Happy Holidays! xoxo New York City

The Norway spruce that decorates Rockefeller Center this year is 74-foot tall; it is decorated in 30,000 colored lights and topped with a Swarovski star. Though the Rockefeller Christmas tree looks similar from year to year, give or take a few feet in height, each tree to have graced the plaza has told a different story of its origin. The 2011 tree was not selected per the usual application process, as it was scouted by the Rockefeller Center’s head gardener on a property in Mifflinville, PA whilst driving along the I-80 freeway. The tree now stands proudly in the middle of Manhattan, admired not only by its owners (albeit in a different light) but also by throngs of visitors at any one time. This is just one example of the preparation and energy that goes into the creating the Christmas  experience in Manhattan.

Christmas time at Rockefeller Center

Manhattan is one of the best places to immerse yourself in the Christmas spirit, and there’s no doubt that NYC puts on a great show for its visitors and residents. It inspires department store pilgrimages (for the shopping as well as the window displays); ice skating excursions to the renowned rinks at Central Park and Rockefeller Center; Christmas market hopping – from Union Square, and all the way up to Columbus Circle – where you can drink hot apple cider whilst perusing the stalls that sell all sorts of beautifully made handicrafts, intricate fine jewelry, artworks, and everything else in between. As I have discovered over the years – two, three, even four days is not enough to experience the city during this time of year. Despite any compulsive planning that may have been undertaken prior to the trip, there will always something to catch your eye and veer you off of a scrupulously mapped course. I recommend setting aside at least one week to experience New York in its holiday splendor. Unless it’s just gift shopping you’re after – then, a long weekend will suffice.

Inspiration for the gift list...!

The original Magnolia Bakery in the West Village

Having been brought up in Australia, I have never much cared for a chilly Christmas season, with or without snow. I’ll take the festive season in summery Sydney any day. Sure, I understand that a hot Christmas may seem strange to many people – after all, even I think that a decked out Santa Claus is more believable in chillier climates – though as I get older, it’s more about being with my family and creating memories, than anything else. Christmas time, for me, equates to beach weather and long, hot days; indulging in barbequed everything – grilled squid, charred lamb chops, sizzling meat patties – while relaxing in the backyard; enjoying the company of family and friends on rooftop bars, overlooking beautiful Sydney, a glass of Verdelho in hand. I always seem to take a trip to Oz in the middle of the year, and haven’t experienced a Christmas at home in a long while.

"What Katz's is to pastrami, City Bakery is to hot chocolate." New York Magazine

Ice Skating at The Standard Hotel ice rink, as seen for the High Line

As it’s not a matter of going big or going home (my adopted home of NYC always delivers for the holiday season!), I do embrace the result of months worth of festive preparations made by the city. Whether braving the crowds that descend upon Midtown Manhattan, or during a stroll through the calmer parts of the city – be it Greenwich Village or the Upper East Side – it’s easy to spot coloured fairy lights prettying up balconies and storefronts; decorated Christmas trees or Chanukah candles framed by windows; wreaths hanging from doors and adorning brick walls that would otherwise stand bare. It’s a time when each neighbourhood equally embraces the festive season and an underlying theme of embellishment: now, less defined by their individual ‘hood appeal, and more unified in making Manhattan look like one very well decorated and brightly lit Christmas grid.

A Christmas tree

Beautiful West Village

This year being no different, I set the nostalgia aside and took some time to explore New York City in its lead up to Christmas. En route, I became happily reacquainted with New York’s charm despite the droves: the beauty is in its street scapes and their everyday activity. This is the very reason I fell in love with New York City in the first place.

The Strand book stall lines Central Park, Fifth Avenue

A pianist in Washington Square Park

Here is a charting of a festive few days around and about, with some of that old New York charm thrown in. Enjoy!

