Holiday tree lighting ceremonies in New York are the best way to kick off the holidays. There’s no better way to get into the festive spirit than coming together with your community, big or small, and singing carols, drinking hot cocoa and taking in the beauty of dazzling decorations or sparkling Christmas trees. The holidays are truly the most magical time of the year in New York City, and that magic is always kicked off by flipping the switch on the festive decorations and lights.
Here are some holiday lighting ceremonies for your family to attend this upcoming holiday season. Whether you’re looking for iconic productions or the small community gatherings, we have a perfect list for you!
Looking for more dazzling displays? Check out Where to See Holiday Lights in New York City.
87th Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting - Midtown, Manhattan
30 Rockefeller Plaza, 212-588-8601
Be one of thousands who crowd the sidewalks to watch the iconic Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree be lit for the very first time this holiday season. As part of NBC’s national broadcast of the event, there will be festive musical performances from John Legend, Derek and Julianne Hough, Brett Eldredge, Idina Manzel, Gwen Stefani and more! The annual tree lighting ceremony is free and open to the public and operates on a first-come, first-serve basis. Don’t miss out on a New York City bucket list experience, plan your trip into Midtown to see America’s most famous Christmas tree come to life for the 87th time. The ceremony will take place from 8 pm to 10 pm and the tree will remain lit and on display between West 48th and 51st Street and Fifth and Sixth Avenues through January 17, 2020.
Winter's Eve at Lincoln Square - Upper West Side, Manhattan
Columbus Avenue & West 63rd Street, 212-581-3774
Be a part of New York’s largest holiday festival! Winter’s Eve at Lincoln Square offers free entertainment, family fun, outdoor food tastings, and more, beginning with Lincoln Square’s Upper West Side tree lighting ceremony at Dante Park. Ronnie Spector and the Ronettes will be headlining the tree ceremony this year. The entirety of the evenings’ events will take place in select indoor venues and along sidewalks of Lincoln Square, between the Upper West Side and the Shops at Columbus Circle. Join in on an evening full of festive events and activities that is great for the entire family! The event will take place from 5:30 pm to 9 pm, rain or shine
The Washington Square Association Annual Tree Lighting - Greenwich Village, Manhattan
Washington Square North, 212-396-5873
Gather under the arch in Washington Square Park for the annual tree lighting ceremony. You and your family can join in on the jolly spirit with the Rob Susman Brass Quartet as they sing holiday songs. The sparkling lights on the gorgeous tree will be flipped on to celebrate the beginning of festive winter evenings. Some even say that Santa Claus himself has promised to make an appearance! The ceremony will take place from 6 pm to 7 pm and the Washington Square Association will provide songbooks so everyone can sing along.
Bryant Park's Annual Tree Lighting - Midtown, Manhattan
Gather in the Bank of America Winter Village in Bryant Park for the annual tree lighting and sing-along ceremony! Hosted by Alyse Zwick, the ceremony will feature sing-alongs led by the Harlem youth choir, DREAM Choir, performances from world-class ice skaters Ryan Bradley, Evelyn Walsh, Trennt Michaud and The Haydenettes, plus fireworks and an appearance from Santa. The ceremony will take place from 6 pm to 6:45 pm. Afterwards, visitors are also welcome to ice skate to live music on the city’s only free admission rink.
Holiday on the Hudson - Manhattanville, Manhattan
West Harlem Piers at 125th Street & Marginal Street, 212-870-3070
Kick off the holiday season along the Hudson River at West Harlem Piers! Join in on the Holiday on the Hudson annual tree lighting ceremony, featuring live music, fun dancing, tree decoration workshops, and hot chocolate to warm you up. Get into the holiday spirit and enjoy a waterfront view looking across the Hudson on a clear, late-fall evening. This family-friendly, free holiday lighting ceremony will take place from 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm.
Morningside Park Tree Lighting - Harlem, Manhattan
121st Street and Morningside Avenue, 212-937-3883
Join the Friends of Morningside Park for the tradition of celebrating the holidays in one of Harlem’s most scenic landmarks. Not only will this ceremony ring in the holidays, but it is also set to celebrate the Winter Solstice and the beginning of the winter season. During the ceremony, attendees will gather by the giant sequoia to light the tree, tell holiday stories and have a fun-filled sing-along! Light refreshments will be provided throughout the event. This kid-friendly holiday celebration will be held from 5 pm to 6 pm.
