling lights, the dazzling windows, the glittering trees, and the magical sounds. So if you’re headed up to the Big Apple for the holidays, here is an insider’s view of what to see and do.

Window Dressing

Macy’s: “Believe” focuses on what Christmas meant to us as children. It’s one of the six key qualities of Believe, Celebrate, Together, Giving, Live and Magic that embody the spirit of the season. (151 W 34th St.)

Lord & Taylor: Turns their five animated windows into a winter wonderland with its “Enchanted Forest.” You’ll see ice-skating bunnies and snowshoe-clad geese trekking through the forest. (424 5th Ave. at 39th St.)

Saks Fifth Avenue: The “Land of 1000 Delights” takes you along as Grande Dames are on their way to the Christmas Ball. Empress Gingerbread, Lady Lollipops, and Marchioness are just some of the hand-painted mannequins wearing one-of-a-kind couture costumes featuring confectionary hoop skirts made of giant candy, cakes, and cookies. (611 5th Ave. at 50th St.)

Barneys New York: They used different artists to interpret the theme of “Love, Peace, and Joy.” Included are Trey Parker and Matt Stone of South Park with a lot to say about Christmas. (660 Madison Avenue – 60th between Fifth and Madison)

Bergdorf Goodman: Their display takes shoppers on an adventure around the world in “Destination Extraordinary.” The huge windows are a high-end fashionista’s fairy tale that transports you out West with cactuses, to a jungle with gorillas and more. (754 5th Ave. at 58th St.)

Tiffany & Co.: See New York scenes such as a picnic in Central Park and the Manhattan skyline along the Hudson River done up in pearls, diamonds and other pieces of jewelry. (727 5th Ave. at 57th St.)

Let There Be Light

Empire State Building: Catch a glimpse of this iconic building all dressed up in holiday colors. (350 5th Ave. between 33rd and 34th St.)

Rockefeller Center: The place to see the famous Christmas tree decorated with 50,000 LED lights and topped with a Swarovski star. (45 Rockefeller Plaza – between 48th and 51st Streets spanning between 5th and 6th Aves.)

Saks Fifth Avenue: You have to see the grand light show put on every night complete with holiday music.

Park Avenue: Take a walk or a drive down Park Avenue to see the illuminated 2.5 mile stretch between 54th and 97th Street.

The Shops at Columbus Circle: Hung from the 150-foot ceiling are a dozen 14-foot stars illuminated in eye-popping colors and choreographed to festive holiday tunes. (10 Columbus Circle at 59th St.)

Giant Snowflake: Crafted out of 16,000 hand-cut Baccarat crystals it dangles overhead on 5th Avenue and 57th Street.

To Market to Market

Union Square Holiday Market: This is a European-style market where there are more than 100 red-and-white booths showcasing craftsmen and artists’ unique gifts. You can even buy a brew-your-own-beer kit from the Brooklyn Brew Shop and Christmas ornaments filled with living plants. And there are plenty of top food vendors to satisfy any cravings – vegetarian soups to tomato-sauce covered meatballs. YUM! (W. 14th St & Union Square)

Bank of America Winter Village - at Bryant Park: You won’t know where to look first - the ice-skaters, the eateries, and of course the 125-plus boutique-style shops including apparel, jewelry, decorative goods, local foods and more. (Between 40th and 42nd Streets)

Grand Central Holiday Fair: With its constellation on the ceiling and its information booth in the center, it’s a special place any time of the year. During the holidays there’s a fair with 40 booths where you can get everything from chocolates to candles to jewelry to art objects. And you’ll stay warm. (89 E. 42nd St.)

Columbus Circle Holiday Market: Located at the entrance to Central Park, at 59th street, you’ll find more than 100 vendors with gifts of art, jewelry, home goods, and local food. (59th Street and Central Park West)

Showtime

Radio City Christmas Spectacular: A New York tradition, with a wonderful upbeat performance by the Rockettes. (1260 6th Ave. of the Americas – 6th Ave. and 50th St.)

Tea Time – Time to Refuel

Ritz-Carlton (Central Park): Holiday Tea at The Star Lounge features holiday-themed tea selections and decadent holiday desserts (prices vary) (50 Central Park South.at W. 59th St.)

Alice’s Tea Cup: Have scones, cookies, sandwiches, and tea (prices vary but more reasonable). (102 W. 73rd St.)

The Plaza Hotel: Have tea in the magnificent Palm Court where you’ll be surround by lush palms and above the soaring stained-glass dome. There is also The Holiday Eloise’s Tea (expensive, prices vary on both). (Fifth Ave. at Central Park South at 59th St.)

I’ll Take Manhattan, Okay, Maybe Brooklyn and The Bronx Too!

Christmas Lights in Brooklyn – Dyker Heights: In this neighborhood, homeowners are challenged to have the best, biggest, and brightest Christmas decorations. There is everything from toys, inflatable Santas, bright lights, and reindeer. Some residents even pay specialist firms to decorate their house. (82nd St.)

Humongous Menorah: See this 32-foot, 4,000-pound Menorah. (Grand Army Plaza Brooklyn)

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