Magic’s in the air! That’s what it feels like during the holidays in the city and with so many amazing Christmas trees in NYC to visit, it really does feel like magic!
The winter holiday season is one of the most, if not the most, enchanting time to visit New York City! I love visiting and photographing the different NYC Christmas trees year after year, 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!
Oh, you didn’t know about those? Don’t worry! I have put together this guide of the most ethereal and famous New York Christmas trees to seek out this season!
Plus, I will recommend what to do nearby each of these fabulous New York Christmas trees to help make planning your trip during the most magical (and busy) time of year a breeze!
So grab your camera and get ready to get into the ho-ho-holiday spirit! Also, I have a whole plethora of helpful holiday guides!
Check out all the best things to do in NYC at Christmas time too to help you plan your holiday trip to New York City in December! If you need a little more help, I also have a full Christmas in New York City itinerary you can follow too!
Amazing NYC Christmas Trees
Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree
Let’s get the most famous Christmas tree in NYC out of the way first. It’s obligatory to see the Rockefeller Christmas Tree, even if you’ve already seen it before. 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 New York Christmas tree is set up right before the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony that takes place every year on the first Wednesday evening after Thanksgiving.
Located in the heart of 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.
My favorite view, in the photo above, is from Channel Gardens. This is where you see the line of angels leading to the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree!
And what’s even better (and why I love this spot so much) is if you turn around, you’re at the Saks Fifth Avenue flagship store that has its nightly holiday light show which is not to be missed when you visit the Rockefeller tree.
The Saks Fifth Avenue holiday light show happens daily from 4:35-11:35 PM and occurs every ten minutes. The light shows lasts about five minutes.
Oh, and I almost forgot to mention! 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! This is one of the most famous ice rinks in NYC and you feel the magic and romance in the air here as this is a common spot for people to pop the question (it happens on the hour every hour during the holidays, seriously!). It’s also an excellent place to people-watch if you don’t feel like ice skating yourself.
Something to be aware of is that this is the most famous Christmas tree in NYC, so be prepared to share it with others. There will be crowds, so plan a little extra time to capture those images you want and to get around.
Washington Square Park
I personally love any excuse to explore all the amazing things to do in Greenwich Village, and during the holidays Washington Square Park has one of the best New York Christmas trees located under the famed Washington Arch.
On a regular day, not even during the holiday season, Washington Square Park is one of the lively parks in NYC that’s also one of the best people-watching spots in the city! There are always street performers and other ‘only in NYC’ moments that always happen here at any time of the day.
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 the Holly Jolly Holiday Bar (47 7th Ave S), one of the most festive Christmas bars in NYC!
Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn
Note for 2023: The Grand Army Plaza Arch is under construction so it doesn’t seem like there will be a Christmas tree here this year. I will update once something changes!
I personally love the Grand Army Plaza Christmas tree 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 Hanukkah. This is the largest menorah in all of Brooklyn and has been towering over that area since 1985! Be sure to also check out our full guide to Hanukkah in NYC for more festivities happening around the city too.
Another one of the most magical places to visit during the holiday season and home to another one of the most famous Christmas trees in NYC is at Bryant Park Winter Village.
This is not to be missed during the holiday season in the city. Not only does Bryant Park have one of the best Christmas trees in NYC but you’ll find the shops and vendors of the winter village, ice skating, ice bumper cars, and all kinds of holiday fun and magic to enjoy here.
In the center of Bryant Park Winter Village, you can find the 55-foot tree covered in ornaments and decorations! Spend some time wandering around all the vendors and stalls that make up this massive Christmas market (one of the best Christmas markets in NYC) 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. 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! You will need a reservation for the ice bumper cars!
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! If you’re visiting during the day and need a place to warm up and recharge, consider taking a free tour of the Rose Reading Room or visit the New York Public Library Treasures for some of the best artifacts in the library’s permanent collection like the original Winnie the Pooh and friends!
I also do mention this later on the guide because they do have their own cool Christmas tree to check out too!
