The winter holiday season is one of the most, if not the most, magical time to visit the city! Check out all the best Christmas trees in NYC from the most famous like the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree to lesser-known NYC Christmas trees found in performance venues, museums, and tucked away in shopping centers and the boroughs of the city!
Not only does this guide highlight the best New York Christmas trees, but it also recommends what to do nearby to help make planning your trip during the most magical time of year a breeze! So grab your camera and get ready to get into the ho-ho-holiday spirit!
Check out all the best things to do in NYC at Christmas time too to help you plan your holiday trip!
Amazing NYC Christmas Trees
Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree
The most famous and one of the best Christmas trees in NYC is the tree at Rockefeller Center. You’ve seen it in all the Christmas movies set in NYC and is probably the most photographed Christmas tree in the world!
The New York Rockefeller tree is always a Norway Spruce and is over 75 feet tall and weighs over 11 tons! This NYC Christmas tree is so iconic that even the destinations that provide the trees year after year are proud to do so, and sometimes there are hitchhikers in the tree, like this little tiny owl in 2020. (Don’t worry he was saved and returned to nature!)
The gigantic Christmas tree is set up during the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony that takes place in mid-November on the Wednesday evening after Thanksgiving.
Located in Midtown Manhattan in Rockefeller Center, this NYC Christmas tree is the most famous in the city as mentioned before so you’ll be sharing this experience with many others wanting to catch a peep at the tree they’ve seen portrayed in cinema over the years like in scenes from Elf or Home Alone 2: Lost in New York to name a few.
Once set up, there is a long line of angels set up around this tree at the Channel Gardens at the base of the skyscraper leading to the tree! Turn around and you’re at the Saks Fifth Avenue flagship store that has their nightly holiday light show which is not to be missed when you visit the Rockefeller tree.
The Saks Fifth Avenue show happens daily from 4:35-11:35 PM and occurs every ten minutes. The light shows lasts about five minutes.
Something else that is not to be missed at New York City’s most famous Christmas tree is The Rink at Rockefeller Center, directly below! In fact, this is a common place to propose, making it an even better place to go people-watching and catch someone else’s romantic moment from above if you don’t want to ice skate yourself.
Since this NYC Christmas tree is in such a lively location, it’s also an option to add on some local sightseeing here like witnessing all the different holiday displays at the department stores, add on the Top of the Rock observatory, or as mentioned before watch the Saks Fifth Avenue light show that will put you in the holiday spirit.
Washington Square Park
One of the best New York Christmas trees is the tree at Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village. This tree is located under the famous Washington Arch in one of the lively parks in NYC that’s also one of the best people-watching spots in the city as there are always street performers and other ‘only in NYC’ moments that always happen here.
This famous 45-foot Christmas tree in NYC has annual lighting that typically happens in early December during the evening. During the holidays the tree is lit up from 4 pm to 1 am daily.
Also, if you happen to be around on Christmas Eve there is an annual Christmas caroling event that you can attend in person or live stream!
And if you’re looking for a pretty stroll before or after viewing this holiday tree, take a walk down the historic, cobbled lane of Washington Mews or grab a festive drink at Miracle on 8th, one of the best holiday pop up bars in NYC nearby on 8th Street.
Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn
Another great NYC Christmas tree is the one in Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn! Located next to Prospect Park, there is a famous NYC Christmas tree put under the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch in this plaza each year.
This famed arch was built in 1889 and is dedicated to the defenders of the union, which is also meant to be a replica of the famous Arc de Triomphe in Paris. There is also an annual Christmas tree lighting that typically takes place during the first week of December.
In addition to the Christmas tree lighting, there is also a menorah lighting at Grand Army Plaza to celebrate Chanukah. This is the largest menorah in all of Brooklyn and has been towering over that area since 1985!
Another one of the most famous Christmas trees in NYC is the one at Bryant Park’s Winter Village. If you want to get in the winter mood and holiday spirit, this is one of the best NYC Christmas trees for you!
Each year, this 55-foot Christmas tree is put up in the middle of the Winter Village in Bryant Park.
The Winter Village includes a massive Christmas market with pop-up shops, restaurants, cafes with insta-worthy hot chocolate, and winter igloos that you can rent and reserve which are some of the best Christmas-themed restaurants in NYC. All of these options are in addition to the Bryant Park Cafe and Bryant Park Grill here too.
Another stand-out here is The Rink at Bryant Park! This is the only ice skating rink in NYC that offers free admission (if you bring your own skates, otherwise you can rent skates here for a small fee). This rink is directly in the center of the winter village and is a great spot to get in the holiday spirit. There are also bumper cars on this rink that allow you to ride on ice!
