There's no place like it at holiday time. New York City is always exhilarating, but during the Christmas season the city dons its festive finery. Excitement abounds. There is quickness in every step. The feeling of Christmas is in the air, and there is much to see and do, but certain traditional activities personify Christmas time in New York City.
Along with the balloons there are award-winning marching bands from all over the United States, and elaborate floats topped with celebrities from stage, screen, and television. At the end of the two-hour parade, eagerly awaited by the young and the young at heart, is that jolly fellow, Santa Claus. With his characteristic wave, he ushers in a new Christmas season.
However, and since the 1920s, the official start of the Christmas season is the lighting of the 21 meter high tree in Rockefeller Center. This year,on Wednesday, December 2, 1998, with a flick of a switch, New York's Mayor Rudolph Giuliani will bring to life all 20,000 lights on the city's official Christmas tree, accompanied by music, caroling, and figure skating. With its decorations of ethereal, trumpeting angels, Rockefeller Center is a good place to start exploring the "Big Apple."
Over at Lincoln Center audiences enjoy the Nutcracker Ballet in the New York State Theater. This hugely popular ballet is Tchaikovsky's Christmas gift to us all, and one of New York's holiday season traditions.
For those so caught up in the Christmas spirit that they feel compelled
raise their voice in song, New York City has an once-in-a-lifetime experience
- singing the Messiah with three thousand others at Lincoln Center. Every
year at the Avery Fisher Hall, led by 21 guest conductors, the entire
audience joins in singing Handel's Messiah. Bring your own music or buy
it in the lobby, no experience is necessary. The result is loud, enthusiastic,
thrilling, and joyful.
The renowned, quintessential store, Macy's, at 34th and Broadway, has something for everyone in all price categories. The fifth floor is a spectacular wonderland with Santa Claus in residence and toys galore. Toy shopping at the world famous F.A.O. Schwarz will dazzle the hearts and imaginations of children of all ages, and tickle the child within all of us. Tiffany's is where wishes are made and dreams do come true. Much at Tiffany's is extremely expensive; however, there are a few affordable gifts, such as robin-egg blue playing cards with the Tiffany logo.
All of the museums have special displays at holiday time. At The Cloister, part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the arched doorways of the main hall are adorned with ivy, nuts, and apples as part of their fanciful medieval-style decorations.
After dark, take a ride on the Staten Island Ferry for an unparalleled view of New York City. The glimmering city lights reflect in the velvet black of the river. Or, in the late evening, when the city is quiet, and fluffy snowflakes dance in the air, a carriage ride through the deserted streets is magical.
Christmas time is when New York City is at its best. Holidays are songs in the air. The smell of roasting chestnuts from the street corner vendor and the tinkle of the bell of Sidewalk Santa will put you in the Christmas spirit. No city is more exciting at holiday time than New York City.
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