Wall Street's barricaded Christmas tree

Christmas and hope soldier on in the midst of construction at Ground Zero

Lights against Chinatown

Delights at Dean & Deluca

Washington Square Park Christmas Tree (Empire State Building in the distance)

Fiddlesticks on Greenwich Avenue

Part of the Tiles for America fence (Greenwich Ave and Mulry Square)

Simply decorated

View from the High Line at night

View of the High Line at night

See my post here for daytime images: Above it all: Manhattan’s High Line.

Dinner by a crackling fire


Merry Christmas from Tudor Place

Christmas decorations as New York Public Library

Candy Tree at Dylan's Candy Bar Pop Up Shop

A 'wreathed' and bustling Grand Central Terminal

Toy Soldiers

Celebrity ornaments by Christopher Radko, exclusively for Bloomingdale's

Bloomingdale's window

Louis Vuitton for Bloomingdale's

Lady Gaga, for Barneys

Gaga's Crystal Cave at Barneys

Gaga's Boudoir at Barneys

The Plaza Hotel across from Central Park

Bergdorf Goodman, mirror/crystal window

Bergdorf Goodman, paper window

Avant-garde, haute couture, reflections at Bergdorf Goodman

Bergdorf Goodman, metallic window

Shopping at Tiffany & Co

Star light, star bright... make that wish on Fifth Avenue

Have a Happy and Safe Holiday!


60 thoughts on “Happy Holidays! xoxo New York City

  1. Marina,
    Thanks so much for sharing your NYC photos – they are great! I’ll get around to posting some of mine but yours are a much better reflection of that incredible city. Have a great holiday!!

    • Thanks Scott, for checking out the post. Did you see that photo that has a slight similarity to yours, at Bergdorf’s? Though I wasn’t smart enough to catch my reflection, I think i did do so in one of Lady Gaga’s store windows. Looking forward to seeing your pics. Until then, Merry Xmas!

  2. Great photo essay. All the best to you for the holiday season. The Rockefeller tree is picked out years in advance. It needs to be tall but also it must grow without other trees around it. The selected tree is seen from 360 degrees and must not have a bad side. Transport is another issue. As you may guess there aren’t too many ideal candidates or owners willing to part with such a large tree. It’s indeed a process.

    • Hi Victor! Thank you for your comment – there’s an interesting story behind this tree. Take a read (I provided the link in the first paragraph – click on the word ‘owners’). Have a wonderful holiday season. I look forward to sharing more stories with you and v.v. in 2012 🙂

    • My pleasure to share some of NY with you across the Atlantic! The Canadian flag is on the Plaza hotel (I believe the Fairmont owns it and they are a Canadian. You’re in good company 🙂 Are you Canadian?) Merry Christmas. Have a wonderful holiday!

      • Yep, I am from Montreal… although I spent more time outside Canada than in Canada in the last 10-12 years. I really appreciate the opportunity of living in different countries but I do miss my hometown at this time of the year! Your post on Christmas in NY is very helpful in bringing some Christmas spirit in my new home these days 😉

      • I understand as I am from Sydney and would love to have Xmas there again (it has been 7 years since a hot Christmas for me, in summer!) I lived in Toronto for one year and that was alot of fun. What do you do for work?

      • Toronto is a lot of fun … even though this is never easy to admit when you are from Montreal 😉
        I never really had a “hot Christmas” …. will have to try it at least once. Maybe for my next assignment (I work for the Canadian government). My good friend who now lives in Canberra is having a great time celebrating Christmas in the Australian desert! Last time I heard from him this week he was around Coober Pedy! I have seen fantastic photos.

      • I hope you have a hot Christmas, as it needs to be experienced. I miss it terribly! The lead up to Xmas is more fun as that is spent wining and dining in the outdoor bars, restaurants and cafes. Ahhh, 2012 might be the year I go back home to Sydney for Xmas. Canberra is a different story 😉 Does your friend have a blog?

      • So I hear about Canberra… In fact, it is often compared to Ottawa, which is right between Montreal and Toronto, just as Canberra is between Sydney and Melbourne!
        The lead up to a hot Xmas seems like a lot of fun indeed. Definitely has to be included in the to-do list.
        My friend doesn’t have a blog yet but we are working on it, increasing the pressure every day 😉

      • So many parallels between Canada and Australia! let me know if your friend starts a blog – would love to see those photos! 2012 needs to be my hot Xmas trip!