Seaport WinterLand Annual Holiday Tree Lighting - Seaport District, Manhattan
Fulton Street and Water Street, 212-732-8257
Celebrate the holidays in downtown Manhattan’s historic Seaport District. The evening, hosted by Cubby and Christine from 106.7 LITE FM, will kick off with a special charitable presentation to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, as well as A Place for Kids. The presentation will be followed by traditional carols as well as performances by the cast of Broadway’s Phantom of the Opera and Mean Girls. While with the kids, head over to the South Street Seaport Museum to meet The Very Hungry Caterpillar and participate in themed activities hosted by FiDi Families. Attendees are also welcome to join in on the after-party and warm up with food and drinks at Winterland Ice Rink on The Rooftop at Pier 17. The after-party is first come first serve. The main event will take place from 6 pm to 8 pm. While the event is free, if you are planning to attend, you are encouraged to RSVP online.
23rd Annual Central Park Holiday Lighting - East Harlem, Manhattan
Charles A. Dana Discovery Center at 110th Street, 212-310-6675
Celebrate the holiday season in Central Park! The entire family can kick off their holiday festivities, have the chance to meet Santa and friends, sing carols on the Plaza, and warm up with the perfect combination of hot chocolate and cookies. The festive evening will come to a scenic end with the lighting of a flotilla of holiday trees on the Harlem Meer. The event is set to take place, rain, snow or shine, from 5:30 pm to 6:30 pm. The event is free and registration is not required, but you can let Central Park Conservancy know you’re coming here.
American Museum of Natural History's Origami Holiday Tree - Upper West Side, Manhattan
November 25 through January 12, 2020
200 Central Park West, 212-769-5100
Don’t miss out on one of New York’s most beloved holiday displays! Visit the American Museum of Natural History this winter to see the Origami Holiday Tree, an annual tradition for the past 40 years. The theme for this year’s 13-foot tree is T.rex and Friends: History in the Making, with origami models inspired by the special exhibition T.rex: The Ultimate Predator, which celebrates the most famous species of dinosaur that was first discovered, named and exhibited at the museum. Thanks to a partnership with OrigamiUSA, the tree is decorated with over 800 hand-folded paper models.
Sinterklaas - St. Nicholas Day & Tree Lighting - East Flatbush, Brooklyn
Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum, 5816 Clarendon Road, 718-629-5400
Bring your entire family to meet Sinterklaas and enjoy a an exciting day of holiday festivities! The day will kick off with a traditional concert by colonial balladeer Linda Russel. After St. Nicholas arrives on horseback, visitors can follow Dutch traditions and feed his horse carrots and hay. Afterwards, families are invited to sip on some delicious hot cider, decorate a Dutch clog, and dress the tree for the tree lighting to close the day as the sun sets. This day of traditional holiday celebration will take place from 1 pm to 4 pm. Admission for adults will be $7 and kids ages 3 to 10 will be $4. Children under the age of 3 are free. Tickets must be purchased online.
6th Annual Fort Greene Tree Lighting - Clinton Hill, Brooklyn
100 Washington Park, 718-230-1689
Gather with neighbors at the northwest corner of Fort Greene Park, near the Myrtle Avenue and St. Edwards Street entrance for an annual event that is full of holiday cheer! Take selfies with Santa, bring unwrapped toys for the toy drive collection, vibe to fun holiday music, and enjoy the lighting of the tree as you sip free hot cocoa and cider and enjoy cookies provided by local Myrtle Avenue restaurants. This free event is great for the whole family and will take place from 4 pm to 5 pm.
Atlantic Avenue Tree Lighting Ceremony - Boerum Hill, Brooklyn
St. Cyril of Turov Belarusian Church, 401 Atlantic Avenue, 718-875-8993
Celebrate the holidays on Atlantic Avenue with the annual tree lighting ceremony and party! Enjoy holiday performances and carol-along with local public and charter school groups, be greeted by local elected officials, meet Santa and enjoy a meaningful tree lighting ceremony. The winners of the Annual Atlantic Avenue Merchant Holiday Window Competition will also be announced! Afterwards, families are invited to a jolly dance party, complete with food and refreshments. This free event will be held from 6 pm to 8 pm.
Downtown Brooklyn Gets Lit: Holiday Lighting Party - Boerum Hill, Brooklyn
Albee Square, corner of Fulton Street and Bond Street, 718-403-1600
Kick off the holiday season – Brooklyn style – with the 3rd Annual Downtown Brooklyn Gets Lit: Holiday Lighting Party at Albee Square! Enjoy special performances by Brooklyn-based dance company, Jamel Gaines Creative Outlet, and the show-stopping youth marching band, BK United. DJ Mike Doelo will provide music for the evening as attendees grab a complimentary hot cocoa and delicious food from Albee Square’s food kiosk, Al B’s. Have blast as you countdown to flipping the switch on the holiday lights! This free event starts at 5 pm and is sure to be fun for the entire family.
