Manhattan’s Menorah being lit by Danny Danon, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, in 2016. Via Chabad Lubavitch/Flickr.
In the mid-1970s, former Chabad Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson encouraged his emissaries to build public menorahs in major cities and organize nightly lightings to increase public awareness about Hanukkah and inspire fellow Jews to light menorahs in their homes. Decades later, Chabad rabbis continue the effort in cities worldwide, but in New York, the practice hasn’t always been peaceful. The tradition ended up creating a friendly competition between rival menorahs in Brooklyn and Manhattan, who both claimed to be “The World’s Largest.”
Find out the story and learn about this year’s lightings
Photo via Pexels
So maybe you don’t have room for a Norway spruce big enough to rival Rockefeller Center’s. Maybe you don’t even have a chimney from which to hang stockings with care. Or maybe holiday decorating seems a little old fashioned–which might be just what you’re looking for. The good thing about the season is that adding sparkle doesn’t take up a lot of space. The choices are nearly endless; what you choose should reflect nothing so much as your own personal style. From classic to retro to contemporary to some more out-of-the-box picks, here are some ideas for small-space holiday decorating.
What’s your holiday decorating style?
With its lit-up streets and sidewalk tree-sellers, New York is at its best during the holidays, especially if you can avoid tourist-clogged areas like Rockefeller Center and Times Square. There are lots of lovely festive spots to celebrate seasonal cheer, including local bars and restaurants that transform their spaces into holiday wonderlands, complete with themed drinks, bites, and lots of Christmas lights. Here are some of our favorites.
11 spots to get festive
Image by Michael Vadon via Wikimedia Commons
The 2019 Rockefeller Center Christmas tree has been in place for nearly a month, and it’s almost ready to get lit. The 87th annual tree lighting ceremony will take place later tonight, with tens of thousands of spectators expected for the festivities and millions more tuning in on television. The event is free to the public on a first-come, first-served basis, so read on for everything you need to know if you plan on getting a spot (or if you’d rather watch from your couch!).
If you’re lucky enough to find yourself in New York City for the winter holidays, you’ll find just about every kind of celebration imaginable from longtime traditions like the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, the Rockettes and the Nutcracker to movie classics in theaters and neighborhoods ablaze with lights. And if you’re seeking a break from traditional festivities, there are plenty of creative and unconventional ways to enjoy the season.
and SantaCon ain’t one
The Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center may be the most popular conifer in New York City, with 125 million people visiting the tree each year, but it certainly is not the only one. Every holiday season, spruces adorned with colorful lights and ornaments pop up across the five boroughs. The city’s many holiday trees each offer a unique take on the tradition, which began in NYC in 1912 when the first public Christmas tree was erected in Madison Square Park. For those looking to skip the Midtown crowds this year, we’ve rounded up 20 of the best holiday trees and lighting ceremonies, from the origami tree at the American Museum of Natural History to the flotilla of trees in Central Park’s Harlem Meer.
Get the full list
Image by Gerhard Gellinger via Pixabay
Advent calendars–those countdown calendars with little doors or tabs that can be opened each day of the month–are a visual, hands-on way to deal with counting the days ’til Christmas. The idea falls somewhere between a card and a gift, with the added excitement of having each day be a chance to reveal a new bauble, bonbon, potion or prize. Both the ritual of finding out what’s behind the door–and getting to enjoy it–can be almost as fun for grown-ups as kids. Below are 12 cool countdown calendars stocked with treats from chocolates and tea to Marvel figurines and “Game of Thrones” socks (yes, really.)–and one DIY version you can fill with whatever you like.
cool advent calendars, this way
Christmas shoppers on 6th Avenue (1910) via Library of Congress
Black Friday marks the start of frantic holiday shopping, the day when retailers offer their best deals of the season to lure in eager shoppers. While some gift-givers now choose to digitally add items to shopping carts from the comfort of bed instead, many still line up outside of stores at the crack of dawn in search of major discounts. This is not a modern phenomenon, as these photographs from the Library of Congress of 20th century New York City reveal. Like today, New Yorkers of the early 1900s were drawn to the magical window shops and displays. Ahead, explore vintage photos of shoppers browsing New York City stores looking for the perfect presents, postcards and more.
See the photos here
Photo by Marc Hermann, Courtesy of the New York Transit Museum
Every Sunday between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, the New York Transit Museum will run its Holiday Nostalgia Rides, departing from the 2nd Avenue F train station. The 1930s R1-9 train cars have a “Depression-Era Art Deco aesthetic,” complete with “rattan seats, paddle ceiling fans, incandescent light bulbs, roll signs, and period advertisements,” the announcement tells us.
See the full schedule
All photos by James and Karla Murray exclusively for 6sqft
The New York Botanical Garden’s 28th annual Holiday Train Show is back for the season, and this year it has an entirely new Central Park section, featuring iconic spots like Belvedere Castle, Bethesda Terrace, and the Bow Bridge–all made entirely from natural materials including bark, seeds, berries acorns, and cinnamon sticks. 6sqft took a special tour of the exhibit, which features a total of 175 New York landmarks, and went behind-the-scenes with Laura Busse Dolan, President and CEO of Applied Imagination, the design firm that works all year long to make this whimsical show a reality. From the exhibit’s 2,000 plants to its 25,000 pounds of cedar bark and 200 boxes of moss, Laura fills us in on all the fun and little-known facts about the Holiday Train Show.
Take a tour