If you need a break from the chilly winter air and you’re craving the indoors, head to the Lodge. This indoor/outdoor space is your après-skate hang out where you can warm up with a fun cocktail or one of those insta-famous hot chocolate drinks along with food options.
Another great free option is stopping by the New York Public Library Main Branch which is right next to the ice skating rink! Check out the Rose Main Reading Room and head to the Children’s section to see the original Winnie the Pooh and friends!
New York Stock Exchange
Another one of the best New York Christmas trees is the one at the New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street in the Financial District that’s been a holiday tradition since 1923.
The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) is the world’s largest financial center and stock market, which always draws in tourists plus it’s in the oldest and most historic part of the city.
Each year, the NYSE is illuminated with festive red and green lights. Next to the NYSE is the towering Christmas tree and if you get in the right vantage point you can look at this NYC tree from behind the Fearless Girl statue.
In addition to Christmas decorations, the New York Stock Exchange also has a Kwanzaa Kinara here too with seven candles, three red on the left, one black candle in the middle, and three green on the right representing the Seven Principles of Kwanzaa.
Nearby the NYSE is the famous bronze Charging Bull statue at Bowling Green, so be sure to stop by and check it out while you’re here!
And if you’re looking for a festive place to eat, check out the pretty holiday igloos along Stone Street. Reservations are recommended.
Radio City Music Hall
Although the tree at Radio City isn’t a real tree, it’s one of the most famous Christmas trees in NYC! Located above the infamous and historic neon Radio City Music Hall sign, this spectacular, illuminated tree looks stunning along 6th Avenue.
If you’re doing the typical holiday sightseeing and DIY Christmas lights in NYC walk, this will be on your path as it’s close to Rockefeller Center and one block over from all the famous department stores on 5th Avenue with their holiday window displays.
Also, directly across from Radio City Music Hall along the Avenue of Americas, aka 6th Avenue, where you can enjoy views of the giant holiday ornaments, Christmas lights, and oversized candy cane forest.
This beautiful illuminated Christmas tree in NYC is just the cherry on top though, what Radio City Music Hall is most famous for around the holidays is the famous Rockettes Holiday Spectacular holiday show!
Each year during November and December since 1925, the Radio City Rockette dancers put on their annual holiday 90-minute show featuring over 140 performers to an original music score with dancing and singing including the famous synchronized toy soldier routine and number!
Lotte New York Palace
Nearby Rockefeller Center is another one of the best Christmas trees in NYC: the Christmas tree at Lotte New York Palace! This luxury hotel is a hidden gem in the city and is a great picture spot.
The annual Christmas lighting that takes place here typically happens during late November. If you attend the lighting or visit to see the tree, you can enjoy the warm beverages and nice bistro seating! Since this is also a hotel, you can stay here for the holidays!
This is an extremely popular photo spot for couples, families, and Instagrammers, which means it can also get a little crowded. If you want to get a picture-perfect moment here, try coming earlier on the weekday mornings if your NYC itinerary allows for it!
Even though this is a hotel, you can come into the courtyard to get a photo at one of the most beautiful NYC Christmas trees!
Another great Christmas tree in NYC is the one at the Brookfield Place shopping mall in Lower Manhattan. This mall is located next to the World Trade Center and offers many fun winter activities such as exploring the winter garden and admiring the famous luminaries.
The luminaries are colorful lights that are suspended from the ceiling from hanging lanterns. Each holiday season, they put on a holiday performance synched to music along with other holiday decor.
Brookfield Place also has a small outdoor ice skating rink, The Rink at Brookfield Place, that overlooks the Hudson River! Be sure to check out the illuminated winter trees outside that are part of the winter garden.
Every year at the Seaport District, a 60-foot Norway spruce tree is lit up to welcome you to one of the most charming waterfront neighborhoods in the city along the East River!
This is an outstanding NYC Christmas tree to check out if you love ice skating and enjoying a waterfront view with an amazing view of the Brooklyn Bridge as both of those are just steps away. The ice skating rink here on Pier 17 overlooks both the Brooklyn Bridge and East River.
The annual Christmas tree lighting that takes place here also overlooks the Brooklyn Bridge and makes for a fun outdoor event that will instantly put you in the holiday spirit. More often than not, the Christmas tree lighting here features many live singers!
Madison Square Park
One of the best Christmas trees in NYC is the historical tree at Madison Square Park. In 1912, this Christmas tree became the site of America’s first public Christmas tree lighting ceremony!
