Though I am awfully busy with final projects, I am eager to get out and experience the best of New York City during the holiday season (instead of sitting in my apartment between classes doing what Buddy is doing below).
One of the most special sights in the city at this time of year are the window displays of the department stores along Fifth Avenue. Henri Bendel, Bergdorf Goodman, Saks, Tiffany’s and Bloomingdale’s go all out, usually involving fashion designers and sometimes artists to conjure up holiday cheer. I find this to be the best concentration of windows in one area, but there is also Macys in Herald Square, and Lord and Taylor’s also on Fifth Avenue, but further south at 38th Street.
Another lovely holiday element, which one could see in the same outing as the department store windows, is the Rockefeller Center tree. It’s something everyone should see at least once. It’s also fun to watch the ice skaters below, or if you are skilled, join them!
Another outdoor event, considerably quirkier, is Phil Kline’s Unsilent Night in in Washington Square Park. This is an annual parade of “boom boxes” that traverses the city streets from Washington Square Park to Tompkins Square Park on Saturday, December 15th. Everyone plays the same music supplied by Phil.
If you’re not a fan of outdoor activities when the temperature is so low, there’s plenty to do indoors. Increasingly popular now are independent holiday markets, which are especially nice if you have already visited those at Union Square or Columbus Circle. Brooklyn Night Bazaar is held in Williamsburg every weekend until December 22nd. This year I am particularly excited about the Vegan Holiday Shop-Up, where there are loads of vendors selling vegan goodies, as well as crafts and gifts that are friendly to all creatures.
If you’re looking for something to do indoors that isn’t just shopping, why not spend time in a museum? The Morgan Library is hosting the exhibit “Charles Dickens at 200,” where you can see not only the original manuscript of A Christmas Carol, but also books letters and photos. Though I have to say, museums and cultural institutions often have unique gifts in their shops.
Another way to face the cold is with a hot drink. Why not look for your favorite cup of hot cocoa in the city? I have heard rave reviews about the authentic Italian hot chocolate at Eataly, as well as the version at City Bakery in Chelsea. Personally, I have to recommend the hot cocoa at Peacefood Cafe (not too far from Bank Street!). It’s my favorite vegan restaurant in the Upper West Side area, where you can get a hot beverage to go, and a sweet treat, or sit down for a full meal.
And before December ends, step back in time on the Nostalgia train, with cars from as long ago as the 1930s, that the MTA rolls out on the M line. They are much different from the trains we know today, with wicker seats and paddles fans. My favorite part is the vintage advertisements inside that give you a real sense of the time period. You can actually ride the Nostalgia Train between Queens Plaza and 2nd Avenue for the same fare as any other train.
Whatever you do to celebrate the season, I hope you have fun and take time to reflect. Maybe you’ll see me on the Nostalgia Train or one of the holiday markets!