  3. Another set of stunning images Marina. For us in the UK, its wonderful to see your city, especially at Christmas time. Thank you for sharing them. Happy Christmas to you Marina.

  4. You can feel the buzz in New York at Christmas time through your photos. Loved the photo of the tree at the Rockefeller Centre as it reminded me of a Christmas trip to New York many, many years ago when we took our girls skating there! Interestingly I also took the same photo of the Louis Vuitton window in Melbourne the other day but didn’t post it! Have a great Xmas – I’ll have a drink for you before we head to the beach!

    • Jenny! Any mention of the beach and I am homesick again! Thanks for viewing the post and I am happy it brought back some memories. i’d love to see your Louis Vuitton photo!! Have a wonderful holiday, and Merry Christmas!

  5. Thanks for sharing Marina! I’m missing NYC this holiday season so it’s nice to look at all of the wonderful things there that make the city so special this time of year.

    • Hi Brandie! I hope you got to see what the windows looks like, and I am glad to have been able to share some of the NY lights and decorations. Wishing you a Merry Christmas and have a wonderful holiday!

  6. I love your NYC photos, i so enjoyed visiting the city last year for New Years Celebrations, and I would love to be there again at this time of the year – it is so beautiful and festive. I see the Unicef snowflake is back! Your night shots are great – I am going to have to practise that a little more. Merry Christmas to you and your family – I hope all your dreams come true in 2012.

    • I am so glad you took a trip back through the photos. I am still practising those night shots myself!! And I am so happy that you noticed the snowflake 🙂 Merry Christmas to you and your family also and here’s to a great 2012!

  7. Wow! Such an inspiring tour of the city during Christmas. Your new camera takes amazing images. Beautiful!
    Marina I wish you a wonderful Christmas, it has been fun getting to know you through your inspirational blog.
    Cheers, Karen 🙂

    • Thanks Karen! The camera was an early Christmas present so it is fitting to take photos of NYC at Xmas time 🙂 I am so glad to have viewed your work over the past few months as it is always inspiring. Your sketches, 3D sculptures, your words and your photography. All amazing! Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  8. what a classic NY xmas post…the most magical combination of the glamourous and the local…how I wish that I can be there once in a life time during xmas…but until then, I am happy that I saw this post

    • Thank you for your lovely comment. NYC is very traditional when it comes to Xmas so when you make it here, you will inevitably see these lights and decorations too! I hope my post gave you a start to an itinerary for when you plan a trip here 🙂

  9. Pingback: Christmas in New York | setiawanphoto

    • Hi Laura! It’s always hard to come back from holiday and I am so glad that you were able to be transported back for a little bit! The photos of your trip looked so fun! You included so many highlights 🙂 Have a wonderful rest-of-the-holiday!

  10. Marina, You totally captured all of my favorites places in NY! Great job! Merry christmas to my fellow photographer!cheers! I have been taking a well deserved break but will be back soon in the blogosphere! 🙂

  11. Hey happy Holiday Season! The city looks fantastic and so Christmassy, thanks again for a wonderful tour around NYC!!! 😀 Love the Christmas tree, they are beautiful! 😀

    • The city is abuzz with tourists right now and taking that photo of the tree was lucky! Have a wonderful rest of the holiday season and glad you got to experience NYC a little! Hope all’s great in Lithuania!

  12. Marina, thanks for all the pictures, they do bring some beloved memories back 🙂
    I had to laugh at your comment of preferring to spend Christmas in warm Sydney…haha, I hated my Christmas in Melbourne: no cold & snow = no festive mood for me :))) Christmas in Siberia rather than Oz on NZ 🙂

    • I can’t wait for a hot Xmas – the smell of mangoes, cocktails by the water, the relaxed summery vibe, being outdoors, and getting a bit of a tan. that’s Xmas for me!!

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