How to Celebrate the Holidays: All Five New York City Boroughs


There are plenty of New York City holiday traditions visitors will want to catch, starting with the 86th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and continuing through Radio City Music Hall’s Christmas Spectacular. But these events are just in Manhattan's midtown, and there are five whole boroughs to explore, where intrepid explorers can see the Christmas lights of Dyker Heights in Brooklyn, Annual Holiday Family Day at Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum in the Bronx and the Queens Historical Society annual Historic Holiday House Tour. 

NYC & Company has a great Save the Date planning tool at with some top ideas for events throughout the season. Here are a few highlights from the five boroughs:


During the Annual Holiday Family Day, it’s A Storybook Christmas at Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum with Christmas trees inspired by children’s holiday stories displayed throughout the 19th-century mansion December 1 from 10am to 1pm. Activities include a shadow-puppet show, holiday crafts, photos with Santa, holiday shopping and more.

Van Cortlandt by Candlelight allows visitors to experience the house decked out in the finest 18th-century holiday decorations bathed in the warm glow of candlelight. Held on two consecutive weekends in mid-December, the tour includes a display of confections, explanations of holiday-themed legends and a glass of warm cider at the conclusion of the tour.


For over 25 years, Brooklyn has been coming alive for the holidays with the Christmas lights of Dyker Heights. Truly a sight to behold, the spectacle attracts thousands of visitors during the holiday season. The best displays can be seen on the blocks between 83rd and 86th Streets from 11th to 13th Avenue in this small neighborhood between Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst. Enjoy the holiday light displays and sample desserts from an authentic Brooklyn neighborhood pastry shop with A Slice of Brooklyn’s Christmas Lights and Cannoli Tour.

Join Brooklyn Borough Hall President Marty Markowitz in a lighting ceremony of the Menorah of Brooklyn at Borough Hall Plaza with refreshments and entertainment on December 10.


Twelve 14-foot color-lighted stars will “dance” to holiday music in the Great Room with 150-foot ceilings at the Time Warner Center. Not only is the show enchanting, but it is also the largest specialty crafted display of illuminated color in the world. For that extra special holiday experience, be sure to join Inside the Circle for free information about culinary and fashion events, special promotions, giveaways and prizes.

Le Parker Meridien will host its fourth annual Gingerbread Extravaganza. This year, local pastry chefs will create large-scale confectionary creations highlighting monuments from around the world, on display from December 1 to January 3, 2013. For $1, visitors can vote for the best gingerbread design and enter to win a prize. All proceeds will benefit City Harvest, an organization that rescues food to feed hungry New Yorkers.


The Queens Historical Society presents the annual Historic Holiday House Tour on Sunday, December 9, from 1 to 5pm. This guided trolley tour includes stops at five festively decorated museums and historical sites, including the Queens Historical Society at the Kingsland Homestead, the Flushing Quaker Meeting House, Flushing Town Hall, the Voelker Orth Museum and Lewis H. Latimer House. A local historian will narrate the tour, and visitors will have access to all exhibits at each site, which will also feature holiday refreshments and family activities. Tickets cost $10 for adults, with children under 12 free, and can be purchased in advance from the Queens Historical Society or from any of the participating sites the day of the event.


In Staten Island, visitors can see the sights and sounds of Historic Richmond Town at its festive best. On December 2, from 10am to 5pm, Historic Richmond Town will host Christmas in Richmond Town, sponsored by the Women’s Auxiliary. The day’s activities will close with a tree lighting at 5pm. Get more of Richmond Town with the annual Candlelight Tours, December 14 and 15, when the town will be lit by candles, oil lamps and blazing fireplaces.