South Street Seaport|J. Kratochvil1/8 South Street Seaport|J. Kratochvil
American Museum of Natural History|Provided2/8 American Museum of Natural History|Provided
City Hall Park|Stanley Tucker, NYC Parks4/8 City Hall Park|Stanley Tucker, NYC Parks
The Plaza Hotel|Provided5/8 The Plaza Hotel|Provided
Rockefeller Center|Getty Images6/8 Rockefeller Center|Getty Images
The Metropolitan Museum of Art|Alison Meier, flickr7/8 The Metropolitan Museum of Art|Alison Meier, flickr
Madison Square Park's Gingerbread Boulevard|Margarita Corporan8/8 Madison Square Park's Gingerbread Boulevard|Margarita Corporan
Rockefeller Center may be the largest Christmas tree in New York City, but size isn't the only thing that matters. Check out our roundup of the most spectacular Christmas trees around the city.
This time of year, even the lions get spruced up: Patience and Fortitude, who guard the steps of the New York Public Library’s iconic Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on Fifth Avenue have donned their wreaths for the season. Once inside, book lovers are greeted by a splendid tree in Astor Hall donated and decorated by library trustee (and interior designer) Carey Maloney. Surrounding it are various other symbols of holidays and cultures, including a brass 18th-century menorah, as well as a holiday-themed collection of items that includes Charles Dickens’ very own copy of “A Christmas Carol.”
Appropriate for its location, in what used to be NYC’s busiest shipping hub, the South Street Seaport’s massive 60-foot Norway spruce is decked with constellation-themed ornaments inspired by the tools used by sailors. Get your nautical photo ops in, then browse the holiday outpost of the Hester Street Fair, which has come downtown (and indoors) with a collection of 32 indie vendors open daily 11 a.m.-8 p.m. through Dec. 24. 117 Beekman St.
The decorations adorning the museum’s signature Origami Holiday Tree are entirely handmade: Artists from all over the world donate their time and talent to create the over 1,000 ornaments. There’s a new theme every year, and if (like us) your favorite part of the museum is the dinosaurs, then this year’s “Dinosaurs Among Us”-themed tree will feel even more special.
The hotel’s signature pink color inspired this year’s Christmas “tree.” Instead of the usual evergreen, the florists at Luxe Bloom used 3,500 preserved roses to create a Christmas tree that will stay beautiful for at least 60 days, without water or refrigeration. See the tree in the hotel’s lobby, then browse its Art Markit Pop-Up for usable art objects from candles to a Magic 8 Ball by Curtis Kuling.400 Fifth Ave.
Even the spectacle of Rockefeller Center can’t upstage the uniqueness of City Hall’s holiday display. There’s not just one Christmas tree in the small public park that is, essentially, its front lawn — the entire fountain at the heart of the park is drained for the holiday season and filled with light strung trees, nestled among other winter plants like juniper and boxwood. The antique streetlamps around the park lend an old New York feel — you can almost hear Frank Sinatra singing Christmas standards.
The city’s most famous hotel keeps its decorations pretty subdued, which just amps up the “wow” factor when you glimpse the lobby’s towering tree, decorated this year for the first time all in white. A pile of gold and silver presents are already piled underneath — perhaps because you can find Santa Claus downstairs in the Plaza Food Hall and Shops, with tons of holiday treats to eat and gift.768 Fifth Ave.
There’s a reason this tree is not just New York City’s official Christmas tree, but the whole country’s. This year’s Norway spruce is the second tallest ever at 94 feet, lighted with more than 50,000 multicolored LEDs and topped with a star taller than a person. Instead of presents underneath, the tree itself is a gift — when its job is done on Jan. 7, Habitat for Humanity will mill it into lumber to build new homes.
Combining art and history, the museum’s 20-foot blue spruce is hung with 18th-century Neapolitan Baroque angels and cherubs inside the Medieval Sculpture Hall, as has been the tradition since 1925. Underneath the tree is an elaborate 121-piece nativity scene, set in front of a painting of a Spanish choir with seasonal music playing all month long.
The Tree of Light is a beacon of cheer at 40 feet tall, and from Dec. 6-18 it’ll get an extra helping of holiday magic from a life-size gingerbread house. The Taste of Home Gingerbread Boulevard is back for its third season, but this time with one home made of ginger “bricks” where you can walk inside, decorate a virtual Christmas tree and add your photo to a digital mantle.