New York Stock Exchange
Another one of my favorite Christmas trees in New York is located in the Financial District of Lower Manhattan at the New York Stock Exchange. The global financial center of the world doesn’t skimp on its holiday decor either!
Since 1923, the New York Stock Exchange has decorated a gigantic Norway Spruce and held a lighting ceremony with live performances typically at the end of November or early December.
This Christmas tree is always just outside the NYSE and is illuminated with festive colorful lights. 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 with seven candles representing the Seven Principles of Kwanzaa. Be sure to check out our guide to all the winter holidays in NYC to find more Kwanzaa celebrations throughout the city.
While you’re here, don’t miss checking out the Charging Bull statue at Bowling Green, there’s always a crowd here so brace yourself.
And if you’re looking for a festive place to eat, check out the pretty holiday igloos along Stone Street. Reservations are recommended or head to my personal favorite place to Fraunces Tavern, one of the most historic bars in New York City that decorates for the holidays.
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 Fifth Avenue with their unbelievable holiday window displays in New York City.
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, big 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 Radio City Christmas Spectacular starring the Radio City Rockettes!
A holiday tradition 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!
Plus, Santa makes a surprise visit at the end! You can get tickets for the Radio City Christmas Spectacular on SeatGeek, and when you add our promo code BROOKLYNGUIDE to your SeatGeek account, you receive $20 off your first ticket purchase. (We receive a small commission at no extra cost to you)
Fox News Christmas Tree
Just a few blocks down from Radio City Music Hall on 6th Avenue at Fox Square, you can find the gorgeous 50-foot red, white, and blue illuminated Christmas tree in New York at the Fox News Corporation Headquarters.
The base of the tree has nutcrackers and this tree has been a lovely addition to all the holiday decor along the Avenue of the Americas since 1998. This is one of the few New York Christmas trees that is artificial. Always towering at 50-feet tall, the tree is covered in thousands of lights and ornaments that makes it one of the most popular photo spots in NYC at Christmas!
There was a bit of drama around this famous New York Christmas tree though! In 2021, arsonists set the Fox News tree ablaze, Since it was artificial, they quickly replaced the tree days later.
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, although the last few years this Christmas tree in New York is not so secret! I get it, it’s probably the prettiest Christmas tree in NYC, at least in my opinion.
It’s set off the street tucked away by golden gates and feels like it’s out of some romantic Christmas movie! This gorgeous tree is covered in red and gold ribbons and ornaments topped with a glittery star! The annual Christmas lighting that takes place here typically happens during late November.
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 weekday mornings if your NYC Christmas 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!
One of my favorite places to visit during the holidays that I feel like alot of tourists don’t know about is Brookfield Place in Lower Manhattan. This is a very high-end, luxury mall located near the World Trade Center and during the holiday season, they have winter garden, their famous luminaries light experience synched to holiday tunes, and a healthy dose of Christmas trees scattered throughout the shopping mall.
I’ll be honest, you’ll come here for the luminaries as these New York Christmas trees are meant to accompany the light show. The trees are scattered underneath a canopy of illuminated lanterns hung above.
Visitors can walk under and be mesmerized by the glowing and soothing pulsating lights synchronized to holiday music.
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.
Seaport District Tree
Another one of the most magical NYC Christmas trees can be found in the historic and charming neighborhood of South Street Seaport in Lower Manhattan.
Each year, a 60-foot Norway spruce tree is lit up to welcome you to this charming area with cobbled lanes.
There are a few great shops down here and you can take advantage of the waterfront dining with Brooklyn Bridge views along the East River down here, specifically at Pier 17 where adorable glass-enclosed winter cabins keep you warm while you take in the views at The Greens Pier 17 Winter Cabins dining. (reservations and a deposit required to book one).
Another whimsical winter activity to enjoy here is the ice rink between Piers 16 & 17, which is set under an illuminated canopy to feel like you’re under the Northern Lights!
The annual Christmas tree lighting that takes place here typically at the end of November and the ceremony includes live performances!