Christmas in the Garden - Flushing, Queens
Queens Botanical Garden, 43-50 Main Street, 718-866-3800
Get into the holiday spirit at the Queens Botanical Garden with fun for the entire family! Christmas in the Garden returns with live musical performances, photos with Santa, a fantastic tree lighting, holiday crafts, face painting fun, and blowout sales at the QBG Shop. This exciting holiday event has everything you need to kick off the holiday season! The free event will take place from 12 pm to 5 pm and is great for all ages. Specific activities may require a separate fee. If you are planning to attend, you are encouraged to register online.
7th Annual Holiday Festival and Tree Lighting Celebration - Astoria, Queens
Astoria Park Lawn, 19 19th Street, 718-728-7820
Come one, come all to Astoria Park for the 7th Annual Holiday Festival and Tree Lighting Celebration! Everyone is invited to this highly-anticipated and sought after free community event that rings in the holiday season. Gather on the park lawn for photos with Santa, face painting, hot chocolate and tea, free pretzels, balloon art, crafts and more, all followed by a spectacular tree lighting ceremony! The Astoria community tradition will take begin at 4 pm and the tree lighting ceremony will begin at 5:30 pm.
Holiday Tinker Festival and Tree Lighting - Flushing, Queens
Lewis H. Latimer House, 34-41 137th Street, 718-961-8585
Celebrate the holidays with tinkering, tree lighting and festive music! Come out and work some amazing artists to make pop-up architecture holiday cards, bring home DIY light-up holiday ornaments and Jingle Bots. After all the tinkering, enjoy some delicious hot cocoa as you watch the Christmas tree lighting in the garden. This event is set to take place from 2:30 pm to 5:30 pm. Although the event is free, space is limited so be sure to register online.
Bronx Little Italy Christmas Tree Lighting - Little Italy, the Bronx
Ciccarone Park, East 188th Street & Arthur Avenue
Ring in the holidays and celebrate small businesses with special guest Chazz Palminteri of A Bronx Tale! Enjoy festive holiday music as you indulge in Italian cookies and hot chocolate. Santa Clause is even set to travel from the North Pole to make an appearance in Ciccarone Park! Kids can even lineup for a toy giveaway before they settle in for the bright and beautiful tree lighting ceremony. The toy giveaway is first come, first serve, and the free event is set to take place from 4 pm to 6 pm.
Bronx Zoo Holiday Lights - Crotona, The Bronx
November 21-24, 29, and 30
2300 Southern Boulevard, 718-220-5100
Discover the holiday season at the Bronx Zoo! Spectacular animal lanterns, animal sculptures, and colorful designs will light the way throughout the park. Enjoy the magic of the zoo, coupled with the wonderful display of holiday lights. Enjoy an unforgettable experience that’s brighter than ever thanks to LED technology. Admission tickets are $29.95 for adults (ages 13 and over) and $22.95 for children ages 2 to 12. Tickets can be purchased online. The Holiday Lights are not open December 24 and 25.
New York Botanical Garden Holiday Lighting Ceremony - Fordham Manor, The Bronx
2900 Southern Boulevard, 718-817-8700
The annual Holiday Lighting Ceremony is set to kick off the Holiday Train Show at The New York Botanical Garden. Enjoy the soaring voices of carolers and special guests as the tree at NYBG gets lit up for the holiday season. After the ceremony, take in the complexity of the amazing Holiday Train Show, which will be on display until January 26, 2020. The Holiday Lighting Ceremony and train show are included with an All Garden pass, reservations in advance are strongly recommended as tickets do sell out. The tree lighting ceremony will take place from 4 pm to 5:15 pm.
The 2019 Winter Lighting Ceremony by the Broadway Mall Association
Verdi Square, Between 72nd and 73rd Street
Welcome the holiday season at Verdi Square as they light up the mall. This lighting ceremony will take place on December 3rd at 5:30 pm and will also include refreshments and vocal performances from the Reaching For the Arts Choir.
The Broadway Mall Association (BMA) is a non-profit that stewards, advocates, and cares for a 5-mile environmental resource in the heart of upper Manhattan from 70th to 168th Street.