It's easy to associate Christmas in New York City with all things commercial. After all, with movies like Miracle on 34th Street and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York dotting our collective memories, no one would blame you for thinking it's all about store displays and Rockefeller Center. To be fair, that's a big part of it, but by no means all of it. There are lots of tucked away holiday gems to explore, and it turns out, the best holiday light displays in New York City aren't just in Midtown.
All across the five boroughs, there's something to see, and it's not always what you expect — and it's not all Christmas. My family celebrates both Christmas and Hanukkah, so it's important to me for some memorable menorahs to be tossed into the mix. Thankfully, the holidays in New York are very inclusive — even spreading to our famous New Year's bash — so that everyone can enjoy the joy of the season. Alas, there's yet to be a Festivus pole erected, but know that I have one at my own home, and feats of strength will be displayed along with the airing of grievances, which is practically a sport in the city.
The holiday light displays in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, are something to behold. Imagine a neighborhood wherein everyone in a 20-block radius is trying to recapture the glorious electrical grid nightmare Christmas tradition of a one mister Clark Griswold, complete with a drunken brother-in-law draining crap out of his recreational vehicle in the guise of tour buses filled with egg nog fueled tourists. That's Dyker Heights for you. Yes, the span between 86th street and Bay Ridge Parkway between 11th and 16th avenues are sometimes beautiful, sometimes head-scratching in their overt volume and scope, but they are quintessentially New York.
The New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx puts on a spectacular train display that runs through Jan. 15, so there's plenty of time to see it. It is arguably the most intricate series of miniatures you'll ever see. When it's lit at dusk, it's truly something to behold.
Take a sleigh ride by day and view the tree and candlelit walks at night. Christmas in Historic Richmondtown in Staten Island is a gorgeous step back in time. As one of the oldest constantly occupied neighborhoods in New York City, not only will you be able to take in the sights, but you also may learn something along the way.
The world's largest menorah lives in Brooklyn at Grand Army Plaza. The first lighting this year is on Dec. 12, and it's complete with latkes and toys for the kids. Put on by the Chabad Lubavitch Jews in the area, it's eight crazy lights of fun.
Santa Claus? Check. Cocoa? Check. Giant tree? Check. Also, it's right around the corner from some of the best Chinese food in the country. Not even kidding. Located in Flushing, Queens, you should definitely go see this beautiful display at the Queens Botanical Garden and then go stuff your face full of coastal Chinese cuisine after.
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