Christmas in the Big Merry Apple
The possibilities are endless, but here are 10 Yuletide activities to do in New York City
The Christmas tree at Rockefeller Plaza. Photograph: Getty Images
A Christmas window at Bergdorf Goodman. Photograph: Getty Images
BREAKFAST IN STYLE
Long before kale and berries were a thing, Loews Hotel (now Loews Regency) on Park Avenue invented the Power Breakfast. City politicians and celebrities still vie for the best banquettes in this cosy restaurant, where the menu includes fluffy pancakes, Eggs Benedict and scooped out bagels for the diet brigade. The hotel goes all out for Christmas with decorated trees throughout, a hot chocolate happy hour created by renowned New York chocolatier Jacques Torres, Christmas carolling in the lobby, and cute holiday robes and pyjamas designed by Kate Spade. Rates from around €400 per night. See loewshotels.com.
SEE THE TREE
The tree at Rockefeller Plaza is the heart of the New York Christmas, with its 450,000 twinkling lights and huge Swarovski crystal star at the top. The tradition began in 1931, when Italian construction workers strung a tree with tin cans and detonator caps to celebrate the season. Now, a Norway spruce that can go as high as 90ft (27.4m) is installed in the week after Thanksgiving and stays lit until January 6th.
GO ICE SKATING
There’s free ice skating at Bryant Park as part of the midtown park’s winter festival, which runs until early January. Think fairy lights in the trees and scores of booths that sell handmade Christmas gifts and just about any Christmas food you can think of. And steaming hot chocolate, of course. See bryantpark.org.
SHOP THE WINDOWS
Beat jet lag with some early morning window shopping. The amazing Christmas windows are hard to appreciate when the streets are the thronged, but at 5am you have them all yourself. For maximum magic, make a beeline for Bergdorf Goodmans, Barneys and Saks Lord & Taylor to see windows that have taken months to create See http://gonyc.about.com for a Christmas walking tour map.
FITNESS IN THE PARK
Work off the indulgence with a quick blast of exercise in Central Park. Fit Tours NYC (fittoursnyc.com), run by Irishman Mike Riordan, takes small groups and individuals on guided walks and runs through the park –with some yoga moves thrown in. It’s a good way to keep your training going during a break in the city, so you feel virtuous and ready for . . .
Stop by the East Village’s Artichoke Pizza, which serves up slices so gooey and delicious you will be hooked for life. The twice-baked Sicilian Slice is heavy on tomatoes and olives, while the Artichoke Slice has spinach, cream and, of course, artichokes. See artichokepizza.com.
Be charmed by Authentiques, at 225 West 18th Street in Chelsea. New Yorkers have been buying their decorations here since the 1970s. Christmas baubles from the 1960s and ’70s sit in boxes while rare glass-blown ornaments are displayed in glass cases. New decorations are themed, so you can easily find what you are looking for your tree – be it ballet shoes, stars, Santas or elves. See fab-stuff.com.
DINE BY CANDLELIGHT
Candles flicker from chandeliers at One by Land, Two by Sea, a West Village restaurant in an old coach house with creaking staircases and patrician portraits on the redbrick walls. Regularly appearing on lists of the world’s most romantic restaurants, it is especially magic at Christmas. Think trailing ivy, Christmas roses and berries rather than bling. A Christmas Day menu is $150. See http://oneifbyland.com for reservations.
WALK THE BROOKLYN BRIDGE
Cross the Brooklyn Bridge from the Brooklyn side and get one of the best views of Manhattan for free. The 1.8km walk will take up to hour by the time you’ve stopped to snap the skyline. Go at dusk and see the Empire Sate Building decked out in its splendid red and green Christmas lights.
SHOP THE MUSEUMS
For quirky and original Christmas gifts to take home, try the museum shops. You can go big – $9,000 will buy you a Jeff Koons metallic dog balloon plate at the Whitney Museum shop on Gaansevort Street (it comes with white gloves for handling. Easier-to-pack items include an Alexander Calder Save Our Planet tote $16 and Andy Warhol Soup Can tote from Moma for €19.90.
Aer Lingus operates four daily services from Dublin direct to New York: two services from Dublin to JFK, a daily service from Shannon to JFK, and a new daily service from Dublin to Newark, New Jersey. Each-way fares from Dublin to New York start from €209, including taxes and charges. Aer Lingus fares include a 23kg baggage allowance. See aerlingus.com.