Silver bells, silver bells
It’s Christmas time in the city
Ring-a-ling, (ring-a-ling) hear them ring (ting-a-ling)
Soon it will be Christmas day


“Silver Bells”, Bing Crosby’s paean to seasonal magic, has endured as the ultimate Christmas card to New York City. Its lyrics evoke a simpler time when, despite the onslaught of holiday hoopla, there’s a peacefulness washing over urban denizens and travelers alike. This sense of spirit imbues the immortal traditions of pirouetting on ice, gaping at a soaring pine tree, and watching the Rockettes high-kick their way across a stage. That adage certainly rings true: It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

Every November, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade culminates with Santa Claus grinding to a halt in front of the department store on 6th Avenue, marking the start of Christmas merriment — and the genesis of treasured family memories.

Even the biggest Scrooge will be in awe of the towering Tannenbaum supplanted in Rockefeller Center, with a nearby row of angelic trumpeters, beaming in pearly white illumination. Since 1933, the Center’s tree has reached heights up to 100 feet, and decades’ worth of lighting ceremonies have been broadcast in early December. At the neighboring Radio City Music Hall, those Rockettes perform their Christmas Spectacular in synchronized unison.

City sidewalks, busy sidewalks
Dressed in holiday style
In the air there’s a feeling of Christmas
Children laughing, people passing
Meeting smile after smile
And on every street corner you hear


If the Big Apple is blanketed in snow, trek to any of a dozen local recreation facilities for some sledding. Manhattan’s Central Park, along with Prospect Park in Brooklyn, are classic spots to enjoy slip-sliding fun. The former also boasts ample ice skating on Wollman Rink and, while in Brooklyn borough, venture to Dyker Heights and rejoice in magnificent annual decor. Residents may not label their efforts as a competition, but visitors appreciate the displays with a cheeky grin as adult elves outdo their yearly efforts. Stringed lights aplenty also illuminate Rolf’s Bar and Restaurant, where families may eat their feast while delighting in a high-wattage ambience.

On a different scale, holiday cheer is served up, oversized-style, with ornaments that take up residence amidst the concrete jungle. Also larger-than-life are the window displays generated by retail behemoths other than Macy’s. You needn’t be well-heeled to hobnob with the dreamy spectacles at Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue, whose glass-covered showcases are usually throwbacks to Christmases of yore.

To recover from the sticker shock of luxe items, head to the Union Square Holiday Market, open through Christmas Eve. Here, you’ll find a trove of handmade goodies for everyone on your list.

Silver bells (silver bells), silver bells (silver bells)
It’s Christmas time in the city
Ring-a-ling, (ring-a-ling)
Hear them ring (hear them ring)
Soon it will be Christmas day


A perennial tradition hosted by the New York Botanical Gardens, the Holiday Train Show arranges more than two dozen G-scale model trains, ferries, and trolleys that chug through a half-mile of track. Miniature landmarks forged from natural plant parts like seeds, stems, and twigs enclose the pageantry. After your train sojourn, watch a short film with the kids and take a stroll through the Winter Wonderland Tree Tour’s snowy grounds.

This final component may be touristy, but there’s a good reason why. After marveling over the Rockefeller tree, soar to the Center’s apex to revel in views at its observatory, Top of the Rock. During the holidays, you’ll soak in the cityscape from above, including a red-and-green Empire State Building.

So, whether you’re a New York dweller or from out-of-town, Christmas here is the quintessential melding of hot chocolate-loving adults with their whipped cream-savoring children.

Strings of street lights, even stoplights
Blinkin’ bright red and green
As the shoppers rush home with their treasures

Hear the snow crunch, see the kids bunch
This is Santa’s big day
And above all this bustle you hear

By: Tom Eccleston