There are a thousand things to do at Christmas in New York: the season is celebrated in style with lights, trees, presents, amazingly decorated shop windows... nothing is too much. And one of the most beautiful traditions is to go with your family, partner or friends to visit the city's main Christmas trees.
If you're a Christmas lover, make a list of the most spectacular and historic Christmas trees you can't miss in the city that never sleeps.
1. Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree
The lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree has been a custom since 1931 and marks the beginning of the New York Christmas season. This 20-metre-tall tree has no less than 50,000 LED bulbs and is crowned by a Swarovski star weighing more than 400 kilos. It is undoubtedly the most popular tree in the city.
This tree, which is quite exhaustive to choose, as it can come from anywhere in the USA, has to be at least half a century old.
If you have any doubts about the spectacular nature of this event, consider that it is broadcast on national television, making it a very special moment for both New Yorkers and tourists who choose this date to visit the city.
Also, since you are in the area, you should know that Rockefeller Center offers many things to see and do at Christmas, so it should definitely be at the top of your list.
Where is it located... Rockefeller Center, in Midtown Manhattan.
2. Madison Square Park Christmas Tree
If you're wondering where the first Christmas tree was installed in the USA, the answer is Madison Square Park. In 1912, a Christmas tree was installed in this iconic location and this tradition has continued to this day. Thus, the Madison Square Park Christmas tree is one of the most popular in the city.
Located in the heart of Manhattan, this park is one of the best parks in New York: it's a true Christmas oasis in the midst of the chaos of the city, so I recommend you stop by and see it when you're out and about on the streets and avenues of Midtown.
Where to findit... 11 Madison Avenue, between 26th and 23rd Street.
3. The American Museum of Natural History's Christmas Tree
This is one of the most beautiful Christmas trees in New York City because of the originality of its decoration, based on origami creations. What's more, the theme changes every year.
To see this tree you will have to go to the Museum of Natural History of New York, an essential visit on your trip. Here is the post New York Museum of Natural History so you can be fully prepared for this visit.
Where is it located... Museum of Natural History, 200 Central Park West.
4. Bryant Park Christmas Tree
The Bryant Park Christmas tree is another of New York City's most popular trees with over 30,000 lights and 3,500 Christmas balls. The setting of the tree amidst the skyscrapers makes it even more special.
And when you go to see this tree, I recommend you take a walk around the park and take into account all the things you can see and do in Bryant Park.
Another of the park's great attractions is its beautiful ice rink, where you can glide across the ice and travel back to your childhood for a while. You'll feel like you're in a movie!
Where is it located... It's located around The Rink, Bryant Park's ice skating rink.
5. Wall Street Christmas Tree
Located next to the New York Stock Exchange building, this is one of the largest trees in the city and was the first to be electrically lit in the city. Previously, Christmas trees were lit with candles, but, as you can imagine, this was a very dangerous practice.
Besides, this part of Downtown Manhattan also has a lot to offer, so take a stroll around the area to explore some of the most iconic sites, such as nearby Ground Zero, the 9/11 Memorial and Museum and the One World Observatory.
Where to find... 1, Wall Street.
Be sure to visit the Christmas trees at the American Museum of Natural History, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the New York Public Library.
6. The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Christmas Tree
The Christmas tree at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) is one of the most traditional, because in addition to having a traditional nativity scene at its base with more than 200 figures, angels and cherubs from the 18th century hang from its branches.
Where to find it... The Metropolitan Museum of Art, located on Fifth Avenue.
7. The New York Public Library (NYPL) Christmas Tree
Another beautiful New York City Christmas tree is the one in the lobby of the New York Public Library, a classic building, well worth entering on your visit to New York City. The setting of this tree makes it even more special.
Where is it located... New York Public Library, located on 5th Avenue and 42nd Street.
8. Christmas tree at the Lotte New York Palace Hotel
Another very spectacular tree is located on Madison Avenue, in the entrance plaza of the Lotte Hotel. Admission is free.
Where to findit... 455 Madison Avenue, between 51st and 52nd Street.
9. The floating Christmas tree in Central Park
And of course, Central Park also has its own Christmas tree. It is located on a lake in the northwest of the park called Harlem Meer. This tree has a special feature: it is a floating tree. Yes, as you read, you can't miss it!
And since you're going to Central Park, I'll take this post about what to see and do in Central Park so that you can learn about other activities for your trip.
One of the things you can't miss there is skating on the huge ice rink they set up in winter. With the trees (sometimes snowy) and the city's skyscrapers in the background, it will make for an unforgettable Christmas postcard.
Where to findit... North-west of Central Park, on Harlem Beer Lake.
10. Radio City Music Hall Tree and the Rockettes
Another of the most curious trees in New York is the one located in a famous concert venue in the city, Radio City Music Hall. This tree is strategically placed on the façade of the building.
And speaking of the Rockettes, you should know that this is one of the most requested shows by New Yorkers every Christmas. Don't miss out on tickets to the Rockettes Radio CIty Christmas Spectacular.
Where is it located... 1260 Sixth Avenue.
11. The Christmas tree under the Arch in Washington Square Park
Located under the Washington Square Arch, this is one of New York's most special Christmas trees. It is next to this tree that the carol concert is held on 24 December.
Where is it located... Washington Square.
Christmas tree lighting schedule
Christmas trees in New York City are lit in early December after Thanksgiving and remain lit until the first days of January.
The hours during which they remain lit are usually very long, from 6:00 a.m. to approximately 00:00 p.m., although it depends on each tree.
When is the best time to go out to see the trees and the Christmas lights?
Christmas trees are usually visited by a large number of people every day so I recommend you go early or late in the day or on cooler days to have the opportunity to get closer to the tree and be able to photograph yourself in comfort.
How's that Christmas spirit going? Do you still want to enjoy the magic this time of year in New York? If so, don't hesitate to visit the post What to do and what to see at Christmas in New York where you will discover wonderful plans.
Other things to do at Christmas
Despite the cold temperatures in New York in December, the lights and shop windows will give you a warm and familiar atmosphere. Just ask the people of Dyker Heights in Brooklyn, where every year they decorate their homes and gardens with thousands of ornaments and lights that are well worth seeing.