Madison Square Park
One of the most storied and best Christmas trees in NYC is at Madison Square Park in the Flatiron District. 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. You’ll also want to browse all the goodies from Italy around Eataly too! There are great gifts in here and tons of imported items.
Another one of the most festive places to visit during the holidays and find more NYC Christmas trees is at Lincoln Center of Performing Arts! Lincoln Center is the most famous performance arts center in the city (and the country).
Within the complex, you can find the Metropolitan Opera, New York Philharmonic, New York City Ballet, and Julliard School of Music. Throughout the year you’ll find an array of performances but during the winter holiday, you can see the New York City Ballet perform the holiday classic, The Nutcracker!
The Christmas tree here is at Dante Park, a little triangle of a park located at Broadway, Columbus Ave, 63rd Street and at Josie Roberston Plaza. We highly recommend if you’re going to see a holiday show to consider seeing a performance like the Nutcracker!
You can get tickets for The Nutcracker on SeatGeek, and when you add our promo code BROOKLYNGUIDE to your SeatGeek account, you receive $20 off your first ticket purchase!
(we receive a small commission at no extra cost to you)
Also, you’re near Columbus Circle Holiday Market if you want to hit up one of the best Christmas markets in NYC while you’re over here too!
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 indoor!
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 Bryant Park Winter Village, which is also here on the backside of the library and home to another one of the best Christmas trees in New York!
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, Patience and Fortitude, during the holidays they are adorned with a holiday wreath and red bow!
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 the 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.
Plus, if it’s extra chilly outside you can spend hours exploring the exhibitions and permanent collections of The Met, cozied up and indoors. And if you want to take a winter stroll around Central Park, this is also a great opportunity to do that, which is extra magical when there’s a fresh dusting of snow.
American Museum of Natural History
Another one of the best museums in the city that’s great to visit around the holidays featuring one of the best nondenominational Christmas trees in New York is at the American Museum of Natural History.
This is the most crafty holiday tree if you ask me. The 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.
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. In 2023, the tree is themed around the world of elephants which also sounds really cool!
Plus this is a great place to spend a morning or afternoon while you’re waiting for the evening holiday activities to take place!
Tavern on the Green
Can a restaurant have one of the best Christmas trees in NYC? You bet! Tavern on the Green is a famous restaurant located within Central Park, which is also a great place to make reservations for all the holidays from Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s for holiday celebrations.
During the holiday season, this is an especially enchanting spot to dine. They also have a gorgeous Christmas tree and have their own lighting ceremony that takes place in late November or early December.
The tree lighting is free to attend and they also hand out complimentary treats and drinks for those in attendance.
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!
If you’re looking for somewhere to have a special dining experience in the city during the holidays, this is the place!
Other Fun Holiday Festivities in NYC
I know I already mentioned quite a few things nearby each of these New York Christmas trees, but there are some other great festivities that are worth mentioning while you’re here!
Check out all the department stores and holiday decorations up and down Fifth Avenue. Check out the holiday decor along 6th Avenue near Radio City Music Hall.
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!
Best New York Christmas Trees Map
Famous Christmas Trees in NYC (Post Summary):
- Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree
- Washington Square Park
- Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn
- Bryant Park
- New York Stock Exchange
- Radio City Music Hall
- Fox News Christmas Tree
- Lotte New York Palace
- Brookfield Place
- Seaport District Tree
- Madison Square Park
- Lincoln Center
- New York Public Library
- The MET
- American Museum of Natural History
- Tavern on the Green
The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree in Midtown Manhattan is widely regarded as the best Christmas tree in New York City, attracting millions of visitors a year with its grandeur and skating rink.
The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree typically remains up from early December until early January.
The Christmas tree lighting for the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree is always the Wednesday evening after Thanksgiving.
The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree is the most iconic and largest Christmas tree in New York City, towering over Midtown Manhattan during the holiday season typically between 75 and 90 feet tall.
There’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!