There is something about being in New York that makes me feel that I am in the middle of a Rom Com or in an episode of SATC. The whole city has an air of familiarity, but at the same time, promises adventure and discovery at every step.
I experienced the last leg of Autumn and the first leg of Christmas as I found myself in New York in the first few days of December. The leaves were flaming orange, and yellow , the Christmas Spirit Engulfed the air. Special Shows, Large Christmas Trees, Special Display windows all over the city. They made me forget that I was walking around in 4 degrees temperature. I find 21 degrees difficult to bear, so one can only imagine what Antarctica this would have meant to me.
Here are a few things that you Must Not Miss if you are ever in New York at Christmas. While Fairy Lights, Carols and Happy faces beckon you at evey turn some need undivided attention
Watch George Balanchine’s Nut Cracker at the Lincoln Center
The story of the Nut Cracker is what we have all read in parts or religiously as we were growing up. You will realise how familiar the music is once you listen to the various pieces that are part of the ballet. This was my first ballet and it was enchanting to see dreamy sequences come to life. You see a 12 ft Christmas Tree become 40 feet whilst the dream world of Marie comes to life. While there are several versions of the Nutcracker – The George Balanchine production of the Tchaikovsky ballet is the most celebrated one in the US and a must do thing around Christmas. The Snow Flake Sequuence and the Waltz of the Flowers were my favorite, I’d love to hear about yours too.
They do not allow pictures inside, though I managed to sneak one little one at the end, because I just had to walk away with a memory of the lovely experience I had. I got fairly decent tickets at 125$ with a good view. But I was still sitting up on the first floor, I was in the 4th ring.
Make a Date With the Rockettes
The Christmas Spectacular at the iconic Radio City Music Hall is also one of those amazing experiences that simply add to the Christmas Spirit . I watched this after the ballet, so while the productions are very different, this one had a more relatable charm to it, whilst the ballet was etheral. 14 years of convent education had done enough to excite me about any reference to Christmas. Christmas combined by the awe inspiring synchronised dancing of the Rockettes guarantees an awesome show. It is called the Spectacular so expect nothing else. Here I got better tickets in about 110$ so i sat closer to the stage 🙂
This was my favorite song and I spent the next few days singing it while I explored the city.
The Rockefeller Tree
The tree is considered the epicentre of New York City’s Holiday Celebrations. Right from the time of the Great Depression, while workers stood to collect their wages, the Tree has metamorphosed into a symbol that heralds the onset of the holidays. In recent years the lighting of the tree is a celebrated event that is also telecast Live. The 1999 tree was 100 feet tall, the one that I saw last year was 94 feet making it the second largest ever. Honestly it’s difficult to get a good glimpse as everyone wants a picture with it, just like I did. I chose to go during the day and avoid the night.
The Christmas Markets
The parks turn to bustling markets where you can buy Christmas decorations, gifts or simply hang out to soak in the vibe. I spent a good afternoon at the Bryant Park market watching people skate and enjoy the holidays shopping. You have some amazing stores from around the world and New York and is an ideal place to shop for souvenirs and Christmas goodies.
I also visited the Columbus Circle Market. What I enjoyed most at both these markets was people watching and sipping divine hot choclate.
The SnowFlake on Fifth Avenue
Another New York Icon is the Snowflake on Fifth Avenue. It is put up by the UNICEF and is dedicated to vulnerable children across the world. I can only think of this song when I look at it
“O Star of wonder, star of night. Star with royal beauty bright”
Coffee Up and Stay Warm
The best thing about the cold is Warm Drinks. And No better Warm drink than Coffee in my book. I am not a fan of regular American Coffee, so I did extensive research on where I must have coffee in NYC. I sampled the following and was not dissapointed at all. The Blue Bottle next to Bryant Park, Blue Stone Lane Coffee in West Village Toby’s estate next to Flatiron, and Third Rail scored high on my list! I would recommend these to any coffee lover at the drop of a hat
Other Things to Do
High Tea at Bergdorf with a dash of Central Park.
While you admire the iconic window displays at Bergdorf Goodman, it will do you good to go up to the restaurant and enjoy their High tea as you look out into Central Park and at the right time of the evening you can see the sun set on the buildings and it is truly a Rom Com movie sight. The tea and the spread is not bad too. It was a lot of food, and I had time to kill and they do not hurry you at all. So i would say indulge and be a lady and channelise that inner Carrie in you. The tea including tips would cost you about 75$
Walk down Brooklyn Bridge
A clear day with the occassional chill that kisses your face, the close to a mile walk is never boring for a New Yorker so for a tourist you can imagine the charm. This was my second walk and a much longer one, because we walked from Eastern Parkway, over the bridge till Seaport in Manhattan.
Walking remains the best way to discover a city, but I was a huge fan of the Kick app. it simplified the metro and also worked offline, which is great because no matter where in the world you are connectivity in the subway is weak.
This was only a short list of what exciting things one can do in New York around Christmas. Would love to hear from you, if I must add to this list. Hopefully some day soon I will be back at Christmas and I will be sure to use those notes then 🙂