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
The winter holiday season is as much about tradition as it is about twinkling lights and shopping, from the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree and the Rockettes to The Nutcracker and as many versions of Handel’s Messiah as there are ways to count ’em–plus a full menu of classics on TV and at the movies. If you’re craving a break from the old chestnuts, these less-traditional alternatives to the holiday hit parade might be just the kind of merry you’re looking to make.
No SantaCon, we promise
The holidays turn New York City into a bright, illuminated wonderland that even the biggest Scrooge among us can enjoy. While there are plenty of events to choose from, like alternative holiday markets and glittering art installations, many of these activities can be jampacked with tourists. For those looking to learn more about their own holiday traditions, or understand others, there are lots of low-key, educational events perfect for history buffs looking for a quieter holiday experience. Ahead, check out 6sqft’s guide to the best holiday events in New York City that come with a historical twist, from Christmas to Hanukkah to Kwanzaa.
This way for our top-10 picks
The holiday season in New York is one of the most magical times, packed with lots of events to perpetuate the experience. Aside from ice skating, holiday-themed bars, and the tree at Rockefeller Center, be sure to tuck into these art exhibitions and events to get you into the spirit! From old standbys like the New York Botanical Garden’s Holiday Train Show to contemporary offerings like Yayoi Kusama’s glittering installations in Chelsea and Erwin Redl’s haunting field of glowing orbs at Madison Square Park, we’ve rounded up the 14 best must-see artsy exhibits this year.
Our top picks right this way
Every year, the New York Botanical Garden‘s Holiday Train Show gives visitors the chance to marvel at iconic New York landmarks and model trains. Now in its 23rd year, the show features more than 20 locomotives traveling on almost a quarter mile of tracks, which are laid out amongst the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Radio City Music Hall, and more than 150 other replicas made from bark, pine cones, pistachio shells, and other plant materials.
Like any train, the Holiday Train Show requires a team of conductors to guide it, and Karen Daubmann is on board as the Associate Vice President of Exhibitions and Public Engagement, responsible for overseeing a wide range of current and future exhibitions. For this show, Karen works closely with Applied Imagination, the visionaries and builders behind these structures, to ensure the show runs smoothly and on time. We recently visited the show and spoke with Karen–standing near the Brooklyn Bridge and Yankee Stadium–to learn more about this annual production.
Read our full interview here