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Festivities and events this holiday season in New York City

Hundreds gather to see the windows at Saks Fifth AvenueYear-end celebration sees entertainment and festivities throughout New York City’s five boroughs

New York City is one of the most exciting destinations to be during the holidays, boasting festive department store windows, picturesque winter vistas and spectacular Christmas trees, menorahs and kinaras. Throughout the holiday season, visitors can enjoy an endless roster of unique festivities that can only be experienced in New York City at this special time.

“The holidays in New York City offer a one-of-a-kind travel experience,” said George Fertitta, CEO, NYC & Company, the City’s marketing, tourism and partnership organization. “We invite visitors to take advantage of all of the wonderful activities taking place throughout the five boroughs and to embrace the energy that fills the City during this joyful season.”

New York City comes alive during Christmas & New Years with exciting festivities and events

Starring the world famous Radio City Rockettes, The Radio City Christmas Spectacular (radiocity.com) has entertained people of all ages for over 75 years. From November 9-December 30, 2008, visitors can enjoy signature high energy shows. Tickets range from $40 to $250.

Debuting this year, An Evening at the UNICEF Snowflake will take place each Friday night from November 21-January 16 starting at 6pm. The event will encourage New Yorkers and tourists to come together to recognize the snowflake while enjoying performances from various musical acts along with hot chocolate and snowflake cookies handed out by UNICEF volunteers.

George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, performed by the New York City Ballet (nycballet.com) at Lincoln Center is a favorite holiday production. The awe-inspiring show transports audiences into a magical world featuring marching toy soldiers, charming children, a giant one-ton Christmas tree, and some of the most memorable dancing the City has to offer. Performances run from November 28-January 3. Tickets range from $10 to $215.

Cirque du Soleil production Wintuk at Madison Square GardenReturning to New York City for the holiday season, from October 30, 2008-January 4, 2009 the WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden will be the backdrop for the Cirque du Soleil (cirquedusoleil.com) production Wintuk, that tells the touching winter tale of a boy’s quest for snow in an imaginary land called Wintuk. The show includes acrobatics, theatrical effects, and memorable songs. Tickets range from $40 to $220.

One of the most magical sights in the city is the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree (rockefellercenter.com). The annual Tree Lighting is a star-studded event that has visitors and New Yorkers alike gathering to see the giant tree illuminated. This year’s lighting is on December 3, and the tree will stay until January 9, 2009.

Perfect for family outings and romantic dates, a quintessential holiday experience in New York City is skating at the world-renowned Rink at Rockefeller Center (rapatina.com/iceRink). The rink will open for the season on October 11.

For visitors fascinated by New York City’s striking holiday windows, the Mandarin Oriental (mandarinoriental.com/newyork) is offering a Bergdorf Goodman Holiday Window Package that allows special behind-the-scenes access to Bergdorf Goodman’s ornate Fifth Avenue holiday window decorations. Guests will be able to learn from one of the store’s designers about the inspiration behind 2008’s intricate holiday displays, which will be unveiled on November 24. The package also includes lunch at BG Restaurant, located on Bergdorf Goodman’s 7th floor, and hotel accommodation. Rates range from $1,150 for one night in a Superior Room, to $3,725 for one night in a Premier Central Park View Suite.

Boasting one of the City’s largest indoor Christmas trees, the Four Seasons Hotel New York (fourseasons.com), will house a 24-foot tree located in the hotel’s Grand Lobby. From Saturday, November 29-Sunday, December 28, 2008, visitors can enjoy “Holiday Tree Tea” offered daily from 3-5pm overlooking the grand tree. The tea is priced at $55 for adults and $30 for children 12 and under.

Lighting up Brooklyn, the Lights of Dyker Heights (dykerheights.com) is an impressive display of lights and decorations on homes that dazzles around 100,000 visitors during the holiday season. Located between 83rd and 86th Streets from 11th to 13th Avenues, adjacent to Bay Ridge, the Lights of Dyker Heights are included in the Brooklyn Christmas Lights Tour (asliceofbrooklyn.com) which covers this glowing spectacle and more throughout December, 2008, on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays starting December 5 until Sunday, December 28.

Annual Coney Island Polar Bear Club New Year's Day SwimFurther south in Brooklyn, the Annual Coney Island Polar Bear Club New Year’s Day Swim (polarbearclub.org) has been a New York City tradition since 1903. The event attracts swarms of spectators to watch the hundreds of swimmers take an icy dip in the Atlantic to raise money for charity.
 
Throughout December, children are invited to explore many holiday traditions at the Staten Island Children’s Museum (statenislandkids.org). Every Friday from December 5-December 26, at King Kullens Kidz Cook, young chefs can learn recipes and practice their culinary skills. Cooking starts at 1.30pm, 2.30pm and 3.30pm and events include learning how to make Christmas Strufoli, Eid Treats, Hanukah Gourmet Latkes and Kwanzaa Sweet Potato Fritters. Other weekend workshops throughout December focusing on various holidays include Origami Christmas Ornaments, Celebrate Eid, Hanukkah Menorah and the Kwaanza tradition African Mud Cloth.

A year-round family-favorite destination, the City’s zoos will join in the festivities with holiday lights and decorations. The new Wild Winterland event at the Bronx Zoo (bronxzoo.com), which replaces its traditional nighttime holiday event to a more sustainable daytime feature, will take place from Saturday, December 6-Sunday, January 4. The celebration will include holiday activities between 11.30am and 3.30pm such as storytelling at the Children’s Zoo, reindeer on Astor Court, ice carving demonstrations, costumed characters, choral performances and sea lion feedings.

At the Queens Zoo (nyzoosandaquarium.com), the holidays come early with Wild Holiday Party: Presents to the Animals every weekend in December leading up to Christmas Day where visitors are invited to watch the zoo’s residents devour holiday treats.

So what are you waiting for?  Visit New York City today!  For more information on what’s happening during the holidays in New York City and to plan a visit, go to nycvisit.com.

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