To commemorate this ceremony, every tree at this park since then has had the Star of Hope on top and has always been a Norway Spruce tree from the same tree farm, Dome’s Tree Farm in Bliss, New York. This star decoration remembers the ceremony and how it took place during a time when electricity wasn’t nearly as common.
Before or after viewing one of the most famous Christmas trees in NYC, go to the winter-themed restaurant at Serra by Birreria at Eataly NYC Flatiron.
One great way to celebrate Christmas is to attend Winter’s Eve at Lincoln Center on the Upper West Side! This annual holiday event boasts a massive Christmas tree, a Christmas market, and many live performances at this famous entertainment venue along Broadway from Columbus Circle to 68th Street.
During each day of this holiday festival, new live singers and pop-up shops come together at Lincoln Center to create a fun, festive environment for holiday celebrations. Since this entire winter festival takes place at Lincoln Center, it’s a great idea to add a ballet or opera performance to your itinerary!
Lincoln Center is also home to many famous performances. Here, you can find the Metropolitan Opera, New York Philharmonic, and New York City Ballet. Home to over 5 million visitors each year, Lincoln Center is also the home of Julliard School of Music, one of the most famous music academies in the entire world. Throughout the year, there are many outdoor performances, shows, and live singers to see as well!
New York Public Library
Each year, the New York Public Library’s Main Branch has a holiday open house! Here, you can find one of the best Christmas trees in NYC that is indoors!
This 30-foot tree is located in Astor Hall and boasts extravagant decorations. During the holiday open house, you can mix holiday cocktails, watch videos about the history of A Christmas Carol, and take a tour of the library!
However, if you want to get a taste of the outdoors and cooler weather, be sure to stop by the winter village at Bryant Park! Just a few seconds away from the library, this park is a great spot to ice skate, grab a warm drink, and shop for holiday gifts.
We recommend enjoying the New York Public Library first, during the day, as they close at 6:00 pm, then head to the Bryant Park Winter Village.
Also, don’t miss the famous lion statues outside, during the holidays they are adorned with a holiday wreath and red bow!
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Another famous Christmas tree in NYC is the one at The MET, aka Metropolitan Museum of Art. Each year on the day before Thanksgiving, the MET Christmas tree and Neapolitan Baroque Creche exhibit are set up.
The Neapolitan Baroque Creche exhibit focuses on nativity and the center of Christmas traditions in Italy! By taking a tour of these exhibitions, you’ll be able to learn more about the unique history of Christmas and admire the Christmas decorations throughout the museum.
The Museum of Natural History
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Fill your holiday trip to NYC with some of the best museums in the city. One of the best Christmas trees in NYC is the one at the Museum of Natural History.
Known as the craftiest Christmas tree in NYC, this tree is made of origami and focuses on a different theme each year. The museum’s tradition is to put this 13-foot Christmas tree on display in the Grand Gallery on the first floor.
Admission to see this tree is entirely free. Each year, the artists at the museum spend the entire year making the tree and building it with the new theme in mind.
One of the coolest themes they had was the T-Rex-themed tree in 2019, which featured many origami pieces shaped like the dinosaur.
Tavern on the Green Christmas Tree
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Tavern on the Green is an iconic restaurant in Central Park. Each year, they put up a Christmas tree and hold a Christmas tree lighting! It typically takes place in early December and is always totally free to the public.
The most memorable thing about this Christmas tree is that it is covered in over two thousand ornaments and ten thousand lights! The tree is designed to highlight the rest of the restaurant and was inspired by Calvert Vaux, the original designer of Tavern on the Green and co-designer of Central Park!
The Tavern on the Green Christmas tree lighting typically lasts two hours and includes other holiday activities like live carolers, complimentary cider & hot chocolate, and additional treats to enjoy.
Other Fun Holiday Festivities in the City
Besides viewing an NYC Christmas tree, many fun festivities happen in the city that will put you in a holiday mood.
Check out all the department stores and holiday decorations up and down Fifth Avenue. Head to the famous ice skating rinks like the Wollman Rink in Central Park, take an adventure into Brooklyn to see the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights, and check out the holiday markets, one of the most popular markets is the Union Square Holiday Market!
Before or after your trip be sure to check out all the Christmas movies set in NYC and while you’re here hunt down some of the famous filming locations like Elf filming locations in NYC or Home Alone 2 filming locations in NYC!
And don’t forget to bring home one of the best NYC Christmas ornaments home with you too so you can remember this trip season after season!
It’s no doubt the holidays are one of the most magical times of year to visit the Big Apple! There’s just no place like it!